We were just getting up this morning when Hilary looked out of our cabin window and said, “We’ve stopped,” “Nonsense,” I replied, “We can’t be, why would the Oriana stop in the middle of the Ocean?” “Well see for yourself,” she said and with my scientific turn of mind I didn’t just look out of the window I double checked by turning on the TV to Channel One which shows the ship’s heading and speed. The speed said 1.0 knots and continued to decrease from there so I felt fairly confident in replying, “Yes you are correct we have stopped.” Then began the speculation why. Burial at sea? No they keep going full speed for that as we learned from Nicky Martyn and they do it on a rising wave so that the body doesn’t hit on the side of the ship on the way down. Pirates then? No other small boats could be seen from our cabin window and we hadn’t heard gunfire so probably not. Going too fast and might arrive early? Unlikely as the captain is getting off at Sydney and if anyone would like to arrive early he would. And then we got the official announcement from the captain himself over the Tannoy. “Those of you who are up and about at this time of day will have realised that we are stationary, we are sorry about this but we have a problem with one of our engines and it is best to shut all of them down while we put it right. There is a little bit of a swell running and the stabilisers won’t work while we are stopped so bear with us until we fix the problem, it shouldn’t take too long.” He was correct for within 15 minutes my trusted guide on Channel One showed that our speed was increasing from 1 to 2 to 5 to 10 knots and I could finally convince myself that we were on the move again. We learned later that it was a “sea suction” problem and all four engines were shut down to prevent just the one from overheating. No major drama after all then except that it seemed to have affected the hot water for my shower.
We breakfasted in the Peninsular with some rather charming people, one couple – at least we thought that they were a couple – turned out not to be a couple after all. He was 85 years old and travelling with a companion who was making sure that he enjoyed his holiday. Apparently he lives alone not far from Burnham on Crouch in Essex, close to where we lived in Maylandsea, and he has this lady as his “social secretary” while another looks after his garden, another looks after his house and we think that he has a fourth who does his cooking. He is having a high old time while she was desperate to show him something of Sydney other than the city. Apparently their proposed visit to the Blue Mountains was cancelled (we don’t know why) and she was quizzing another of our table companions, a young couple who live in Melbourne and are getting off at Sydney, how they could get to the Blue Mountains by using the train. The last couple on our breakfast table were originally from India but now live in Cornwall where he had been involved in electrical engineering for the Crofty tin mine. His main business activity had been in the gold mining industry in India and he and Hilary talked at length about various places in India and I will leave her to fill you in on that bit.
After breakfast we went to our first lecture of the day which was the last one by the TV producer Guy Caplin and it was another round up of TV themes and some of the stories about them, yes sad to say we got a lot of them right just confirming for the final time that we are couch potatoes when we are at home. It has not been exactly cold outside with an air temperature in the 72F region but with a stiff Force 3 breeze blowing and the occasional rain shower it has not been a day to sit outside so we went to the Crow’s Nest to do the crossword and Sudoku (got most of the former and failed miserably on the latter) and then settled down to read Obama while Hilary sorted out some of her scrapbook. We both got cold just sitting so at the first opportunity we went down to the Pacific Lounge where there was an interview with the cast of the Headliners. It was fascinating stuff with a video first of all showing how they went through a selection process in London, their rehearsals for the first 8 shows, how the costumes and scenery are organised and then we got to meet all of them as they introduced themselves with a short biography. Two of the male lead singers have been with P & O for some time, one of them for 14 years and he has also appeared on TV and on the West End. They really are a talented bunch but as soon as the tour is over they will all go their separate ways and have to audition again for any new P & O productions.
We rushed out of the Pacific up to the Theatre Royal to watch another lecture and this time it was about how the Oriana is operated and was billed as a virtual tour of the bridge. I found it very good with lots of technical stuff about the navigation, the engines (not azipod Julian), the command structure and the watch system. Hilary noticed that our dinner companion Richard who was a few rows from us spent most of the time with his eyes closed and his head nodding. Speaking of dinner companions I did bump into Alison and Bill today and she is much better and seems to have recovered from her dose of mal de mer. That’s it, sorry it’s a bit boring today but we haven’t really done much. Tomorrow we arrive at Sydney harbour bridge around 6.00am and we will be up and about for that, the weather forecast is not good but somehow we will get it on video. Here’s Hilary.
Tiz I. First of all I want to catch up with the messages. For Pat, your Dad was right, New Zealand is very similar to the West Country in shape – with the lumps and bumps but has much more in the way of greenery, more tropical. They also have steam coming out of the ground besides the road and in the middle of fields! A lot of homes have free hot water and heating when they use the thermal springs to heat the domestic water. The people are extremely friendly and smile a lot too. Ted has his photo taken in front of a geyser and was the centre of attention for quite a while. Of course you are included in the family. Anyway I hope your cold is getting better. Julian, we are pleased that the family is enjoying the photos and blog. We will try to keep up the production. Our Devonport could be just as beautiful as the one in Auckland, it has the coastline and the old buildings but the people are slightly different. Sharon, New Zealand is not that far away, one day you will have take the trip and see for yourself, meanwhile 2010 keep it in the light. Change the locks sweetheart and be blowed with him. I will be very happy to talk to you about language development – not by the book necessarily! Just keep talking and listening and it is amazing what the children will tell you! Keep up the good work. Marlene, do you mean the Mrs. Peers that moved to Camplehaye, I know that she was ready to go meet the angels. Of course you are included too what are you like?
Now the day, it has been raining, the wind has been blowing and the sea has been lumpy. We have spent the day trying to avoid over generous air conditioning and gradually putting more and more layers on to keep warm. We now look like we are ready to cope with a normal winter day at home – and we are in Sydney tomorrow When we woke I noticed that the ship was not moving except for sideways. Then we heard the Captain telling us that the engines had been closed down and the engineers were working on the problem. He said that the chief engineer had a personal interest in getting us to Sydney – he is off for a few weeks holiday when we get there! Actually, I am quite relieved that we will not be going into 40C! We are looking forward to seeing Brian and have changed our money into Australian dollars ready to go ashore and buy a leisurely lunch tomorrow. Today is the last day of this leg and it is ‘tips’ day. We have taken care of the envelope for our cabin steward and tonight we fill an envelope with cash for the table waiters – the table of eight people all bring our tip money down to dinner and stuff it into an envelope. Last time the waiters were not happy for a week after ‘tip’ day so we hope this they will be happier this time. We are getting to the point where we have met so many people that wherever we go on the ship we meet people that we have met before and so spend a lot of time stopping to have a chat. It can take some time to get anywhere around the ship – but I like it. Now must go, Take care, God bless.
My final note after an excellent dinner and another great show from Elaine Delmar, she was on top form tonight and Richard, who did not like her first show, was ecstatic over this one. We have just learned from the note in our cabin that the clocks go back again tonight which is a good thing as far as I am concerned as it means that we gain an extra hours sleep and we will need it if we are to get up early enough to see the sail in under Sydney Harbour bridge. The weather forecast for the sail in is pretty crap actually and it will still be dark let us hope that the forecasters have got it wrong as we only have one poncho between us. Should have kept all those cheap ones that we bought in Florida many years ago. That’s it, there will probably not be a blog tomorrow night as the planned departure is for midnight and we just might have a meal out in the evening in Sydney, it just depends on the weather and the whether or not we meet up with Brian and what meal(s) we have with him. But we will be back soon. God Bless.