NEWS

August 2016

First of all my humble apologies this is slightly late but I am reliant of internet signals at sea and for some reason my attachments take an age to download across so as I was back yesterday I thought I’d wait until I got home.

I’ve been on the Emerald Princess for the last month and I have to say she is a beautiful ship. Launched in 2007, Emerald Princess is one of the largest cruise ships in the Princess fleet. She offers nearly 900 balcony staterooms from which to take in the colorful sunrise over the ocean, or capture a breathtaking sunset sail-in to a romantic city like Venice. Leisurely days spent onboard in the Piazza-style atrium are relaxing and entertaining, with the nearby International Café and Vines wine bar fulfilling your cravings for warm cookies, toasted paninis, and even hand rolled sushi. Whether you’re getting refreshed with a work-out in the fitness center or putting your feet up at Movies Under the Stars®, your experience on Emerald Princess is sure to be unforgettable

With a tonnage of 113,561 and guest capacity of 3,100 this is no small floating vessel but interestingly she doesn’t feel over large which I presume must be down to the clever layout. There are 19 decks but there are several even I didn’t visit. This ship's theater is designed with great acoustics, the best seats in the house, and stellar acts including yours truly. With a large percentage of guests being either British or American I had a good attendance and although booked for two separate cruises I ran out of stock of my book after the first leg. It is always so hard to judge how many you will sell.

We left Southampton on 9th July and for once the weather was kind and the following morning we docked in Zeebrugge, the port for Bruges in Belgium. I absolutely love going shopping here and I was gutted because as well as being a Sunday it was also a National holiday so all the shops were shut. Boo Hoo. The following day was a sea day and my first show. It always amazes me how many people come up to me during the cruise to say they didn’t realize I was on board but Princess do replay my shows on the ship’s TV system in the cabins so a lot of people caught up that way.

Tivoli

Next Copenhagen, another of my favourites probably because it is where dad performed for the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest. Tivoli is located just a few minutes walk from City Hall, and with the Copenhagen Central Station as its nearest neighbour it is very easy to get to.

Tivoli Gardens was founded in 1843 and has become a national treasure and an international attraction. Fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen visited many times, as did Walt Disney and many other celebrities, who all fell in love with the gardens. Part of Tivoli Gardens' secret is that there is something for everyone. The scenery is beautiful with exotic architecture, historic buildings and lush gardens. At night, thousands of coloured lights create a fairy tale atmosphere that is completely unique.


The rides are all designed to match Tivoli's architecture and gardens. Some rides are wonderfully nostalgic. Others will match the expectations of the keenest thrill seekers, e.g. the Vertigo which will turn you upside down at 100 km/h and was voted Europe’s Best Ride in 2014. Tivoli’s oldest and most popular ride, the wooden Roller Coaster from 1914, is one of only seven roller coasters worldwide which have a brakeman on board every train.

In 2016, Tivoli Gardens opens its doors to the longest summer season ever in with many exciting international events and double ups on music concerts.

The opening of the old amusement park 6 April 2016 means that Tivoli was dressed in the colors of spring, and you can enjoy the sight of the beautiful Tulip lawn and the scent of the hyacinths.

Tivoli Concert Hall ere showing Hairspray - The Musical with a cast of some of Denmark’s finest dancers and actors and there is an extensive programme of live music events every day. Every day during the summer, the open-air concerts will have performances of jazz, folk, classic and pop music, not to mention the Friday Rock concerts at 22:00.

When it comes to food, Tivoli is equally diverse. Some Danes will bring a picnic, but really there is a choice of everything from traditional Danish cuisine to French bistro or Asian food.

Tallin

This cruise is the Baltic Heritage and there were stops at Stockholm, Tallinn in Estonia, which I love. It is like stepping back in time. Founded in 1248 but the earliest human settlements date back to 3000 years BC, making it one of the oldest capital cities of Northern Europe. Due to its important strategic location the city soon became a major trade hub, especially between the 14th to 16th century when it grew to be a key center of commerce within the Hanseatic League. Tallinn's Old Town is one of the best preserved and intact medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is fantastic wandering the cobbled-stone lanes and taking a ice cold drinking the square. Once you are in the Old Town it is a bit of a maze and you can get lost for many an hour taking in the sites. Beautiful.

The highlight of the trip for most of the passengers was the overnight at St Petersburg in Russia. If you are considering a trip there you need a visa and you need to allow two weeks. The good news is that you can still get off if you book one of the ships many excursions into the city.

Russia

I chose to go to The State Hermitage Museum. One of the largest and oldest museums in the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been open to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise over three million items (the numismatic collection accounts for about one third of them) including the largest collection of paintings in the world.


Of six buildings of the main museum complex, five, named the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage and Hermitage Theatre, are open to the public. The entrance ticket for foreign tourists costs more than the fee paid by citizens of Russia and Belarus. However, entrance is free of charge the first Thursday of every month for all visitors, and free daily for students and children. The museum is closed on Mondays. The entrance for individual visitors is located in the Winter Palace, accessible from the Courtyard.

The guide told us that if you spent a minute at each exhibit it would take 8 years to see it all. We were all given headsets so the guide could talk to us and being slightly slower than most I found that by the time I got to one room she was already talking about exhibits in the next room. The unique part of the tour I was on was that it allowed you three hours on your own with a central meeting point later in the day. The major shopping street is called Nevsky Prospekt, which is littered with Russian tourist shops.

Matryoshka is the best-known and most popular Russian souvenir. It is a set of painted wooden dolls of decreasing sizes one hidden inside another. The number of nested figures usually varies from three to ten, but in some rare cases can reach 50 and even more. Traditional matryoshka doll represents a woman dressed in a Russian peasant dress wearing a scarf on her head. I have never seen so many dolls in my life, every shop had row upon row and the other thing in abundance was the Faberge style eggs.

In between the souvenir shops you were overloaded by jewellery shops selling Amber, a fossilized resin of ancient extinct coniferous trees known for its natural beauty and magic qualities. Amber can range in color from dark brown to a light almost clear lemon yellow.  Most amber used in jewelry is from the region of the Baltic Sea

In old times people believed in magic and healing properties of amber. Thus Avicenna wrote in the early 11th century that amber cures many diseases, including stomach pains, abdominal cramps, fever, and fainting.

Since ancient times amber has been used to make jewelry and household items. In the 18th-19th century it was a popular decoration for such practical items as cigarette cases, ashtrays, boxes, chests, clocks but beware there are a lot of fakes around. If a piece is too uniform or perfect it is probably a fake because a true piece will most likely contain bubbles, inner layers and cracks. One test is to drop your piece of amber in salted water (1 part salt to 2 parts water).  Plastic pieces will sink while true amber will float. If you go shopping for amber make sure you ‘borrow’ the salt cellar from the restaurant!!

Most passengers, including myself were well and truly spent after this two-day extravaganza of sights so hidden reserves was needed for our day in Helsinki. I had booked an excursion to one of Helsinki’s main highlights by visiting one of the largest ice bars in the world.

 

Ice Bar


It begins with a photo stop at Senate Square with the elegant Lutheran Cathedral. Continuing on it was approximately a 20-minute ride to reach the ice bar. On arrival we were given proper clothing to keep us warm and were then treated to ice-cold vodka from your glass hollowed out of ice! This year-round winter wonderland offered optional activities including tobogganing and Husky rides, a must.

Afterwards, we began our journey towards the downtown area passing along the main city street, Mannerheim Street, passing the Opera House, Parliament House, the National Museum, Finlandia Hall, and the Contemporary Art museum. Finally, you will make a stop inside of the unique Temppeliaukio Rock Church blasted into solid rock.

I was truly glad to have a day at sea to recharge my batteries even though I had another show to do. At east I was able to have a lie-in because the trouble with me is that even though I might have done it before I like to watch the sail-ins, which requires very early starts. Cruising gives you a very unique prospective of seeing the country which is unavailable by any other means so I feel it is worth setting the alarm clock.

Our last port before returning to Southampton was Gdansk in Poland. Gdańsk lies at the mouth of the Motława River, connected to the Leniwka, a branch in the delta of the nearby Vistula River, which drains 60 percent of Poland and connects Gdańsk with the Polish capital, Warsaw. Together with the nearby port of Gdynia, Gdańsk is also an important industrial center. In the late Middle Ages it was an important seaport and shipbuilding town, and in the 14th and 15th centuries a member of the Hanseatic League.

Five centuries later, Gdańsk was the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, formed in 1980, which played a major role in bringing an end to Communist rule in Poland and helped precipitate the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Back in the home port and a quick trip to Boots for some much needed provisions and then back on board for the second leg of my journey. This sector is one of the reasons I accepted this booking as it has some of my favourite port stops in the world. Entitle Mediterranean Adventurer our stops included Barcelona, Ajaccio in Corsica, Rome, Florence/Pisa, Genoa, Marseille and Gibraltar. If you have never cruised before this is a perfect taster of some of the best that Europe offers.

I won’t bore you by going through each port because a lot our self-explanatory but it is worth noting that a trip to Gibraltar offers up two things. One is that you can medications without a prescription, which for me is very important. I never travel without a course of antibiotics in my case and on this trip it was a lifesaver. The first day of the new leg brought several people who kindly brought their chest infections on with them. Having only just gotten over pneumonia I was grateful to start the antibiotics at the first sign of green phlegm, a sure symptom that you have an infection. It would have cost me around $100 to see the ship’s doctor so money well spent in the pharmacy. The other thing to bear in mind is the new Terminal Duty Free Shop. It is MUCH cheaper than the prices in town, which are also meant to be duty free. For example a carton of cigarettes is 18 Euros and in town 28 Euros so it is a big difference. The same cheap prices apply to alcohol and perfumes. The best thing to do is buy them as you get off the ship and pick them up on your return from town. You are only allowed three cartons but I bought three when I got off the ship and another three when I returned. No one said anything.

So that is it until 26 August when I get on Celebrity Eclipse and in between I am hoping to enjoy some sunshine and my garden, that is after answering the 366 emails, going through the normal mail which is 12 inches high and doing the laundry so that I am ready to repack.

Now on to Matt Monro news……..
The new highly awaited release has had a name change and it is now called Matt Monro: The George Martin Years. It finally came out on 5th August and has promptly sold out at Amazon. I’m hoping they restock quickly so if any of you have missed out be patient.

The track list features songs George had either written for dad (mainly under the pseudonym Graham Fisher) or tracks he’d arranged and conducted.  The current running time comes in just a smidge over 78 minutes and by no stretch of the imagination could it be deemed a ‘Greatest Hits’.

You Keep Me Swinging
– Made under the name of Fred Flange for Peter Sellers LP. 1st Recording with George
Love Walked In - 1st Single recorded with George under the name of Matt Monro
Portrait Of My Love – 1st Hit
This Time – Single B side written by George
Gonna Build a Mountain
Can This Be Love –
Single A side Written by George
No One Will Ever Know – Piano Demo. Written by George and his favourite recording of Matt
Softly As I Leave You –
Major Hit
Tahiti – First time Stereo Release
My Love And Devotion  
I Get Along Without You Very Well
– From Matt’s most critically acclaimed LP – “Sings Hoagy Carmichael”
One Morning In May – From Matt’s most critically acclaimed LP – “Sings Hoagy Carmichael”
Walk Away
Without The One I Love
– Not available on CD since 1991!
The Girl I Love – Not Currently Available
From Russia With Love
– George’s production tricks at their best
If This Should Be A Dream – Written by George and not available on CD since 1991!
Once In Every Long And Lonely While – Written By George and not available on CD since 1991
As Long As I’m Singing – Not Currently Available. Made for US market
Yesterday - Arranged and Conducted by George
Sarah’s Coming Home - Arranged and Conducted by George
First Of May - Arranged and Conducted by George
Michele - Arranged and Conducted by George
Ethel Baby - Arranged and Conducted by George
I Am In Life – From the last Session produced by George
I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten – Produced by John Burgess BUT - Arranged and Conducted by George – Rare on CD

The other news although slightly premature is that the new show “Matt Monro: The Legacy” has been sold to 60 theatres around the country kicking off in February 2017. Matt Jnr will star and depending on my other commitments I might also be joining the show. It was hugely popular last year and this time round I’ve updated the life story and Matt has added several other hits to the repertoire.

Keep an eye out for further news in the coming month.

My new dates for 2016/2017 have been confirmed as follows.

Cruise Calendar 2016

26 August – 3 September – Celebrity Eclipse
3 September 17 September – Celebrity Eclipse
17 September - 30 September – Celebrity Eclipse
30 September – 3 October – Celebrity Eclipse
3 October – 16 October – Celebrity Eclipse
16 October – 29 October – Celebrity Eclipse

Cruise Dates 2017
5 January – 5 May - Cruise & Maritime Magellan World Cruise
18 June -2 July - Celebrity Eclipse
2 July-16 July - Celebrity Eclipse
16 July - 30 July - Celebrity Eclipse
30 July - 13 August - Celebrity Eclipse
13 August - 26 August  - Celebrity Eclipse
26 August - 3 September - Celebrity Eclipse
3 September - 17 September - Celebrity Eclipse
17 September - 21 September - Celebrity Eclipse
28 September - 8 October - Celebrity Eclipse
8 October - 18 October - Celebrity Eclipse
18 October - 28 October - Celebrity Eclipse

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This month we look in on the ever-popular Mamas and Papas

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. If you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!!

Until next month

Warmest to you and yours
Michele
x

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