Deco’s Caribbean blog on board the Oceana,January 2013
Ok…first 24 hours on the Oceana… Not much to see except the sea right now,but the journey thus far has been uneventful and calm,which suits me just fine. I think we are in the Bay of Biscay,and everyone is marvelling at how like a millpond it is- good!
The ship is lovely- understated British elegance at its best…my cabin is light and airy and although the balcony is minute,it’s still going to be a lovely place to escape to occasionally! I managed to fill EVERY SINGLE piece of storage space,including the over door shoe holder- what a boon for holding “stuff” that is!
Had to endure the aesthetically challenging but nonetheless obligatory lifejacket drill,at 16.30 where about 500 people try to cram them and their lifejackets into teensy weensy seats in theatres- everyone trying to sit as near the exit as possible in order to get back on deck for the 17.00 sailaway…priorities is priorities! At least EVERYONE looks equally lumpy in these wonderfu contraptions!
Am sitting in the bar listening to Edelweiss ( that well known English classic!) and sipping cocktail of the day Bahama Mama. I feel like one of those foreign correspondents- this is my letter from abroad.I am still getting lost on a regular basis,but for those who know me this is nothing unusual.Thank goodness for the central Atrium…
Only one major mishap at the moment- as I was titivating my hair prior to the first Formal night tonight,I heard this “swishing” from the toilet….. My lovely new maxi dress was trailing the hem in the toilet bowl! One quick change later,and a note to self to close the bloody thing when not in use….
I have delightfully funny and nice dinner companions; 2 couples and a lady who all seem to know each other ( most people on here seem to be seasoned P&Oers) and 2 elegantly coiffed older ladies with a wicked sense of humour. Always nerve wracking on the first night to see if everyone gels…If they’ve all debunked to another table tonight,I’ll take the hint!
Right..dinner now followed by a comedian… Second part to follow later…
Ok,dinner consumed with gusto- smoked duck with apple coleslaw and morello cherries,followed by gammon steak with chips…very yum! Saw Andy Wilkins,from ‘Ull.. Some of his jokes were a bit old,but he was a personable chap who engaged his audience. Popped into Le Club where apparently it’s Heavy Rock night,but after a quick head count of interest (1!), the DJ is going with 50s music instead (wise move methinks!).
Time for a post meal snifter,and that will decide if I pop along to the Music Quiz at 10.30 or not..
Another blissful night held in the rocking arms of the sea..no chance of seeing the late show…goodness,if they could prescribe this for sleep,I’d be an addict!
Anyhow,off to the Spa first thing (umm about 10am!) to prepare for the sun and warmth I am assured will be with us from Sunday….
Late brekky and then a couple of brisk laps around the deck to blow away the cobwebs,before settling into the Yacht & Compass for a late morning feast of Bingo,”Battle of the Sexes” and something else which I’ve already forgotten! Won the first game of bingo,much to the ripple of begrudging apathy that people give when they were “only one number off”! Battle of the Sexes ,the women edged ahead on guessing music groups from photos,ranging from the 1940s to 2000… I think between us,we covered all those decades plus some!I bet the third thing I did was great too… Expect I’ll remember it about 3am!
Another couple of yomps around deck in the SUNSHINE ,amusing myself counting how many people were huddled on sunloungers wrapped in cocoons of layers and reading their Kindles..gotta love that Brit spirit!
Short siesta and then time to prepare for the first formal evening,with the Captain and free drinks…. Possibly,just POSSIBLY,everybody else on this ship knows the rules better than me, because being a good girl I turned up at the allotted time of 6pm, only to find not a chair or flat surface in sight…. Now much though I love listening to Captains’ speeches,the thought of 30 minutes gently swaying in heels I’m not used to,is NOT my idea of fun! So debunked to the Y&C for a restorative Piña Colada,and awaited dinner…
Again,lovely food; game terrine with ginger,followed by Lobster in a gratin, and the piece de resistance ( I’m SO easily pleased!!), Stilton that had been marinaded in Port…my goodness it looked foul( I think Fungus the Bogeyman might have walked away from it,but I’m made of sterner stuff where cheese is concerned),but it tasted delish!
Off to the cabaret- Steve Stevens, trumpeter,ukulele player and very funny man…. He dealt with possibly the most persistently annoying man on this cruise with humour and aplomb… But I do think it may not be long before someone on the ship’s staff takes him to one side,and explains the rules… For example taking up a table for 4 in The Plaza in order to do his 1000 piece jigsaw whilst people are frantically searching for a chair,is hardly going to win him friends…. Ho hum….
Anyway,decided to skip the classical concert tonight,and go and do….. Another quiz! I am the original wild child eh?! Came joint first,which is not bad for a team of one, but lost on tie breaker.
Quick nightcap now before bed and posting the day’s excitement…
Now,I have a thought for tomorrow…am tempted to out my pedometer on to see how far I walk in a day on this ship…but am wondering if GPS will kick in and suggest I’ve walked about 45 miles,most of it on water…… Let us see….
Oh the lethargy is sinking in..I am no longer rolling around like Popeye on Speed..I have found my sea legs,just in time to have mastered that rolling seaman’s gait for Madeira tomorrow… Anybody got any Capstans to complete that mental image?!
A quiet day today… Went to bingo in the morning but it was cancelled due to lack of interest..dunno why,but people seemed more interested in that big yellow globe in the sky.So I took part in the “Sailing” quiz instead and surprised myself with getting a creditable enough 13/20 right! Who knew I knew that much about boats!!! (Apparently,the Oceana is categorically NOT-A-BOAT-IT’S-A-SHIP!!!-best said apoplectically!!)
Next,I ventured in the Marco Pierre White restaurant for brunch,and had an oddly inappropriate ploughmans lunch at 11am! I have to say I’ve never seen nouvelle cuisine in a ploughmans before ,(half a pickled onion(!!) and one slice of apple ) but it was tasty enough- I ditched the accompanying cottage bun ( it could have felled a seagull at 20 paces!) in favour of some of the onion bread from the buffet selection. A nice peaceful oasis to eat the first meal of the day.
The temperature only hit 61 degrees but it still felt lovely and warm to our gale sodden wind lashed British skin! A deck full of chameleons gradually shed layers of blankets,towels and clothing as the day went on,and the sun shone and the sea was blue…..
At about 3pm the weather changed and most of us scuttled indoors- me in the direction of the Countdown game…well,that was a revelation! You basically make the longest words from the letters on screen, add up your totals and say how many points you have at the end of the game! Nobody verifies the words or the scoring,so I figure that I could have made up total gobbledygook and won easily! Huh! Half an hour of my life gone,that I’ll never get back!
Magician is on tonight,not too sure about seeing him- I shall ask my dinner companions for their opinions. The alternative is a much needed game of Scrabble- I’m getting withdrawal symptoms..it doesn’t look the sort of ship where I can just whip it out in the bar ( so’s to speak!) so I may be banished to the wilderness of the card room…. Unless I find an oppo,it will be left hand versus right hand… At least I know I will win!
Land!! ..Ok it confused me somewhat when I looked out of my PORTSIDE balcony to see sea,but I figure the captain is allowed to park his boat (ahem!) wrong sometimes…
Anyhow, decided to beat the scrum and leg it off the ship at 8.20am before the assorted tours got going..
As a result I saw Madeira as a ghost town, but on the positive side,the HopOnHopOff bus was peaceful…(substitute “empty”!)What no one had told any of us was that as well as being Sunday,it was also Epiphany,so any Madeiran(?) worth his salt was spending the day at home exchanging presents with their nearest and dearest..
It didn’t particularly bother me as I’m not a shopper by nature,and I enjoyed the bus trip.. First stop the cable car up to The Jardins Botanico,and wow,what a vision that was..it was every net curtain twitcher’s dream; you see houses,gardens and swimming pools galore- loved it..for one who is so wussy re heights on my own two feet, cable cars don’t scare me at all.
The gardens were lovely; I especially liked the orchids and the Oriental Gardens,and I cheated and caught the buggy back to the top- if you’ve been there,you will understand why!
I had been told of these man controlled toboggans that took you back down the hill that the cable car came up (maybe 2000 feet,I’m not sure?)But,ascending the last few steps to the orchids,I heard this screaming,and poking my head over the wall,saw these two little old ladies hanging on for grim life,with two men behind them,using their feet for brakes..now,I’m brave, (questionably!) but I’m not stoopid! I saw those women’s faces and heard my life flash before my eyes,and decided to redo the cable car back down….
Quick recuperative Irish coffee back at the foot of the ride (well,you would), and then it was back on the HoHo bus… There didn’t look a lot else to hop off for,so I just sat back and enjoyed the sun and the ride,
Back at ship at 2.30- quick snack at the MPW for a fish cake, then book and zzz…
Dinner was nice but already hankering for a cheese sarnie. Had eggs hollandaise with smoked salmon,followed by halloumi cheese and flatbread..couldn’t face the pud,delicious though they looked.
Tried to get to see the show,but no seats,so am currently taking part in a quiz about “I’m a Celebrity”… First prize a P&O sticker..my street cred has just whiz zed past my ears……
5 days at sea now til we hit Antigua running….
19 degrees,cloudy,and in the middle of the Atlantic…. Maybe I should finish today’s report there!
Anyhoo,I won’t because I’m letting my Chicken Kiev,( preceded by avocado with crumbled goats cheese) digest…shades of 70′s cuisine here… Only let down by the absence of Black Forest Gateau and After Eight mints!
So a quiet day,with the anticipatory beach bag quietly stashed by 11am… No triumph of optimism over experience here! But… The dependable 10.30am quiz was there to be lost,followed by the ubiquitous bingo…
I then mooched off to the library to ferret out a Scrabbler or two,but boy,are they thin on the ground on this cruise! One of my lovely dinner companions Brenda,has suggested that maybe I request a Scrabble event to be put in the daily blog,and see who turns up… This seems like a cracking idea and one I shall follow up tomorrow… Can’t imagine how it will work,but it may bring Zyzzyva to a whole new (captive) audience!(POST SCRIPT-that suggestion didn’t work;neither did the suggestion of pinning a “Come Hither and Scrabble” note on the communal noticeboard..as this ship DOES NOT HAVE SUCH A THING! C’mon,P&O- this is such a simple thing to put in place,and assures that people with weird or wonderful hobbies can meet up and play…(Maybe not ALL weird hobbies….but most…..)
The chicken Kiev appears to have worked a treat garlic wise,and I found a seat in the theatre tonight,no problem.And breathe………..Am ready to watch Andy Wilkins second show (ukulele trumpet and comedy)… Wondering how he will cope without Jigsaw man to heckle him! ( Last spotted heading for the magician with 3 security men in hot pursuit!)…Maybe they magicked him away…..
Ooh update on Jigsaw man… Apparently he has been sent home…. I’d better behave myself then! Mr Wilkins very funny, (even minus ukulele and trumpet!). Heard a few of the jokes before,but he is very funny to watch visually.
Early night planned- a couple of episodes of Trollied are calling me .
Tomorrow we are advised it will be warm and sunny….hmmm……..
Short and sweet today… Sun,sea and sunbathing…. Quiz early evening, where I dredged up Richard Adams and Harper Lee as 2 answers I didn’t even think I knew! Am sitting here watching the sun to down before dinner…. I thought I understood the power of the sea from where I live,but this is something altogether different… Special…
Magician after dinner tonight- I wonder if he will make any more cruisers disappear?! Too busy to get a seat so I think an early night is called for.(the alternative of a Doctor Who quiz REALLY doesn’t appeal!
We are now on the slow count down to losing 4 hours to be 4 hours behind UK time by Saturday morning.. Will soon feel like it’s time to go to bed before it’s time to get up! Or somesuch!
Well,this is the thing- I’ve joined the choir! Gulp! So,between now and our grand performance to the rest of the ship on 1st February,there are 6 songs to learn and hone..thus far we are doing “Favourite things”(which I can’t abide!), “Delilah” (which I love and is mostly male orientated), “When the Saints go marching in”, and a mashup innit of “Pack up your troubles” & “Tipperary” with the men singing one and the women singing the other…AT THE SAME TIME! Haha… 2 more songs to be chosen,one for the women and A.N.Other… Watch this space….(Postscript- Que Sera ,Sera- another of my most hated songs(!) and “Sailing”…….)
Otherwise,not much to report- the nice librarian has printed off a “Scrabble” ad for me,so maybe I’ll finally get some word action! (Postscript…..2 games,2 days before the end of the cruise!)
Tonight,is Stephen Stevens the ukulele strumming,trumpet blowing,joke telling act who is going to have to do his act tonight minus the dancing heckler..and no,I still don’t know where he went- probably singing and dancing his way round Madeira!
Gradually improving in the evening quiz-15 out of 20 today but still not enough to win the coveted P &O sticker!
One more day at sea before Antigua on Saturday… It’s been lovely today,and I have finally cottoned on to the real benefits of the balcony- no scrumming for a sunbed on the top 2 decks today,no sirree! Ok,so not very sociable,but lovely and hot,and more importantly,out of the wind!
Not sure what happened to day nine! Ok..Antigua… Woke to the sounds of “In the Mood” being played quayside by a group of rasta tin drum players- weird and wonderful…rather uplifting to see little straggly groups of cruisers self consciously letting rip quayside!Dad dancing on a whole new level…
Managed to vacate the ship a whole 75 minutes early due to thinking I was on a totally different tour to the one I’d actually booked..but the ladies will be pleased to hear that I didn’t waste this unexpected shopping opportunity- I managed to bargain ( be fleeced?) for a kaftan, and a pair of earrings before it was even 10am!
My trip was a P&O “Highlights ,lobster lunch and beach day”…. 6 hours in the delightful company of our Antiguan tour guide Angie, who to her credit,knew EVERYTHING we threw at her!(If anyone remembers the cartoon Mama in Tom and Jerry,I think Angie was the role model- she was brilliant!!)
We went to Blockhouse Fort and Shirley Heights,both old English fortifications, saw green bananas, black pineapples and a dildo cactus (yes-really!makes a good shampoo apparently..)then a whiz trip to Nelson’s Dockyard where we tucked into barbecued lobster…mmmmm..
Gratifying that the Antiguans appear to have kept the “best” bits of what we introduced to their country- drive on the left, red post boxes and phone boxes,a cracking compulsory education system, and every village has its own police station and medical centre! (Impressed with the last two especially!).
A couple of hours on Turner’s beach followed ,with complimentary rum punch- not to be sniffed at!And for reasons possibly best left unexplained,I had my handbag rescued from the men’s toilet cubicle,by a tall dark Stetson wearing American who called me “ma’am”…. “”I believe this is yours,maaa’aam-ya left it in the stalls”….. As I say,least said,soonest mended- suffice to say it was dark and I had my sunglasses on…
Back to the ship about 4.15, and change into my new kaftan and earrings….
After dinner,decided to avoid the inevitable scrum for the shows,and entered the “Celebrity Couples” quiz… I am embarrassed (REALLY embarrassed to say that I won with a score of 32.5 out of 40)…. Second P&O sticker in 2 days…but seriously?…. (Hangs head in shame…..)
As predicted,not too much to say- 2 days beach bound…although I did see a sight I hope NEVER to see again…. A man of about 40 wearing skimpy black speedoes AND black socks on the beach! He made a big thing of rolling them down so that he could massage in the sun oil,before methodically rolling them back up again!(the socks,not the speedoes!).
The sea has been alarmingly rough for the Caribbean,so as yet,your intrepid reporter has not ventured further than knee depth,for danger of never being seen again!(Say nothing,friends!).
Quizzes have remained elusive prizes,although hot on the heels of my Celebrity Couples success,I have the feeling that tonight’s “TV Sitcoms” could be attainable…
Steve Larkins,the Freddie Mercury tribute was extremely funny;a mix of Freddie meets Terry Thomas- lesson learnt- do NOT sit in the front row,when a comedian is headlining! He had an amazing ability to hit the same notes that Freddie did,and I have the feeling we may need to start queuing at lunchtime the next time he is on!
Last night,we had our second tropical deck party in 3 nights..although it was lovely and balmy,and we had the men’s Tropical shirt competition, (Butlins at sea?Noooooooo!!), it maybe came too quick on the heels of the previous one. But I met up with some of my lovely dinner companions, and we had an enjoyable couple of hours,quaffing and chatting.
Random purchases thus far on the cruise,a sarong, 1 tie-dye top,a coconut shell filled with spices,and a bottle of banana ketchup!(Not just anyone’s banana ketchup,but Big Hot Mama’s homemade stuff!)
Quiet couple of days,mostly at sea. The day at De Palm island off Aruba was great, and good value- it is a man made fun island about 6 minutes by boat,and once there,it’s all- inclusive. Great water park if you have kids,or like me,just want the chance to cool off under the numerous fountains and shower things there,without having to traverse the sometimes choppy waves onshore. Saying that, they have built 2 sheltered sandy beaches there where you could easily go out 70 feet and only be at waist height..fish are visible from the edge of the water onwards, so a great place foe snorkellers and Snuba ( yes,Snuba!)divers.
Had a really chilled 5 hours there,and as an added bonus,the shopping mall right by the ship as we came back,had some bargains too- added to my collection of kaftans and wraps,plus a lovely sequinned flower hair grip- bring in the next tropical/ seventies/ bad taste night!
The night was completed by my inadvertent appearance on the ship’s Blankety Blank” stage show…. One of the Ents Team asked during the early evening quiz ,who was coming along- me being me put my hand up,only to be told “Great,see you on stage at 10.30″! If I say that the panel consisted of six of the ship’s officers,and one question was “It was prisoner Joe’s 21st birthday,but they didn’t give him the keys to the door,they gave him BLANK”, what would you have written? My answer was “Porridge”….. Interested to see what you would have answered..their answers worried me that these people are in charge of a ship! (Assorted answers given by the Officers- “nothing”, “a combination lock”,etc etc)I got to the final anyhow,and came second,and it was fun..a few more poor saps know me now,as a result!
Friday was spent at sea- nothing much to report- our choir added 2 new songs to our repertoire “Dream a little dream of me” and “Que Sera,sera”- which about sums up that experience! We have a half hour show to do on 1st Feb,and we are not rehearsing again til 23rd January!! Que Sera indeed…
Watched the comedian magician in the evening, (Andre)… Was somewhat disappointed that he seemed to take pleasure in NOT being particularly pleasant to his audience- I don’t like comedians who run people down,so I shan’t bother to see his next appearance.
Today as you see,I was up at 05.30 to see our entrance to the Panama Canal! Even then,I couldn’t get front row!!!!!!Jeepers! It’s a bit of a “boy” thing…but I am glad I experienced it.
Watched it til about 7.45am then having seen and HEARD enough about lock mechanisms to last a lifetime, I went in search of hot coffee and a bacon sarnie..
It was interesting and I’m glad I saw it in action- it felt like the whole ship gave a collective intake of breath, as we only had 24 inches clearance each side of the ship!
Afternoon! First of all a quick stats update.. Thus far,( don’t quote me as this is ship grapevine only!)-6 fatalities(apparently), 3 people put off the ship at various ports, (alleged details below!), and assorted broken and sprained limbs from individuals who are probably old enough to know better than go scuba diving and snorkelling!
Re the persons removed from the ship,allegedly jigsaw man exposed himself.. And there was me just assuming it was his FINGERS he was sticking in the buffet food! Someone else allegedly got a “thing” about one of the ship’s nurses,and kept making medical appointments (which he was charged for) until he overran his onboard credit limit,when the ship then phoned his bank to check he was good for the money- only to find he was using someone else’s credit card(!).And the third person,for shop lifting in one of the ship’s shops… Duh!
From there,we had a day at sea to take us to Roatan,off Honduras…. What can I say? It was wet and windy, but it LOOKED as if it would have been lovely in the Caribbean sunshine. We went to the botanical gardens and the butterfly farm… The only butterfly I saw looked like it may have been glued to a tree so still was it..I have the feeling that butterflies don’t fly in the rain,but I’m not sure..anyway,I took a photo of what I saw. New additions to the shopping- yet more gifts for chums- 3 Honduran rag bags- quoted at $25 dollars each,until I started walking away,when they miraculously dropped to $10 each!
Another day at sea,and sticker number 3 won, for Famous Faces!
Yesterday was Cozumel,off Mexico- sadly another wet day ashore,although to be fair,the showers didn’t last long and dried quickly enough.I opted for the Mayan ruins,followed by the beach…. Yes,I know in hindsight,the beach was a bad move…but who knew?! Mayan ruins were ok- I think I expected pyramids but they are somewhere else..the guide was good and knowledgeable.. The unexpected trip to the local tequila farm was interesting,but the prices charged there were a total rip off with tequila starting at $49 dollars(!), when the same stuff could be bought at the rather good duty free shop at the terminal complex. Fortunately because we were 100% British,I don’t think ANYONE bought at the inflated prices!
Raining again,so the beach stop involved lunch in a fairly ramshackle beach bar….I didn’t swim in the pool because it looked less than salubrious…
2 quiet nights on the entertainment front,although I did subject my new friends to a couple of karaoke numbers on Monday night… Reasonable chance I won’t be asked back there!
At sea again today,en route to Jamaica and for me,Negril Bay… This is a 5 hour beach day,so here’s hoping the sun stays out!
Choir practice this afternoon,and we are almost honed for our performance on the 1st Feb!Well,I never have to see any of these people again,eh?
Tonight is the return of the comedian Steve Tandy,so I expect to have a laugh.
I have just been for a Traveller’s Tension massage…I never fully understood the phrase “muscles were screaming” until that moment… Dear god,it was like being mown by a steam roller,dipped in molten lava! But my goodness,do I feel good now! Zzzzzzzzzzzz………(Postscript…. over 2 weeks later and my back aches like no one’s business..I’m not sure in hindsight this was a good thing…)
Well,as everyone knows,I have spent most of the last week incarcerated in my cabin,with only my faithful manservant Cherrington to break the boredom. Despite him having to don protective clothing,and cover his shoes on entering and leaving the cabin,he maintained a cheery smiling presence throughout my captivity… I don’t know what my immediate neighbours thought was happening, as Cherrington was always accompanied by 2 oppos and a trolley of paraphernalia that hovered outside my room for 20 minutes twice a day… I can only assume from their total lack of contact that they either a) thought the Black Death had entered the ship and was residing in cabin 232, or that Cherrington had painted a black cross on my door,with “Prepare to die,all ye who enter here” appended!
Don’t I have fantastic dinner companions?! Apparently they’ve been worried sick about me the last 3 days- didn’t know if I’ve been left behind in Jamaica, been taken ill, or had to fly home! Nobody told them I was in my cabin in isolation. But bless them, they have had half the ship looking for me, and eventually today, they got the Captains wife on the case! And there was me thinking no one cared! Can’t understand why no one on the ship seemed to know I was confined to barracks! Anyway, the good news is, as of NOW I am released!!!!!!
2 hours later…. as soon as I hit the open air…Spoke too soon… Back to solitary confinement….
The Italian sense of humour! In response to our “Big British Sailaway”( thanks to Brenda for sneaking me a Union Jack so I could take part!), they wrote CIAO on the hand and waved us goodbye!! Best news of the day, I am allowed to choose real food tonight- still in jankers but who cares?!
This 4 day isolation meant that I was not allowed to disembark at Jamaica,Tortola or St.Maarten,so at least you are spared my wimbling on about them….
Anyhow,I am now fully returned to full form,( mentally and physically) so I thought I’d witter on a little,to celebrate…
Nothing of consequence happened today,except that the door handle to my balcony came off in my hand…. Fortunately I was INSIDE the cabin ,going out when it happened,as opposed to outside trying to get in! Certainly wouldn’t have fancied further incarceration right now!
“Eeeza sunny day today…today will be I sink ze last day for bikinis…..tomorrow will be-a sunny too anda maybe ze day afters….. I not know….zen ze deep depression may come over ze sea…..thankyou.Captain.”
Mike Doyle pretty much spoofing to perfection,our italian Captain Vagos during his show last night. No word of a lie,this is the type of speech that the Cap’n comes out with every morning- very funny,unintentionally.
Mike Doyle was SUPERB last night and the only act I’ve seen on this ship that has gone his allotted 50 minute slot- we were fortunate enough to see him for over 70 minutes,and the audience were on their feet at the end. Welsh and funny…
Today was an odd sort of day,not least,because my phone insisted that it was still Tuesday rather than Wednesday… And with points of reference being few and far between,it was about 11am before I realised that it was actually Wednesday…by which time,my alarm ( phone) hadn’t gone off and I’d missed the breakfast I’d promised myself of warm croissants and jam…salmon fish cakes and salad,although undoubtedly healthier,did NOT On this occasion,cut the mustard.
The final remnants of my balcony door handle have now fallen off,leaving me with the ship’s largest picture window…
I inadvertently stumbled upon a game of Scattergories this afternoon,and won…a STICKER….I feel that with the description “Something you need to turn on” beginning with W,I was unique in my answer of “Woman”,and equally well,the deal was clinched with “Something you wear above the waist” beginning with N; it took every ounce of self restraint NOT to write “Nipple clamps” but settled for “Neck brace” instead…Sticker Number 4… Woohoo! Maybe I am up to a P&O mug by now?! (Postscript- this ended up being my grand total and would have entitled me to 2 swimming bags or 4 Mobile Phone Protectors…yet again,hindsight is a wonderful thing…)
Lost the afternoon quiz on a tiebreaker question… In what year was “It’s only Make Believe” a Christmas number one? I don’t think it’s fair that they have questions about things that happened before I was born!( Understandably I am alone in this..)
Tonight’s offerings are a music set by the onboard Headliners group,which according to everyone I speak to,have been dreadful this cruise, or 2 sassy looking lady violinists called String Idols….or…..and at the risk of sounding boring….a music quiz! (50s and 60s…)… A sticker or culture? It’s a tough choice…. We are now 2 hours behind British time,and tonight lose another hour…thus I can see how much closer to home we are…
Reassuringly,football is on in the sports bar upstairs..cruises may come and cruises may go..but football?Football is a constant in an ever changing world…….
Okay..the plan was to give you 24 hours breather,but due to a couple of heartfelt requests,a quick update.
String Idols were superb- maybe have seen them on Britain’s Got Talent or somesuch? Legs up to their armpits,smiles that would blister retinas at 20 paces,and the ability to hold a toon on a fiddle… Very good
Tried the movie quiz after,with my friends Alan and Joan, but we were resoundingly stuffed..
Last night I got the opportunity to try Miranda’s favourite sleeping position for the singleton in a double bed- the Starfish! This was not so much to test her theory of its comfort ( which is obvious duh!)… More that the ship was pitching so much it became a matter if necessity in order to cling onto the mattress,if I was to avoid another visit to sick bay courtesy of being unceremoniously tossed skyward through the night! Anyhow,she’s right..it’s comfy….
Today has passed in a monotony of grey skies and choppy seas..punctuated by failed attempts at various quizzes..my last chance of redemption today is in about 15 minutes where I feel the quiz ‘Comedy Greats” is better suited to my intellectual ability than “Capital cities if the world” or “Ports we have visited”..( in my case that would be quite a short quiz! )Talking of which,P&O have now cancelled my Ponta Delgada trip on Saturday due to lack of interest- I mean it was a walk round the town and Botanical Gardens- what’s not to like,guys???- cue boo hiss…at this rate,I will be buying gifts for my friends from Tesco in Southampton (wonder if they’ll notice?!)
It’s supposed to be a good singer tonight,Melissa, but I’m not in the frame of mind for diva songs. Dinner was yum but filling- haggis and neeps in short crust pastry,followed by haddock n mushy peas ( bleugh!), and brioche bread and butter pudding,that owed more to egg than bread..am I the only person who still believes a bread and butter pud should consist of stale bread WITH crusts, sultanas,boiled milk ,nutmeg and a smidgen of egg to bind… The whole glorious concoction to be roundly crisped off on top with good old white sugar?!No? Just me then….. Brioche indeed….
Anyway,how quiz calls……..
Ended up doing the Comedy Greats quiz,to find that 12 of the 20 were American comics that no one,but no one had heard of..except for one…Chris Something? As a consequence all 8 teams scored 8 out of 20-(that being the 8 british comedians!!) with a lucky 2 teams also knowing the Chris Something one too…..disappointing but in keeping with the day..
If one more old battle axe tries to boss me around ONCE MORE in this choir,they may end up with their libretto lodged where the sun don’t shine! It doesn’t matter where THEY think I should stand; that’s the choir master’s role! Grrr!!!Anyway in another hour or so, it will all be over…. It will be a deck full of nerves and heaving bosoms, and thats just the men!!!Am currently summoning Dutch courage with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc.”There’s lovely” as my welsh friend Pontypool says…
Exciting news from the front today- I was challenged to a game of Scrabble! By someone who knows the “funny ” words too- the extent that she carries her own copy of CSW12 in her bag! We had a good game, and I won by 80, chiefly through finishing on a bonus word and leaving her with a rack full. It was fun though but I feel rusty- my first game since 26th December…
After the choir prrformance tonight, I am legging it up to the top deck Indian buffet- by all accounts cooked by the Indian chefs and expected to be absolutely delish. This to be followed by the second performance by the ventriloquist, so a good night in store.
Tomorrow we have a day in Ponta Delgada , in the Azores- never been so no idea what to expect. All I know is that this 35 nights has gone quicker than I could ever have imagined! Managed to fit in odd bits of work when required to, so hopefully might manage it again! Could get into this cruising lark..May manage a post dinner update later (Postscript- I didn’t!)
Uneventful couple of days..Ponta Delgada was ok but mostly shut! That will teach me to slouch off at 1pm when it’s half day closing… Anyhow,it curbed any possibility of spending so….
In the absence of shops being open,I went on a pony and trap ride round the town…pretty horse,and a driver that looked like Peter Ustinov.
Had no gripping desire to see either show last night so went to karaoke and blasted out a couple of toons-”Those were the days” and ” Bye bye love”….. On the theory that it sounds better if you sing something that others can join in with. Not too shabby a night and late to bed.
This morning,was woken to the announcement that they are swapping tonight and tomorrow’s shows around…due to the weather turning too rough tomorrow to set the stage up…oh dear..just as well I have perfected the Starfish move..I’m ready for anything now… Even if it means not leaving the cabin for 24 hours- I’ve had practice at that!
Today is a sea day and has been singularly uninteresting,except that I won the last 2 games of bingo this afternoon… I received the usual mediocre applause for the first win..the second was greeted with applause that sounded more like 2 nudists flopping onto sunloungers at a convention!
Tonight is the Crew Talent show- I bet that will be fun.Last night to posh up on this cruise,so I am a vision ( nightmare?!) in fuschia and vermilion…..subtlety was never my strong point!(Cr
ew Talent show was equal best evening entertainment of the Cruise,especially Victor/Victoria,and the Ents Team NUTS song..Laugh ?I nearly cried?In fact,I think I did a little..but that’s another story…)
Oh for those that are interested,apparently the choir performance was not too bad- I even overheard 2 men talking later,saying that they would get P &O to book us on ALL their cruises! I even managed to maintain my position near to my boys in the back row! Huzzah! Girl Power!
Fun watching the dancers tottering across the dance floor last night and trying to incorporate holding onto the bars as a part of their moves,as though thats what they intended to do all the time!
Thank goodness for the makers of Avomine travel sickness tablets! Thanks to them I survived the Biscay crossing in one pice,despite the gale force winds that buffeted the ship through the night. Absolutely NO NAUSEA whatsoever…Brilliant!They can be bought on prescription from Boots or for about £4.50 from the onlinepharmacy.com.
During the night as the storm intensified,my muscles got a work out and a half..I spent the night rolling from one side of the bed to the other ;Miranda-the Starfish manoeuvre does NOT work in a force 9 gale!What DID work was putting myself in the recovery position for the night! Try it,it works!
Anyway sleep was elusive on 2 counts; the endless rocking of the ship as we were pounded from the sides,and the wailing banshee noise that started in my cabin at about 1am….it rse and fell intermittently through the night like a cat in a mangle..every time I lurched out of bed to investigate,it mysteriously stopped- only to start again about 10 minutes later…
Eventually I identified the top of the balcony door as the culprit- that door has been more trouble than it’s worth! Anyhow being of a resourceful nature,I jammed 3 pairs of knickers along the gap and the wail diminished to a reedy whine…. Better than nothing…finally dozed off about 6.30am,and aside from being nudged awake by Captain Vago at 9am,who felt it important to tell us that “the sky eez grey,the sea it eez grey..wiz white bits,but overall izza grey day,.it az bin a stormy night,no?” ,(the man is a master of stating the bleeding obvious,no?!) , I slept fitfully til about 10am.
Then the arduous task of packing began…this is really one holiday I don’t want to end.,. for some reason which I can’t explain,there seems a lot more to take back than there was when I came.
I popped out for a bit of brekky,and when I came back,my bed had been made,bathroom cleaned..and 3 pairs of knickers delicately laid out on the bed! God only knows what the cabin steward thought when she found them jamming the balcony door shut!
Anyhow,all is done now and I am waiting for the last supper…I shall miss my new chums,but something tells me our paths will cross again.I’ve had an absolute blast of a holiday,and I hope I didn’t bore people too much with the gory details. Home tomorrow,and I suspect about 3 days tied to the laundry room…but I don’t care!
Well, I’ve been back for 24 hours…. Can’t bear the prospect of opening a suitcase yet to start the onerous business of doing 5 weeks washing in bloody nearly sub zero temperatures! Thank goodness that the winter wardrobe needed in England is sooo totally different to the Caribbean couture, dahlink.Might get away with it a bit longer… But those bags are calling out to me…Damn..
Anyhow, when the alarm went off this morning, I had NO idea where I was; I didn’t know if it was morning, afternoon… Really weird… It got me to musing…. These are my thoughts..In 35 days I became quite institutionalised.. I got used to crisp clean linen sheets every 2 days, bedding turned down each night… Chocolate on the pillow… Room cleaned and tidied every day( as if by magic!My life ambition- a self cleaning room!I adapted to an entire living and washing space of about 10 feet by 15 feet( that surprised me- everything HAD to have its space ..no room for random cluttering there!You could literally pick your clothes from the wardrobe, whilst cleaning your teeth- No cooking (and more importantly- no washing up!!), wall to wall stuff to do on demand.. (Or not, depending on mood).
Things I won’t miss- the unseemly scrum for sunbeds on sea days- it amazes me that even on a ship, some people are so territorial that they seem to need to erect a barricade of towels and space around them- these are the same people who clearly have a)never heard of headphones or b) have such a high regard for their own taste in music , that they just KNOW that everyone within a 20 feet radius if them will want to share the moment- news to these particular brand of tourista ignoramus…. We DON’T!! The very occasional finger clicker in the restaurants and bars- those who still seem to think we have an empire and treat everyone as though we do…
These people were in the minority and I guess that they are just a reflection of cross section of society as a whole- I can’t imagine they’d be much different on land!
I couldn’t sleep last night because I have got used to being rocked to sleep- Freud would have a field day on that one!My day was punctuated by sunshine,quizzes,deck games,(although I still don’t “get” deck quoits!) cocktails before dinner, more quizzes,dinner, shows….I was fortunate to see some amazing places in a part of the world I thought I’d never visit. I talked to people from all sorts of backgrounds, and really listened… It was surreal but lovely..I am still walking like Popeye,whilst my body adjusts to the fact that it no longer needs to counter the rolling motion of the ship- ladylike or what?!! At least I’m not smoking a pipe and necking spinach!
Now I’m back in reality (briefly!), it already feels like a dream world… But last night, I cooked sausage and bacon sarnie,(with HP Sauce naturally!!), chilled down a bottle of Sauvignon, sat down wrapped up in my duvet, and watched wall to wall Miranda (series 2 for those who like the minutiae)… God I was a happy little bunny…I think it sort of proves that happiness is a state of mind… Such a simple night, but for all the hectic mayhem of the last 5 weeks, such a lovely change…
The nicest thing from an entirely selfish point if view, is that sharing the whole experience ha reawakened the latent writer in me ( be afraid, be very afraid!). I have so much enjoyed tried trying to encapsulate memories into words, and I loved the feedback and interaction that caused… Thanks to everyone who helped make it such a memorable experience