Category Archives: George’s Blog

Time for the Dentist

Monday morning and it was time to go back to see my dentist.

We had discovered that there are very few National Health dentists in Cornwall, and they all have very long waiting lists. So Deb and I were embarking on a change of life by using a Private Dentist. Well, a week ago we had been given a check-up which showed that I needed a filling. So content that my bank balance could cope with this, I was now sitting in the chair with injections, drills, and pain awaiting me.

Late on in life, there are often moments when mistakes from our childhood years come back and bite us.

… sorry for the pun

I did not look after my teeth as a child, in fact I completely ignored the need to clean my teeth, and gorged myself on chocolate and toffees whenever possible. I was frightened of dentists. This was probably because there was a school of thought in the 1950’s, that it was a good idea to extract all of the baby teeth, if there was any hint of problems. Hence my doctor instructed my dentist to take out all of my teeth in two sessions.

This resulted in horrble pain, rediculous amounts of blood, and a fear of dentists for a decade.

When I did decide to seek help for my decayed adult teeth, there was a lot to be done. In all fairness, the dentist (Mr Milne) who had been the one who took out my baby teeth, was actually a very good dentist, and some of his fillings were now coming under scrutiny over 40 years later.

The current session of treatment took 40 minutes, excavating the original lump of metalwork, drilling away the new decay, and refilling the cavern.

I was eventually back home after a huge bill for the work, and with a numbed face that quickly turned into a very painful mouth.

Three days on and I am finally accepting the new feeling in my mouth, reduced the consumption of painkillers, and am almost chewing food normally.

In the new year there will be yet another new treat of seeing a dental hygienist who will be scraping, polishing, and generally sprucing up our gnashers.

… at more cost

Perhaps we should continue to look for a NHS dentist and go on their waiting list.

Catch up before the weekend

On Wednesday evening we enjoyed a really fun couple of hours with a special evening meal in the site’s dining room, that was accompanied by a Murder Mystery challenge. Most of us took part with a role and we had to talk through our character and answer questions to try and see if we were the guilty person. The food was very pleasant, even if the vegetables were a little overcooked, but the Chocolate Souffle dessert was absolutely wonderful.

These meals are usually once per month for a chance to get people together to chat and laugh. Deb tends to cook an evening meal each day, so this was our first time. It was a chance to judge the food before we decide on booking a Christmas meal which the majority usually go to. They are having meals on several days to give people a choice and to avoid family get togethers. Deb and I will be with our children on Christmas Day when we will meet up with Lynsey and Andrew in Somerset at our daughter’s home.

After our meal we settled into a couple of hour’s with the television to watch the ‘Apprentice’ and ‘I’m a Celebrity’. OK they are marmite programmes that are loved or hated, but we look forward to this period of the year when they get aired. Of course our viewing was made better by sharing a bottle of wine.

Trip Out

One of the pleasures of living in our retirement village, is that they organise and take residents out on trips. Each month a new batch of trips appear on the calendar for us to decide what we fancy doing.

Yesterday it was a trip to the nearby St Austell Breweries where there is a visitor centre, and a restaurant.

… nearly all of the trips have a café or restaurant involved.

The site’s mini bus was full up with 14 of us, and the journey was less than 30 minutes. On arrival we had the visit described, before setting off with an enthusiastic and obviously knowledgeable guide. Her first task was to give us a free drink to get our taste buds interested in what we were about to learn about.

It should be pointed out at this point that as a younger person I drank a lot of lager, but rarely ‘real’ ales, or brown coloured beers, so this was going to be dipping my toes where they have never been before.

Anyway, we saw the various stages of brewing, with the the vats, pipes, kegs and bottles, and the hour or so was rather interesting. It is a huge operation creating hundreds of thousands of pints of their very popular beer annually.

With the educational show around the site complete, we had a chance to sit and sample (small amounts) of a range of beers, including speciality ones. Our group took part enthusiasticly in this exercise, but a few of us occasionally had to put a brave face on when we sampled some of the stranger tasting drinks.

… I don’t want to offend St Austell Breweries, but I think I will stick to what we used to call ‘cooking’ lager, or wine.

After the samples we had our lunch, which was really tasty and with superb service. The morning was then rounded off with a visit to the shop and a free bottle of beer each to take away.

This was a lovely morning out, and well worth visitors to the area trying out on damp days.

Vigo and towards home

8th November – Vigo

There are some nights on a cruise when you wonder what was I doing in bed, and last night was one of these. Oceana was being tossed around by a swell that reached 5 metres (or a little more) and that is nearly the height of a house. This ship is tens of thousands of tonnes in weight and was being continually lifted and dropped by these surges of water.

My Fit Bit told me that I had NO meaningful sleep until after 4:00 as I listened to the roar of the sea, and coughed very regularly. I could sense each time being lifted up by the waves, and then waited for the dropping feeling as we came down again. Art the end of each descent was a boom as we hit the bottom of the waves, and when it was one of the really big oneswe had an enormous crash and juddering as poor Oceana sorted herself out again.

Eventually the swell reduced as we began to go nearer the Spanish coast and I finally managed to get to sleep. Then Deb and I were both woken suddenly by a horrendous roar outside the cabin door.

There had been a leak, and the lads were hoovering up the water from the carpet… but this was at 5:30!

Deb was not happy. She got up, opened the cabin door, and shouted that we were trying to sleep. Whoever it was out there attempted an initial plea that the carpet was wet, but soon knew he had lost, and the machine was switched off. It wasmade even worse by the peopleinvolved who were chattering as they worked, but the nosie of the machine meant they had to shout.

There was still a bit of the night left to get some more sleep, but soon we heard the sounds we had become accustomed to as Oceana approached her berth in Vigo. The cabin we have is very nice but is just one cabin away from the most regularly used door to the outside when we dock.

It was time to get up and with very bleary eyes to make some tea. My throat was still sore, and the cough still annoying me. I think things are a little better, but I am now so tired from lack of sleep.

We had breakfast in the calm atmosphere of the restaurant, but very restrained with just juice and cereal plus the toast. This morning we made a point of asking for four slices of toast rather than the automatic three pieces. Why they think an odd number of slices is a good idea I just cannot fathom.

Anyway, with breakfast over, and a moan at the reception desk about the 5:30 wake up issues, we relaxed a little before going out into the city of Vigo.

The weather this morning was a little grey and overcast as we arrived, but the sun did make a rather cool appearance as trhe day went on. There were a few hardy souls trying to worship the sun on deck during the afternoon, but it was certainly not warm enough to expose too much skin.

Deb and I set off for a stroll at around 10:00 with no intention of doing much. I did have to go into a chemist to get some more throat lozenges, and this proved very expensive. The 9 Euros was as much as coffee and cakes elsewhere, but will probably last a lot longer.

After perhaps 45 minutes of walking up and down hills and peeking into shops, we made our way back to the ship for the final time on the cruise.

I have seen a lot of bad Face Book posts about Oceana saying she was tatty, showing her age, needed a refit etc, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how good she looks. The external paintwork is generally very good, and the crew are continually tarting up the odd rusty spots. Inside the décor is as good as I remember it from 15 or so years ago. The Atrium is of course the focal point of this ship and a lot of people enjoy sitting there all through the day. If there are a few weak points, it has to be the lifts. There have been lifts out of order on every day, and when they are working they are moving so slowly, that people tend to jump into any lift, going in either direction, and put up with going the wrong way initially before getting to their desired floor. Of course that means the lifts stop at floors where people are no longer waiting, an hence slow the service down even more.

My major concern is still the food. I am not a food expert, and I am willing to experiment with different styles of cuisine, but I do expect taste. The dishes all seem bland. Yes, I know that hundreds of people say the food is brilliant, but I will still highlight that a piece of beef covered in soggy pastry is NOT Beef Wellington.

Before we left Vigo at about 4:00, the captain gave us a quick chat about the voyage to Southampton. The swell would continue as we return to the Ocean and probably increase as we round Cape Finesterre to begin the passage across the Bay of Biscay. As the evening and night goes on, that swell will reduce and a following wind should make the crossing quite comfortable. He did warn us that another storm is coming to batter Britain, and we will feel that as we round Ushant Point and go into the Channel.

Just before having our showers, the Deck Housekeeping Supervisor came to discuss our early morning wake up problems. He apologised and understood how it affected us. It was not his fault, it was not the crew’s fault who were given the task to clear up the water, but it would been nice to have had a tap on the door and a warning before the racket cket began.

The afternoon was rounded off by Deb winning the Individual Quiz with 20/20. It means she has won the first, and probably only golden sticker for the cruise.

We had dinner in Café Jardin, and the on-board credit has now been finally spent. The meal was lovely – yes it had true taste and flavour – but just too much for us. Deb is now showing the initial signs and symptoms of the bad throat, and lack of appetite is one of them.

After eating we sat for a few minutes in the Atrium with our books, but bored with that we decided to go to the cabaret show in the Starlights Lounge.

It was from the guitarist Paul Ruck and backed by the resident band ‘Pulse’. It was superb with his versions of songs by Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, and even Procul Harem. This man is someone to go and see, as long as you enjoy rock and guitar solos… and Pulse were really good as a backing.

That was enough for the day, so we took to our beds with the pills and potions to get us through the night.

———————-

Saturday 9th November – Sea Day to Southampton

The night had been kind to us, and we both slept well. My throat is easing, but Deb is now suffering.

After breakfast Deb sat quietly with her tablet and I updated my diary.

The captain has just announced that the sea conditions are much better than yesterday, and will stay reasonably good for the crossing. But, as he warned us yesterday, there is a storm brewing in the Channel, and it will catch up with us. In the meantime he is hammering Oceana along as fast as he can to get ahead of the storm if possible before we dash up the Channel to Southampton.

Today I will hopefully go and listen to the choir to see how good they sound (without me). Apart from that, the evening has another show from the Headliners called ‘Dream Lover’ that we haven’t seen before.

That just leaves the packing.

Well, that is all from Oceana, but I will post again when we settle in back in Roseland Parc. The cruise has been what we expected, and for a couple of weeks we have forgotten the last cardboard boxes, and piles of ‘bits’ that still need somewhere to sit in our new home. Over the next few days we will be ordering a new fridge freezer, and there is a little matter of my appointment with the surgeon to discuss the future of my knee.

Sea Day Northwards

Thursday 7th November and Oceana is slowly sailing northwards along the Spanish coastline. The winds have continued to batter the ship, and the swell is tossing us around quite violently. One of the side effects of the pills the doctor gave me, is that they are a very good sea-sickness treatment. I think I would be feeling quite ill by now without them.

It is cloudy and the sea has changed its colour back to that dark grey North Atlantic. There is little chance of getting time in the sunshine today.

My sore throat is perhaps slightly better, but the ‘Cute Itis’ has now blossomed into a full blown cough and runny nose cold. The aches around my body suggests it is a virus and my flue jab doesn’t appear to have had any effect on it.

After breakfast in the restaurant, I set myself up in my little office space in the Atrium on level 7. Just as I started to update my diary, the Captain came on the Public Address system to say “Good Morning”. He warned us that the weather was going to get worse, and the 3 – 4 metre swell we were experiencing now would increase to 6 metres by lunchtime, and upwards of 9 metres through the evening.

Worse still, the swell is going to be so bad at the entrance to La Coruna, that he cannot safely attempt to get into the planned port tomorrow morning. Behind the scenes he had been talking with port authorities and Carnival House, and we are going to have a stop at Vigo instead tomorrow. Deb and I weren’t disappointed. We had been to La Coruna a number of times, and Vigo will make a change.

Meanwhile we will have to suffer the angry sea today, and yes it is angry.

Deb set off for her Fit Step class but came back almost immediately as there wasn’t one scheduled for this morning. She changed out of her exercise kit, and we went for a mid morning cup of tea in the buffet.

Up there is was easy to see just how lumpy the sea was. It was a boiling cauldron of waves and swell lifting us up and unceremoniously dropping us down again. Progress was a cork screw that made Oceana jiggle . Down in our cabin on Deck 5 we could see waves quite close up, and spray was flying up above the level of our window.

We did little else than relax for the morning with our books, but soon it was time to get ready for our Top Loyalty Tier Lunch.

It was a lovely 90 minutes chatting with like minded cruisers and with our host who is the Housekeeping Manager. We met him on Aurora when sailing around the Amazon earlier this week, and it was good to catch up. The menu was quite nice, but my throat is allowing little or no taste sensations, but the wine was numbing the ache, and more importantly, the cough.

Our lunchtime efforts meant it was time to read, and sleep, but we did manage a walk for a cup of tea in the buffet.

This was the last formal evening of the cruise, but we had no interest in eating in the main dining room. Instead we went to the buffet for a Thai themed snack.

From there we went to the theatre to watch the Headliners tribute to ‘Queen’. This is the first time we have seen this on the big stage for many years. To be honest I was surprised the shows weren’t cancelled with the way the ship was moving, but the girls and boys entertained us wonderfully.

They had three shows during the evening, so after going to the early show, we had lots of time to sit in Magnums, and chat about the cruise. It has not been exciting or exhilarating but turned out to be what we wanted – a break from the moving home. The sunshine of the Canaries was wonderful of course, but the food and the latest round of budget cuts is really drilling into the pleasure of cruising with P&O. This is the first time for many years that we are coming home from a cruise without another one booked.

Tomorrow we will be arriving into Vigo, but I was not very confident of a good night’s sleep with the movement of the ship. We were now being lifted very high, and the crashing as we dropped back was quite horrendous.

Perhaps it will be better tomorrow.

Sea Day, Cadiz, and a Sore Throat

Tuesday 5th November

What was a tickly cough during the singing on Monday, became an annoying sore throat yesterday, but overnight it became absolutely awful. I woke at around 2:30, and when I swallowed my saliva, it was as if it had become sharp peices of a boiled sweet, that got stuck at the back of my throat.

I had to get up and search in the medicine box for a throat lozenge.

As I slowly sucked the sweet, the pain eased a little, but I was now wide awake and it took ages before I finally felt tired enough, and comfortable enough, to drop back into sleepy land.

The remainder of the night was not good with constant waking up moments for a drink to keep the pain away.

Meanwhile, Oceana was becoming a bit of a roller coaster ride in some large lumpy seas. I wasn’t suffering sea-sickness, but as soon as I got up to put the kettle on, I took my stugeron as a precaution. The captain promised bad weather, and he was correct. As the day went on, the sea got more and more angry, and walking along the corridors became hard work.

Deb wasn’t very comfortable either, and spent the morning on the bed reading her books and working on the tablet. This was the first time she had missed Fit Steps for the cruise. I did eventually go to the choir practice, but simply sat and listened. There was no way I would be able to sing without coughing, and I certainly didn’t want to pass my illness onto the others.

Deb and I did have a break from the cabin to go up to the buffet for a snack at lunchtime, but I was not happy watching the horizon moving all over the place. I was glad to return to the cabin to shut my eyes and let the ocean sail by.

I managed to venture out to the theatre to watch a chat between the Cruise Director ( I will keep using that title) and the 13 Headliner singers and dancers. That passed an hour, but during the chat, there was mention of rare moments when shows get cancelled because of bad weather. I think this was alreadyy being considered for their show tonight.

Sure enough, late in the afternoon the announcement came that the show was off. It was repalced by the film ‘Yesterday’ based on the music of the Beatles.

So as Oceana continued boucing and corkscrewing her way towards Cadiz, Deb andI watch this film in Starlights. It was a simple plot line, but the music made it absolutely wonderful… for us anyway.

It was time for bed, and with my throat no better, I dosed myself with everything that looked vaguely useful and tried to go to sleep.

——————————-

Cadiz

Wednesday morning, and we were already docked in Cadiz when I made the morning cup of tea. The ship was no longer moving up and down, but we were in the shelter of the harbour of course.

My throat kept me awake once more, and after breakfast, I gave in and went to see the doctor.

After having my throat swabbed for bacteria by a young nurse, the doctor looked and listened to various part sof my chest and head before declaring thatI had ‘Acute’, something or other ‘itis’. There was no bacterial infection thankfully, and I was given some dissolvabal aspirin to gargle with, and some pills to hopefully disperse the muck that was hiding in the various bits of my head.

… oh, and a bill for £100

By 10:30 Deb and I were off Oceana and having a walk around this very familiar Spanish City. There was nothing on our shopping list, and the total spend was 6 Euros on coffee and churros. So far we have spent less than 40 Euros during our adventures in the 5 ports.

Back on the ship, we had a quick lunch, followed by me having another gargle. Then we went up onto the top deck for what was probably our last chance of sun worship for the cruise. It was cooler today, but still very enjoyable.

Tonight we dined in the Beach House and thoroughly enjoyed superb service and a lovely meal.

After that we sat in the Atrium for nearly an hour. Unfortunately the pills from the doctor are sending me to sleep, and with nothing to go and watch, we gave in to an early night.

I gargled, took my pill, sucked a lozenge while I read my book, and before 10:00 I had turned off my light and heading to the land of nod.

All in all I am very annoyed that I have succumbed to the dreaded bad throats that thrive on cruise ships. It is stopping us doing things, and I am sorry for Deb having to put up with my constant coughing, and my lack in interest in doing much.

The one good thing is that the sea is not so bad tonight, but the captain has warned us that it is going to be very very rough as we head towards La Coruna.

There is a sea day tomorrow, and we have our loyalty tier lunch.

Sea Day and Madeira

Sunday 3rd November – Sea Day

The sea day routine kicked in with Deb’s Fit Step while I went for a walk around the deck. It was different today with the sunshine on the Starboard side, where it was lovely and warm, while the Port side was slightly chilly in the breeze that we have had for all of the cruise.

I had a chat with Deb as she finished her exercise, and then I took my place at the front of the Starlights Lounge for choir practice. we are getting up to speed with the songs now, but I had a coughing fit during one of them, and I was worried that this might be the beginning of something more serious.

The remainder of the day was quiet and relaxing. We had an hour up on the top deck to absorb some more sunshine, but most of the time was simply reading.

This was the third formal dress code evening, and we ate in the main dining room. As we were intending to get to Starlights quite promptly for the early show, we had a table for two and the service was quite speedy. We were out of the dining room earlier than we anticipated, but were soon in the lounge with a glass of wine waiting for the second show from the ventriloquist.

Once again he was really good. Jimmy Tamley is talented, and has a range of characters to show off his abilities. Tonight he had his audience pretending to be children, and we shouted out like five year olds at a pantomime. He also had a life sized boxer doll that was absolutley hilarious. It became even funnier when one of the strings broke, and he turned the problem into an opportunity to adlib. Jimmy Tamley is well worth watching for family entertainment to make you laugh.

The Headliners were performing their illusion show called ‘Astonishing’ in the theatre but we didn’t want to watch it again. Once seen, the magic becomes less astonishing, but the show is rather special.

Deb and I rounded off the evening with a chat and a drink in Magnums, before having an early night.

———————————

Monday 4th November – Madeira

Like all the places on the cruise, we have been here before, but the island is always a popular port with the passengers.

We woke to a beautiful dry and sunny day. Our cabin window is looking out across the city of Funchal with the gangplanks on the Starboard side today.

After breakfast – Eggs Benedict for Deb – we slowly got ourselves ready for a walk around the city.

There was a shuttle bus from the dockside to the shopping area, and then we strolled in search of the indoor market that we haven’t visited for a long time. It still sells the same fruit, vegetables, flowers, and meat but my nasal sensors go into revulsion with the fish section. I really can’t tolerate fish, and sometimes this annoys me. I would love to enjoy the taste (and smell) of fish like so many other people.

On the return walk we stopped for coffee and Nata Cakes (delicious) and were entertained by a group of people protesting noisily outside of a bank. Sadly for the people concerned, many of their audience were confused cruise ship passengers, and they weren’t getting any English translation of their complaints.

Back on Oceana, it was soon time for lunch, and then we went out into the hot sunshine. I had a paddle in the splash pool again to cool down my feet and legs, and Deb went even further and sat in it.

Our evening was quite special with a cocktail party for the higher loyalty tier passngers. There was a range of wine at this party, and lots of officers to chat with, plus a speech from the Deputy Captain. We even had a brief laugh with the new captain who will be taking over after we return to Southampton.

The evening entertainment failed to excite us, so it wasn’t long after we left the party before we had a book reading session and an early night.

Very quickly after leaving Madeira, the sea decided to give us an example of how she can demonstrate her anger. The wind was still battering us a bit, but now we had a really dramatic swell of several metres making life rather difficult. Our journey so far had been smooth both day and night, but as we now turned towards home it was time to get used to the side to side shuffle along the corridors, and the creaking and bumping noises in the cabins.

Tomorrow would be a sea day as we sailed towards the Spanish city of Cadiz.

Oh, and to update you on my cough, I now have a sore throat which is making life a little uncomfortable.

Tenerife

I slept well, and woke as Oceana was approaching her berth in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It is a little cloudy, but the Deputy Captain assured us it would be sunny later with temperatures into the mid 20s.

While we were having our cup of tea, the Aida Stella arrived outside in our back garden. She did a three point turn before parking herself just across the water from our window. She is a big ship, more longer than taller, and somehow more elegent than the run of the mill floating hotel… well a bit anyway.

Here is a quick review of yesterday (Friday) evening:

Deb and I began by attempting, and failing, the individual quiz which was a long drawn out affair lasting 45 minutes.

Far more enjoyable was the Asian meal in the buffet. On this cruise the buffet does not appear as popular as we have seen on other recent cruises. Quite strange really, when for the rest of the day it is a scene of pandemonium with so many passengers crammed in there.

We had time now to read our books for 30 minutes before going to the Footlights Theatre for the ventriloquist’s show. We had seen Jimmy Tamley before but his act was fresh and thoroughly enjoyable.

The evening was then rounded off with a quick drink in Magnums. We have noticed that this little bar has become more popular as the days go by. It was almost deserted on the first couple of nights, but now it is almost full every time we go in there.

That was enough for the day. Oceana was moving slightly in the wind and swell, but this cruise has been blessed with some quite calm seas… so far.

———————————–

Back to Saturday morning on the 2nd November in Tenerife.

We were warned yesterday, and it was been confirmed this morning, the television channels from the satellite wouldn’t be viewable because of some sort of blocking signals from the military on the island.

Excuse me for being sceptical, but from my satellite communications knowledge (quite a bit by the way) I struggle to understand how the signals can be blocked. Especially when the satellite signals for communications, i.e. phones and internet, are working perfectly, and (as we discovered) satellite TV was working in the bars ashore.

Anyway, whatever the reason, it meant we could not watch the rugby!

Obviously someone had been doing a little bit of work, and two of the bars in the town agreed to show the match. I am quite miffed not to be able to see it, but certainly not enough to go and sit in a crowded Spanish bar for the morning.

Fortunately we have the internet service, and can check the score occassionally.

Well, it is 9:00 and almost time for Deb and I to go for a walk and look for a cafe (without rugby) where we can have a cup of coffee, and maybe a churros or two to nibble.

As we went down to the dockside we discovered that it is really very hot. The officer looking after the shuttle bus queue was pushing us all towards the shade to avoid us all melting before the bus arrived. It wasn’t a long wait, and then the bus took us on a magical mystery tour of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife docks for almost ten minutes, before dropping us off at the terminal building. We then had a 10 to 15 minute walk into the city.

Deb and I are quite comfortable with this city. we have been here three times in the last hand full of years, and know our way to the shops. We didn’t do very much today, with just a walk and a stop for coffee and churros. We ordered too many churros, and weren’t hungry for several hours.

It really was very hot, and we sought out the shade on the way back to the ship. Fortunately the city has a wonderful pedestrian boulevard with lots of tree cover to protect the delicate skin of the northern Europe cruise passengers.

Once in our cabin again, we studied the news of England’s rugby team being destroyed by South Africa, and absorbed the coolness of the air-conditioning for an hour. Although not hungry, we forced ourselves to have a plate of chips for lunch. This was as much about having salt as actually eating.

After the chip break, we took to the open deck above the buffet to enjoy the sunshine.

It was absolutely clear blue sky conditions, and the heat instantly made my legs tell me to put on some extra sun screen. We stayed there for almost 90 minutes, although I did spend 30 minutes paddling my feet in the cool splash pool.

It was time for the air-conditioning again, and I returned to my book.

This evening we have a comedian called Steve Terry in the theatre, and the Headliners are performing in Starlights with a show we haven’t seen before called ‘Up all Night’. We want to see both shows, so it will be the buffet for dinner, where it is an Eastern Mediterranean themed meal, then get into Starlights early for the show from the Headliners. From there we can go to the theatre for the second performance from the comedian.

I’m sure we will squeeze in a glass of wine somewhere as well.

It is tropical theme this evening, so I can wear one of my collection of Caribbean shirts. They tend to be loose and cool, so perfect for the temperatures we are having at the moment.

Tonight Oceana sets off north again towards Madeira, and tomorrow it will be another sea day, so a rest after three port days.

Well, the meal was perfectly adequate, and especially for me as I had little appetite during the day. Deb and I went to the Starlights lounge quite early and found a comfortable place to sit. We were then able to watch how the lounge filled to know how late we could leave getting there, and still find a seat. Unlike other show lounges we have experienced, it did not fill very quickly, and there were still plenty of places to sit until just a few minutes before the show was due to start.

The show from the Headliners was ‘Up all Night’ and talking to one of the dancers later, we discovered it was only the second time it has been performed, and so far it is only on Oceana.

It was very different.

The stage area and edges of the dance floor were set up to resemble a bar, called the Cat and Fiddle. Ten minutes before the scheduled start time, there was an obvious change to the background music to more modern songs, and the volume increased. Then without warning one of the singers quietly walked to the staged bar, unloaded a beer crate, and uncovered the beer pumps. A moment later a couple of the dancers arrived (again without any fanfare) put on their waitress aprons and began to set up the tables and chairs. More of the troupe appeared and quietly greeted the others.

Meanwhile, the audience who had been chattering noisily, began to notice what was happening and became quiet. As they watched the activities, the lights had dimmed, and then a video of a folk band showed the musicians arriving and setting up before beginning to play. After supposedly warming up their instruments they began to play the opening number, and the performance began.

It was an unusual beginning, and a really lively show with quite modern songs and punchy dance performances.

This is one to go and watch, but BE EARLY!

From Starlights we walked towards the front of the ship, and popped in to Magnums for a drink before the show in the theatre started.

By 10:00 we were seated in the theatre for the comedian. As usual for the second performance of an evening, the theatre was not full, although I expect it had been for the early show.

We had seen Steve Terry before, and quickly realised that this was not going to be a side splitting 45 minutes of laughter. No doubt many others in the audience found it hilarious, but to us it was not fresh humour, relied on singing three songs (quite well) and the flow of his act was disjointed.

Sorry Mr Terry but I will remember your name and avoid you in the future.

There was one section of the act where I realised how many people laugh without even hearing the joke. He was going through a series of quick-fire simple one liners, and getting laughs instantly after each one. Then one of the joke lines actually had a secondary line that completed the joke. Instead of being the pose, pause, and reveal the punch line, it was pose, pause, second line, pause, then punchline.

Half of the audience laughed before the punchline.

Deb and I left and assured each other we wouldn’t be seeing any second show from this comedian, and made a mental note to remember his name.

For those of you that enjoyed his show, I am sorry to be negative, but there are much funnier comedians on the cruise circuit.

By now it was the latest we have been up for the cruise, and time for a short book read before bed. Oceana was creeping her way north-westward tomords Madeira for our visit on Monday. Tomorrow would be a quiet day at sea.

Gran Canaria

Friday 1st November

As I looked out of the window at just after 7:00 the sky was grey with suspiciously dark patches. This was not promising. I took a look at the TV information channel and it was still on the middle of the night weather report showing that it was warm (22°) but the sea was being described at ‘Rough’ with a Force 6 wind. I had been awake for most of the night, and didn’t notice any problems.

As I made the tea, Oceana was slotting into her berth for the day in the port of Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria. Our plans for the day were the same as yesterday, with a liesurely start before a walk around the city.

Breakfast was in the restaurant again and it was quieter than expected. Perhaps a lot of people drank a bit too much last night with the Halloween parties in every bar on the ship… except Magnums.

After eating we went out onto Prom deck to see what the weather was like. It was pleasantly warm and there were blue patches in the sky. Maybe it would be alright in a while.

It was around 9:30 when we bounced down the gangway to the dockside. There were no shuttles todayas the shopping area was close by. As we passed an information booth we overheard the young helper say that it was a Bank Holiday. This explained why there was so little traffic on the roads, and not many people walkingaround either.

Undeterred we strolled on through a massive pedestrian area with areas covered by vast sail like roofs. I imagine this is a busy social area when it is not a bank holiday.

A lot of shops were open, but nothing was standing out as interestingenough to look inside. We simply wandered, and came to a superb beach area withclean golden sands and calm water which is inside a natural breakwater. There were several people already camped on the beach, and others swimming in what was probably quite warm water.

Deb and I strolled nwards in what we perceived was a way back towards the ship. We had made a large loop of the harbour area and eventually came back to the pedestrian area. There is a gigantic shopping mall here that we took a brief – very brief – look around before making our way back to Oceana.

You may have realised by now that myknee will not take walkign too far, and I was more than ready to rest it by now.

Back on a very quiet Oceana, we dumped our bags and had a cup of drink in the Costa outlet. This was the first moment when we have been able to see how the rugby match between Wales and New Zealand was getting on. Poor Wales were being soundly beaten. Tomorrow morning it is the final between England and South Africa, and I am looking forward to watching it. The match is being shown in three of the lounges so that should allow plenty of spaces for people to watch.

For lunch went up to the buffet – very quiet – and had a reasonably healthy snack. From there we grabbed deckside bits and pieces and had an hour up on the top deck in the sunshine. There were still a lot of clouds passing over us, but the sun was doing its best to cheer us up, and it was seriously hot.

Mid afternoon, and we are back in the cabin colling down, and making plans for the evening.

We are eatingin the buffet again where there is an Asian style menu. After that we might go to watch a ventriloquist called Jimmy Tamley in the theatre, which looks far more inviting than the resident band playing in Starlights.

I will let you know how the evening went tomorrow.

Lanzarote

Thursday 31st October – Lanzarote

Although I have been getting to sleep easily on this cruise, I have been awake far earlier than I wanted. This morning it was around 4:00 again and from then on I only dozed.

Just after 7:00 I got up and put the kettle on for or morning cup of tea. There had been sounds of arriving into dock for quite sometime, and as I glanced out of the window I could see we were on the final sideways approach to our berth for the day on the Spanish Island of Lanzarote.

We were in the port of Arrecife, and the sun was shining from a clear sky, and the temperature was already over 20° when we woke up. Deb and I have been here before, and we have been on tours, but have never actually explored the town itself.

We had a liesurely breakfast in the dining room, and we had a pleasant surprise. As I glanced around the dining room I caufght sight of a familiar face. Deb looked towards the waiter and he quickly dashed over to say helllo to us. It was Joseph who was our waiter for nearly eight weeks when we sailed down to the Amazon. He had been a wonderful waiter, who became as close to a friend as is possible on a cruise ship.

After breakfast we too a lookat the view around us from the Promenade Deck. Keeping us company in the harbour we have the Explorer of the Seas, so Lanzarote will be hosting over 4000 cruise passengers today.

Just before 10:00 we were on a shuttle bus taking us to the town centre. It didn’t look very impressive when we got off the bus at the car park, but we followed the crowds assuming they knew something we didn’t. It was hot as we strolled down a road, and we nearly gave up as there was little to see, but then in the distance we spotted a street market.

It was the usual souvenir tat on sale, but a lot of it was different tat than we had seen recently, and the prices were seriously cheaper than those on our cruise in the Spring.

We looked, but avoided buying anything. Our stroll took us to real shops, and soon we found a cafe. Our intention was to have coffee and churros to nibble on, but the cafe only offered churros on Saturdays. Never mind, the coffee was good, and only cost us 3 Euros in total. That gave us the impetus to walk a little further into the shopping centre and we found a supermarket. It was time to replenish our Coka Cola and chocolate stocks in the fridge, and the prices were well below those at home.

My knee was telling me it was time for a rest, so Deb and I retraced our steps towards the shuttle bus car park. On the way we passed the street market again and spent a little money on a couple of souvenirs, and I bought two leather belts. Total spend for the morning was just less than 20 Euros.

We arrived back at the ship just after 11:30, and after a cold drink we went for an early lunch in Cafe Jardin. We are having dinner there tonight as well.

Finally we have managed to sit down and have an enjoyable lunch.

After eating we put our feet up on the beds for a while and then went up ondeck to enjoy the sunshine again.

I am struggling to come to terms with sun-bathing at the end of October.

An hour was plenty, so it was back to the cabin to read a book, or for me to catch up on this diary.

Now, I think it is time for a cuo of tea and a cake.

Our dinner in Cafe Jardin was delicious, and cost us nothing as we used the prize from the ‘Pursuit’ game show to pay the cover charge. From there we trotted along the corridor to the theatre to watch a show called ‘Encore’. Of course we had seen it before, but only once I believe. It was another amazing performance.

Our evening was rounded off in Magnums where the waiter just looked at us and came back with our drinks a couple of minutes later. He really is doing a very good job.

Oceana was in some rougher seas, but she was coping wonderfully and hardly moving around at all. It is quite a short journey tonight towards tomorrow’s stop on the island of Gran Canaria.