Monday, 12 January 2009

Day Five – Still Recovering…

Today was a complete contrast to yesterday’s activities and rushing around. The clocks went back one hour overnight giving us an extra hour in bed but it made little difference to us as we needed the rest to get over all that mountain descent yesterday. We were late rising and showering and didn’t get to the Al Fresco until well after 10.15am. Part of our delay was that we were deciding if we wanted to do any of the organised tours and we went through the book again searching out those that we think might be suitable. We chose quite a few that will take us as far as Bangkok together with some reserves as we had heard that quite a few of them were already booked.

At breakfast we joined a couple that live in London but born in Yugoslavia and they gave us some great insights about why the Balkan wars happened and its aftermath. They have lived in England for many years and now consider themselves English enough to criticise Gordon Brown – they are not great fans. We are still endeavouring to cut back on our eating and so it was largely muesli and fruit washed down with cups of tea. The Oriana caters extremely well for its customers but surprisingly for an “English” ship does not have good tea, relying as it does on Tetley tea bags. Poor show!

Then it was downstairs for a perusal of the photos taken at the Captain’s welcome – I think that we look pretty spiffing in our gear as we stand either side of the Executive Purser, so we chose one of those and another of 6 of our table group with a very Junior Officer who was not very knowledgeable about his craft. We also elected to join a photo group so that if we buy at least 10 pictures during the cruise we get a reduced rate. With that business over it was on to the tour office to see if any of our tours were available and to our delight most of them were. We were disappointed not to get the Maori Village but we will be seeing something similar in Fiji and this way Hilary will be able to get a whiff of the sulphur springs that I remember so well from my first visit to New Zealand. We passed over the opportunity for the Harley Davidson hire on St. Maarten (£250 each) in favour of a beach visit. By the time we walked away from the counter our bank balance had taken quite a hit but we reconciled ourselves to the fact that we were given an on board cabin credit of the travel agent when we booked, so we have gone from being in credit to being in debt.

The stuff on Oriana is not outrageously expensive, although I have ordered a monogrammed P & O polo shirt costing £16.99, an amount that I would not normally consider. We may have found ourselves talked into paying more for wine than we would normally buy when at dinner last night Richard suggested that the 3 drinking men and women on our table should take it in turns to purchase a bottle “nothing too expensive, say £12 a time – not bad spread between us is it?” He then chose to go first and ordered a bottle of Spanish Rioja costing £18!
Potentially over the rest of this voyage we could end up forking out for 26 bottles…. You do the math! I am already planning our escape route from this dilemma.

No major events for us today, we were thinking of listening to a Tracy Edwards lecture this morning but they announced that she was ill – Sea Sickness I queried jokingly? Instead the morning after setting up our tours has been taken up with sitting in the Crows Nest (on the inside, it’s still a bit breezy outside) with me writing our blog off line and Hilary doing some embroidery.

We did succumb to lunch and I am sad to admit that I even had a dessert, “Think thin, Sam Woollard, think thin,” and then we strolled to the Chaplin Theatre to see a lecture on the Falkland Island War with emphasis on Intelligence. Hilary had seen one previous lecture by Glenmore Trenear-Harvey which was about Intelligence in the Cold War and afterwards and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately this lecture was in a smaller room and was already packed out by the time that we arrived so we had to stand at the back for an hour which both of us, with our aching calves, really didn’t need. This lecturer is old school British and although a little bumbling he does a really good job and makes his subject very interesting. OK it was after lunch and a few heads were seen nodding but let us not forget that the average age on this cruise is somewhere around 105! So it was back to the tap, tap, tapping and the embroidery to sit in the Crows Nest – good seats this time – and sip our Ginger Beers. Just before we left the cabin Hilary looked out of our window and saw a dolphin! She was well chuffed but would have liked to be able to open the window to get a better view!

The weather is still being remarkably kind to us, a bit breezy out on the decks and every now and then we have a little bit of a swell but we are confident enough to do without our Sea Bands. It hasn’t really warmed up yet but as we cross the Lido deck we see more and more people taking in the hazy sun as they sit around the pool (no swimmers yet).

One tape down on the cine camera, and I have started to import it onto the computer so that I can make a DVD of the trip. I will have a go at uploading some snaps as soon as I have transferred them from Hilary’s camera.

The latter part of our afternoon was taken very slowly and we spent most of it sitting indoors at the front of the Crows Nest sipping more Ginger Beer with Hilary doing embroidery and Sam failing miserably with a book of Daily Mail Crosswords that Dave and Shirley gave him some time ago. Even after 4 days the brain cells are remarkably rusty. Then there was a shipboard announcement that “a whale has been spotted off the port bow,” and pandemonium broke loose as everyone rushed over to look for it. Sam was given the job of guarding the embroidery and the handbag until a happy Hilary came over to see that she had seen the tail disappearing under the waves. Two huge mammals in one day – and that doesn’t include the growing mammal called Sam!

Dinner with the regular group was interesting as always, our unofficial organiser Richard moved everyone around the table so that most of us had different people alongside us. It was Bill’s turn to buy the win – Sam’s tomorrow, big responsibility, I mean what kind of wine goes with vegetarian Toad in the Hole? All of the dinner group were seated near each other for the rest of the evening’s entertainment as we met again in the Theatre Royal to see a very good violinist appropriately name Gary Lovini (work it out you anagram fiends). He played medleys of all types of music from, classical, Russian, jazz, bluegrass and nationalistic, ending of course with a sing-a-long of Land of Hope and Glory. And so another good day came to an end, some people have been disturbed by the swell that is running in the sea but I am pleased to say that this old couple have found their sea legs and we hope that it stays that way.


Jessica said...

Sounds like a fantastic trip so far! Also wanted to let you know that not only is Nathan reading your blog, but some of his fellow Nanchang teachers too. You've got quite the audience! Can't wait to read the next day. Much love!

Hayley said...

Wow, Dolphins and Whales! Aunty you lucky thing! :) Really looking forward to seeing some snaps of you guys all dressed up! I think the day trip in Thailand is definitly a good idea, especially if you thought the taxi drivers in Madeira were annoying! :) Try and get a ride in a Tuk Tuk if you can and film it! they're sooo much fun!
Anyhoo thats a while off yet i'm getting over excited...keep on enjoying yourselves, lotsa love, Hayles xx

samw7 said...

Great news about the dolphins and whales. Sounds like it was also a good day just to relax and enjoy. You have quite the international audience for the blog! Weather here is in the 60's but we are waiting for an arctic blast that is going to take it down to highs in the 30's on Thursday and Friday. Hope it doesn't make its way down to the caribbean.
Love to you both.