Monday, June 09, 2014

A Sea Change.

A Sea Change

I was a bit trepidatious when my driver, Mark left me at the Queen Elizabeth Dock at Southampton - but almost immediately my luggage was whisked away and I found a helpful young lady who took a photo, scanned my credit card and presented me with a magic identity card - the same size as a credit card - with details of Ship, Cabin Number, Life boat Number and Assembly station; on showing it when boarding or disembarking it flashed up one’s photograph.

The truly wonderful part was that I had no need of cash from then on.  One could check on how much one was spending by looking it up on the cabin TV.  I had taken an all inclusive drinks package which made life even easier.  I can’t remember how I found my way to my cabin but I had determined not to use the lifts if I could help it and apart from when I was with someone who had health issues I kept to it and didn’t gain any weight.  The food was great and they make it so easy to eat healthily.

Reunited with my luggage I was delighted to find loads of hanging space, drawers and all one could ask to spend a comfortable holiday.  Ideally one would have been able to open the large picture window but I do realise this wouldn’t work when there was more than a popple on the water.

There was lots of info about which restaurant and at what time I would be dining.  First lesson: one dines the first night as you are – no need to change.
Taking a deep breath and telling myself I’d be fine I went to find the restaurant.

Sometimes on the Balmoral it’s like being in a Greek tragedy; everywhere there are ladies – of all ages - wringing their hands in what looks like an endless grief.  The men – on the other hand - seem to be slapping their hands together in joyful anticipation of a slap up meal.  You can hardly walk ten yards without one’s hands being gently sprayed by the lovely Phillipino crew and thank goodness – it works and one doesn’t have to rely on the hygiene of fellow passengers.

Noro virus free I was shown to a table where a gentleman was already sitting.  I knew he was a gentleman because he rose as I approached.  This was Dylan – he was Welsh and for the rest of the cruise we were dinner companions.  Dylan had asked to be on a large table but when I turned up decided to make the best of it.  Fortunately we had a similar sense of humour.

Each day one get details of the day’s events delivered to one’s cabin and what with the excursions one had already booked there is no time to be bored.  I had booked just four excursions – not knowing how my energy levels would stand up.  In fact I felt fit as a flea and realised how lucky I was.

It was very pleasant to do one’s own thing during the day – including the odd catch- up - nap, meet Dylan for an aperitif, dine ( there are few things more pleasant than dining in evening sunshine whilst our beautiful ‘cheep’  the Balmoral, glides through the Fjords) watch a show in the theatre and finish the evening with a quiz.  We teamed up with two charming ladies from Cornwall but sadly we never won the prize although Angela was almost an egg head.

Each lunchtime we would get a message from our Finnish Captain Robert Bamberg:

‘Ladies and Yentlemen… ‘Just hearing his voice brought a smile to one’s face and he always ended ‘ and from the bridge Ladies and Yentlemen – all      is     well.’

In fact we had a small incident before we even left the port.  There was a very strong wind and we couldn’t get off.  This went on for some time and resulted in a small dent in the Balmoral’s – and also as he admitted - a small dent in the Captain’s pride.  I was so busy unpacking I missed the excitement.

We had a very extensive life boat drill the next day which reassured one.

This was my first cruise and throughout I felt completely safe and – with the help of all the crew – of all nationalities – really well cared for.  It won’t be my last.

Talking of sea change:

Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

The Tempest

By William Shakespeare.

I think I must have had a sea change to have booked the cruise in the first place

After the first year of bereavement I found that things didn’t get any easier – on the contrary - and I found this was a feeling shared by others.

 Dylan – a widower says ‘Life can be quite lonely Pat so grab every opportunity that comes your way.’

 After spending my birthday and Easter alone I finally concluded that I could continue as I was – reliant on others to make my life tolerable or I could take charge of my life and live it to the fullest and scrub the attitude: Well it won’t be for much longer.

 Alastair gave me a big clue when he insisted on renewing the passports though we knew we could no longer travel abroad together because of his health issues.

I’ve been cursed with the Protestant work ethic and it did occur to me that the family would think I was being selfish but all seem genuinely happy that I am taking charge of my life.
So next Christmas – DV – I shall be cruising in the Canaries – even dropping in on Africa.

Wish me luck.


Anonymous said...

As we all know, you are some brave lady and well up for excitement and drama in your life, Pat. This cruise sounds such fun as will the Canaries be. Enjoy!!

The Cloudcutter said...

You go girl! Wishing you lots of luck and great days ahead. Your attitude is most admirable and inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Love it!! Go for it! xx

Zed said...

What a lovely post.

I missed your loss, Pat, and for that I am sorry. I found out several months ago via FB and felt so guilty that I didn't know what to say to you.

I am glad that you have decided to take life into your hands and enjoy it - you deserve it. I am quite envious of you going to the Canaries - send us a postcard!

I do miss the Blogosphere - it was so friendly. Thank you for posting x

OldLady Of The Hills said...

It sounds like you had a grand time, my dear, and good for you that you have already booked your next trip. You are a remarkable person, dear Pat, and Alastair would be proud of you. Onward and upward, my dear Pat!

SDC said...

You are so AWESOME!!!!!

Mike and Ann said...

We wish you more than luck, Pat. We wish you happiness as well.
Love, Ann and Mike.

rashbre said...

Wow. What a great trip. And a good tip about having the drinks bill included(!)

It sounds as if you were made to feel right at home throughout. And nice to have a bit of luxury.

Plus the fjords as a backdrop. Fantastic!

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

So pleased your first solo trip was a pleasant experience. You'll be backpacking round Vietnam before you know it! Which reminds me, I must write up my trip.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I like your spirit, Pat!

Healing takes time, two days up, another day down. But suddenly, everyday, you wake up and everything feels fine.

x x

angryparsnip said...

What a lovely post in fact I would enjoy a cruise like this one. I have always wanted to see the fjords.
You seem to know how to be happy and enjoy.

cheers, parsnip

Kim Ayres said...

If you ever need an official photographer for your adventures... ;)

Granny Annie said...

I have never dreamed that I would consider the idea of a cruise but you have truly inspired me. It is something I just might try one of these days. Meanwhile, I am traveling alone to California in August but I will be met and entertained by my goddaughter.

Exile on Pain Street said...

Pat, that was a beautiful post. It made me happy.

How much has traveling changed since you first started?

So funny you should mention going to Africa. I'm in the middle of Graham Green's Journey Without Maps. Hope you have a better time of it than he did!

Mage said...

I just think you are marvelous.

My mother did this after her husband, her father, and her mother-in-law all died. She lost weight, bought a new wardrobe and took sail. She loved it.

Pat said...

Roseneath: It's good to have something to look forward to - in the winter especially.

Cloudcutter: so glad you approve.
Thank you:)]

John: xox

Zed: not to worry - I'm in a better place now and happy to hear from you.

Naomi: I have lots of shining examples to follow -yourself included:)

SDC: will answer your email later today. Sorry for delay - rushed off my feet.

Pat said...

Mike and Ann: that is very kind of you both.

Rashbre: apparently you are put at a table with a similar package ie non drink packages are not on the same table as those with drink packages. Makes sense I suppose.

Daphne: yes do write about your trip. I hope you are back on form again.

G: I certainly feel as if I have crossed a bridge.

Parsnip: you would enjoy it I'm sure.

Kim: you would be head of the list:)

Granny Annie: a trip to California sounds just great.

Pat said...

Exile: I've made you happy! Success!
One difference I noticed - no-one seemed interested in looking at my passport.
And travel dress is totally casual - not to say scruffy..
Not too long ago one would turn up at the airport smartly dressed - gloves, hat and hand bag beautifully co-ordinated:)

Pat said...

Mage: you mother sounds a great gal - like her daughter:)

Ms Scarlet said...

Oh my goodness! I'm so pleased that you had a wonderful time and that you are going again.
I found my cruise pictures, I will scan a couple when I next post.
Did you get to play quoits?
I remembering playing... and I laughed so hard imagining a quoit overboard...

Pat said...

Scarlet: I think playing quoits could involve running and - to the family's relief- I don't run these days:)

sablonneuse said...

It was lovely to read all about your cruise. So pleased you enjoyed it Hope you are looking forward to your next adventure, wherever it might be!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Pat and all the luck in the world, although I don't think you will be needing it. :D


Pat said...

Sablonneuse: yes I am indeed. It's taken a while for me to see the light.

Helen: thank you. We always need luck and a higher being to watch over us.