And We’re Off!

DSC09611Wednesday morning found us up and about quite early, using up the last eggs and Christmas cheese to make hearty omelettes before Bob headed off with the Enterprise Car pickup service to get our car from their office in Dover. I finished off my last bits of packing, ran the dishwasher, spoke to the girls and looked out at the garden for the last time this winter.
Bob was back by about 930 and we loaded the car with the cases and our last bag of rubbish to be placed in one of the community bins. The car has cost £55 plus about £20 in petrol and it was a Hyundai i30 estate with only 22 miles on the clock. Everything went in really easily. We were so excited to get away we forgot to go to the bins and so we had to stop at Folkestone Services and use the big bins there.
Got to Southampton by 130 and Bob dropped me with the luggage right at the cruise terminal while he went to the Enterprise office to drop the car. They paid for a taxi to bring him back to the terminal. It’s really a convenient service and much the cheapest way for us to get to and from Southampton. The porter was right there waiting to take the cases away from me, so I just went inside the terminal and waited for Bob. He was back by 2 and we checked in, got our cabin keys, proceeded through security and were on the ship by 245. So lovely to be aboard the beautiful Queen Mary 2 again. Such an elegant ship.
Went straight to our cabin which is almost exactly the same as the one we travelled in transatlantically back in November except we are on Deck 6 and mid/aft rather than on 10 forward as we were then. It is a good location. We are one deck below the buffet restaurant (but not under it), 3 decks directly above the dinner restaurant and we have a swimming pool on the aft of our deck which will be useful once the weather warms up.
Unpacking went well and everything disappeared into the wardrobes and drawers, cases under the bed. The “shop” case is at the front of the bedspace so it is easy to pull out when we need it. Nice bottle of champagne on ice from Cunard…. However, by then, we had heard that we would not be sailing that night, so we decided to keep it.
QM2 had come into Southampton a bit late that morning, the weather en route from New York had been dire apparently, horizontal driving snow for the first couple of days, rough seas and gales and the decision had been taken to delay sailing till 8am on Thursday. We think it also had a lot to do with the fact that there were violent storms waiting for us in Biscay and Fitzroy – Force 10/11, extremely high seas and by delaying we could avoid the worst of these. No hardship to us.
Some people went out to sample the delights of Southampton ( ☹ ) but we opted for dinner and a show. Dinner was a bit of a problem. We had requested to be seated on a table for 8 thus trying to ensure that there would be enough of a variety of dinner companions for our 45 nights to avoid problems. When we arrived at our restaurant and were led to our table, it was a table for 4, with just one other couple waiting for us. They were nice enough people but much older and we didn’t have a lot in common. It was ok for one night but our hearts rather sank at another 44. We resolved to try and move tables, something we’ve never had to do before.
The show was ok, a sampling of the singers and dancers plus an old style British comedian, Mick Miller. He was quite funny but nothing special. I wouldn’t go and see him again.
Had a really fantastic day today. Slept well and woke up this morning at about 730. We were still on the dock and I had a strong phone signal in the cabin so I called the girls (got Lucy) and also picked up email without having to use my expensive Cunard wifi package. We set off at 8 and processed slowly down Southampton water. A very grey, murky day.
I had a very light breakfast (smoked salmon, cottage cheese and capers), while Bob tucked into the full English. Trying to be good again after a pretty greedy Christmas. Get back to where I was at the end of November.
Our first activity of the day was a watercolour class. We have a woman tutor, a Brit, on this trip. She is an actual teacher of watercolour so seems to have a lot to offer us. She certainly talked and demonstrated a lot today. Over an hour before we picked up brushes ourselves.
That took us to lunchtime. Sushi and sashimi, which is no doubt going to be our staple lunch throughout the voyage. So delicious. There are some amazing speakers on the ship. First up today was the former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, talking on environmental matters. We decided to brush up our French on the voyage and went to the first of a long course of French lessons. It was really good. Will try and keep going. Then we went to a talk by Captain John Nixon on the sinking and recovery of the Russian submarine “Kursk”. Most interesting, and Bob especially enjoyed that. Finally, we had a lecture on Aeschylus, the ancient Greek playwright, by Giles Ramsey, a theatrical director. He was a tremendous speaker and I very much look forward to more from him.
No doubt once the weather turns hot and sunny it will become a tussle for me anyway between enjoying the weather on the open decks and attending all these enrichment activities. Will have to strike some sort of happy medium.
A formal night tonight, theme was “Black and White”. We joined our new table for 10. Oh, god, SOOOOO much better. Really lively, jolly lot of northerners! They’re all getting off in Capetown so we shall have to hope their replacements are just as much fun. It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks till then anyway. After dinner we went to the show which was a 60s tribute band called The Overture. They apparently have played at Buckingham Palace and Elton booked them for his wedding. Absolutely amazing. Everyone was on their feet, singing along. They did everyone, Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Bob Dylan, Mamas and Papas, Beach Boys, Dave Clark 5, Hollies….. excellent musicians as well as singers.
Turned into bed, really buzzing.


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