Category Archives: George’s Blog

Goodbye herefordshire

Tuesday morning, and the removal men are loading our belongings on their truck. They will be finished soon, and then Deb will finish cleaning the last of the rooms before we set off for Cornwall.

It has been a long drawn out move, with lots of changes of date , but finally it is the moment to go to our new home.

Hopefully we will get to the retirement village in time to pick up the keys this afternoon so that we can say hello to the apartment and switch on the fridge, before we spend the night in a hotel. The removal truck will be there tomorrow morning to unload.

It is time to say goodbye to Kingstone and the wonderful friends we have made here over the last six years.

Thanks to you all.

A Break from Moving

On Wednesday we were going away for a couple of nights to get a break from cardboard boxes and legal frustrations. We weren’t leaving home until after lunch so I decided to call the removal company to check all was well.

There was a message to say that the number I had dialled was not available.

I checked, and retried a number of times with the same response.

PANIC!

To cut the story short, we attempted mobile numbers, left messages on Facebook, but with no success. I decided I had to drive to find their depot, and I had to do it before we went away.

Sadly, the postcode address did not get me anywhere near a removal company yard, so after several ‘U Turns’ and searches down lanes, I gave up.

Before returning home I rang Deb to see if there had been any responses…

“the number you have dialled is not recognised”

Realisation dawned. It was OUR phone line that was faulty, not the removal company’s.

I got home and explained to Deb my thoughts, and attempted to ring the removal company on my mobile.

Success, and all was well again.

It was time for lunch, and then we set of for the 70 mile drive to the Billesley Manor Hotel in Warwickshire.

Sitting in 11 acres of grounds near the village of Alcester, the hotel is around five miles from Stratford upon Avon. It is a stunning 16th century manor house that has been extended and turned into a beautiful place for a bit of quiet relaxation.

It has over 70 bedrooms that are all comfortable, and range from those created in the many yard buildings, to those in the manor itself. They are all large , light, and airy. We had one that overlooked a topiary area of the gardens with Yew Tree sculptures to delight, and sometimes confuse the mind. In the distance we could hear the splashing of a massive fountain that sat in a lawned area where there is even a helicopter landing zone for those very exclusive visitors.

The room’s bed was gigantic and there was plenty of wardrobe and drawer space… for a short break anyway. The bathroom had a long bath and good fittings with space for bits again. The room even had a discrete low level light to avoid having to turn on the main light with its extractor fan in the middle of the night.

My only reservation about the room was the noise made by the ill fitting doors of the wardrobe and bathroom.

Our meals were included in the package and I enjoyed the dinners each night as well as the usual choice at the buffet breakfast.

Of course the drinks were expensive, but with wine also included in the deal, we didn’t spend a lot.

There was however one problem with the hotel. It was infested with wasps. If you sat with a drink in the bars, or outside on the terrace, you were immediately visited by the little creatures.

The staff simply told us to ignore them, but I have always had a personal hatred of the stinging beasts. I am sure that if approached, a local pest controller could have done something to sort out ‘Wasp World’.

Anyway, we weren’t overly concerned, and enjoyed the many quiet spots in the gardens to read and doze away the stress of moving home. The pool was quite large and we used up a bit of energy in there as a change from relaxation.

I would recommend this hotel for anyone looking for a little bit of relaxation from life’s stresses.

On the morning of our stay we drove to the ‘Park and Ride’ system just about three miles away and used it to go into Stratford on the bus.

This was absolutely perfect to avoid the traffic, and very good value.

In Stratford we looked around and spent half an hour in the amazing Butterfly Farm. There was time for coffee and cake of course before we made our way back to the hotel.

By Friday lunchtime we were home again to our cardboard boxes, but our heads had been cleared of stress, and I felt so much more comfortable with the week to come.

The phone line has not been restored. Apparently it would take longer to book an engineer to reconnect the line, than we will remain at this address. At least we still have the internet, and the mobile phone, but it is a little frustrating with the amount of calls that will be needed over the days leading up to the move.

So, once again we have to sit back and wait for the legal process to grind on. Tomorrow (Monday) the solicitor should be back from holiday, and will sign the form on his desk when he gets in to work. When that gets back to the conveyancing solicitors, the process can kick back into gear, and exchange should be possible.

On Thursday (hopefully) we will be waking up early, and beginning the final bits of packing. Our removal men should be here by just after 9:00 and we will be able to set off for Cornwall before lunchtime.

On Friday morning, after a night in the guest suite at the retirement village, we will wait for the phone call to confirm completion and pick up the key of our new home.

PLEASE!

Still in Hereford

We should have been travelling to Cornwall today on a journey to our new home.

But no, it has been delayed yet again.

And not delayed by just a couple of days either. Our move has now been re-arranged for 9th August.

The problem is still a document from the seller’s solicitor. It is the Licence to Assign document, and it has been on the solicitor’s desk for over a week, but he is on holiday, and remains on holiday until next week. As the Executer of the previous owner’s estate, this form can only be signed by him.

To make things more convoluted, our buyer’s mortgage agreement has expired today, and so as to be re-agreed, meaning a few more days delay.

Hence, the ‘House of Carboard Boxes‘ that is currently our home is now feeling very ‘un-home’ like. The tape on some boxes is now about to be removed to look for sufficient bits to keep us going for 10 days. But the problem is, ‘Which Boxes?

In the meantime, we have been shopping this morning, and are currently considering going away for a break in a luxury hotel where we can be pampered, and not asked questions about our move.

Oh, and its raining!

Bi for now from Mr and Mrs very frustrated and angry.

Goodbye to Hereford

It is Sunday 28th July 2019.

Over the next couple of days, the legal issues should be completed, and this Cornishman will be moving home, and going back to Cornwall.

Since we came home from our cruise on Oriana, Deb and I have done very little else than pack cardboard boxes, dump unnecessary items, and spend hours on the phone to estate agents, and solicitors.

The legal shenanigans have been annoyingly long and frustrating. We have been awaiting for final letters from the sellers for over a week, and this has meant the planned day to complete has been delayed.

The move should have been tomorrow, but a ‘License to Assign’ letter is sitting on the desk of a solicitor who has been on holiday for a week. In the meantime, our removal company gave up waiting for a final confirmation and cancelled our booking. This was not pleasant, as they didn’t actually tell us what they had done.

Within three hours we had found another company and they had been to look at the job, and agreed to move us.

On Friday evening we had a farewell party to say a sad goodbye to so many wonderful friends and neighbours we have met and shared six years with. The party went on into Saturday morning, and they all sang Happy Birthday to me.

Our house has ceased to be the home we have enjoyed. There are cardboard boxes everywhere, and the furniture is virtually empty. Deb has just about emptied the freezer, and meals planned for the next 48 hours should see off the rest.

Tomorrow morning (Monday) I have an early morning trip to the dump to get rid of the final things, and then it will be time to begin phone calls to the solicitors again. The theory is that the required letter will be quickly signed and sent, and that will be followed by exchange of contracts, and the completion date set for Tuesday.

Sadly, I won’t be surprised if is delayed for whatever reason again, and we will have to grovel to the removal company for another day’s wait.

I dread to think what the couple buying our house are thinking.

Anyway, by the end of this week we will be back in Cornwall, and turning an empty apartment into our new home.

This blog will have to have a new name, as the ‘Cornishman East of the Tamar’ will have returned west of that Tamar River.

I’ll speak to you all again very soon – although it might take a day or two to get internet again.

Farewell to Oriana 12

Wednesday Afternoon

As the day progressed, the weather turned cloudier and the sea became lumpy. The wind strength was increasing, and concerns that we would not be getting ashore on Guernsey tomorrow were raising. The weather forecast was not promising.

After the Battle of the Sexes, that the ladies lost by just one question, Deb and searched for somewhere to have lunch. We ended up having a sandwich in the buffet. The lack of bright and warm weather means everyone is trying to find somewhere inside, and because we have a busy period between 12:00 and 1:00, we struggled.

On the way back from lunch I considered going to watch Bohemian Rhapsody in the cinema, but is was standing room only. Never mind, I have seen it before, and more opportunities to watch it again will come up.

We spent the afternoon relaxing, having tea and cake, and generally enjoying our last few hours on Oriana. Once the afternoon quiz was over, we put on our formal gear for the final time (this cruise) and had a glass of fizz in the Crow’s Nest.

Dinner was the Marco White gala menu and I had Beef Wellington because there was nothing else appealing. I am sure that Beef Wellington with a crisp(ish) coating is very nice, but the version on board is not. I peeled away the soggy pastry, and ate the meat.

It was a quiet evening because timings were all wrong to see the lady magician again. Deb and I did begin a quiz on television shows, but gave up after realising it concentrated on American shows. There were just two British created programmes, and after moaning about the content, we gave up. The quiz host made a note that this particular quiz is really not targeted at a British audience.

The remainder of the evening was all about reading in Anderson’s.

By the time we went to bed at 10:30, Oriana was bumping about more than at any other time on the cruise. Around 1:00 in the morning I woke and the noise of the wind and miscellaneous banging was horrendous.

Sleep was not easy to come by.

Thursday 27th June – Guernsey???

The noise and movement did eventually subside, and I got some meaningful sleep. I woke at 7:00 wondering what the chances were of getting onto Guernsey. The navigation channel showed we were sailing along the south coast of the island but the sea conditions didn’t look good. Just as we were setting off for breakfast at 7:45, the captain made the predicted announcement and confirmed the plans for Guernsey were off.

It was a little quiet around the ship as people came to terms with the news. Many passengers had tours booked, but they at least get their money back. The adventures and possible memories were not going to happen.

It is 10:00 in the morning now, and I am in Anderson’s catching up on my dairy. Deb is back in the cabin attacking the bulk of the packing. I keep out of this when the sea is anything other than flat calm. I struggle to pack in these conditions without feeling ill. Fortunately, Deb is rarely affected by the motion.

The entertainment team have organised and published a plan for the day to cover the unexpected sea-day, but around me in this lounge, most people are quietly reading and perhaps wondering what could have been.

Tonight, the Headliners are performing ‘We’ll Meet Again’ in the theatre, and a jazz trio are performing in the Pacific Lounge. We won’t be getting involved in either of these offerings. The Headliner’s show is a flag waving and audience singing show, and we avoid such things. I understand the passion for reminiscing and pretence of national pride, but I feel it is becoming out of date. Soon no-one will be left who remembers Vera Lynn singing the iconic song for the first time, and we need to find a new way of celebrating being British.

Final Update

It is 3:00 in the afternoon now, and the rough sea has continued. Activities are most definitely in door only.

The captain came back with an announcement a little while ago with an update. We had already noticed that Oriana appeared to be on course for Southampton, and that she was going quite fast. The captain informed us that there was a medical issue with another passenger, and it was decided the best option was to get back to Southampton as quickly as possible.

We are now due to be home by around 10:00 tonight. This will be for the casualty transfer only, and we will not be able to disembark until the morning.

This will be my last post now until we get home. I can summarise the 12 nights then without waiting for the internet to do its stuff.

Bi for now from Oriana

Farewell to Oriana 11

Tuesday Evening

Deb and I went to the main dining room as planned, and we were the only ones at our table. We knew that one couple had abandoned the dining room in favour of the buffet, and it seems so have the others. The problem is that our little protest will have no affect on P&O who will continue with the almost identical menu that they have been serving up for three years.

I am quite sure that new, or occasional cruisers, with P&O will find the menu absolutely amazing, but this cruise has many passengers, like ourselves, who have been on numerous cruises and can almost recite the menu without looking at it. Deb and I usually go straight to the ‘specials’ in hopes of finding a surprise.

Anyway, we had already looked at the menu before committing to going to the dining room and we both had meals that were enjoyed. Our waiter spent the hour grovelling up to us, but he needn’t have worried, as we will be returning to the dining room again on Wednesday as it is formal night.

However, the last night on board, we will be in the Beach House.

After dinner we walked towards the theatre, but as we passed Lord’s we heard the last call for a quiz. So, we sat in there and put up a good fight with the other early evening quizzers. We were soundly beaten.

On to the theatre then. It was the Headliners with their show called, ‘Night of a thousand stars’ that looks back on the stars who have sang at the Palladium theatre over the decades.

It was OK, but not one that thrills us.

For the rest of the evening we sat in Anderson’s, reading our books as we sipped a glass of wine.

When we went to bed, Oriana was once again gently sailing along. She was now heading south towards Guernsey at a very slow rate of knots. Before we get there, we have a day at sea to unwind from the busy schedule of ports over the last few days.

Wednesday 26th June – Sea Day

It is a grey morning outside, and although warmer than it has been, it is not very inviting to wander around outside. The early mist thickened and soon Oriana’s fog horn was warning other boats in the area.

After breakfast it was time to update the diaries before Deb goes off to her final Fit Step session on the cruise. At midday it will also be the completion of the Battle of the Sexes where the scores are very close.

I will not be going for a walk this morning. The last few days of walking have been too much for my knee, and I want to rest it today. The morning quiz is about stars and personalities, that will be a disaster for me with my inability to remember names.

So, perhaps it is time for a few thoughts about Oriana. This will be the last time we sail on her, and like hundreds of other loyal P&O passengers, there is some disappointment that she is leaving the fleet. There is no hope of a replacement to fill the gap in the fleet, and those who enjoy this lady of the seas will have to move to Aurora, Arcadia, or Oceana. They are acceptable but Oriana has a special place in many passengers’ hearts.

Oriana is looking as good as I can remember her. Outside, the hull is virtually rust free, and only when you look out of the windows and see the corrosion around them, do you realise that she has been battered by the salt for nearly 25 years.

Inside it is similarly in good condition but maybe the carpets look a little worn, and some of the furniture a little saggy. The passenger facing crew are superb and do not seem to be concerned by the recent decision by P&O to remove tips.

The entertainment on this cruise has been average. Vocalists are again the majority, but the comedian and magicians have given us a bit of variety. The Headliners continue with shows that regular cruisers are far too familiar with, but we continue to watch to see any minor changes. This is not the fault of Oriana, or any other entertainment teams, it is a problem that exists across the fleet, and other cruise lines. Creating and producing a new show costs a lot of money and time, so new shows are a rarity. This also applies to the vocalists, comedians, and magicians who perform on cruise ships. The acts are rarely altered, and we have seen many acts that are virtually identical to perhaps three or four years ago.

So, that just leaves the food. You have already seen my thoughts about the main dining room menu, and hence no further comment needed. Elsewhere on this ship, the buffet has been a disappointment as well. The choice appears to be less, and perhaps not so well presented. Having said that, the Conservatory Buffet is busy from breakfast to dinnertime and certainly shows how so many passengers prefer it to the formal dining experience. Deb and I have however gone the other way. Because of the difficulty of finding a table in the buffet, we have opted to use the dining room for breakfast, and even considered it for lunch.

Sindhu is considered as being very popular across the fleet, but this does not necessarily apply to the older generation of cruisers (e.g. Oriana passengers). The restaurant on Oriana is large and has not been busy throughout the cruise, even after the cover charge had been dropped. The Beach House is also quieter than I expected, but still popular with more than Sindhu. The other dining option is ‘Alfresco’s’ for snacks through the day. We have ignored it after less than good experiences in the past, but it has been very busy.

The cruise itself has been really enjoyable, with some interesting ports. So few British spend enough time to explore their own country, and I am one such person, so this has been good.

I will be sad to get of Oriana on Friday morning, but know that the cruise industry will always move on to where it can make the most profit. Loyalty means little when new people continue to book a cruise holiday. P&O under the Carnival organisation has decided that P&O will go down the option of using big ships with a ‘Stack them high and sell them low’ business model. This works well until the cruise bubble bursts, and P&O will be left with a fleet of large ships with empty cabins. Then they might want the loyal customers back.

In the meantime, many of us are looking elsewhere. Other cruise lines are available, and some have some rather good business models of small ships and higher levels of service. Of course that costs more, but the time comes when people who have sampled the luxury of P&O in the past are prepared to spend a little more to find that luxury elsewhere.

OK, Deb has just gone to her Fit Steps, and I think I will go and have a walk as the fog has lifted.

Farewell to Oriana 10

Tuesday 25th June – Cobh

We have really been so lucky with the state of the sea on this cruise. It was a little bumpy over the first couple of days, but since then it has often looked like a mirror. Last night was no different as we rounded the southern coast of Ireland towards the port of Cobh (once called Queenstown).

It was a bit murky outside when I poked my nose out through the curtains at 7:00, but I could see the sunshine on the cliffs in the distance. The TV Navigation channel was already showing 14°C so the day could be a good one.

After breakfast we spent a few minutes on our diaries, and then got things together to go for a walk through this beautiful town. When we came here in 2012 it rained, and although we explored a little, most of the day was a washout.

This morning we walked up to the cathedral that looks down over the town. It is a huge building and built mainly of a sort of grey stone. I will admit that the walk up the steep roads and steps to the cathedral almost wrecked my knee in the first 15 minutes of being off the ship.

After the bit of cultural architecture viewing, we descended into the town again and looked in the shop windows and simply enjoyed the laid back lifestyle of this place. There were a lot of tourists wandering the streets like us, and accents were varied, although a lot of them were from the USA. There was also a lot of school children, and it looked like a general ‘out of school day’ for several schools. They appeared to be looking at all the sites that the cruise passengers were also interested in, so a little bit of congestion was on the cards.

Deb and I sat with an ice-cream looking out across the harbour, while my knee recovered. Then we moved to the ‘Titanic Experience’ to relight the memories of our visit 7 years ago.

It was full of children.

We changed our minds and went back towards the ship to the ‘Heritage Centre’ that is virtually joined on to the docks where Oriana sat. We went in, and found more children, but they were still lining up to get their tickets, so we dashed through the entrance turn-style and began the tour. This is a wonderful exhibition that charts the history of sea travel from this port. Many of the passengers were convicts initially, but when that part of history came to an end, it became emigrants to the new worlds. Apparently some 3 million Irish people left this port towards America, Canada, and Australia.

The museum exhibition also looks at the Titanic of course, as this was the last placed it stopped for passengers on its ill-fated cruise in 1912. Another sea-faring disaster is also covered, and that was the sinking of the Lusitania on its way to Britain from America in 1915.

It had been a  lovely way to spend an hour, assuming of course that you enjoy history.

We didn’t bother with coffee and cake this time, and just returned to Oriana to get a spot of lunch.

By 1:00 we were back at the Titanic Experience, and bought tickets for the 1:30 tour. While waiting we went out into the warmth and sat by the harbour again.

Our tour of the Titanic story exhibition was wonderful, even if it was the second time we have seen it. The experience is enhanced by realising we had entered the old white Star building up the same steps as the passengers in 1912, and looked out at the remains of the wooden pier where they boarded the tender boats taking them out to Titanic.

That was enough for the day. It had been so good to come back to Cobh and wander around a little, instead of getting wet.

We are going to eat in the main dining room this evening. The menu is not exciting, but we have spotted an option we can enjoy. After that, the entertainment is the Headliners in the theatre with ‘Night of a thousand Stars’, while the Pacific Lounge has a show from someone called Phinesta Taylor who describes herself as the ‘Queen of Soul’. Deb likes this type of music, but I am not sure yet if she can handle 45 minutes of it.

Well, the afternoon is rushing towards shower and shave time, so I will get this posted.

Tomorrow we have the final sea-day, as Oriana sails towards the Channel Islands. On Thursday we will be anchored off the island of Guernsey, and assuming the weather continues to be friendly, we will be tendering ashore to the town of St Peter Port.

Farewell to Oriana 9

Sunday Evening

Our afternoon tea in the Peninsular restaurant was something quite special. It was for the Ligurian Loyalty tier passengers, and there were 40 of us. We were welcomed with a glass of Prosecco and then came a series of different nibbles of crumpets, teacakes, scones, sandwiches, and samosas alongside the plate of cakes on the tables. There were 9 of us on the table and we chatted for 45 minutes about cruises and no-one felt any embarrassment talking about cruises, different ships, different captains and our amazing sea-going experiences all over the world.

Tea and coffee were constantly appearing, as well as extra plates of food and even a couple of refills of Prosecco.

The captain made an appearance, along with several other senior officers and the loyalty team.

We left there and went to the Lord’s Tavern for a quiz. Two people had the same score of 19/20 and they even got the same answer for the tie breaker. After a little vocal encouragement, the quiz master gave them both a sticker. We were not winners, but at least I marked a winning paper.

There were a few minutes left before dinner, and tonight it was in the Beach House.

It goes without saying that we had a wonderful meal.

After eating, we sat in Tiffany’s with a small glass of something alcoholic and then had a (very) early night.

Monday 24th June – Dublin

After a good night’s sleep, I was up at 7:00 to make the tea. Oriana was just approaching her docking point for the day on a cloudy morning in the capital of the Republic of Ireland.

We have been here three times before, and planned to take the shuttle into the city and do our own thing.

With breakfast over there were a few minutes to get ready, and then we were away to the quayside and the double decker shuttle bus.

Goodness the traffic is bad in this city. We took far longer then we anticipated to get to the backstreet where we all got off. From there it was another 15-minute walk to O’Connell Street. Here we queued up to go around the GPO Exhibition about the 1916 uprising. This was something Deb wanted to do in 2016 when we were last here, but the exhibition had only just opened, and the queues to get in were horrendous.

This time we had a leisurely stroll around this quite amazing exhibition charting the reasons for the uprising, as well as the actual moments of the event, and the aftermath and changes in the country since.

To finish our visit to the GPO building, we had a delicious cup of coffee, and delicious muffins.

My knee was complaining bitterly by now, so we began the walk back to the shuttle stop, while looking around the shops on the way. Dublin is a busy city with hundreds, if not thousands of tourists each day making the streets packed with pedestrians, as well as constantly busy traffic.

By 1:00 we were back home on Oriana for a cup of tea, and then a chance to relax. Sadly, I had to log on to the new house conveyancing site to read the latest batch of documents that arrived this morning. There was nothing of any serious interest, and included at least five sets of documents with the identical electrical certification.

We are just about to go for a mid-afternoon cuppa now before getting ready rather early for a special sail-away cocktail party in the Captain’s reception room. This is a party we have paid for and something different for us.

Before the party we went to the theatre to watch a show from a local music and dance group galled ‘Gaels Afloat’. The theatre was packed. It was full 15 minutes before the show began, and there were people standing down the sides, and all across the back. We had seen these people before, and they were fantastic. The music was superb, and the dancing was mesmerising.

As the show ended, we galloped to reception to join a small group of people waiting for the sail-away cocktail party. It was for about 40 paying passengers, and we were led from the reception area, to a room at the front of B deck, which is the captain’s personal reception area. It is quite a large room and we were greeted by officers and waiters with prosecco and canapes. There was also a way out onto an observation deck to allow us to watch our sail-away from Dublin.

Slightly quiet to begin with, soon the room was a buzz of alcohol fuelled chatter. Most of us moved on from prosecco to cocktails that kept appearing.

Strangely, few people saw much of the sail-away, but we did concentrate hard on the canapes, chatter, and cocktails. This was a very different, and rather enjoyable experience.

Deb and I were some of the final people to leave, and we were in no state to eat, so we returned to the cabin to decide what to do next. The entertainment we chose was a lady magician in the theatre. She was called Mandy Muden, and perhaps not the most accomplished magician, she kept the audience thrilled with her comedy as well as the tricks.

Out of the theatre, we went to the Lord’s Tavern for a quiz about the Caribbean. We were still rather hazy from the earlier alcohol, and struggled with many of the question, but somehow, we managed to win. Obviously, our trip around the Caribbean in the Spring did leave us with some knowledge.

As we carried off our heavy gold victory stickers, we snuggled into a sofa in Anderson’s for a late-night tipple to settle our empty tummies…

… it’s a good enough excuse, isn’t it?

Oriana was quietly sailing southwards on a calm sea. Tomorrow we would be in the port of Cobh on the southern Irish coast. This is the cruise port for the city of Cork, but we will be remaining in the beautiful little town of Cobh.

Farewell to Oriana 8

We are well over half way through our cruise on this beautiful little lady of a ship.

Update of Saturday in Kirkwall

Our afternoon trip to savour the tastes of the Orkneys was a bit of a surprise. We had skipped lunch, and even booked the Beach House for the evening, thinking we would be nibbling snacks on our trip.

A coach drove us to a restaurant in the town (called The Shore I believe) and we were greeted by the owner and his staff. Quickly seated inside, there was a keyboard player and a violinist to settle us down with some local music.

The 40 or so of us were seated along either sides of two tables, and before us was a small glass of local whisky, plus a plate and various bits of cutlery, and some cheeses on little bread slices. The owner welcomed us and we all toasted our health with the small, but perfectly formed, nip of the whisky. It was from a distillery called ‘Scapa’ and I really liked it.

I have to tell you that I do not like whisky.

After a few words of introduction about himself, the island, and the cheeses in front of us, we tucked into two local cheeses. They were sitting on two different types of local bread, and one was a ‘Bere’ bread that dates back centuries.

Cheese and bread were delicious.

There were more descriptions of the island, the bread we had been eating, and the fishing industry. And that was a welcome to another plate arriving at the table slivers of triple cured herring, along with locally prepared oat biscuits. Now, I don’t enjoy fish either, but these little slices of herring were sweet and tasty. To wash this course down, we also had a small glass of local beer.

More talk.

Thinking we were almost through the tasting, there was a shock with a full-size plate of beef stew, new potatoes and cabbage. Deb and I turned to each other, and decided to cancel lour meal in the Beach house when we get back on the ship. There were another couple of glasses of different beers to taste as well.

Finally came the pudding course with local fudge cheese cake, local ice-cream, and a rhubarb sauce. This was accompanied by a glass of local fruit wine.

After two hours of a very enjoyable meal of Orkney food, we boarded our coach back to Oriana. What a wonderful experience.

Late in the afternoon by now, there was just an hour or so left before our ship said goodbye to the Orkneys for the final time. Initially just a lone piper played on the quayside but that soon became 16 men and women with pipes and drums to bid farewell to Oriana.

We had dinner in the buffet, and that was just a bowl of soup, followed by a pudding for me, and cheese and biscuits for Deb. That was plenty for us.

Our evening entertainment began with comedian, William Caulfield in the Pacific Lounge. Yes we had heard his act before, but we still enjoyed his ‘gift of the gab’. After that we trotted along the deck to the Lord’s Tavern for a quiz that was all based on cryptic clues. This was good fun, and we did very well, getting 19 out of 20. Two teams got them all correct but it was still an amusing 45 minutes.

From there we ended our evening with a glass of wine in Anderson’s while we discussed the cruise, and also our impending house move. Things are nearing completion now, and we have a lot of things to organise when we get home.

Sunday 23rd June – Sea Day

When I looked out of the window this morning, the coastline of western Scotland is visible as we make our way to the Port of Dublin tomorrow morning.

The sky is much brighter than on some of the mornings of this cruise, but the TV navigation pages are showing a temperature of 10°C.

It was later than usual as we made our way down to breakfast in the Peninsular restaurant. There were no tables for two left so we sat with a couple of ladies. One of them was reading the details of the Caribbean lunch they had been invited to this lunchtime. They were not sure what they were expecting, so we did our best to explain the lunchtime treats.

After breakfast, Deb updated her diary, and I went for a stroll around the Promenade Deck. My stroll became reasonably energetic and I managed four laps, so more than a mile. By the time I got back to the cabin, Deb had gone to Fit Steps, and it was my turn to tap on the keyboard.

When she returned, I took a break from my diary and went to the buffet with Deb for a drink.

It is getting near to midday now, and Deb will be joining the ladies for the Battle of the Sexes at noon. I will probably go along and watch from the back. I don’t enjoy this quiz very much, but don’t mind watching.

After that we will be finding something to eat for lunch, but it won’t be very much as we have another treat this afternoon. We have been invited with the other Ligurian loyalty level passengers for afternoon tea. This appears to be quite exclusive with so few of us.

At least there won’t be too much food involved to spoil our dinner in the Beach House.

This evening the entertainment is a lady singer with an Aretha Franklin tribute in the theatre, and Headliners with ‘Top of the Billboards’ in the Pacific Lounge. I doubt we will be rushing our dinner to get to either of these.

Farewell to Oriana 7

Friday evening

After the individual quiz, we dressed casually for our dinner in the buffet. The theme tonight was ‘Best of Britain’ and there was plenty of choice for us. We both had fish and chips which was rather nice. We noticed one of the couples from the dining room table there as well. Obviously we are not the only ones finding the main dining room menu less than exciting.

Deb and I were out of the buffet very early, and soon sat comfortably in the Pacific Lounge for Mark Williams to entertain us with his magic again. Sadly, the room was almost empty for his performance, and nobody sat in the front row of chairs.

We enjoyed it. With so few people watching, and most of whom were unwilling to take part, it ended up with several of us from the first show who were used again. The act is extremely good, but someone we knew made a point that he needs to improve his ‘patter’. Maybe that put people off in his first show.

After the magic, we dashed along the main corridor to the theatre for the Headliners in ‘Reel to Reel’ It is a very familiar show but still a good way of spending 45 minutes with these hard working young people.

The evening was far from over, and we went to Lord’s for the late-night challenge. Tonight it was a not a quiz, but teams had to choose the most appropriate answer to a series of questions. Those who chose the most popular answer for each question won a point. Deb and I were most definitely thinking in a different way to the majority.

It was bedtime. Oriana was sailing south and east toward the Orkney Island group for our next port tomorrow morning.

Saturday 22nd June – Kirkwall

Deb and I actually had a reasonable night’s sleep. I felt much more refreshed when getting the morning cuppa. Today we have a tour that leaves the ship after lunch. It is all about tasting and sampling local food and drink. With nothing to do in the morning, we decided to catch the shuttle bus into the small town and stretch our legs.

The shuttle bus was a double carriage bendy bus and quite comfortable for the ride that took little more than five minutes.

The little town is small with a main street and a few shops in the lanes to the side. We spent around 30 minutes looking around, and spent less than £5. When we got back on the shuttle bus, the driver seemed quite shocked that we were ready to go back so soon.

Back on Oriana, we decided to have a cup of coffee and a muffin even though it was only mid-morning. As we are going out before 1:00, and food will be involved, this snack would keep us going until then.

As we sat down in the Crow’s Nest to catch up on our diaries, we checked out the menu for this evening. There is little to tempt us into the main dining room again, so we may well be booking the Beach House for this evening.

The entertainment tonight is William Caulfield in the Pacific Lounge to amuse us, and a couple of female singles in the theatre. We are not sure if we ever saw Williams Caulfield’s second act before, so may well try him out again.