Saturday, 28 February 2009

Day Forty Nine: At last the China Sea

Finally our Captain announced today that we have left the Pacific Ocean and entered the South China Sea, Hilary and I could have told him that several days ago but there you go perhaps he hasn’t had as much sea experience as us. OK that was meant to be ironic…. It has been an absolutely glorious day at sea with temperatures in the mid 80’s and only a light breeze blowing across the decks. It has actually been a bit hard to find some shade as the sun is quite high in the sky and we have been heading roughly North West. We did the usual boring breakfast thing (I’m back on the prunes for those that have an interest in such matters), then went off to the forepeak to look for wild life. Yesterday we had a big kamikaze seabird off the starboard side and he spent most of the day flying backwards and forwards along the length of the ship every now and then plunging down as he spotted his breakfast, lunch or dinner. I have no idea what kind of bird he was, obviously a gull of some kind and with big wings and a very long beak. Not an albatross – we haven’t actually seen any of those but I am sure that they are a lot bigger than our gull. But today all we had were flying fish, quite a few shoals of those and they skimmed out from just behind the bow sometimes crashing into the next wave and sometimes flying for many yards. We watched them for 20 minutes or so and then went down for Terry Brown’s (the Brummie detective) last lecture on this ship. He gets off at Hong Kong and he will be missed by all his followers, he has consistently filled every venue that he has been sent to and has been the best guest speaker of the whole cruise. Today was meant to be a question and answer session lasting 45 minutes but as usual he overran almost into an hour which would have disrupted the next class in the Pacific Lounge. In the end he only answered 4 questions from the floor and the rest of the time he was busy telling anecdotes about his time in the force and how it had changed since 1985 when new procedures had been introduced. If I see him around the ship tonight or before he leaves on Monday I would like to talk to him again as he should definitely have his stories published.

After the lecture we found a place on the Promenade Deck in the shade and settled down with the crossword and Sudoku, Hilary completed the crossword in record time but I need to have another go at the Sudoku, I finally managed to complete yesterday’s but I need bigger squares! What I usually do is to copy the puzzle out onto the back of a piece of waste paper – we get a lot of those, usually advertising something on the ship that we have no interest in such as massages or fitness programmes. I know, I know we should try these things but there is not enough time in our day and besides we are on holiday and I would hate to sprain something…. We remained on the Promenade Deck reading and relaxing until 1.30pm or so and then I felt like a swim so we climbed the stairs to Deck 12 (see we are getting all the exercise we need with climbing all these stairs, who needs extra exercise programmes that you have to pay for) and luckily found a couple of loungers in the shade and close to the Crystal Pool. This particular pool is one of the largest on the ship but unless it is very calm it is usually divided into two to prevent the water sloshing around and today we have mildly lumpy seas so the barrier was in place. Not a lot of people like that so they head to the other pools and this means that the Crystal Pool is often empty and today I had it all to myself for the best part of 30 minutes, enough to keep me happy and to get me a bit red in the face with both the exertion and the sun. Right next to the Crystal Pool are changing rooms and showers so while Hilary did her Codewords I used their facilities which means that I won’t need to shower before dinner tonight. Speaking of that it is Casual Country and Western tonight so I will break out the Longhorns shirt that Sam bought me for Christmas.

Swim over it was a bite to eat in the Conservatory – well two bites for me – and then back to the cabin to sort out the next lot of photos to be printed in 3 x2 size for the scrapbook and finally to write this load of boring drivel for you to fall to sleep over. Now it is time to hand over to Hilary who I know wants to add to my congratulations to Julian for his exam success and to say how much we are looking forward to seeing Jess and Nathan tomorrow. Tonight the Headliners are producing a new show “We’ll meet again,” which is probably a bit of a metaphor for a good old sing-along of wartime songs, we shall see and I will append a note after the show tonight. Here’s Hilary…

Tiz I. 520pm. Once again Sam has covered almost every minute of our day! I took the memory card from my camera down to the photographer a few minutes ago – this is the best time to get good service as there are a bunch of people leaving tomorrow and they have spent the best part of today getting any outstanding prints and videos bought and packed ready for their departure. The photographers are going to be very quiet for the next two days. I’ve also discovered that I must get more information leaflets when I am ashore – I am often looking around for little bits of information after we have left port when I am starting to put the scrapbook together. Did Sam tell you that we are now sapphire level travellers? Impressive eh! We had a letter last night to tell us that we have completed 50 nights aboard and that means that we can get 7 ½ % discount from the ship’s shops. Oh, and we get a free lunch occasionally, (we actually paid for all our food with the cost of the cruise,) but it is a nice thought isn’t! We also got gifts from P and O – Sam got binoculars and I got a compact with mirror. Good hey. We also got the folder with all the menus of our dinners during the past leg of the journey. We get these at the end of every leg and they usually come the night before the tips are due! I love them and take them back to the cabin to be stored carefully, other ladies on our table complain that they have too much paper stuff already. So tonight I take an envelope down to dinner with our tip for the waiters. I don’t seal the envelope and all the other couples put their tips into it before we give it to the waiters – Derwin and Stephen are both from India and do a pretty good job of serving us dinner and clear the table in time for second sitting. Sometimes they gently clear stuff to remind us that we ought to be moving out and onto the next activity and leave them to get on with their job. They are very efficient and good at their jobs, worthy of their tips. We have not spent too much so far this leg because we wanted to keep our spending money for Hong Kong – we will probably break our good record over the next two days! Tomorrow – Jess. I was thinking this morning how lucky we are. Julian and Sammy both sent messages yesterday, great news from Julian, well done on your exam success, Sammy is working to earn enough cash to travel with us, Sharon sounded happy, Jess will be there when we get to Hong Kong, and all our family and friends have taken the time to keep in touch – life couldn’t be any better. With that I will leave you to go get ready for our smart casual dinner. Take care, God bless.

It was a real British night tonight both at dinner and in the theatre, for dinner we had Fish, Chips and mushy peas! Then of course there was the Headliners “We’ll Meet Again” concert which was a real wallow in nostalgia ending of course with Land of Hope and Glory and as we were all given small union jacks to wave before we went in it had a real Last Night of the Proms feel about it. The theatre was packed for the first 8.30pm performance and they were literally standing in the aisles, we are tempted to go back for the 10.30pm performance but as we have an early start tomorrow we will probably not do that. One of the reasons for the early start is not to do with Jess and Nathan but we have been promised a Chinese dragon to greet the ship when we dock at 7.45am so I have no doubt that Hilary and I will be up deck ready for that. It is getting exciting knowing that we have two young people waiting for us and I just hope that us two oldies don’t disappoint them, I’m sure that we will have some fun together. Whether I blog tomorrow is up in the air and it depends on how tired we get and at what time we get back to the ship tomorrow night, we have been assured by P & O that even if we roll in past midnight that there will be someone to check us aboard. Getting in that late is probably unlikely but who knows? That’s it and I will leave you with one picture and that is one side of the double sided boulder opal that we bought at Whitsunday Islands.


Sharon and Georgia said...

Hi Aunty Hilary and Uncle Sam,,

Thank you for your support once again!

Sam, thank you also!

Uncle Sam, we do not think what you write in your blog is boring drivel! It gives us all a wonderful insight into you day and how much fun you are having.We are all enjoying reading it each day. I am so glad you enjoyed the book.

Aunty, thank you for all the postcards you send!We love them. We have been receiving them in order, apart from Acalpuco. That came yesterday!

We have all had a great day today. Carolyn and her new partner, Jamie, arrived yesterday and we had a gathering with our friend Simon. Tomorrow we are all off to see Slum dog millionaire. Really looking forward to that.

As I write this you will be with Jess and Nathan, hopefully having a wonderful time together.

All the family here are fine and well. We all send you much love xxxx

Hayley said...

Hi Aunty and Uncle!

So sorry its been so long since my last comment! life is mental and i dont like to leave a message without catching up on all the blogs first.

Do you know, staying wth you for a holiday when you come back would be fantastic! I would love to!! and hey going to S.Africa and all the other places sounds fab, can i fit into your suitcase!?

Have a magical time in Hong Kong with Jess and Nathan! Give them both a big hug for me!

We had a wonderful day at A.sheilas yesterday with our friend Simon and a guest apearance from Abraham too! I am now enrolling to university for this October to to do my masters!!! :S Thats the deal. How i'm going to pay for this i have no idea, but i officially start on council payroll tomorrow and next week i will be out of mu overdraft for the first time in 3 years! i'm gonna print out the statement and frame it! Going to see a flat today that potentially we could be moving into in the next 2 months!

So glad you are both well and still having such a wonderful time. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Sending much love, speak to you soon!

Hayley xxxxxx