Saturday, January 31, 2015

A few Photies - something for the week-end.

My cabin - should have tidied it first.

 Looking the other way the bathroom is on the left and on the right a very generous wardrobe - even for me.
One of the Cape Verde island's volcanoes had been erupting for a week - you can see the dust in the atmosphere which was difficult for passengers with breathing problems.

The tender being raised outside my cabin.  It was only necessary to use it once to get ashore- the day after my accident so Dylan advised me to stay on board, which I did.

 The crew having a race.  Sadly they moved a few inches at a time.  The officer in the centre looked just like an older Stanley Baker in the flesh.
 People did bathe as it got hotter.  Pas moi:)

 I think looking left there is no land between us and South America - unless it is the other way round.
 Dear Bubbles looking pensive on Christmas Day.
 Our evening restaurant - the Thistle.  We patronised the others during the day.
 The fish market in ? Madeira.  The photies have rearranged themselves and I have learned not to interfere
 Through the glass darkly.
My first view of Braemar which should be at the top of the page.
Just off the plane at Tenerife

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thank God for our National Health.

We hadn't eaten since lunch and it was just an aperitif away from dinner but nevertheless we hot- tailed it down to the medical centre.
The doctor saw us immediately and said I had to go ashore to the hospital and get my arm x-rayed.

'You must pay the driver - who will pick you up shortly - and pay him 70 euros in cash.  Wait here until he arrives.'

Fortunately I had enough euros on me and Dylan phoned Bubbles to explain we would miss dinner but see him later.

We had a long wait before the driver appeared and he immediately disappeared to conduct some business with the purser on another deck.  It seems he wasn't a taxi driver but an important port official- I'll call him P.I.

After another long wait he reappeared and I paid the 70 euros.  Dylan warned me to get receipts for everything I paid out.  Then he drove us to the hospital- by now it was very dark and there didn't seem to be any clear entrance or car park. ( Incidentally most of the men on Cape Verde Islands are very tall with excellent shapes - which brightened some of the gloom.)

We parked in a dark place amongst some bushes and Dylan and I hung on to each other as we followed P.I.

Once in the hospital we were taken to a desk and a long conversation between the P.I. and the man
behind the desk ensued.  We  couldn't understand a word but finally it seemed I had to pay an entrance fee in escudos.  We didn't have any but he finally accepted some euros and I remembered to get a receipt.  Everyone seemed quite cross and I felt like an alien - but then I suppose I was.

We were shown into a large inner sanctum.  It had pretty eau de nil walls and floor and had flashing lights - a nod to Christmas maybe.  There were odd cubicles around and various people sitting at desks looking official.  Occasionally nursing staff would amble through and disappear into one of the cubicles/ offices but for the most part we were ignored standing like lost souls on the eau de nil floor.  From time to time we would catch sight of the P.I talking earnestly to one of the staff but for the most part they seemed to be blanking him.

'Is it because we're British,' I asked?  But he just wearily shook his head.
There were some seats but people - under the influence of drink or drugs - were lying on them so we remained standing.  We knew we were due to set sail early a.m. and P.I. brought the time forward to get some action - to little avail.

Exhausted we spotted two seats near a side door along side a little girl - about eight years old. She was delightful- her hair in bunches, prettily dressed and absorbed with what must have been a new pink handbag.  From time to time a woman lying on a stretcher on the floor would call her name - something like Madelena.  Madelena tried to ignore it until the bawling got louder and more insistent.
Then she would go to her ? mother and try to calm her down and then come back to sit by us.
 Every now and  then the woman would get up, stagger around and then fall.  She would  be put in a chair and the whole thing happened again.  Eventually she was interviewed and Madelena was taken away.  Our interpretation was that the little girl was going to be taken to a safe place which certainly would not be her mother at this stage.  This really upset Dylan and he had a sleepless night worrying about the little girl and the life she must lead.

From time to time there would be hammering on the locked door near us and I thought this must be similar to  a waiting room for Hell.

We were mesmerised when the doors burst open and a stretcher bearing a young woman who appeared to have been stabbed arrived.  An armed police man completely clothed in black - head covered, face masked,  dark glasses glasses and a lethal looking weapon slung round him accompanied her.  With no sense of urgency some of the staff ambled over and chatted.  I have no idea what they were saying and some thirty minutes later the young woman ceased groaning, got up and walked out.

I'm afraid I groaned out loud when someone sitting on my right was violently sick.  At last we were slowly ushered into one of the cubicles and my arm was x-rayed.  After an hour or so we were told there was no fracture and a soft back slab was applied. Now we were told we had to wait for a prescription.  After more vomiting and another long wait I asked the P.I. why the ship's doctor
couldn't write the prescription.  To his credit he saw the sense in this and we left for the ship.
Also to his credit he stayed in the hospital with us throughout.

By now it was almost midnight but we were able to get a meal.  Bubbles was very relieved to see us and I was so grateful to Dylan for standing by me.

I kept the x- ray  and in the UK everyone who has seen it saw the fracture of the distal radius.  The unfortunate thing was I didn't have a plaster applied until New Year's Eve - back in UK.
Thank God for our National Health.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Not exactly Plain Sailing Part 2

Friday Dec 19th:-
Rose early and after breakfast joined Dennis for prayers in the Neptune lounge followed by a talk on Mindelo the first of the Cape Verde Islands we would visit - today and tomorrow we would be at sea beating southwards down the west coast of Africa.

After lunch we arranged to meet in the pub at 6pm and I toddled off for the 'Slow Foxtrot for beginners lesson.  There were quite a lot of ladies and the odd instructor.  I had imagined we would be partnered - but no -  a large-ish group of us gathered on the small stage and after a few instructions from the female instructor this amorphous group of beginners started moving - quite quickly - to music following shouted instructions.  I was at the back of the group eagerly trying to keep up.
The small stage was shaped in a semi circle - the curve behind us with two rising steps. When the command '2 steps back' was given the inevitable happened - I couldn't see behind me and the force of the group pushed me back, I lost my balance and fell backwards on my left wrist.  Having lived with a stoic for years one tends not to show pain and the reaction was just amused surprise and advice to sit down whilst the lesson continued.  One lady told me afterwards she could see I was shaking.

As soon as I could I retreated to my cabin.  By now my wrist was swollen  and painful so I warned D
I may be late for dinner and went to the medical centre.  I didn't think it was broken and neither did the doc.  He gave me a support splint and pain killers and said to see him in 2 days.

Tried to carry on as normal and we enjoyed watching Bubbles be the star of  a game show and win a bottle of champagne.

Saturday Dec 20
Bubbles is ace with any technical stuff and lent me adaptors for my kindle, camera and tooth brush.
Saw doctor - he was worried about 2 large haematomas and contusions.  Told me to leave off splint and let blood course naturally.

Dylan and I decided to investigate an autumn cruise - if you book on board you get a better deal

Kerry : would you like a double cabin Mrs Mackay?

Pat:  no of course not!  We don't want a double cabin Dylan do we?

Dylan: (with an evil grin) yes!

Pat:  dream on!

Sunday Dec 21 - Mindelo.

Our second excursion.  My arm was looking ghastly- swollen and navy blue so I wore the support and tried to forget about it.
We were taken to impressive viewpoints, through the lunar - like landscape contrasting with the white sands which are there because of ???  That's right - the Trade Winds!
In Mindelo we admired monuments  and the National Arts and Craft Centre.
At Praia Grande Beach we had snacks and soft drinks and saw impressive traditional folk dancing which we were encouraged to join in. Not b----y likely! And I had to wave my splint to reinforce my 'No thank you.'

Back on board we went untidily to a good lunch and then to our respective cabins for a snooze.

Later in the Morning Light Pub a message came over the tannoy:
'Would Mrs Patricia Mackay please come immediately to the Medical Centre.'

'I'm coming with you,' said Dylan
My Waterloo.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not Exactly Plain Sailing

Tuesday Dec 16

At 2am my driver Mark turned up - on the dot - to drive me to Gatwick airport.  I had checked and double checked all the things I'm meant to do before leaving the house, now it was up to God and Alastair to watch over it for me.

Dylan - my ship mate from the first cruise - and I had arranged to meet in the waiting area at the airport.  He was going to Heathrow on the Monday to meet his grand son from Canada.  They would then go to Gatwick and spend the night in a hotel.  To make it easier I told Dylan I would be in red, and I had to look for Dylan plus a 6' 2" fifteen year old boy.

Although it had been a long foggy drive and Mark had to go as soon as he dropped me I found a really helpful porter who actually said
"No that's enough," as I scrabbled in my purse for a tip.

OK so I'm here where the hell is Dylan?  The course of true platonic friendship is never smooth I reflected.

I had the great good fortune to be seated next to Valerie and her husband.  Absolute strangers with the sort of warmth you feel at home with.  Before long I had told Valerie my worries and she insisted on searching the plane for a man with 15 year old boy.  No joy but we had a drink together and chatted happily.

Reunited with my luggage in my cabin there was no time to fret and I had just about unpacked by dinner time.  We were in Santa Cruz, Tenerife and about to sail to Las Palmas Gran Canaria.
Feeling a little bereft I arrived at the Thistle restaurant and gave my name to the head waiter.
He beamed and said,
" Ah you are with Sir Dylan."  They are very generous with their knight hoods and I was often Lady Patricia.  Beaming myself now I caught sight of Dylan rising from the table next to lovely curly haired Bubbles.

Seems there had been three flights and Dylan had had a team of people looking for a lady in red.
For the next few days we would be greeted with:
"Oh you have found her!"

Bubbles (his chosen pseudonym) was a joy and I suspect a lot of people were a bit in love with him.
"Hello Bubbles we were in the same hotel as you," was a common greeting from all ages.  He played all the games available and was easily the most popular boy on board.  I didn't mind at all being mistaken for his grandmother.

Wednesday Dec 17th
We were doing Dolphin Watching today and the three of us mustered at 9am on a coach to take us to the south of the island.  Our guide was very proud of the fact that though the north of the island could be grey and cloudy the south was always bathed in beautiful sunshine - and so it was.
We boarded a catamaran in Puerto Rico and ensconced ourselves on the upper deck whilst Bubbles ran hither and yon like a young puppy.

It was all very pleasant - perfect weather, perfect scenery.  I did get a couple of shots of the reclusive dolphins but I had ben spoilt previously by visiting The Moray Firth some years  back with dolphins who really wanted to lark about and show off.  Then we re-joined the ship for a late lunch.
BTW I have managed to get my photos transferred from the camera to the computer - the next step is more difficult and I am a little handicapped just now but shall get there in the end.
I learned that it is useful to mutter "Trade winds," when trying to answer some problem in this area.

Thursday DEC 18th
We arrived in San Sebastian, La Gomera.
There are two sittings for dinner and you choose when booking and it affects the people you see regularly.  I knew Valerie and her husband were second sitting so warned her we may not see each other again - but in a different restaurant for breakfast I recognised her husband and was able to introduce them both to the boys.
I went to a lecture and learned about Enterprise of the Indies, beating, praying for success, Silver Laurel, Pixies - these disparate notes were made due to the atmosphere in the Neptune lounge - which I always call Jupiter- which induces nodding off in day time lectures although the evening's entertainment is more stimulating.  I did remember El Silbo which is a piecing whistle  with which the natives communicate and later Bubbles and I heard it.

Formal night - had my hair done and we had a pleasant evening after an aperitif in the pub.
Dylan and I agreed not to bother with presents but I wanted to get something for Bubbles.  One of the charming Philippino girls persuaded me to buy a commemorative mug filled with gourmet chocs.
'Oh Madam you must taste one,'  she entreated, burbling with mirth.  It was an extraordinary outlay of divine sounding chocs so to humour her I chose one.
' Oh Madam did you like that?
'Yes it was lovely.'
I thought she was having hysterics she laughed so much then suddenly presented me with a bill 90p.
I had already paid for the present.  Of course my companions thought this was hilarious and every single time we passed her domain they would tease me.

We had to put our clocks back one hour.  Dylan told me he had been scolded by Bubbles for not escorting me to my cabin at night.  I though this was very sweet and laudable so henceforth that is what he did.

I noticed in the daily 'What's on', there was a class for beginners to learn the Slow Foxtrot and thought I may give it  go.  What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Last Post

Hopefully that is the last post before January I mean.
Today we had our Group's Christmas lunch at the Gascony Hotel.  I have walked my socks off this week and after walking up to visit Joy yesterday I decided that would be the last walk till I get back from my cruise.
However when I tried to get a taxi this morning the blighters had all switched their phones off.
Out of the blue I got a phone call from Veronica.  She and Peter are now settling in their new house
near Torquay and had driven up to stay in their caravan for the Group's dinner.  Before I could tell her of my plight she suggested picking me up.  Wasn't that lucky?
They have not been so lucky as their excellent decorator had a heart attack whilst working there.  They have visited him in hospital and thankfully he is recovering and has a stent which makes him feel so much better he has to be restrained from going back to work for a while.
The excitement this week was when a handsome fire fighter came to inspect my three electric blankets.  One was antediluvian so I said don't bother to test it - just dump it but he took them off and asked if I wanted them to be dumped if dangerous.  Luckily one passed with flying colours - even though it came from Mum's house and the other two - including the one I have been using every winter - were pronounced dangerous and dumped.  Full marks to them but black marks to Customs
who charged a hefty charge on a Christmas gift from family in Australia and the Royal Mail zapped a handling charge on top.
Not exactly Christmas spirit.
So one more sleep and I'm off on the high seas.  It so much nicer this time because instead of joining a ship of strangers I shall have my friend Dylan and a new friend - his grandson - who is 15.
And then when we land back at the end I shall be met by my eldest son and whisked off to spend New Year with him my DIL and two grown up grand- children - home for Christmas.  I'm so grateful for this; just lately I 've been thinking I'm beginning to get over everything and then Wham bam you're bowled over again - back to square one.
I shall miss you all - and my lovely Scrabblers.  God bless, keep the faith and see you in the New Year.xoxoxox

 Before the welkin rang
 Warming up a bit.
Here we go!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Walk on by?

All seemed quiet as we left the restaurant on Saturday night but as we looked down the street on the opposite side of the road we could see two men leaning over a motionless body on the pavement.
It wasn't clear whether they were helping him or were responsible for him being there. What was clear was that they appeared to be the worse for drink.

Suddenly one of them, in a curious fancy dress of an American cop set off swiftly up town.  As he passed us on the other side of the street I called out.

'You aren't just going to leave him there are you?'

He glared at me and said he was going to get the police.  This didn't make sense as the station is a good half mile away.
'Are you sure,' I asked?
More glares and he continued up the street.

There was a taxi driver who had just pulled up so I crossed the road and asked him if he could phone the police.  He told me that wasn't in his remit and drove off.

We went to the injured man who was now coming round and clearly had a bashed eye.  The other chap was trying to get him up and the victim was struggling against him.  I was suggesting it was better to let him lie preferably on his side as it wasn't clear how injured he was.
  Neither of them were taking any notice and continued struggling with each other.

It seems there is a community police man around on a Saturday night which the man I challenged must have known about so I was wrong to doubt him.  We were very relieved when he returned with
said police man.

Before I had time to apologise he berated me and told me to NEVER question his intent again (or words to that effect.)

I did humbly apologise for doubting him and explained that during this last year there had been a similar happening in Minehead and the victim had died alone in the street.  I was afraid that could have happened again.
An ambulance was called,  the 'American cop' and I shook hands and as we were leaving- to my astonishment he gave me a hug.

We saw the ambulance arrive as we continued home.

I do regret doubting the chap; it's the sort of happening I'm not very experienced in.  My children think I should not get involved.

What do you think?