Northward, Ho!

By Mary Jo

This will be my fourth and last blog about our British Isles cruise because I can never capture all the wondrous places we saw and it’s time to move on to other topics!  After leaving Wales, we headed east to Liverpool, one of Britain’s major seaports and famously the home of the Beatles as well as many other successful pop musicians.  I can’t resist posting the link for James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney guiding Corden around Liverpool and the two of them singing. It’s WONDERFUL!

But what impressed me the most was the endless wind farm we cruised by as we left Liverpool. (above) The British Isles are windy, which makes for a vast amount of renewable energy.  It was dusk when we sailed away and there was a haunting beauty to the wind turbines we passed by.

After Liverpool we sailed to Belfast, capital of Northern Island, which is part of the United Kingdom along with England, Wales, and Scotland, so Belfast is more British in feel than Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland.

The city is a major port with a long history of shipbuilding which includes famously the Titanic, so I’m including this picture of container shipping that I took from our balcony. Cruising means sharing ports with the vast world wide shipping network that is the life blood of international trade.  Container ports are everywhere and container ships have doubled in size in recent years as goods are shipped all over the world.  The container ship that took out Baltimore’s Key Bridge in March was huge, the length of a football field. It was literally overflowing with containers. International shipping law is changing as it tries to catch up with the increase in shipping traffic.

As for our British Isles cruise, we visited five ports in Scotland, including two of my favorite places: Orkney and Shetland.  Click on the links to read the blogs I wrote at the time.  Those visits inspired the fictional islands of Thorsay where I set my novel Once a Laird.

On Orkney, we visited the UNESCO listed Ring of Brodgar,  one of the most striking prehistoric sites in a land rich with prehistoric sites.  It’s a henge that ranks up there with Stonehenge and Avebury.  If you’re in the neighborhood, by all means visit!  And speaking of wind power, our guide said that Orkney generates more renewable wind electricity than the islands can use and they haven’t been able to send it to the mainland because the power cables are inadequate.  The cables are being upgraded now.

The cruise ended at Bergen, Norway, which is due east of Shetland, meaning they’re very far north. We’d had good weather throughout our trip, and on our last leg to Bergen, the captain announce that we were heading into a heat wave! In Norway, that means temperatures in the 70s F.  The city was beautiful–our other visits to Bergen tended to be cool, gray and wet. <G>

Flying home from Bergen generally means flying to a larger European airport such as Copenhagen to catch international flights.  I’d managed to get us on Air France because I wanted to see if the food was as good as it was rumored to me, and the answer was yes!  I really enjoyed our flight to Paris, where we changed to a flight to US.  Having been raised on a farm, I loved looking down at the beautiful French fields.

It was a wonderful cruise, but as we all know–there’s no place like home!

Mary Jo



16 thoughts on “Northward, Ho!”

  1. What a wonderful cruise, Mary Jo! Thanks for sharing about your experiences, the photos, and the link to Hey, Jude!
    We used to live in Livermore (California), a different Liver**** city, that also has many wind turbines. They are indeed quite a sight.

  2. What a spectacular trip! The cruises the two of you take are wonderful to know about and see what tours are available.

  3. The wind turbines look as though they are dancing. Your trip does sound marvelous. You’ll miss the cooler weather when you are back home. Glad you had a marvelous time.

  4. Nancy, I also thought the wind turbines looked like they were dancing! We had lovely weather during the cruise–we tend to go in mid-spring or mid-autumn because the weather is usually good and it’s not the busy season. Now home and hiding in the air-conditioning!

  5. I love the wind turbines. In Australia, one of our politicians famously complained about how ugly they were (!!) and the riposte came back “Is that compared to coal mines?” I too love them. I once walked the Camino in Spain and walked through a wind farm and thought it was an amazing experience. Also, thank you for the photos of ‘Thorsay’. The Orkneys were once the centre of a thriving trade route between Ireland and Scandinavia. I’ve read some wonderful books set in those places and times. I’m not likely to get there myself so I’m always happy to see photos. And of course Australia, being so far from everywhere else, is highly dependent on the world of sea transport for our imports. So, all in all, I really really enjoyed this post! Thank you.

    • Marryd, LOL about the turbine/coal mine comment! I have friends who have walked the Camino and all of them found it an amazing experience, though they were more likely to mention vineyards than wind farms. Since you’re interested in Orkney and Shetland, you might enjoy my Once a Laird since I tried convey the magic of those far northern islands. I’ve visited Australia several times and love it, but must admit I hadn’t thought of the trade routes that are so essential for the country to flourish. All those container ships tend to operate out of our sight–unless one of them destroys a bridge as happened here in Baltimore!


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