Sunday, August 4, continued
But before I continue, let me reply to my curmudgeonly friend, Gil Mercier. I actually like some modern art. I recently bought a piece. It doesn’t try to be anything but what it is, a clever representation of a cocktail party. The picture doesn’t do it justice, because all the gold does shine and the colors pop.
And, yes, Gil, I must admit I am trying to keep it clean. It’s on a more-or-less public web site now. You would approve of the thing I bought at the parade, though.
Boarding was easy, that five-star status earned on all those world cruises, does help. We skipped the lines and I was settled in and working by one-thirty. I spoke to Lenty in Shore Excursions, who was on charge of our DV tour, Lisa the Bar Manager and Lizly, the Entertainment Coordinator. I also stopped by the Pinnacle Grill to see how many half-price dinners my five stars would get me to offer the group. There were a number of changes to the manifest, which I made. Then I touched up my Welcome Letter and Amenities Notification, and gave them to Lisly for printing
I made it up to sailaway in time to catch one piece of fish, before they stopped serving hors d’oeuvres. Then I went back down, picked up my printing, stuffed and delivered my folders. I was in the dining room by 7:47pm, which is a record for me. What really helped is that this is a small group. I took pot luck at dinner and ended up with two nice Canadian couples, Myrna and Wayne and Sharon and Ron, who introduced himself as ‘the back end of Sharon.”
I woke up in the middle of the night with a cold. It either came from the airplane of the Float Spa in Amsterdam. I suspect the latter. I won’t be doing that again. I don’t mess with colds when I am working. I started a Z-Pack, so I wouldn’t be passing it on.
August 5 was a Sea Day, which was great. It was going to be a busy one. I did the necessary with the Front Desk to finalize my Manifest and between 9:00 and 10:00 am, I managed to call all the rooms and grab myself a bit of breakfast. Then I went to the desk.
I found out that when you have just finished calling them all, nobody comes. I checked availability for Kilmainham Goal in Dublin and the Edinburgh Tattoo. The jail is a non-starter at this point and there’s limited availability for the Tattoo, but, at least I am informed. I fussed around with business for another hour and went to the gym. I wrote my cocktail party speech and had it printed, with the new manifest, and went to the “Singles and Solos” afternoon tea in the Dining Room at three. I won’t be wasting time on that, again.
The cocktail party went very well but I ate alone, as there wasn’t enough time before the show to be social. The show itself wasn’t much. They call it Post Modern Jukebox, so they can replace at least 5 people with special effects, and merge music from different eras. I wasn’t too happy with it, but I do like to be entertained.
August 6, we were in Portland, the port for Weymouth, where many great novels have been set. I had a very nice crepe breakfast in the Lido, wrote and delivered a quick newsletter, and worked out in the gym, before getting off the ship. I took the shuttle into Weymouth and got going on my errands. First, I needed a belt, as my new stretch jeans, tended to fall down as they stretched. Not a great look. A belt is easy in a port town. There’s always a nearby ship shop. I was delighted to find black halyard line and got myself the appropriate length of it for 3 pounds twenty. The pounds I had saved from 2016 were no longer in circulation, so I put it on a card and added a bank to my list. The next place I found was the T-Shop, right on the water, where a 12-year old served me this lovely cream tea:
It was scrumptious and cost 3 pound 50. Then I crossed over the bridge and went strolling around the town. I was delighted to find a half-dozen thrift shops, supporting everything from the Red Cross to Cat Rescue. I went in to every one of them and came out with two tops, suitable for dining on a ship, for 8 pounds. This is the British equivalent of my Asian disposable clothing theory. At the end of the trip, I’ll bring home only what I can carry and leave the rest to the crew. I had forgotten to take my Amsterdam purchase out of my backpack and had the whole cat rescue store in stitches, when I shared a peek at it.
The beautiful weather had brought the locals, and their dogs, out, which made it very nice. I ended up in Bennett’s Fish and chips, just near the bridge, for a Fish ‘n Chips dinner. Lisa, the Bar Manager, had told me it was the best in Weymouth and she wasn’t wrong. When I got back, it was still nice enough to enjoy the deck chair outside my cabin, so I did that until it cooled down.
Then I went back in to do some paperwork, until I was summoned by a brass band, right outside my stateroom, on the pier. I went out to listen, with a jacket on, added a scarf, and finally decided I shouldn’t risk making my cold worse, but it was terribly nice of them. I worked for another half hour and went back out, where a ceremonial gun squad had been added to the brass band. I got my jacket and scarf again and waited them out. It took them a terrible long time to get on with it, and it probably did worsen my cold, but these things should be encouraged. Finally, they fired the gun, numerous times and it reminded me of nothing so much as Michael and Cullen’s wedding. I really should have put a line about that in my eulogy for Paul.
Next morning, I did a bit of work, had a lovely Eggs Benedict breakfast, hit the gym again, and got off in Guernsey. The last time I was here, I had discovered Hauteville, Victor Hugo’s home, too late to tour the interior, which looked pretty special. I told the greeter at the dock that was my plan, and she said I had better check with the Information Centre, as they might be closed Wednesdays. I set off along the other side of the waterfront street to said place, which was on my way to the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club, anyway. Sure enough, Hauteville is closed on Wednesdays, but they had nice pictures of its restoration on their own walls. I’ll just have to save that for the next time.
RCIYC is on the third floor of a building, above “The Catch” restaurant. On the way up the stairs, I met a lady coming down with two milk shakes, one in each hand. She told me not to go up there under any circumstances. The Club Manager was there and she was very ill with something whose description sounded to me like noro virus. I was only too happy to turn around and go back down with her. On the way I told her where I was from and how I often visit yacht clubs when I travel, being a member of RHKYC and RStLYC, and all. Next thing she offered me one of the milkshakes and a lift to the Guernsey Museum in Candie where there were ice paintings and a great view. I was very glad of both of them, and of Diana’s company. I’ll probably never see her again, but I won’t soon forget this great travel moment. Many thanks to my fleeting best friend.
The temporary collection at the museum was all about Manga. I didn’t even know what it was before and am now so much more enlightened. The historic paintings and view were beautiful, and they had park benches where you could enjoy the scenery, until someone came for a smoke up wind. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Guernsey, and I hated to leave, but a tender beckoned.
I had dinner with three Dutch people and an American couple, and we avoided politics. The entertainer, Tim Abel, was very able on the piano, and I enjoyed the show.
On Thursday, August 8, we docked in Torquay, Torbay, Devon. The sun was still shining, when I had had another nice crepe breakfast, and some time in the gym, so I decided to go out. By the time I got to the tender platform, it had started to turn nasty but I was committed. It was a bit of a rough ride, so I decided not to go too far afield. I went searching for a Devon Cream Tea, first. I passed a good number of little places advertising them, but I figured that what I wanted was a good hotel, where it would really be something special.
I stopped into Boots, the Chemist Shop, for a tube of toothpaste and to pick the cashier’s brain about local hotels. She knew nothing. I continued on and happened on The Torbay Hotel. It had once been grand enough but it looked like it had seen better days. The weather was worsening, so I took a comfortable velvet covered chair in its faded lobby and waited to be served. When nothing happened, I got up and looked around. There was a counter in the next room, so I went up and ordered at it. Here’s the pathetic Devon Cream Tea I got for 5 pounds 50. The scone was probably yesterday’s, from its consistency, and the clotted cream was packaged and not even from Devon. The butter and jam were commercial packaging, not as nice as the ship’s.
If that wasn’t enough to make me sad, there were a few locals in the place, and I overheard one of them saying that he could get better quality and pricing on the Internet. True, and guilty of supporting Amazon, and taking the charm out of a lot of places. There a was a pretty old fashioned seaside pavilion, but it was boarded up. The modern “wheel” was doing a reasonable business, though. And I’ll have to admit, the weather was worsening.
I met the Parkers for dinner. We had booked it in the Pinnacle that morning, but when we got there, it was Rudi’s Sel de Mer special, which we didn’t want, so we ate in the Dining Room and went to another Post Modern Jukebox Show. That will be my last of those.