Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Day Forty Five: Back into the Northern Hemisphere

Sometime this afternoon we will cross the equator again and leave the Southern Hemisphere as we travel from Papua New Guinea to Hong Kong. A visit by King Neptune has been planned for the Riviera pool but as I sit writing this at around 1.00pm the rain is pouring down outside and we had to skirt around the very edges of the Lido deck so that we didn’t get soaked as we made our way back from lunch to our cabin. We also have a few swells on the sea which is making life very interesting for those who have braved the swimming pool as it is sloshing around so hard that huge waves are crashing out of the sides. I would be very surprised if they get many spectators for the crossing of the line ceremony unless there is a marked change in the weather. Hilary and I walked to the front deck this morning after breakfast which is what we like to do when we can as it gives us a bit of exercise and also gives us the possibility of seeing flying fish and occasionally dolphins. Today we found that it was impossible to lean on any of the varnished handrails as they were all covered in dark volcanic ash that had been deposited with the drizzle last night. Seamen were washing down the decks using the fire hoses and we saw a couple of deckhands with buckets washing all the chairs and loungers. It was interesting to see how the two of them differed in their techniques; one of them started by using a cloth dipped in a bucket of water and wiping each chair individually, then he looked across the deck and saw that his mate was dipping a broom in his bucket and washing the loungers with that. Not to be outdone he stopped the hand washing and then filled his bucket and threw it at each lounger in turn, very quick but not very effective. Not only did it not do the job very well but he spent more of his time walking backwards and forwards to the tap to fill his bucket than he did actually cleaning his chairs. Now of course most of their cleaning has been overtaken by the rain which is still coming down and washing all the ash into the scuppers (that’s a technical term especially for Julian, he will know what I mean).

We went to see a new lecturer today in the Pacific Lounge; he is from Sheffield University and lectures on Astronomy, not perhaps a subject that we would normally be interested in but he has a theory about the Star of Bethlehem and he was able to lead us through the relevant parts of the Bible and relate them to what was happening in the sky at night. His conclusion is that within the time scale that can be calculated from known records – such as Herod’s life and death – the Bethlehem star was actually the planet Jupiter which was in conjunction with Saturn and the Jesus was actually born on September 15th in 4BC. Quite fascinating and we will probably go and see him again. We anticipate going to another lecture this afternoon at 4.30pm to see the Brummie detective Terry Brown, he is appearing late because of the planned Equator ceremony and this will make us a bit rushed when it comes to preparing for dinner but if his previous talks are anything to go by it will be worth the wait. The only snag is that in order to guarantee a good seat in the cinema you have to be there at least ½ an hour early and sit in the cold. We usually take the crossword or Sudoku with us while we are waiting but we have been good today and completed them both (well we are missing one clue on the crossword but it is probably a stupid word that nobody uses in the real world.

While I remember for Jess, we arrive in Hong Kong at 8.00am on March 1st and leave on the 2nd at 11.30pm, we should berth at Ocean Terminal. One of the rules of P & O because of the security aspect is that no one who doesn’t have a pass can board the ship so that you won’t be able to see over the ship or our cabin and unfortunately we can’t put you up for the night. Let us know if you need help for the fares in getting to Hong Kong and back and if you need help with finding a place to stay and we will do what we can. Any chance that Nate will be with you (assuming that you can persuade your boss to let you away for the day)? If we are allowed to take it off the ship we have a large bottle of Ribena for you.

Sharon, if you go to http://www.pocruises.com/ or just click on this link and follow various prompts for the fleet you should be able to find details about the Oriana and there you will be able again by following their links to see the cabins via a 360 degree camera. Ours is on C deck Cabin C112 and we have an outside cabin with bath and shower, it is not sumptuous but it is adequate for our needs and is convenient in that we are only one deck above the information deck and three below the main entertainment and food deck. With that I will pass you to Hilary who has been sitting here patiently doing her scrapbook waiting for me to finish. One of her discoveries is that I have had my portrait done twice in my dinner jacket, the first time just a few days into the cruise and the second a couple of days ago. Hilary is convinced that I am fatter in the face, I think that it is a trick of the light combined with a different angle for the camera and no I am not going to post a side by side for Before and After comparisons….

Tiz I. At 5.50pm with about 10 minutes to write my bit – dinner is a pain when it comes around so quickly. Anyway here we go - For Sam, I am glad you straightened me out on the blog by Jess. I was getting worried that the university was waiting for an excuse and that the trip to Hong Kong would be a real problem. We are so looking forward to seeing Jess and catching up with her. Let’s hope we are lucky. For Pat. Brilliant, now you will be able to come to stay with us without having to think about the cost of the fuel. Good for you, the car sounds great and I can’t wait to see you and it. For Sharon, try the website for P and O and see if you can follow the links to see the virtual tour of the ship. I did make my point to the tour office – I really can’t be asked to get cross too often – it is too exhausting. The train journey and the army duck were both super rides but the rushing was more than we needed. We will wait and see what the reply from the ‘gods’ of the travel programme have to say about it. It will probably be sometime after our stop in Hong Kong in 5 days time. Despite the quite heavy rain this afternoon we have had a pretty good day. The lectures with the policeman are hilarious; he has a dry sense of humour which just keeps bubbling up throughout the lecture. He asked some people to describe him – overall it would seem that he has sticky out eyes which are blue or brown or dark. His ears stick out or lay flat and are large or round and his height varies between 5 ½ feet to 6 feet. The exercise was to illustrate how difficult it is to accurately describe anyone especially if you are asked to remember a couple of weeks after the event. He is getting larger and larger audiences and if you don’t get there early you have to sit on the floor around the walls of the cinema. Great fun. I completed 4 more pages in the scrapbook today – rainy days are good for the scrapbook! Tomorrow might be a bit stormy too so the book will be up to date in no time at all! Right it is now 6.10pm so I have to go again, take great care of each other, God bless.I

When I started to write this some hours ago – it is now nearly 10.60pm and we have just got out of the cinema having seen The Duchess starring Keira ‘Stick Thin’ Knightley – you can tell that I thought the crossing the equator ceremony would be abandoned. I was totally wrong and the announcement to “bring your umbrellas and towels” fired up the crowds and we joined them on Deck 13 where we could look down on the celebrations. The rain was light but warm and we soon got used to it and within 30 minutes it had pretty much stopped. The celebrations followed much the same pattern as the previous crossing but this time a lot more gunge was involved and so was the captain! I got a picture of him covered in stuff but looking smiling and happy and he was certainly a lot more fun than our last captain. This time the P & O side won which means we have been rescued from Davy Jones’s clutches and can proceed forthwith to Hong Kong. I will leave you with these pictures from our day and we look forward to tomorrow.


samw7 said...

It looks like the crossing the equator was really a fun ceremony and as long as rain is warm it is bearable. I'm hoping that Jess and Nate are able to see you, I am envious. Not much going on here. I did go to the bank and transfer money so that I could pay your credit card bill which has now been mailed. I'm still trying to get back inot work mode but haven't quite recovered from jet lag. Luckily, I had planned that February would not be a high billing month. Hope the seas calm down and the rain clears. Love to you both, Sam

Jessica said...

See you in HK! Hopefully Nate too. We've found a place to stay on Nathan road. We'll meet you at the dock!

Marlene and Tara said...

Hi seafarers! I have just got home from work and have been reading the blog. Its better than watching the soaps each day - don't know what I will do when you come home!
Thank you Hilary for your kind message. Don't worry I will take time to think before making a decision and believe me, if I can find any way around it I want to stay in Cornwall. I love the energy here, the countryside and especially the sea. Unfortunately, I definitely can't afford to stay in the bungalow and things are getting trickier each day. Wish they paid more in Cornwall.
I have had a second viewing on the house in Plympton today and am asking the angels and everyone I can think of for good vibes on that one. Once I can sell the house, I will have a lot more choices.
Its only if the house takes a long time to sell that I will be in tricky water. (scuse the pun!)
Anyway, nothing for you to worry about, I shall be fine whatever happens. Lots of love for now. xx