Thursday, January 31, 2013


All You Need Is a Distraction

There are lots of places on a cruise ship which seem to be made just for small bears to climb. Unfortunately, most of them have signs that tell you that they are not to be climbed on. "Voyager of the Seas" is no different, but I found a way to escape the eagle-eyed Oldies and try a few forbidden climbs. All you need is a good distraction. I managed to get Mum and the Captain together so Dad could take photos of them. That put all three of the people most likely to stop my explorations together in the one place for a while. I scampered away to try one of the ladders that had been fascinating me for days. I managed to get up the ladder, but guess what - it had a locked trapdoor at the top and I couldn't see what was up there. And, just to add injury to insult, the Oldies caught me in the act and I was under cabin arrest for a day. By the way, Captain Charles is fantastic. He has a great sense of humour and handles the huge megaliner like it was a billycart.

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Friday, January 25, 2013


Morning at Milford

One of the best things about cruising is that you  see things that you can't see any other way. There was a great example on our New Zealand cruise on "Voyager of the Seas", when we went through Milford Sound. Sound is the NZ name for fiord, a deep valley that was carved by a glacier ages ago and flooded by rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age (small bears are very interested in geology and history). We arrived at the entrance to Milford Sound just before sunrise. Naturally, the Oldies dragged me out on deck before I was awake but the scenery soon had me bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. As the sky lightened we could see jagged, snow-capped mountains with cloud drifting across the tops. There was a spectacular strip of cloud coming along the sound, rolling as it poured out of the entrance. The entrance to the sound looked far too narrow for our huge ship to enter, and once we were in the sound the waterway looked too narrow for the ship to fit. It did though and the trip down to the head of the fiord was magical; cloud across the top and waterfalls everywhere on the steep walls. The Voyager is the largest ship to cruise the sounds and I can see why.

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The Colourful Burj

One of my favoritest buildings is the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. You will find pictures of it scattered through my blog, because I like it a lot. During our trip to the Emirates last year we stayed right next to the Burj Al Arab and the Oldies took gazillions of pictures of it. Here are three that show it in different colours. During the day it is just white and blue, still spectacular against the blue of the sky and sea. At night it is illuminated by coloured lights that change through many colours.  Here are just two of them. Two things that you really do have to see in Dubai are the Burj Al Arab, the prettiest hotel in the world, and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. I love them both.

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Friday, January 18, 2013


Delightful Dinosaurs

Guess what I found at the weekend? A paddock full of full-size dinosaur models! The National Dinosaur Museum has set up a big herd of the critters and kids and small bears are allowed to walk around them. Kids aren't allowed to climb on them, but us small bears can't read the "Keep Off" signs if we don't want to. Just see how small I am compared to the Apatosaurus; these critters were BIG. The T-Rex wasn't as big as I expected, but his huge mouth full of teeth was kind of scary, even though I knew he wasn't alive. Actually, the carnivorous dinos were scary enough that I kept ready to jump to the other side of the fence. Maybe when I go back there, when the Oldies aren't in such a rush to be somewhere else ,I will be game to check out the full set.

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We Were At Wellington

Here's the "Voyager of the Seas" docked in Wellington harbour. If you look carefully (click on the photo for a bigger one) you can see that the ship is taller than the large stadium it is docked near. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, although it is not the largest city. It has the reputation of being wet and windy, so it calls itself "the coolest little capital in the world". When we were there it was fine and sunny! Some of the best views of Wellington are from the Botanic Gardens at Kelburn. You get there by riding a cable car up from the city centre to the top of the hill. The cable car has been running since 1902. There are a few other very interesting things in the gardens; a planetarium and observatory, and the historic Dominion Observatory. I hadn't been in a cable car before and was a bit puzzled by the sloping floor and the way the seats were stepped up the car. It does make sense though if the car is always on the slopey track. The other thing that looks strange is the way that the front and back of the car slope. It looks like somebody pushed a rectangular bus off-square. Sure beats walking up that hill.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013


Cabin Invaders

It was always an adventure entering our cabin after dinner. You see, during the time that the passengers are at dinner the cabin stewards get the cabins ready for sleeping in. They bring in the ship's newspaper with information about the next day's program and they also leave strange critters. Here are 2 of them, an elephant and a monkey. They are actually made from the fresh face washers and hand towels (and Mum's sun glasses in the case of the ellie). Scruffy and I loved them. We were never sure what would be waiting when we opened the door. Just one of the many happy things about cruising on "Voyager of the Seas".

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The Mighty Voyager

Here's our ship, "Voyager of the Seas", docked at Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. Voyager is a mighty ship. She was built in 1999 and was refurbished in 2009. She carries over 3,000 passengers and almost 2,000 crew. She was the largest cruise ship in the world when she was launched; now she is 8th largest. As well as the usual restaurants (Hey, I spelled it right!!!), bars, pools and theatres, there are a rock-climbing wall, ice skating rink and mini-golf course on board. It took me half of our cruise to explore all of the ship that I was allowed to (and a couple of places I wasn't). I've been on 2 of the best passenger ships in the world now, Voyager and QM2, so Dad had better get busy and get us all onto another one.

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Saturday, January 05, 2013


Hard Work

I have finally got my Christmas present built. It is a model of the "helicopter" designed by my engineering hero, Leonardo Da Vinci, way back in the 15th century. Actually, Leo called it an "aerial screw" and there is no record of his having built it. Leo was an ideas man. I had a bit of trouble building this model, all my fault, because I was in a hurry and didn't read the instructions carefully. I ended up with the holes for the drive shafts 180 degrees out of alignment and had to carefully pull lots of things apart and reassemble them right way round. Leo's plan was to have men pushing on a windlass to get the screw up to speed, when it would lift off and fly. I suspect that it would have been a short and wobbly flight. Mine is driven by a small bear winding a crankhandle. I can get the rotor up to a speed where it is blowing quite a down-draft but not fast enough to lift off. Cranking is hard work, so I had to take a bear-nap after the first trials and Mum took a picture of me. She thinks it is funny that I look so flat.

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