Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Sailing over the Ocean blue...

... Well, actually it was grey for most of the time. A cold steely grey that reflected the overcast skies up above. But that's the middle of the Atlantic for you, I suppose.

Yes - here I am writing up the second part of my holiday. Don't all go and have a heart attack at the shock, will you? I know it's been a while, but my excuse is that my head was jammed full of cotton wool for most of the week.

This is going to be harder, because I didn't write it up whilst it was going on. It didn't seem worth it, because it was so much more relaxed than the frenzied madness of the New York section. Also, some of my better pictures are trapped on my non digital camera ... I've just taken a load of pictures of my books so that I can take the film into Boots tomorrow.

So, ok - where were we?

Well actually, I'm going to rewind a bit from the post on New York, because I can't just jump straight into sailing for six days without giving a little background.

Ok. So we got to the ship. It was huge. (3,000 passengers and 2,500 crew and always room to breathe). Stuck in front was a big shelter, through which we walked to register ourselves (our luggage having been taken away with the warning 'yeh may not see it for couple hours, ok?') So long as we saw it at some point, I didn't care!
So, no pictures of huge boat at dock from the land side. Sorry about that. But here are a couple I've filched off the net:

Actually, the second one is probably what we looked like as we sailed out ... There weren't that many boats, but we were probably worth a pretty penny to the helicopter tourists.

Anyway - to continue with the story, we went to our room to check it out, and have a nose and this is what we found:
As you may have noticed, I didn't take the pictures of the room when we got there, which might have been a good idea. Still, not much changed, so they're better than nothing. I love the picture of the corridor - it looks like it goes on forever, or has been done with mirrors ...
Sorry, I'm wittering on.

So, we'd seen the room, and we went back up on deck to watch as we slipped out of harbour. I have a feeling that standing at the stern wasn't such a good thing, because it didn't feel like we were moving at all, but it was good to watch the empire state slipping into the mist and the statue of liberty shortly doing the same.
You know those last two photos are rather odd ... Goodness only knows what has caused me to sneer like that, and obviously the champagne from the glass that you can just see has gone to my head, to judge from my stupid expression. Thank goodness for the rail I was leaning on! You can also see the corner of one of the six swimming pools there were onboard. I only went in the Spa ... who wants to go and swim outside when in mid Atlantic?

So, yes - off we sailed, having been delayed by two people who had had a race across the country on a train ride for 18 hours (that's including the 3 hours it was delayed) and then a mad dash from the station in a taxi that had no idea where it was going. This probably gave Alison Weir a chance to slip off the ship without anyone realising - but more on that later!

After relaxing on a deck lounger and watching the last small points of land slip past, I retired to our cabin (having lost my mother to the hairdresser) to dress for dinner. Informal this evening, but still mindful of making an effort. Dinner on a ship like this is a rather grad affair, no matter what you're wearing. Mum had made sure we were placed on a table with others rather than by ourselves, and we found ourselves with two couples who were rather season travellers. The Americans were ok - if a little too interested in the difference between New York and London prices.
If I thought that American portions were enormous, I really wasn't prepared for four courses, of superb food, and even better wine. I quickly decided after that first meal that lunch would have to be forgone if I was ever going to make it through! (Unfortunately I forgot about afternoon tea .... I don't think there's a time when you can't eat when onboard!).

We didn't stay up too late that night, although since we put our watches forward an hour each day, not too late doesn't mean a thing.

Don't worry, I'm not going to go on and on in minute detail over every thing that happened. The layout of our days can be described as going something rather like this.

- Breakfast (yummy pancakes and French toast)
- Then onto lectures. This is where Alison Weir comes in, or, rather, doesn't. I was very excited about the idea she would be talking. I don't particularly like the way she writes - far too crammed with facts to be able to concentrate - but I thought it would be interesting to hear her speak. But it seemed she got off the ship, just before we sailed. Later in the voyage we met some people who said they had run into her mother in the bookshop. What on earth does one make of that then?
But still, we had a speaker by the name of John Maxtone Grahame who gave some very enlightening talks on ocean crossing, and one on a first class stewardess on the Titanic whose memoirs he edited. I'll write about them once I've read them.
- From lunch until dinner there were a variety of things I could do. I could read, have massages, watch a film, have high tea, and take brisk walks around the deck hoping to blazes my skirt wouldn't fly above my head.
- And then the evening. Black and white balls, elegant evenings and ascot dances. Here's an assortment of pictures.

Look! Justine's book is on the QM2! And quite bizarrely the first bit of land I saw was Cornwall.

Anyway, if there's anything else you would like to know, then ask questions. This has taken two days to write. Oh dear!

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