“I ordered up some Suzette … – 27 June 2018

… I said could you please make that Crêpes.”
(Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream)

Painting class in the morning and today it was a pelican we were rendering on paper. It wouldn’t have been my first choice and in the end it looked a bit more like a distorted swan than the exotic fish eater. Still, as as I used to say, it’s done now. Scamp went dancing while I was struggling with a pelican and she was much more successful than me.

After that we went for a swim, walked round the ship and did a bit of dolphin spotting. However, there were other things in the sea, mostly junk. Bottles (maybe some with messages in), leaves, pieces of paper and a turtle. I thought it was a leaf at first, but then I realised that we were about ten decks up from the sea and there isn’t much to give a sense of scale. Then it moved its flippers and leaves don’t have flippers. It was a turtle. Too late I told Scamp and by that time it was a little brown smudge on the top of the water. We waited and waited and only saw one more. No photos I’m afraid, no time to get the camera focused on the little creatures and take the shot. Not when you’re travelling at 20 knots on an undulating sea. Still, we saw turtles. Also saw a pod of dolphins. No photos there either, but I did get a good shot of blue water where the dolphin had been.

Months ago we booked a meal at Epicurean, assuming that as it was the first week of the cruise, it would be menu ‘A’. It’s not as simple as that. Menus are rotated on a four or five day cycle and we got menu ‘B’ which to Scamp’s disappointment didn’t finish with a Crêpe Suzette. After what was an otherwise faultless meal we booked tonight’s dinner in the sure and certain knowledge that it would be menu ‘A’. It didn’t disappoint. We sat at the rail at the back of the ship watching the world drift by and looking out at where we’d been. Below us were the rear swimming pools and we could listen in to conversations of swimmers doing the same as us, but without the encumbrance of posh dress or heavyweight kilt, because tonight was a ‘Black & White’ dress code. National dress trumps ‘Black & White’, by the way. I’ll fill in the menu when I get a chance to check it, but what sticks in my mind were the ‘amuse bouche’, namely Bloody Mary Lollypops and Blackcurrant and White Chocolate Lollypop! Inventive.

That was about it for the day. Tomorrow it’s Gibraltar. Monkeys and cheap booze.

All at sea – 20 June 2018

IMG_4962- blogThere’s not a lot you can write about sea days other than you are at sea for a whole day.

It started off with some sun and a bit of haze on the horizon, but soon that sun was disappearing and the clouds were rolling in.  One of the benefits of being on a P&O ship is the variety of things to do on a sea day.  Today after breakfast I took a trip to Metropolis on Deck 18 for the Art class while Scamp went to the line dancing class.  Today we were painting penguins.  A strange subject given our position just off the south of Spain.  As the last class, Easa had provided us with a wee photo of the subject.  A mummy and baby penguin.  After we sketched it, he took us through the process of painting it.  I believe that each subject concentrates on a particular skill.  Today’s was mixing a black.  It’s fairly simple if you know your colour wheel and is usually a blue and a brown.  That’s what he recommended and that’s what I used.  Unfortunately, there were too many diddies in the class who couldn’t find the blue and then couldn’t find the brown, so a lot of time was wasted.  As a result, the class over-ran and I had a salsa class to go to at 11am and had to give my apologies and make a run for it.

Salsa was a fun class.  Great fun.  The leader is as gay as a gay thing and is constantly encouraging everyone to “Get your hips moving.”  It’s pretty basic stuff for us, but at least we get a chance to dance afterwards when everyone gets a bit of ‘practise time’.  After lunch we sat and listened to frau Sturmbahnfuhrer screaming at the poor people whose only fault in life was a desire to learn Cha – Cha.  We couldn’t help but compare and contrast our teacher with this demon.  One making dancing fun, one making it a drudge and a competition.

Outside things were looking grim.  Grey cloud and a very slight wind that wasn’t going to shift them very much.  Never mind, there were things to do.  There were brides to ooh and ahh at and lots of rubbish oops, bargains to be bought.  Also, tonight was a Gala Captain’s Reception.  We’d no intention of going to meet the captain who is apparently on the short leet for the most boring speaker on P&O.  However, it was a chance to wear my kilt and cause a stir.  As it happened, one of the people at our table was from Aberdeen.  Maybe it was a long time ago, but at least he was Scottish and the accent was there.  Like a lot of folk, the more we spoke to him, the stronger the accent became.  Pleasant enough crowd.  One woman was from the afternoon art class.  She talked about going on P&O in the ‘60s when there was a severe demarcation between First class and Second class passengers accommodation.  It still exists.  There is an area cordoned off at the front of the ship for those who are willing to pay the subsidy.  They have better sunbeds, their own pool and sauna.  They don’t tell you that in their fancy brochure. 

Tonight’s show was the best we’ve seen by far.  Brilliantly staged with a ‘roadie’ entertaining the crowd at the start.  Then, near the end the lights went out and a message came over the system saying that there were technical difficulties and the program would proceed as soon as possible.  After the spoof at the start, everyone thought this was just another joke.  It wasn’t.  Some folk left, but we waited for the finale.  I think they sang every rock anthem that was written.  Silly wee story, but nobody noticed because the production was so slick apart from that one problem.

That was it for the day at sea.  Sat and finished my painting of the penguins and went to bed.

Out for a Spin – 26 January 2018

Today we went to the seaside.

We had decided that if the weather was kind to us we’d go out west and head for Troon. We walked in blinding sunshine along the beach for a mile or so with all the dog walkers and their assorted dogs. The sea was well out today, the tide must have been at its lowest point. Although the sun was low and very bright, it was cold but for once there was no wind. I think Scamp would have walked further, but I called a halt after about an hour and we turned and made our way back the same way we’d come. Scamp said it was just like being on the treadmill at the gym. I think that’s the wrong way round. Surely the gym imitates life, not the other way round. Anyway, I’ve still to see this marvellous video attraction. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it out next week and not have to tap the sand out of my trainers afterwards.

Lunch was in Scotts which is becoming a firm favourite. Every time we go there it’s like being in the Crews Inn at Chaguaramas in Trinidad. The temperature is a bit different and the distant scenery is too, but the boats in the marina and the general layout of the place remind us both of a wonderful lunch and the most alcoholic sangria I’ve ever tasted. No alcohol today because I was driving, but Erdinger’s Alcohol Free ‘beer’ is now top of the list for a beer flavoured drink. Food was Chicken Stroganoff followed by Seasonal Fruit Crumble for Scamp and a Beef Burger followed by Key Lime Pie for me. The whole thing rounded off with coffee and the shortest shortbread I’ve had in a long time. Lovely! Service could have been a bit quicker, but otherwise it was excellent. We both agreed it was a great day out at the seaside.

PoD was the red boat passing Arran, although it was a tough call between that and the people silhouetted on the beach. The bottle was just a fun grab shot for a Flickr group called One Bottle.

Tonight we made the decision and we are going on a cruise in the summer. Not a balcony cabin, but an Ocean View. Next best thing. Booked and deposit paid.

Tomorrow? It looks like rain, so we may be going more local than today. It all depends on the weather. How many times do I end a blog with that?