Saturday, 4 April 2009

Safely Home

We arrived on time in Southampton docks and the disembarkation went smoothly, so smoothly in fact that we were 30 minutes ahead of our expected leaving time. Our big bags had been put out in the corridor the night before so that the stewards could take them down to the Customs shed early in the morning but we still had to struggle down the gangway with all our carry-ons plus the elephants and as you may have expected we got many strange glances as we exited.

It took a while for Hilary and I to locate all our bags and with the help of two trolleys we were soon outside Customs looking for our driver. We discovered that he was having a "comfort break" but it wasn't long before he returned and gave us a hand to wheel our luggage over to the car park where his big Mercedes Estate car was waiting. It was while we were doing this we realised that we were a bag short so muggins here ran back to the terminal to collect it. Would they let me back into the baggage shed? Would they hell as like. So it was back to the Departure Lounge, pleading to be let in but still no and then a P & O lackey offered to go and locate the bag. The only good thing to come out of all this trouble was that several of the cast of the Headliners Group were also going back to drag out more bags and I got the chance to talk to them again. Quite a while later the lackey returned to tell me that he had found the missing bag but the bad news was that he had no authority to bring it out to me nor could he accompany me to go and get it! Security then got involved and a rather rotund, elderly, grey haired lady was allocated to escort me to my bag and then onwards and outwards to the outside world again.

Bag in hand I ran back to the limo for it to be piled in and we set off having been delayed by 45 minutes due to my carelessness. Luckily for us the weather was glorious sunshine and there were few cars on the road and virtually no hold ups along the way so we got back to Chubtor around 1.30pm and all set for a nice cup of tea. Hayley and Liz greeted us and gave us big hugs and then said "You have a message about a missing bag," "Yes we know, " we said, only to be told "No, this is a different bag." A phone call to P & O revealed that yes indeed we had left a second bag behind but for a fee of £30.00 they would ship it to us.

And that really is the end of the story, the bag arrived early on Thursday morning and proved to be the one that contained mainly dirty clothes that we had put out for washing and promptly forgotten about, however it did also contain a few necessary items such as toilet bags and a couple of souvenirs so we were glad that we accepted P & O's offer.

Thanks for all your interest in the blog, my sister Rose has asked for it to be re-written in book format and I might just do that after I have completed the mammoth task of editing 11 hours of tape into a 1 hour DVD. Night all.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Day Eighty: We did it our way….

So this is it, the final curtain, we went around the world and we did it our way. Our heaviest bags are packed (all five of them) and are outside our cabin door waiting for someone to collect them any minute and take them to the bag Valhalla or wherever bags go to when they are in limbo between being on board ship and in the terminal at Southampton. Our wardrobe contains nothing but a shirt that I intend to wear tonight, two sets of underwear and our two coats that we will wear when we leave the ship. I still have to work out how I am going to carry the following down the gangway:

1. the laptop and its associated peripherals

2. the camera bag and its associated peripherals

3. a holdall with two bottles of wine, a bottle of rum and two bags of Lays

4. a backpack with toiletries, umbrella and miscellaneous items


I think that Hilary has the easier task but I am sure that she would not agree; we are praying for a very large estate car to pick us up.

Speaking of praying, your thoughts for a calm crossing of the Bay of Biscay have been answered as we are experiencing seas as flat as a mill pond and far calmer than they were yesterday as we proceeded north up the coast of Portugal and when both of us feared that we could be sick.

As you can probably tell from the waffle we have done just about nothing today except pack, we did take an hour away from it to attend Diane Simpson the profiler’s last talk and pick up her handouts for the last couple of lectures. Today was about how to conquer the fear of public speaking and she gave some good tips which I could have made use of some years ago, but then it has never bothered me too much as I am a natural big ‘ead. I did miss the first part of the lecture as I needed to get something to eat and popped along to the Conservatory, Hilary is still feeling a little queasy but I did bring back a couple of croissants and a Danish pastry and she has made a stab at one of those – I will probably eat her leftovers! At the moment she is sitting on the bed in our cabin putting the finishing touches to her scrapbook – that girl is determined to finish it before we dock. We also put the last photos into the photo album today and they were taken last night at my birthday dinner where I posed with the Elvis bear in my top pocket! Stupid really but it will give us something to talk about whenever we open the album up.

I really have nothing more to add so I will pass you over to Hilary for her closing comments..

Tiz I. Well most of the cases are so heavy that we can hardly lift them off the ground! I have been ruthlessly going through all my leaflets, extra postcards, and other memorabilia to reduce the weight on the hand luggage but it is still very heavy. We can have two stabs at getting the stuff down to the ships lobby but we still have to carry it ashore! I have every faith that we will manage it all somehow! Roll on tomorrow afternoon when the journey home will be over and we can relax again. The unpacking will take several days as most of the stuff in the suitcases has no place to be when it is liberated from the suitcases. I will have to clear our some of the storage spaces at home to accommodate the new stuff. Our cabin is a complete tip and Geraldine had made it look quite tidy – how that girl cleaned in here with everything everywhere is amazing. Tonight is tips night and I have our envelope ready for our waiters. I did all that stuff when I was stuck in the cabin. Tomorrow we will be up and about early so we can get off the ship on time – at least we hope we can, with almost everyone else on the ship expecting to meet their taxi’s at 9.30am. We e-mailed our taxi and suggested that he meets us at 10.00am instead of 9.30am since we learned just how many others have that time scheduled. It will take us some time to wend our way through the throngs of people on the harbour-side, they will be trying to collect their luggage from the huge terminus hall and we will have a huge amount of hand luggage making us quite a wide target. I am so looking forward to seeing all our family and friends again – and catching up with all the news and gossip! Sam, the quiz night sounds as if it will be great fun, I hope that you get lots of music and sports and celebrities lives questions. I will be able to go on line myself when we get home – I have not had the opportunity on board, Sam has been very protective of his internet minutes.

I did mean to tell you earlier but Hilary’s note jogged my memory when she was talking about how stuffed the cases are, I started to count how many new shirts that I bought during the cruise and I lost count when I got to fifteen! All of them are lightweight summer shirts so we better have some good weather this summer or I am in deep trouble, quite a few of them are silk as well and that of course means washing and ironing difficulties. I will have to be totally ruthless when I get back to the wardrobe at home!

Final note – we have just come back from the Final Extravaganza which featured all the performers that are currently on the ship including a fantastic stand up comedian, a magician, a lady violinist and two male singers the last of whom was Darren Day (sad to say that once again he chose entirely the wrong song for a group of people whose average age is 70) but it was more than made up for by the final act The Headliners. They did a rendition of a medley of wartime songs and ended with Land of Hope and Glory which earned them a standing ovation. It’s sad that we will see them no more.

Our night ended with saying goodbye to all the waiters who have served us and then to Bill and Alison and finally Peter and Christine, we have all promised to keep in touch and let’s hope that we do. A final thank you to all the readers who have stuck with us since day one, without your comments this nightly blog could have been a chore but that hasn’t been the case and we have both enjoyed writing it and reading all your comments. So it is good night from me and goodnight and God bless from Hilary. With a bit of luck we will be back home early afternoon tomorrow and we can have a ‘nice cup of tea’.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Day Seventy Nine: A very happy birthday….

Today is so much a better day than yesterday when we spent very few hours awake at the same time but I am glad to report that Hilary is pretty well recovered from whatever it was that got to her and has been released from the confines of our cabin. She woke me with a card that she has been carrying all the way round from Julian and his family and I have been proudly wearing my “World’s Greatest 70 Year Old” badge all day long and I have every intention of pinning it to my dinner jacket tonight. I even got a card signed personally by Captain Chris Wells himself and I have 3 balloons Sellotaped to our cabin door so that everyone in our corridor knows that one of the passengers inside is having a birthday.

Today is actually the very first one of the whole cruise where I genuinely thought that I was about to be sea-sick and we haven’t even reached the Bay of Biscay yet! I slept through all the Force 8 winds and heavy seas OK last night and was even fine when I first got up and had a shave and shower but the action of bending down to retrieve the suitcases from under the bed so that we can start packing was the start of bringing me out in cold sweats and wobbly tummy. I immediately rushed to put on my SeaBands and took an anti-sickness pill and slowly over the course of the day the nausea has subsided, although I am noticing a bit of it now when I look at the keyboard or screen so thank goodness that I can do most of it by touch typing – thank you Mavis Beacon – and I can look at the horizon instead of looking down.

We were expecting Hilary to be released from the cabin at 9.00am this morning but when the phone call came we were told that as she too was a bit nauseous she should stay in the cabin until 12.00am. As soon as she was released we headed for Chaplin’s Cinema to see Slum Dog Millionaire, arriving just after it had started but while some of the credits were still appearing on screen. Quite a different film than the one that I was expecting but brilliantly told all the same, a touch more violent than I normally like but it didn’t detract from the essentially good triumphs over evil theme. I would definitely like to see it again from the beginning so we may look out for a DVD of it when it comes out.

The fact that we were in the cabin for the noon announcement enabled us to hear my Headliners Tribute poem being read out over the Tannoy by the third officer, he didn’t make a bad fist of it but he got some of the scans wrong, something I was able to correct for myself just a short time ago. While I was off doing other stuff the cabin phone rang and Michelle, the lead dancer of the Headliners, called and spoke to Hilary asking if I would like to read it to them before rehearsal this afternoon and that is where we have just come from. At 4.00pm the cast of the Headliners all sat in the plush red seats of the stalls of the Theatre Royal while I sat on the stage steps and performed for them. I should just explain that the poem uses the names of each cast member in turn with a little rhyming couplet and it was just a bit of made up fun to show our appreciation of each cast member. They did sing Happy Birthday back to me and we left wishing them every success in their careers and we added that we would look for their names on credit lists as they rolled across our TV screens. It does seem strange that in a few days time the whole cast will break up and go their separate ways and will have to re-audition for any new P & O shows, but at least it gives them some variety and as Michelle the head dancer said “We are getting great experience when so many other dancers and singers leaving college are still looking for work.”

I haven’t mentioned food much today and that’s because we have had so little of it, some of it because of the enforced cabin stay but also because we chose not to eat. We skipped breakfast because we were waiting for the nurse’s call and when it came it was too late for breakfast and too early for lunch. Then we were in the cinema for 2 hours, had a long wait at the photographers and at Reception before finally at 3.00pm we were able to grab a couple of small sandwiches at the Conservatory. Roll on the Captain’s Farwell drinks party at 6.00pm followed by our evening Peninsular dinner and then we can go back to the Theatre Royal to see the last Headliners show “True Brit.” Should be fun and we will get the chance to shake their hands once more as they will be at the doors as we leave the show. I will blog again after dinner and then you have only one more to come when we will be halfway across the infamous Bay of Biscay, no doubt with half packed suitcases rolling around the floor. Bye for now here’s Hilary……

Tiz I. Apart from feeling a bit queasy from the food I ate at late lunch, I am OK now and looking forward to the Headliners show tonight. I am not looking forward to drinks with the captain or dinner! Sam has had a really good birthday although it seemed to start out slowly with me being stuck in the cabin til mid-day. I told him that he could now be officially a ‘grumpy old man’. He thoroughly enjoyed being on the stage and reading his poem to the Headliners. He was in his element. The card from the captain was a nice touch too, it will make a good souvenir for the scrapbook along with all the invitations to the various ‘do’s’ and the photographs we have gathered together. We are still waiting for the last of the little photos to add to the scrapbook so it can be completed and I might have to stick them into the book after I get home! When Sam opened the top drawer on the chest of drawers he was amazed at how much paper memorabilia I have collected and he even suggested that it would be difficult to find space in the suitcases for it all. I have been saying for a few days that we need another bag – now he realizes why! Must go, take care, God bless.

At dinner tonight our dinner companions gave me a nice birthday card, then a Beanie Baby Bear with an Elvis haircut and sunglasses and finally Bill bought me a glass of champagne and then at the end of the meal all the waiters came around to sing their special version of Happy Birthday. If that wasn’t enough for one day we then went into the theatre to see the Headliners show True Brit and at the end of that show the cast were all outside the exit doors to wish us good bye and good luck. They all said that they hoped that I had had an enjoyable birthday and I wished them every success in their chosen career. A nice way to end the day especially as Hilary is feeling so much better. Our disembarkation cards at the moment are Orange and show us leaving the ship at 9.50am which will mean that we will miss our 9.30am taxi so I will try and get that changed tomorrow (along with about 700 others I shouldn’t wonder! That’s it only one more blog to go and we are done with this one, take care all of you and thanks for your support.

ps I may have given you the same picture twicce but never mind enjoy these three.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Day Seventy Eight: Heading for Gibraltar….

It may be a bit breezy and chilly outside but the drizzle that was evident when I crossed the Promenade Deck on my way to the Conservatory Restaurant has definitely stopped and our cabin is flooded with sunshine. Unfortunately the cabin is where we are pretty much confined to at the moment as sometime during the early hours the diarrhoea that was threatening Hilary a few days ago came on with a vengeance last night and as I sit writing this we are waiting for the nurse to arrive to assess her. We were supposed to go together this morning to clear UK Immigration but I have been the only one allowed out of the cabin to do so and while I was up there I asked about Hilary’s clearance and was told that it was up to the Immigration people as whether or not they will come to the cabin to see her.

Latest update is that the nurse has just been and that Hilary is definitely confined to the cabin for 24 hours, these people are dead scared of her bugs being spread around the ship and we have already had the sanitation squad in once and we understand that they will be back again later today. As I was writing this the ‘phone rang and it was Room Service asking what Hilary would like for lunch (nothing thank you) and advising that they would bring up a menu so that she could have her dinner sorted out for tonight. Hilary has been prescribed pills for the diarrhoea, two to be taken immediately and one each time that she “goes”; the only good thing in all of this is that it is all free! The ship is so concerned about tummy bugs that they feel being confined to the cabin is so restrictive that they don’t feel like charging you.

I know that you must feel a little depressed about the above news but actually Hilary is in pretty good spirits and to cheer you up I have posted some thumbnail photos taken the day before our wedding anniversary and some of you may be receiving full size ones as presents for the next five years as we have bought the copyright and have the photographer’s originals on disc. They cost a fortune….

Another update at 4.30pm and since I last blogged Hilary has spent most of the time asleep, she has tried to do the scrapbook and tried to read but pretty much to no avail. During the times that she has been awake she has been very lively but the awake periods don’t last for very long. The rushing to the loo seems to have slowed down and in fact she has had to take only one extra pill since this morning. In the meantime I have made the most of sitting in the cabin all day by getting another 2 hours of video tape downloaded onto the laptop and I have two more hours to go. The real task starts when we get home and I have to condense it all onto one DVD. The big disappointment for Hilary today is that they are showing Slum Dog Millionaire in the cinema for the first time tonight and we were hoping to see it together – looks like that we might have to buy the DVD when we get home and watch it there. Time for a cup of tea and I will give you another update later on tonight, we still have no idea what Immigration will do about looking at Hilary’s passport and we have joked that we might have to go round the world again if they won’t let her off at Southampton!

Tiz I. A bit sleepy from lack of sleep last night but otherwise just fine except that I am being treated like the totally unclean. I understand really as I was just the same with anyone at nursery who turned up with the liquid tummy! The soap has been reduced in size somewhat since I have become a Howard Hughes character! The scrapbook is almost up to date and the last batch of photos is at the photographers as we speak. I want to get it done so I have time to concentrate on the packing of all the stuff. We might need yet another bag to hold it all together while we travel home. The nurse is very nice and will phone me again in the morning to see that I had a good night and managed to sleep without any cramps. She apologised for the sanitation officer who arrived and proceeded to wash down the walls but refused to give me some disinfectant to clean the bathroom after I have used it during the day! No accounting for folk. Tomorrow is Sam’s birthday and I have been unable to arrange his special dinner with balloons and singing as they said to tell them the day before and I have been stuck in the cabin all day! As I write the coastline of Morocco is passing by – tomorrow we will be heading into the Bay of Biscay and we are all hoping that it will be just as gentle as it was on our way out to start our journey. After the last few days I will be glad to get home and have a rest! Sheila is in my thoughts, I hope that she is feeling better soon. Thank you everyone for remembering our wedding anniversary, it was lovely to get all the messages. Hey Sam, we saw the view from the diving pool area in Barcelona, it was wet and cold but we both thought that it would be stunning in the sunshine. Sharon, way to go girl, enjoy, relax and have fun. Right, that is it for now, take care, God bless.

Having problems with the internet connection again so I won’t try and post pictures tonight as they take connection time and I don’t want it to fail while I am posting; we are passing through a thunderstorm just off the tip of Portugal. While I was at dinner we saw Gibraltar going by on one side and Morocco on the other – neat! Hilary had some dinner and they will assess her again tomorrow morning and if OK she will be allowed out of the cabin. Ok connection good so I took a chance and posted 3 of the 6 pics. Goodnight.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Day Seventy Seven: The Rain in Spain….

Falls in Barcelona as well as mainly on the plain. Well we made it this time and despite freezing our butts off we can say that we saw all the sights that Barcelona has to offer and we did it from the top of an open double decker bus in the rain!

Something happened during the night and we are still not sure what it was but instead of poodling around at 10 knots the Captain made an announcement that we only partly heard as we had the TV switched to a different channel (all ship announcements come out on Channel 1 which also shows the ship’s position, speed and heading). We believe that someone was taken ill (yes another one) and in order to get them to port early we suddenly increased our speed to 22 knots and arrived 5 hours early – i.e. 2.00am instead of 7.00am – so we woke up to find ourselves already tied in Barcelona’s harbour. Hilary was feeling so much better that she was up and about and in the shower before I hardly had my eyes open and then we popped across the open deck 12 to the Conservatory so that we could not only get breakfast but also get a taste of the weather. It was wet, drizzly not raining heavy and the forecast was that it would clear up and the sun would come out with the temperature rising to 57F. None of that happened for we left the ship around 10.00am in the drizzle and came back around 3.00pm still in the drizzle.

At most ports P & O runs a shuttle bus into a central point of the town we are harboured in and Barcelona was no exception as we only had to walk off the ship – “Goodbye” said the machine – and onto a coach to be whisked off on a 5 minute coach ride to the World Trade Centre. Incidentally this location was the source of much argument at the ship’s Reception Desk as it wasn’t shown on the map provided in the Port Guide and one female passenger stood defiantly at the desk insisting that they show her where the World Trade Centre was as she had a friend in a wheelchair and wanted to know where they would be dropped off. We decided to hell with it and we would stop wherever and work it out from there and as it turned out the WTC square was right next to the statue of Christopher Columbus. Remember him you American readers? He was the one who sailed over to you in 1492 and sailed back in 1493.

Right alongside old Chris was a kiosk selling tickets for the Tour Bus (€21 each for an all day hop on/hop off ticket) so we plunged right in and bought them and within a few minutes we were on the blue route seeing the sights of central Barcelona from the comfort of an open topped bus. I say comfort very lightly as it was raining, the seats were wet and it was around 55F but we did have the benefit of little blue headphones that gave us a running commentary in several languages, one of which was English. We continued with the blue route right into the central Catalunya Square where we got off and changed to the red route that we knew would take us to the famous Gaudi Sagrada Famillia cathedral that has been under construction for more than 100 years – for those of you who are as unfamiliar with Gaudi as we are, he died in 1927. Gaudi’s influence is everywhere in Barcelona and we saw examples of his strange style throughout the city including a terrace building with a roof that looks like a snakeskin and we could have seen a lot more if we had had the time to get out at the various stop. That cathedral/church is amazing and its build is progressing extremely slowly as it is all done with voluntary contributions but the really strange thing about it is the different styles that it is built in, everything from Gothic to extremely Cubic modern, I will predict that it will not be finished in my lifetime even if I live to be over 100 years old.

We continued with the Red Route past the 1992 Olympic Games stadia and buildings, then onto old and modern castles, buildings with spires and turrets before heading back towards the city centre. In order to get back to the ship we had to get back on the Blue Route when suddenly there was an announcement over our headphones to say that our bus was now becoming the blue route bus and all passengers wanting to stay on the red route had to change buses! How strange and fortuitous was that? Mind you it was a long route to get back to the ship as the journey took in the Barcelona football ground (where a lot of men got off) as well as a long climb up to a sight seeing observation point where we could look down on the whole of the city, before heading back down to sea level. At one stage we abandoned the top open deck just to get out of the cold and the drizzle but it was so cramped and with no visibility we went back up again after only one stop. So our anniversary day was a real voyage of discovery (a little like our explorations in Amsterdam and Keukenhof were when we were on honeymoon all those years ago), and with that I will hand you over to Hilary who will probably curse me a little for giving her so little time as we both need to be dressed to meet our friends in Andersons for drinks at 6.00pm before we go to Rhodes to eat at 6.30pm. Talk to you later….

Tiz I. Still recovering from the cold and wet – my feet are still a block of ice! The drizzle did not stop and seeped into our coats and made the hard shell plastic seats on the bus little puddles of water – nice. At one stage Sam turned to me and said ‘stick with me kid and we will see the world’ he did not add that it would be quite chilly for the Spanish bit! We did quite enjoy the day in an odd sort of way and when we bought the postcards (20 in a pack) we could honestly say we had seen every one of the views illustrated). By the time we got to see a shop we were too cold to manage to pick out the postcards individually, our hands were blue and numb and it was difficult to focus through the steamed up glasses! Tonight we are having dinner at Rhodes restaurant and all our dinner companions are joining us. We even got a card from ‘Gary Rhodes’ for our anniversary – how good is that? It should be a good evening as they are all good company and we will all have a lot to talk about tonight. I’ll bet that Christine and Peter have both been into most of the important buildings, they always seem to get themselves in the right place at the right time. Alison and Bill will have kept dry and had a day of food and wine – that is my guess anyway, we will find out tonight. Tomorrow I will start to look at the size of the problem of getting all our stuff into the suitcases we have brought! My guess is that we will need another large bag at least, I will keep you posted with the progress on that one. Having seen some examples of Gaudi’s architecture it makes me wonder exactly what substance of choice he was taking. The buildings are structurally safe but visually odd – and full of interest and little quirky extras. So now for the replies to the messages. Sam I have been thinking about you all in Texas with the storms, was Fred and Linda’s home safe from the tornados in the area. Julian, what is AIS? What a lovely surprise it would have been to see you in Southampton, I do hope that your customs cutter is rebuilt soon. Thank you for the wishes for our anniversary, how did you remember that? Hayles you are right, we should be home between mid day and 2.30pm. The taxi is due to meet us at 9.30am and providing the customs and other formalities are straight forward we should be ready to meet it then. We are really looking forward to seeing everyone again soon. This has been the most amazing trip of a lifetime and we have had a brilliant time but I have missed you all. Take care, God bless.

OK back from Gary Rhodes where we had a magnificent meal full of surprises including a cold mango soup that was given free between the main course and the dessert and which everyone absolutely loved. Dinner was really funny with Peter and Christine bickering away at each other the whole time, apparently they had not had a good day in Barcelona and they had pretty much done the same as us except that Peter got fed up with waiting in queues for the tourist buses and decided to catch a taxi to Gaudi’s Sagrada Famillia and then found even more queues there waiting to go in. They ended up in Los Ramblas a notorious quarter for pickpockets and ended up in an argument with a bunch of hard men over the old ball under the cup game. Luckily they managed to extricate themselves but it obviously caused some friction between them for as I said they bickered their whole way through dinner. We had our photo taken just before we ate so if they turn out well we will post a copy. That is it for now, Hilary has already gone to bed and I am the only person in the Cyb@Study where I have nearly a 100 minutes to use before this cruise ends and only 4 nights to use them in so I may look at a few extra websites tonight before I log off. Night all….

Friday, 27 March 2009

Day Seventy Six: A much better day at sea.

You will all be pleased to know that Hilary is feeling much better and that she has been up and about today and taking nourishment following her involuntary fasting yesterday when her total food intake was 3 shortcake biscuits. The seas were much calmer last night and have stayed that way all day and we have an air temperature of around 55F, cool enough for me to have a vest on underneath one of my new polo shirts. The green one from Acapulco actually and it still fits – mind you it hasn’t been washed yet.

We were awake around 7.00am and up and about by 8.15am wandering down in a blustery wind across Deck 12 to the Conservatory Restaurant where we met up with our dinner companions Peter and Christine, the Boy Scout and Girl Guide leaders. They went on the tour we were meant to be on yesterday so we learned all about it by proxy and it seems that we missed a pretty hectic tour of Rome that included the Trevi Fountains, the Coliseum both inside and out as well as the Vatican. They also bought a lovely book about the Vatican and Hilary is busy looking at it while I am hurriedly typing to try and get my bit finished as quickly as possible as we have a Portunus drinks party at 6.00pm, followed by dinner at 6.30pm and it is formal once again.

We have had a very easy day as you might expect and part of our morning was spent sitting in the Crows Nest reading and this was after our morning lecture by Diane Simpson where I had my handwriting analysed! It wasn’t a full analysis as she could only choose 10 points out of a possible 300 but her conclusions on my writing were – wait for it – “Communication!! Ideas, Reactions, Reflecting the Situation, A Constant Observer – Journalist of Sorts!!?” Hilary agreed with some of it but not the constant observer as she says that I pay little attention to most things. What does she know?

We had a very skimpy lunch in Al Fresco where Hilary enjoyed her soup and one piece of pizza while I enjoyed my 3 pieces of pizza, 4 pieces of garlic bread and a mousse dessert with almond biscuits. Then it was pretty much off to the Pacific Lounge where Peter and Bill were performing in the last renditions of the Oriana Choir and everyone enjoyed their selection of songs. My appreciation of it was marred somewhat by the behaviour of a fat guy who insisted on standing in front of me blocking my view of the rest of the choir when he could so easily have stood behind some of his singing colleagues. But no he had to be the big “Look at me at the front of the choir, aren’t I something.” Definitely not a choir singer and I bet his handwriting shows him to be a loner! OK that is it for me and I will hand you over to Hilary who is lying on the bed watching BBC World News with her eyes closed…..

Tiz I. How else is one to ‘watch’ the news? I am much better today – the pain in my head has abated and now I just feel a little spacey and ache a little around the neck. I have lost my appetite too, how good is that! Barcelona tomorrow so I must pull myself together and be up to enjoying the city! The injections yesterday worked a dream – the medic said that I might feel a little drowsy – drowsy, I was zonked out for the whole day and night and could still go to sleep at a moments notice! It was good juice whatever it was! Everyone that I have met seems to have noticed that I was not about yesterday and they have all been very sweet and asked how I am feeling now. Apparently I am not the only one to be suffering. Sam and I have decided to make a trip to Italy at some time in the future so I can catch up with what I missed yesterday. One lady told me to take the Thompson coach and visit Florence, Vienna, Pisa and Rome. She said that the trip takes 2 weeks and it takes a route through beautiful countryside. So there is a thought – maybe in the future sometime. I spent some of the morning writing up the little writing bit that I put on each page of the scrapbook. It is always difficult to reduce the waffling down to fit the space available so I have a habit of jotting down all the important bits and then I can figure out how it will have be reduced to fit the page! For the page that was going to be Rome – I have pinched some photos from Christine and Peter and will put them on the bottom of the page. The top of the page will be a photo of me in bed sleeping with the caption of ‘while I slept Rome was enjoyed by our friends’. Oh well that is it for me for today, I must have a nap before I dress up for formal night and it is already late. Take care, God bless.

Just come from the Theatre Royal which starred Darren Day tonight, a name that was once so big on the West End and on TV has sadly gone downhill judging by tonight’s performance. There was a gasp from the audience when he came on as we expected a slim boyish looking performer and we were confronted by a tubby bald headed 40+ man. The bald head was explained away by the fact that just the other day he had his hair shaved off to raise money for Children in Need so that was a good thing. As was his opening Mack the Knife which was brilliant but it went a bit downhill after that particularly with some of the impressions that he did which were not in the best of taste. His take off of Stevie Wonder was particularly dubious and he ended his routine with a medley of impressions in My Way that had apparently brought him to fame in 1988 – not the best choice. The good news is that Hilary’s recovery continues apace and she is expecting to be well enough to go ashore at Barcelona – our last port of call! – tomorrow. See you tomorrow night after our special dinner at Gary Rhodes when we celebrate 45 years of harmony. Godbless.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Day Seventy Five: When in Rome……. Or maybe not!

Preface: I wrote the stuff below earlier in the day but you will be pleased to know that things have changed for the better……

Well we didn’t make it to Rome after all as Hilary has not been well. It started yesterday after dinner when she began to complain of severe tummy cramps and they got slowly worse during the night. And it was a terrible night on the ship, probably the worst that we have ever had for rough weather with force 9 winds making the ship bang and crash around all night long. To cap it all there was some kind of medical emergency in one of the cabins on the deck above us and at 4.00am an emergency call went out over the ship’s intercom to all cabins asking for a medical team to attend this emergency. That meant the whole ship was woken up by the call and it was the talking point in the laundry room this morning with speculation, later denied, that someone had died during the night.

We were due to get on a coach for a two hour ride from the port into Rome at 8.00am this morning and I was up at 6.00am realising that Hilary was not at all well, she had been to the loo about four times during the night and I sort of assumed that she had some kind of diarrhoea. By 7.45 am when we realised that she was not going to make the coach I was downstairs talking to the tours operator who told me that if we got the doctor to stamp our tickets then we would get a full refund so we contacted the surgery and a nurse turned up just after 8.00am. By now I was beginning to see that Hilary’s main problem was not so much with her tummy but that she had an excessively bad headache and the nurse did little other than to confirm that she needed to see the doctor as he had nothing in his emergency bag that could help her. While Hilary slept I thought that I would take advantage of the lack of passengers on board and do our laundry so you could imagine my surprise when I returned to the cabin while the clothes were washing to find that Hilary was up and dressed and had decided to see the doctor after all. We took the lift down to Deck 4 where a real life emergency was going on with one person on the dock side having had a heart attack so that the Italian Red Cross were running around with stretchers and oxygen trying to find out when they could take the person to Hospital and another – possibly the one from the 4.00am call also in the doctor’s room.

Hilary had little choice to wait in the waiting room holding her head for the best part of an hour until she could see the doctor while I flitted between Deck 11 where our washing was now drying, and Deck 4 where Hilary was waiting. And I had a little diversion back to our cabin to get Hilary’s medication as we couldn’t remember the name or the strength of the pills that she takes every morning. Thank God for lifts! Consultation over it was time for 2 injections in Hilary’s rear end with one for the pain and one to ward off any sickness that the pain killers might cause and of course time for the bill which amounted to around £76.00. Too small an amount for the excess on our insurance policy and around half of what we will get back for our cancelled trip to Rome.

It is roughly 2.30pm now and Hilary has been sleeping ever since she saw the doctor, I have looked in on her a couple of times and she has been sleeping like a baby – but fully clothed – while I have been back to the cinema and seen Quantum of Solace again (I understood it a little more the second time around), I have had lunch (fish pie and chips), and sat on the aft of Deck 10 reading a novel and doing the Sudoku with no effort at all. I am in two minds as whether or not to have a swim – one of the pools says the temperature is 29C and that is not too bad – or just to sit on the deck and have another go at the book I am reading, but the first thing I have to do is to go back and see my lovely wife again and check if she needs anything, I know that she will be very disappointed if she can’t get to see the Headliners tonight. I think that I told you earlier that we had put in a request for their autographs and I am pleased to tell you that we had an envelope waiting for us last night with them all in including all the members of the band, so that is another one for the scrapbook. I am going to stop here but I won’t post this until later tonight when I hope that I can give you some happier news. Tomorrow is a sea day while we sail between Civitavecchia (I don’t think that is the correct spelling) and Barcelona where with a bit of luck we should celebrate our 45th Wedding Anniversary.

OK I thought that Hilary was going to add to this blog but I have just come back from dinner and the theatre show to find that she hasn’t added to these pearls of wisdom but take it from me that she is feeling better but is still very sleepy and I am sure that she will tell you all about it tomorrow. Night all…