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Thread: Over the Ord anew

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Over the Ord anew

    Hi there, folks

    Due to a technical problem, I am unable to access my original, Over the Ord, slot and I am therefore opening this new thread.

    Noel Donaldson

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010


    Well, what did you think of the royal wedding? Some show!

    Whether you agree or disagree with it, one things can't be disputed...Britain can certainly stage a big royal production.
    The star of the show, for me, was Kate Middleton, or the Duchess of Cambridge to give her her official title, now.

    She certainly rose to the occasion. For someone so young and totally inexperienced about how to cope with the biggest spectacle of her life, was no mean feat. Yes, she would have received much guidance from royal advisors and of course, her husband-to-be. But,the theory of it is one thing...doing it for real, with the eyes of the world watching, was, another, and she pulled it off without a hitch.

    I had only two reservations about the wedding day. Firstly, the broadcasters continued to make comparisons with Princess Di which was really unnecessary, given it was William and Kate's day; secondly, I bet the security people were having a fit when the happy couple suddenly shot out of Buck House in an open-topped sports car presenting a goalden opportunity to a lurking terrorist.

    Thanfully, nothing untoward happened. Where are the happy couple honeymooning? Your guess is as good as mine, but a few royal watchers in the Far North wondered if they might steal away to the Castle of Mey. If you hear anything, drop me an e-mail.
    Last edited by Nwicker60; 02-May-11 at 11:25.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Wick, Caithness


    Royal Yacht ‘Museum’ didn’t fully acknowledge the Caithness Connection
    NOEL DONALDSON muses on the Royal Yacht "Britannia"

    PEOPLE are getting married in lots of different places, these days and another venue has become a available, in the recent times....the former Royal yacht Britannia.

    The vessel which was retired from royal service a few years ago, had already carved a new career for herself as a tourist attraction, in port, at Leith, and a venue for special parties, the most notable being the pre-wedding reception by Sara Phillips and Mike Tindall.

    Now, Britannia, which previously entertained corporate receptions, has been opened up to Joe Public for wedding anniversaries, private dinners or birthday parties. But if you can’t hob-knob with royalty you will still have the opportunity to go aboard and sample the style accorded to them.

    Before guests arrive, they will receive “royal” invitations inscribed with Britannia’ crest, they are welcomed with a red carpet and a pipe, walk up the special ramp which was previously reserved for the Queen and the Royal Family and enjoy drinks in the State Drawing Room.

    Over 95 per cent of the original items on board are still in place and you can enjoy champagne outside on the Veranda Deck, as a tourist, if not a VIP.

    You might have only had a short trip to the prestigious vessel, had the powers that be opted to put the yacht out to grass in the Far South, as opposed to the Far North. I floated the idea in my former column, Wicker’s World that Britannia should be based at either Wick or Scrabster harbours, but no-one took me on, and she sailed into retirement at Leith.

    I based my appeal on the fact that Caithness has had a greater royal connection, if not with the yacht in particular, the royals in general. The Queen and Prince Phillip were regular visitors to Caithness, dropping anchor, during their summer cruise, in Scrabster Rhodes each year, when accompanied by other members of the family they would go ashore for lunch with the Queen Mother, at the Castle of Mey.

    While waiting along with my press colleagues for the royal party to return, I would occasionally cast a wistful glance, seawards and wonder what Britannia was like on board.

    A couple of years ago, I found out... but I have to admit that I thought it would be more opulent than it was. Still comfortable enough for Marge and I to cruise up the west coast and east, to see the sun set on our dreams.

    You don’t get access to the royal boudoirs and associated offices, which were closed off behind glass screens, probably to keep souvenir hunters from vandalising royal property and young couples trying to find out just how comfy the royal beds were. Various information boards provided a history of the Britania etc and I looked forward to the chapter on the Castle of Mey which was arguably the most important stop-over on those annual cruises. What I discovered, was a board with a map and a mark showing the castle and a single photo of the royal family coming ashore at Scrabster, with no indication as to where, it was.

    I made known our disappointment to one of people in charge, and he took it on board. I don’t know if the omission was rectified but some of you can keep me right, if you have toured Britannia, since or intend doing so. Part of the deck has been turned into a cafe complete with a grand piano. I couldn’t resist running my fingers over the keys but didn’t succumb to the temptation to play Rule Britannia. Her history is covered in the tours, telling visitors everything from where she was built to the faraway places she sailed to, and you get to see the crews’ accommodation, not quite as posh as the royal quarters, of course.

    Now, down to brass tacks. If you want to book that special event..The Admiral Reception which includes champagne, canapés and a guided tour, start at £60 per person and rise to £90 for smaller groups. I suppose it boils down to how much you want that something special with which to celebrate, and, of course, have the ability to pay for it all.

    I doubt that given our, humble, retirement, financial means, Marge and I will be able to sample the high life on the not so high seas off, Leith but, at least, I got a long-awaited insight to life on the royal craft.

    The other day it was announced that Britannia is going into dry dock for a repaint, but should be back at her normal berth before the New Year is very old. Why don’t they cast off and head for a cruise in sunnier climes. The sea air would do the Duke of Edinburgh a power of good, recuperating, after his heart attack and I’m sure the Queen would enjoy it too.

    The couple are said to have mourned the passing of Britannia out of royal service and would I am sure, they would jump at the chance to renew acquaintances with an old friend.

    See photos from the tour at -
    Last edited by Bill Fernie; 02-Jan-12 at 17:41.

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