Monday, 29 September 2014

Still on Course!

Saturday evening’s special event nearly turned to disaster had it not been for the quick action of Captain Hashmi.  A new painting, being presented by Whitewall Galleries, decided to unveil itself before the captain could do it formally.

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As the silk veil slipped downwards on its own he leapt forward and saved the day.  Not that he needed to demonstrate it, but the passengers now have total faith in his abilities.

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The painting, of Jack Nicholson, although studded with diamond dust, received a mixed reception!

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Later on during Saturday evening, after our Champagne “do” in the art gallery, we went to the Palladium Theatre (said to be the finest afloat) to see ……..

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…… a most amazing performance by Fogwell Flax.  His observational comedy and impersonations (of people, but especially of trains and planes!) gave us a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

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On Sunday morning we awoke to bright sunshine (which was to last all day) and to the maintenance department outside our window giving our lifeboat the ‘once over’  Luckily our windows are mirrored so we can remain private!

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It’s less than a week that we’ve been on board (wonderfully it seems like we’ve been at sea for a month!) and now Doug has been chosen to help the ship’s company out. Due to staff illness he’s been asked to run the deck quoits as well as the whist.  Here he is dealing with the demands of the delightful “Killer Cathy” – all 4 feet 11 of her (yes, she’s shorter than Doug!).

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After another great lecture on the future of military intelligence (!) James took  to the Sky Deck where, in the glorious sunshine, there were some tremendous sights to be had (spot the ship in this view):

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Almost able to touch the ship’s funnel!

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A panorama across the Sky Deck with all its satellite and communications equipment,  …..

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….. a view forward across the retractable roof of the Neptune Pool and ……

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……. looking aft from a great vantage point on the “wing”.   These last few shots show the most amazingly clear horizon that we’ve enjoyed all day…… and as the captain asked; “Can you see land? No! – good, then we’re still on course!”

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After dinner on Sunday evening we went to see “Blame it on the Boogie” – one of the fantastic shows given by the Headliners theatre company.  It’s a shame we’re not allowed to take photos!  At the end of the show we have chance to show our appreciation with some of the performers.  This is James, one of the singer / dancers (they sing and dance at the same time!)  He’s quite keen to go for a shower and a rest at this point in time!

The rest of evening we spent chatting and having fun with cruise director Christine in the piano bar. Another late night, at least the clocks go back an hour again tonite!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Still all at sea.

It’s Saturday and we’re more than half way to America – we should arrive in New York on Tuesday.

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Life aboard goes on but not quite as busy as ‘normal’.  This is the longest cruise we’ve done so far and we’re pacing ourselves for a raft of port days along the east coast of the USA next week.  Nevertheless James is attending lots of lectures (this is one of thirteen given by Squadron Leader Derek Clark on his career in military defence) and Doug is hosting the afternoon whist sessions but are getting so popular he will soon need a bigger room!

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Interspersing with a few shots of the ship’s interior (this is the ceiling above the main staircase) ……..

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….. and some facts and figures for the technically inclined.

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James always feels good that “Chance” runs for an hour on a litre and a half of diesel – this display of facts shows that “Arcadia” moves just 58 feet for every gallon!

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We occasionally visit the' ‘Crows Nest’ in the late evening for an attempt at the syndicate quiz.  Our team of six here on Friday consists of Andrew, Doug, Theresa, James, Marion, and Elaine.  No, we didn’t win!

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Back in the cabin after an enjoyable Friday evening – a ‘selfie’.

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Deck quoits is well attended despite the North Atlantic wind which is so strong it stops us from throwing the quoits into the wind!

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More shots inside the ship – this is the casino (which Doug hasn’t visited yet!) …..

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……. and the Art Gallery, which we spend quite a lot of time in.  There have been some very informative art lectures …..

…… but the main gallery attraction is the bubbly, lovely and very clever Jess who runs it and, with assistant Ben, presents the lectures and, more importantly, regularly lubricates her customers (us!) with Champagne.  Captain Aseem Hashmi is as amusing as he is competent (being a commercial pilot as well as a ship’s captain!) and, after his hour long presentation into the technology and practicalities of navigating and operating the ship AND his midday broadcast, we had an hysterical half hour in his company here in the gallery.

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Doug, Captain Hashmi and Jess.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

All at Sea.

Our 7 day crossing of the the Atlantic has started very well and we’ve settled in as if we’d not really ever left the ship.  Meeting up with so many entertainment team members, waiters, cabin stewards and even some passengers from the past has been so exciting.

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The weather has been superb so far and the sea conditions excellent.  Three times round the promenade deck is one mile and James (skiving off and standing at the stern instead of walking!) saw his first whale on Tuesday. 

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The ship’s props are powering its 84,000 tons through the water at an average 18 knots at the moment as the captain is trying to outwit a storm and keep us all comfortable.

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Mornings generally start off with a game of deck quoits or shuffle board while the North Atlantic air gets rid of the cobwebs.

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James won the deck quoits on Tuesday, with Doug winning it on Wednesday.  Here’s Doug whiling away some time with Tom, one of the entertainment team, who has to organise about forty competitors each day.

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Wednesday evening saw the Captain’s Gala party around the Neptune Pool.  It’s a good time to chin-wag with some of the ship’s officers and crew and find out what they get up to while we’re enjoying ourselves.

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This cruise sold out quite quickly (and we weren’t quick enough off the mark to get a place!) but at the last minute a few cabins became available again.  This time we were quicker off the mark but, naturally, we didn’t get much choice.  Hence we have a lifeboat outside our window.  We’ve laid claim to it in case of an emergency and James has gone down to the deck below and familiarised himself with the launching instructions!

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James is also tall enough to see over the top so, for him, it’s no great problem and, although it might be fun to drive a lifeboat, we’re not expecting or wishing for the chance to try it!

On this trip we’re aiming to walk at least two miles around the ship each day and at the moment the North Atlantic weather is good enough to do it shirt sleeves -although nobody’s getting much of a sun tan!

Monday, 22 September 2014

On the High Seas again!

This morning our neighbour Nigel spirited us from home to Southampton’s Ocean Terminal …….

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…… where, at 12:30, we boarded the P&O ship “Arcadia” (for the second time this year!).  This time we’re going Trans Atlantic with her and in seven days we’ll be in New York for our first port of call.

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Within 45 minutes of being dropped off at the terminal we were in our cabin with cases delivered and unpacked.  It’s a far cry from the ordeal of flying!

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After a spot of light lunch we went up to the Crow’s Nest to meet our friend and bar tender Dolreich who we haven’t seen since our Iceland cruise in June. 

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It’s great to catch up with him again!  The sunshine has been wonderful today – let’s hope it stays with us.

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As an extra little treat before we left this afternoon the paddle steamer “Waverly” was docked next to us.The last time we were on this lovely vessel was on the River Thames in London earlier this year.  She’s a special little craft.

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At 4:45 we set sail from Southampton with a Great British Sail Away party……..

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…. where we enjoyed a complimentary glass of Champagne (which always goes down well), sang a few songs, jumped around a bit ….

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……… and made instant friends with Judy and Brian.  It’s going to be a good cruise!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

All over the place!

On Thursday last week, while Doug was taking Manel to the airport, James took “Chance” to Brinklow  marina for a few weeks “storage”.

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It’s just an observation but on the way to Brinklow James passed some fairly major work going on just outside Rugby. The canal is being straightened on the opposite side to the towpath along a hundred yard length, where posts and fabric are being positioned with infill behind.  Not five hundred yards away the edge of the canal at the Rugby water point is positively dangerous for users wishing to fill with water and it has been like that for as long as we can remember. Obviously that is not a priority over this work.

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Anyway, once settled in at Brinklow, and Doug back from the airport, there was the usual jobs to do and the car to be packed up.  In the evening we met up with John, the marina harbour master, over a few beers (J2O for James!) and a very nice meal.  Deciding to make the most of 24 hours in the day we set off in the late evening for our journey south to Sussex, arriving at 12.30am .  Thankfully we only experienced the tail end of the atrocious thunder storms that night …….

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…… but the next morning, in true Selsey style, it was bright sunshine again and, not usually photographed very much, the High Street was buzzing as normal.

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The weather was so good that we decided, after a load of household chores were completed, to combine resources with our neighbours, Nigel and Michele, and toddle the hundred yards to the beach with a few bottles of wine and some nibbles.

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After the shadows lengthened, and the wine had run out, we made our ways home again – Michele, who hadn’t quite finished, also toddled the hundred yards back home gently sipping from her lovely yellow glass.  What will the neighbours think!

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James was overdressed for the occasion but as there wasn’t a soul around it didn’t matter.

It’s Sunday, and after a three day turn round at home, we’re busy packing suitcases for another adventure tomorrow.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Oh What a Day!

Yesterday started off with minor collateral damage sustained in the Braunston tunnel while passing a fibreglass cruiser.  They were concerned, quite rightly, that we might crack them like a walnut.

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But instead, we took the damage when the taff rail struck some protruding brickwork.  The rail is easily repaired and the debris from the tunnel was the only real sign of the “unplanned event”.

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At the top of the Braunston lock flight we took on board some VIPs in the form of daughter Vicki, Ian and, of course, ‘Ernie pups’.  On the way down the flight we briefly met up with John and Jan on nb “Jubilee”, and nb “Brindley”.   Buoyed with excitement it didn’t take long before the Champagne came out. (Even Ernie has learnt to pose for the camera!)

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Vicki and Ian enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.

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A bit further along in the Rugby direction we noticed that C&RT have started to employ contractors to keep the grass down on the towpath!

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We had a very pleasant cruise, with the autumn weather looking favourably on us and with lots of conversation, drinks and nibbles “Chance’s” rear deck came into its own once more.

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Manel and Ernie became good friends.

 

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We came across steam nb “Hastey” gliding silently past us.

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After a splendid lunch of quiche, boiled potatoes and salad followed by apple and blackberry pie with custard it really became a very lazy day.  Lucky that hand rail’s there Doug (he really was asleep!).

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Chance is certainly a very fine thing and it reared its head again yesterday evening after we’d moored in Rugby.  After a logistical challenge of getting both Vicky and Ian’s car from Braunston and our car from MGM in Thurmaston and getting back to Rugby, Vicki and Ian returned home.  Later in the evening we were “accosted” on a dark footpath near Tesco by, who other than friends James and Debbie on nb “Lois Jane” who happened to recognise our height difference even on a dark night!  Needless to say we had a splendid evening with them and their daughter Jess in The Harvester next to the canal.  It was a great way to spend Manel’s last evening with us.

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As they passed us this morning we said farewell to James, Debbie and Jess on “Lois Jane”.  While Doug took Manel to catch his plane home and James took “Chance” to Brinklow Marina as we’re taking a short break from the canal world (again!).

This evening we’re having a meal with John, the marina harbourmaster, at a local hostelry before heading home in the early hours of the morning.