Back to the Sixties

Today we passed down the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal, about 100 miles offshore. We then passed off Gibraltar, around 250miles off our port side. The ship is speeding along to make up for our late start: today we were averaging 23 knots. The sun was there most of the day but with the wind still high, it wasn’t really sunbathing weather. The temperature on deck was about 15C. Still, really nice to see it. Tomorrow we arrive in Madeira where it is forecast to be 19/20C and from then on it will just get hotter every day.
Bob hurried off at 9 to get us tickets for the first Planetarium show. The Planetarium on QM2 is the only one at sea and it is amazing. You lie back in big armchair seats and see the show on a giant domed screen above you. Today, it was a National Geographic film on meteors: a journey to discover the dangers and opportunities of asteroids. It was really spectacular although a slightly queasy experience. Not sure if that was a result of the slight pitch of the ship in the bow where the Planetarium is, or the intensity of the film viewed “upside down” to some extent or a combination of both. Anyway, there are about 5 or 6 of these different specialist film experiences to be shown plus the lectures and presentations by the resident Royal Astronomical Society lecturers aboard.
Bob went to one of these lectures this afternoon that explored the link between mariners and the stars that of course goes back millennia.
We both went to art this morning. Quite an exciting class. After the usual wittering that went on for around 30 minutes…. She is a very nervous person and quite obsessed with health and safety. For instance, there is always an inordinate fuss about watching her demonstration. You have to either be sitting down or standing with one hand on the chair in front of you, in case you totter on the “pitching deck”. Why she can’t use a projector like other tutors I have no idea but apparently that’s “impossible”. I feel I may not be successful at hiding my disbelief at some of these concerns….. She has threatened to throw people out of the class if they do not observe her rules so I must try to be poker faced 😊
Having mentioned the wittering, I must admit she is a very good teacher and once we get her going, it’s good. Today was exciting because we had to do 2 quick sketches of Madeiran scenes from photographs and then colour wash into them. We had exactly 30 minutes per sketch and we had to draw in ink! Yes.. Ink. That meant no rubbing out… you had to get it down first time and then live with what you’d drawn. This was a bit scary at first but actually quite liberating in practice. She gave us special watercolour pens to draw with, that you subsequently could use water and a brush with to deploy monochrome colour across your sketch. The second sketch (which I didn’t finish) similarly used watercolour pens but with that one we had to add ordinary watercolour to the ink sketch for colour. The sketches were quite detailed, buildings, stairways, roofs etc…. Now, neither of my offerings would make it near a wall, but neither were they totally terrible. I could have taken them and subsequently worked up a nice painting from them and I really liked using the pens. Must get some.
Had our usual sushi lunch and then rushed off to French. Today we worked on conjugating and building small sentences with “er” verbs. It was fun. From there we dashed up to the theatre for a matinee show from the tribute band The Overtures. There wasn’t a spare seat in the theatre and we had to squeeze in. They are amazing. I must look up and see if they are playing anywhere near us when we get home. Elton was definitely right, they are the best. So many different styles of sixties music and all played and sung so well. Of course everyone was singing along. A great trip down memory lane to such great music. They get off in Madeira and it’s a pity because they could play every night if it was up to me!!!!!
I took in a lecture on Greek architecture and it’s origins and allusions given by a very interesting chap who does a lot of work on large restorations with the National Trust and other historical organisations worldwide.
I know it sounds like we’re very busy doing all these classes, but that’s just our choice on these early sea days. You could do absolutely nothing: plonk down in an armchair with a book, go mad in the gym, take yoga and pilates, wallow in the spa, play golf, quoits, something called Baggo, play in the games room, jigsaws, visit the largest library at sea (thousands of books), take in one of the latest films, learn and/or play bridge, gamble in the casino, take computer classes of some sort, eat all day, walk the deck, knit or crochet, make jewellery, learn to dance, dance, learn to fence, sing in the choir, play darts, watch football, join one of about 5 or 6 quizes, listen to jazz, classical, piano music, swim. Well, you get the picture….
Tonight, the evening show was the comedian Mick Miller again and we didn’t fancy that. The film was the David Niven version of Around the World in 80 Days which we’ve seen so many times. So, we just had a lovely dinner, a stroll through the music bars and an early night ahead of arriving in Funchal before breakfast tomorrow morning. We have arranged a half day independent tour to Nun’s Valley. It looks spectacular, as long as the visibility is good…… not always a given in Madeira in our experience.

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