Monday, August 12, 2019

It’s a sea day, on the way to Scotland.  I stayed around the desk until about one o’clock, but hardly anyone came.  This is a very self-sufficient group.  I meet them around the ship and they are all happy to see me, but they aren’t needy.  I went to the gym, and had a sauna, and got dressed for formal night.  Then I went to the Ocean Bar for a Virgin Mary, and on to dinner in the Dining Room.  I landed two Dutch couples again, Enrique and Anika and Richard and Carolyn.  They were lovely.  The show was good, too.  It was called “Humanity” and the six dancers were from Step One Dance Company.  It was the best show yet.

The next day, before I went out in Portree, Scotland, I did the usual, had a nice breakfast, went to the gym, and cleared my email.  One of my emails had a thing from AOL in it, wanting me to confirm that I recognized that they were now part of Oath, part of Verizon.  I had had this before and dismissed it as probable phishing, but it looked very real this time.  I googled AOL and Oath and the story, at least, is true.  So, I went back and clicked on it.  Microsoft logo branded stuff came up and it asked for my AOL username and password.  I put them in, still suspicious, and immediately went to AOL and changed the password.  That done, I had to deal with Outlook.  It would have been easier if Outlook’s help pages were up to date, but I eventually got through it, ‘though it robbed me of some time in a pretty port.

As it turned out, it robbed me of the rainy bits.  By the time I got out the sun was shining, and it was a lovely day.  Portree is on the Isle of Skye and it’s very pretty.  I took the stairway up into the town and walked all over it.  It wasn’t that big and it was very pleasant.  I bought an almond/jam square in the local bakery and an ice cream cone from the local ice creamery.  All very nice and oinky.  Then I met Ed James and we walked back to the ship together.  The kids are having a wonderful time with him and Madeleine, while his wife and her husband are happy to be home in BC.

Back on board, I had dinner in The Pinnacle, with the Parkers and it was just lovely.  Then we went to the show, which featured a Scottish comedian named Geoff Boyz, odd name spelling, but he was funny enough to keep us engaged for an hour.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Kirkwall. On the 14th, and I was anxious to get out in it.  After the usual breakfast, email and gym time, I wrote my farewell letters, for delivery, along with the Comment Cards when I get back.  Then I took the shuttle into the little town and had a good long walk around.  Kirkland is on one of the Orkney Islands, and proud of it.  In the three years since I have been here, the souvenir business has been significantly refined.  Now “fairisle” is just a design used to enhance some of the better garments, not the old-fashioned sweaters they were selling last time.  I have more shawls and sweaters than I need, so all I bought was an ice cream cone, making sure it was local.

I did give five pounds away, though.  The Kirkwall Flower Arrangement Club was having its annual show in St. Magnus Church.  It wasn’t all that great, mind you, but I gave the money going in, you see. 20190814-01KirkwallStMagnusFlowerArrangingSmall Back on board, I went out my lanai door when I heard the music and was treated to a highland dance exhibition.  I delivered my letters and took a nap, because the Indonesian Crew show was tonight at eleven, which is starting to be past my bed time.

I got up around six-forty-five and went to Canaletto, ready to eat around seven, before the late show, or eight, after the early one.  They took me right away and I had beef carpaccio, lasagna and tiramisu, all of fine quality.  Then I went to see David Kidd, who does credit to the songs of Tom Jones.  I just hung around the show lounge, from nine to ten, taking Spanish lessons, until it was time for the Indonesian Crew Show.

There was an interesting factoid in the introduction.  I suppose I should have already known it, but here it is, in case you didn’t either.  Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, after China, India and the United States.  The fact that its land mass is spread over more than 70,000 islands, sort of explains why we haven’t all noticed, yet.  Indonesians make up well over 50% of all Holland America Crews, being most of the room stewards, housekeeping personnel, and dining room stewards.  Slam, my delightful room steward was one of the hand-dancers.  He had the best smile of the lot.  When I told him so, he said it was because he really liked people and especially liked to entertain them.  I can relate to that.

On Thursday, the 15th, I woke up felling worse than usual.  Judy commented on my last blog that I didn’t seem to be enjoying myself as much as usual.  It probably has to do with the cold I have been dragging around for more than 10 days now.  I skipped breakfast and went to see the doctor instead.  All I got was more cough syrup, a few codeine pills, which I likely won’t take, and told to rest.  It might also have to do with the fact that I am lonesome out here alone.  I was thinking I was going to flirt, but there’s no one to flirt with.

Since I saw Inverness pretty thoroughly, three years ago, I decided to stay on board and just pound my keyboard and rest.  I went to the gym, too, but just to stretch.  There was a pipe and drum band on the pier to see us off, but we didn’t go, just yet. We had a medical debark, none of mine.

I went to dinner around seven and finally got two American couples as dinner partners, Marla and Frank from Charleston, North Carolina and Marge and John from Michigan.  Marge and John have their 5-year old great grand daughter aboard.  They are raising her now, because the state offered her to them when both parents were declared unfit.  You have to admire a couple who take on a young child when they are already in their seventies.  Apparently, the child is brilliant and a handful, and they have her enrolled in a special K-12 for gifted children.  Good for the three of them.  There is an upside to this being alone, after all.  You meet inspiring people.

David and Debbie Schwartz sat in front of me for the show and I found out they are staying on for the next cruise.  They like to hire a taxi and just go around themselves.  Perfect, just what I was looking for, partners for that kind of activity.  Since David is about 6’4” it solves my concern about being abducted by the taxi driver.  I’ll be doing more fun things next leg.  Stay tuned. The show, by the way, was the Step One Dancers in “Stages” and it was even better than their first one.