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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Britannia...the Royals' Areas

When we heard that the decommissioned royal yacht, the Britannia, was on display in Leith near Edinburgh, DH was not enthused about doing a tour of it. He still tells the story of when we went to see the Queen Mary in Long Beach California...and what we found was an uncared for 'hulk' and a pretty pathetic escorted tour, as well as the tour with the audio guides...but it was all so run-down.

But Cath, a fellow Brisbane blogger, visited Britannia a little earlier this year and highly recommended the tour of the ship. So off we went...
It is a very well organised tour; the ship is in immaculate condition and a credit to the group who run it. We used the audio guides and the tour starts on the upper level and you gradually work your way down, level by level right down to the engine room. 
In this post I will share photos of the parts of the ship that were the Royals' areas. The Britannia was used as transport for the Royals when they toured the Commonwealth as well as other countries on State Visits. It was also used by the Royal Family  for holidays, including honeymoons. 
The 'tower' structure in the foreground contains a stairwell with links to each level of the ship. There is also a lift...

The Queen's bedroom...yes a single bed...

The other end of the Queen's bedroom...

The Duke of Edinburgh's bedroom...

The only bedroom on the ship which has a double bed...used by a number of honeymooning royals over the years.

This deck was the private domain of the royals...various games would be played here and there was also a swimming pool that could be erected and used...

This was the royal sun room which led out to their private sun deck in the previous photo.

The walls in the royal sunroom were lined with teak. The white rectangular section on the wall below hid a TV and record player...

The Britannia was a floating palace basically and the Queen would host large state dinners on board when visiting other countries...this is the state dining room. It apparently takes 3 hours to set the table and a ruler is used to measure the distance for placement of cutlery, glassware etc. the various alcoves in this large room contain gifts to the Queen from various countries. 

The Queen's office...

Prince Phillip also had an office just across from the Queen's...

This is called the anteroom...
And the anteroom leads into the Royals' drawing room...



So that's a little peep into the lifestyle of the cruising Royals...I will also write a post about the the crew areas and the work areas of the ship. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Incident...

DH and I, like most people have had the family dramas...and regular readers would know that we've had the 'living beside a building development' dramas over the last 11 months, but we've just had a bit of drama on this holiday.

This morning at breakfast here in York, we had to share a table with an Aussie couple. They asked us if we had heard all the noise in the early hours of the morning. There had been a really loud noise they said and lots of screaming. Apparently the couple had looked out of their window later and had seen police officers with tapes etc. DH and I had heard nothing. When the man running the guesthouse came to the table with the breakfasts, the other couple asked him what had gone on in the night. 

He said that a young female guest had jumped from the first floor window of her room...she survived. Two paramedics had been called when she was on the window sill and they had tried to get her to move back into her room. They called the police when their efforts seemed fruitless. While the police were racing up to her room, the girl jumped. According to the manager of the guesthouse, she survived because she fell on a car...which had more 'give' than the concrete and bitumen of the carpark. How awful that someone felt so distraught that they jumped...we were all horrified by the news.


The young lady jumped from the window on the first floor on the right hand side at the front...

The manager then asked DH and I what car we had...we told him, 'the black VW Golf' and you know what I'm going to say next aren't you? Yep...she jumped and hit our hire car. The damage is visible but consists of a number of dents; some on the roof of the car, some on the passenger side near the windscreen. We had been told by the manager to park near the front door as all the angle parking spaces in the yard were taken. Parking beside the kerb outside the guesthouse requires a permit which we didn't have. 
The photo doesn't really show the dents that well...and those reflections don't help...there is one much deeper dent in the middle of the edge of the car roof where it meets the windscreen...but the damage is visible and the car hire company won't be able to re-rent it straight after we return it. But it could be a lot worse...if the girl had not have survived for example. 

So much of today has been spent speaking to the local police and 'The Safer Neighbourhood' unit so that we could get all those important Incident Numbers etc for Europcar, the hire car company. The police have been brilliant as they try to help us avoid paying the Excess. DH will give a statement tomorrow when the police come to the guesthouse...we don't have much to say as we weren't awake but we can identify the damage. 

After all that seriousness, here's a photo I took today downtown in York...


A little sideline perhaps! Lol

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Falkirk Wheel...

In 2007 I found out about the Falkirk Wheel which is an engineering marvel in Scotland. It has replaced a number of locks and was a Millenium Project and opened in 2002.



It effectively joined up the Union Canal with the Clyde Forth Canal. The Union Canal is on a much higher level that the other canal , thus making it slow progress for boats using this waterway if using a more conventional lock system.
We were thrilled to learn that not only could this system be watched at work but that also hour long boat trips were offered which go through the Falkirk Wheel.


DH having a closer look...his wife has nagged about this thing for years! 


Boats enter the 'gondola' when the water has rushed in. The gates are shut behind, the boat is tied up and then the wheel starts to revolve and raise the boat and water filled gondola up 34 metres until it is at the level of the higher canal. 


The gondola carrying the boat starts to rise...




Two boats are at the top now...the returning one will be lowered and the one on the left will soon sail into the canal and will eventually continue on through to the tunnel and beyond...
I'm going to be a bit tricky here and add in photos I took from inside the boat along with the ones we took of the bait that left the hour before ours went.
So now we notice that our boat has gone rather higher...








Then the lock gates at that higher level are opened and the boat sails out of the gondola into the canal.



 There is a tunnel that the canal goes through and after the tunnel is the Union Canal. 
Here we are not far from the tunnnel's entrance...


The canal is much wider here but will narrow again at the tunnel...



Looking back at the Falkirk Wheel from the tunnel...

This is where the Union Canal joins the Clyde Forth Canal and where our boat tuns around...

Coming back to the wheel, we sail into the water filled gondola...

As our boat descends, we see the next tour 'going up'!

Going down!ook 

Look at the very appropriate name of the boat DH and I went on...


This was James, our lovely guide and captain. Peeping out of his coat is the ship's 'rat'. A little girl who was very scared was given the rat to look after during the tour...it worked, she was fine!

So after 7 years of yearning to see the Falkirk Wheel in action, I did even better...I got to ride through it! Great experience, great memories! 
Want to know more? Here's is just one link.  



Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Royal Yacht Britannia; The work areas...

Britannia is part of the huge project which is the rejuvenation of the Leith Docks area. A large shopping centre surrounds the Britannia and parking is free in the multi storey carpark...and believe me, that is a huge bonus in the UK where parking spaces are at a premium. 
Part of the redevelopment of the Leith docklands...


The start of the tour of the ship takes visitors to the bridge...there is one seat/stool on the bridge and that is for the Admiral who captained the Britannia.


Then we moved outside of that upper deck...

We saw the cupboard full of the signaling flags...



The next photo shows the royal launch...

The Royals would also take their Rolls Royce with them too...it was very difficult to get on board and would be hoisted up. To get it in this garage area, they had to take the bumper bars off! 
Eventually the Royals would be able to access a suitable car in most of the countries they would visit on State Tours so the garage area was then used for the storage of beer! For the crew maybe?

This is the officers dining room...

This is where the china and glassware is stored...

Where the silverware was kept...

The Britannia still hosts private functions and food is prepared in the galleys...




One of the cold rooms...


One of the crew messes...

Here I am at the bar of another mess...notice the name? Bet the Queen didn't visit this place! Lol
The glass of beer was fake...
The commentary pointed out that that there was a very definite hierarchical system for the crew. The lower ranks had very modest quarters...the officers had nice but small rooms...the petty officers and Royal Marine Sergeants did a bit better, but not as good as the Warrant Officers and CPOs. The captain of this royal yacht was an Admiral no less! 

 

But the lower ranks still had a lounge type room of their own...

The laundry...the laundry was large as when the ship was brought into service in the 1950s, it was designed to be able to be transformed within 24 hours into a hospital ship in the event of another war. 



The sick bay, also had had an operating theatre...




The lowest level was the engine room...the photo through the glass doesn't show what an amazingly immaculate condition the equipment in this room was...and that's how it was kept when it was the royal yacht.


Along side the ship on the shore side was the royal barge...


I practised the 'royal wave'...hmmm....needs a bit more work! Lol
 
Just near the barge we saw another photo opportunity! 
I'm holding the gadget that played the audio tour...it was like a monstrous mobile phone! 


There was a display of crew uniforms in the complex before we started the tour...hard to get a good photo because of the glass...but you can still get the idea of how smart the uniforms were...


On the ship was this familiar uniform...


We had a wonderful couple of hours exploring this ship. It was decommissioned in 1997 as part of the Queen's austerity program that year. But it has gone to a good home now and it is owned by 'The Royal Yacht Britannia Charitable Trust. Well worth a visit!