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?