Friday, 20 March 2009

Day Sixty Nine: Up the Red Sea

If you managed to look at a map yesterday you will have seen a little gap between the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia that leads into the Red Sea, well we turned into that little gap sometime last night and we are now proceeding up the Red Sea, almost due north towards the Suez Canal. It’s not really pirate country in here as it is far too enclosed for a swift getaway but we have been told that some of the smaller vessels are still vulnerable. We still have our anti pirate measures in place and as we stood on the bow looking down to the extended bridge we could see Security Officers with binoculars looking out from each side. The covers are also off the big bow search lights and although we haven’t been there today we are pretty sure that the stern of the Promenade Deck is still cordoned off and that the LRad is still in place. We make that assumption because there seems to be an increase in the number of walkers on Deck 13 which is the only other deck where you can walk in a complete circuit from bow to stern and back when the Promenade Deck is closed.

We went looking for our pirate picture today but for some unknown reason ours had not been printed, luckily the photographer behind the desk was able to locate it on the thumbnails and promised to get it printed out so that we could see it. We did get however a copy of our group of six taken at the Round the World luncheon and that has been added to the photo album along with our invitation. Yesterday Hilary also put in a request to have another 46 pictures printed 3 x 2 inches so that she can complete another section of the scrapbook, with a bit of luck we should be able to pick those up tomorrow.

Hilary and I spent a good hour or so totally separated from each other this morning, we had breakfast out on the open back of deck 12 then went forward to the bow to look for seal life – lots of birds as we are reasonably near land, but no sea life not even a flying fish – Hilary got into conversation with another lady and after a while there were other things that I wanted to do so I said, “I’m off to Deck 5 (Reception) then I’ll find a place to sit, see you later.” All I really needed at Reception was to get the crossword and Sudoku (not finished the first and not started the latter) and also to find out the name of the latest dancer to join the Headliners. I am writing a poem for them and I wanted to make sure that no one is left out. With my mission accomplished I went back to Deck 12 and to my amazement found two loungers in the shade with a little table between them. I baggsed them with towels and books and settled down to draft my poem looking up at regular intervals. By the time that 11.00am arrived and with no sign of Hilary I decided to abandon the loungers (broke my heart, it was a prime position, in the shade, near the pool, close to the loo, not far from Al Fresco) and head for the Theatre Royal where our lady graphologist/profiler was due to start at 11.15am. Just as I came off the deck and went through the door but who should I see but my wife, “Oh, hello I’ve been talking to the most fascinating lady, all about genealogy and Norwich and teaching and putting the world to rights.” “All this time?” “Oh yes it’s been fascinating.” No mention of “I missed you, where were you, what have you been doing?” Two hours of sitting, fretting, wondering if she’d fallen overboard (slight exaggeration there) and all I got was “Are you on the way to the Theatre Royal to see the profiler?” Thank God I still like her.

On the way into the theatre we were all given a little black dot on the edge of the palm of our non writing hand. No explanation at the door just “Hold out your non-writing hand” then press and you had a little black dot on it. Hilary was already seated by the time that I got there and I was walking down the aisle looking at my dot and noticed that it was changing colour, it went a sort of browny then green with a tinge of blue. I recognised it then as one of those liquid crystal changing thingies similar to the mood ring that I wrote about in one of Jessica’s books. We learned later that they are BioDots and that black means you are stressed and the more relaxed that you are the more they change through green and blue to purple – you have to almost asleep to get purple apparently. We were given a hand out at the end explaining what the different colours mean and at some later stage she is hoping to teach us how to use bio feedback so that we can change the colours for ourselves. Sounds like mumbo jumbo to me but I can see the scientific basis of it. I will keep an open mind. We did another question and answer yes or no session, I am pretty balance between optimism and pessimism and I will let Hilary tell you her result. Then it was time to go up on the deck and we found two different seats, a bit more in the sun that the ones that I had vacated but still good and even nearer to the pool but on the wrong side for the changing rooms and the loo. By
12.30pm the pool was empty and I had it all to myself for a good 20 minutes, plenty long enough for me to do some lengths and tire myself out and make myself hungry for a slice of pizza and a slice of pecan pie. The early part of the afternoon was taken up with a game show around the pool with 6 passengers against 6 of the crew taking part in water based sports a bit similar to the crossing the line ceremony. It was good fun, lots of music, lots of splashing and as soon as it was over we came down to the cabin where I continued with my poem while Hilary desperately tried to finish off the Harlen Coben book that I read a week or so back. It’s a good one. OK it is formal night and I am stopping so that Hilary can blog and answer you questions if she wants to….

Tiz I. OK it is 5.35pm and I have 25 minutes so here goes… My little black dot remained black for the entire lecture and when she said that black means stressed I knew that something did not add up! I have been totally stress free for the past 3 months so I went up to get another dot and it changed to green almost immediately! So much for science! The lectures are still the best entertainment on board at the moment (except for the Headliners). We have been passing through the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and now into the Red Sea and sailing through the pirate corridor is just about over now and I wouldn’t have given the pirates much of a chance against the combined crew and passengers. The passengers being made up of mostly retired people many from the military, navy and HM secret service. We also have a captain with such a booming voice that he could put the fear of God in them just by speaking! We all really love him. We are just too well crewed and too many passengers for them to attack. The closest access to sea level is high up the side of the ship so we would be a difficult target. It has been fun each day looking out for the different ships that pass us to see what they have done to ward off the pirates. Yesterday one small boat had cardboard cutout people along the deck! Great fun. I am not sure about the nail varnish on my nails from yesterday – it smells strange and still feels a bit sticky. I might have to go down and get nail varnish remover before the weekend is out! So now to the messages, which I really love to read at the end of each day, Hayley we will print you a copy of the sunset picture when we get home. I took it at the end of our day in Mumbai while we were waiting for the ship to sail away. I was on the sun deck at the back of the ship as the sun was setting and there was this little string of about 5 fishing boats setting out for a nights fishing. Sam took some photos of the fishing boats too so there are a few to choose from. Sammy please pass on our good wishes to Cheryl, we will keep her in our prayers and thoughts. Let us know if there is anything else that we can do that would be helpful. Now it is 6.05pm and I need to do something to make myself look like I have made an effort to dress up for dinner – formal night – my personal favourite! Take care, God bless.

Thank the Lord that dinner is over and I can rid myself of the starched shirt and bow tie, I think that we have both begun to loathe formal nights as the dressing up is a pain in the backside. Admittedly it does look good and we see everything from full blown kilt regalia, to black shirts with white ties, black shirts with white dinner jackets and tonight we even spotted a green velvet smoking jacket with a yellow bow tie – and this on what was supposed to be a black and white night. Hilary did look nice in her sparkly black top and I tried to match her with a sparkly black bow tie, we could have had yet another photo taken but we dodged past the photographer on the stairs just as he was finishing with a couple and escaped before he could stop us. We set the clocks back tonight by an hour to GMT +3, if we are not careful we will ahead of GMT as it must be getting close for British Summer Time to start. That’s it for tonight, I will post the blog and then see if I can sort out the scan of my poem and print it for the rest of our dinner table to read. Night for now….

ps forgot to tell you there were two ships attacked by pirates today and one attack was successful. Don't know any more but the captain announced it at noon.


Liz said...

Hi there,

Well this is the second time I have tried to leave a blog message. This blog system swallowed my last one - and it was so good as well, I'll try and remember what I said!

It is amazing that the pirates can be active in your vicinity without anyone being aware of them isn't it? Mind you, there is no way they could attack the Oriana, you have far too much protection around you.

Martin and I are going to the midlands next week. Martin is going to a plant fair and I am going to spend a day with Bex. I'm really looking forward to it as I haven't seen where she lives yet, something I like to do so that I can imagine her in her surroundings.

When I get back, I am going to spend the weekend with Marlene and Sheila in Cornwall. My, what a busy time I'm having, should be fun though.

The business is growing, with new people calling each week. I still don't have enough to survive, but things are looking hopeful. We are also changing the estate agent in a week or two. The new one is very excited (bless him) at the prospect of selling our property, so fingers crossed eh?

Looking forward to seeing you both in a week or two, we have all missed the two of you.

Take care of each other, Love Liz x

Julian said...

Hi, glad you have managed to dodge the pirates. It is so much harder to come alongside and board a vessel at 25 knots than at 12 knots the usual speed of a cargo vessel. Are you sure the large searchlight on the bow is anti piracy or is it the suez canal light? How is the murder mystery comming along? Your sunset picture is better than the sunset over the Dartford bridge I just saw. Mind you we went on a patrol up the river Thames in the rib today and I got to see the O2 arena as it is now called and the naval buildings at Greenwich,so not so bad today. Tommorrow I am chef, first time this year with all my time at college. A day of making tea and washing up, two things for you to look forward to soon!!
Love to you both