Wednesday 19th April – Re-immigration Day
It was not the best of nights as the wind increased and the jiggling turned to bumping. When we got up at 7:30 the navigation channel is reporting Wind Force 6 and Sea Sate Moderate. And this is just the beginning of the storm.
The temperature was just 15° so any final sunbathing looks to be over. Deb is going to pack another suitcase this morning and the clothes left in the wardrobe have been drastically reduced. It was also medicine day and it’s the final time, so the spare pills are also about to be packed away, along with the remaining breakable souvenirs. They are wrapped and tucked away with the dirty washing.
There is one little task this morning. We have to line up to have our passports checked by the UK Borders Authority. It was supposed to be announced when it was our turn, but as I was updating the blog in Charlies, I saw people coming out of Masquerade’s where the process is going on.
Deb and I were in and out in less than a minute and I resumed work on my laptop for a little while longer.
Our only plan for the morning is a quickstep dancing lesson at 11:00, but it may not be very successful with the way the ship is being tossed around. I’ve already had a little white pill in readiness for Nature’s welcome home present.
The clocks have the final leap forward at midday, when we will become GMT +1 and so the same as home time. Deb doesn’t have the Battle of the Sexes today, so the time change won’t have any serious issue with getting to events…for us anyway.
Aurora is ploughing through the sea and we are a little over half way up the coast of Portugal. By this evening we will be entering the Bay of Biscay where the storm will be building to its crescendo.
Deb continued with the packing to put away another suitcase of unwanted clothes and ‘bits’ that we have collected. I went for a walk around the Promenade Deck where it was almost deserted as the sea crashed and boiled around the ship.
The dancing lesson gave us a really good reminder about the quickstep and also highlighted a couple of bad habits. Of course the ship performing its own slow, slow, quick-quick… in various directions didn’t help very much.
The amount of movement was increasing as the hours passed, and I was less than inclined to stay in the cabin for long periods.
In the afternoon we had the second quickstep was really good, and tomorrow we are hoping to have our first attempt at the running steps that make this dance so good to watch.
Dinner was a good get-together again, and I was allowed to sit in the window to avoid having to watch the sea. It was getting rough by now, and the forecast is for worse to come. I had taken a pill to reduce my discomfort and I certainly had some concerns for the next few hours.
We trooped long to the theatre tonight to watch a ventriloquist/comedian called Gareth Oliver. He started a little slowly with some weak jokes but when he went into his ventriloquist act, along with his wife, the show became absolutely brilliant. The couple did a double act that was technically superb, and then his final section with ‘Brian’ from the audience had the theatre in stitches. Gareth was a finalist in Britain’s Got Talent’ on the show with Susan Boyle and proves that sometimes (not always) talent has been discovered.
From the theatre the six of us split up and we went to Anderson’s for a drink. This was to be a mistake as I already knew that the pills I was taking for the sea-sickness respond badly to alcohol. Anyway, when we went to bed the ship was performing a sensational rendition of a jive, and along with the violent movement, every bit of Aurora’s structure seemed to be creaking. The pitching motion was causing wild roller coaster movements and deafening crashes as we went headlong into a Force 8 gale.
I couldn’t sleep. The alcohol had mixed with my pill and I had twitching and cramp in my legs. I saw the clock at 2:00 am and it was probably an hour later that I eventually fell asleep.
Thursday 20th April – ‘The Storm’
Today was not a very comfortable or pleasant day.
I woke and my eyes didn’t want to open, and my stomach was quietly telling me something was wrong. Strangely I still managed to go to breakfast and treated myself to a sausage sandwich.
From then on the day was little more than existence in what I think was the worst period of bad weather I have ever experienced on a ship.
As soon as I had cleaned my teeth I began a morning of moving from one comfortable and quiet seat to another while my pill took affect and I attempted to coordinate my brain and various senses that sea-sickness confuses. Deb stayed in the cabin and even managed to pack another case, but by mid-morning she was feeling the first symptoms of ‘Mal de Mer’.
During the morning and afternoon the wind increased to Force 10 at one point and the sea state was described as ‘Rough’ and curiously at one stage as ‘High’.
The dancing lesson never did any more of the quickstep, and I couldn’t have faced it anyway. In the morning I watched a talk by Gervase Phinn with his stories from a career as teaching inspector: it was superb and I am looking forward to reading his book that I downloaded yesterday. Unfortunately that will have to wait until my eyes are ready to stare at small letters again.
Deb managed to fulfil her role as captain of the ladies in the Battle of the Sexes, and after that we both had a little lunch, but in my case this was just an automated process, and not because I was hungry.
In the afternoon I tried watching a film, but having fallen asleep twice in the cinema I joined several other people who trickled out of the room realising the film was pathetic except as a way of snoozing.
Deb and I had another cup of tea and then I went to watch the choir give their final show. They were brilliant, and even the rocking and rolling couldn’t stop them. The performance had been moved from the theatre to Carmen’s because of the severe movement of the ship, so the audience were packed into the much smaller venue. I stood at the back singing under my breath the songs that I had taken part in. Although I haven’t joined in this sector, the choir has reminded me of the joy of singing, and hopefully I will find a choir when I get home.
Deb and I had decided that we would not dress up in formal wear this evening, and not go to the dining room to eat. It was horrendously rough and even simply washing my hair almost tipped my stomach over the edge. During her lunchtime quiz Deb had given a request for DJ Martin Scott to play on his teatime radio show. It was to thank our new found friends.
I have been quite negative about Martin, but that was all about the cricket. I have seen the man in a different light since I stopped playing the game, and have much more positive views about him. He works hard like all the Ents Team and has some wonderfully challenging quizzes that are so much better then the ‘Carnival supplied questions’ that feature so many American-themed questions that are a farce for this British ship.
Martin was also a great help to the four passengers who had fallen foul of pickpockets in America and lost their passports. The ship’s management did virtually nothing except kicking them off the ship, but Martin gave them advice and sympathy in what was a horrendous situation to be in. I must also say that the British Embassy did a tremendous job as well. I know the ship had to put them ashore, but there ought to be a softer way of reacting to this situation.
Well done Martin, for all the work you do, but I hope you have a slightly different approach to the cricket.
After our dinner in the Horizon Buffet Deb and I joined up again with Richard, Angie, Robin and Rosemary. We just lost the early evening quiz before going to the theatre to listen to a rock and roll band called ‘Bluejays’. They were superb and deserved the applause and shouts for ‘MORE’ at the end.
They will be back on tomorrow in a special variety alongside Claire Bonsu ( singer) and Gareth Oliver performing for 15 minutes each.
The entertainment at the end of the cruise has been so much better.
After the show we all went to Masquerades and succeeded in winning a bottle of wine. Then we moved to Vanderbilt’s for the Syndicate Quiz. The other five drank the wine as I was not interested in upsetting my sea-sickness pill again. We lost in the quiz by two points which seems to be our standard result.
The sea seemed to have calmed a little, but when we went to bed, it was obvious that the storm was still very bad and the cracking, banging, rocking, and rolling was not going to help us get to sleep for another night.
We were in the Bay of Biscay now and tomorrow will be our final day of this wonderful adventure. It is a pity that the weather has meant a slightly sour end to it, but we have so many amazing memories.
…oh, and we’ve been told that the weather is going to improve during the night.