Really busy day today, so much on. Bob woke up feeling well for the first time in a week, so that was brilliant! He felt like breakfast and so he went off to scoff that and I went to art to get our area set up. I finished off a still life that I’d started yesterday. It’s ok, I quite like it. Then, I tried a monochrome life drawing of a classical Greek statue of the god Apollo. Not bad and I will have to do some more. Viv suggested Bob might like to pose for me in the cabin…..
After art, we had some lunch (sushi) and then we read for a while in one of the lounges. Because we had quite a busy afternoon, we decided not to go sunbathing today.
One of the wonders of the Queen Mary 2 is the sheer amount of history attached to the line and the name. In commemoration of this, areas of the ship and all the stairways have become museums of Cunard/White Star history, arranged in various groupings i.e. Life Below Decks; Celebrities Abroad; Cunard at War; Building the Queens etc. When e were aboard in November we noted these exhibits and decided that we would explore them with more time on this voyage. So, this afternoon we made a start, covering the topics above. So very interesting, especially the Wartime role of the ships which encompassed both World Wars and the Falklands War. 6 Cunard ships were sunk in WW2, including the Lusitania of course. The ships were also used to evacuate children from England to parts of the Empire in the early days of WW2, and to take thousands of GI brides and their babies to the USA and Canada after the war ended. We will cover the other areas another day. Looking forward to the sections on dining in the heyday of the great liners. I remember seeing some of the menus from the 1920s and 30s on QE2 when we sailed on her in 2001 and they were fascinating.
After that we went to a concert given by the passenger choir. One of our table companions, Frank, was in it. On this leg of the voyage there was 120 people in the choir. The theme of the concert was Last Night of the Proms, so all very rousing stuff. We were all given Union Jack flags to wave at appropriate times. It was great fun and they did really well, although the main object of the daily choir meetings is just to have fun rather than prepare a concert.
Today, in between events, we decided to go to the posh afternoon tea in the Queens Ballroom. The ballroom which holds the largest dancefloor at sea, is a lovely room with a definite nod to the Art Deco history of the original Queen Mary. Sometimes a quartet plays for the tea but today it was a proper tea dance with the smaller orchestra playing and a vocalist for some of the numbers. Quite a lot of people were dancing which was nice to watch. Cunard employs gentlemen (and apparently one lady) dance hosts. These are gentlemen of a certain age whose sole role aboard is to be dancing partners for lady guests who are either travelling alone, or are travelling with husbands who decline to dance. There were about six in evidence I would say. They are reasonable dancers by and large but not dance professionals. It’s a nice thing though for ladies who want to dance and they seem a gentlemanly bunch. I highly doubt there is any hanky panky on offer!!!!! 😊
So afternoon tea, (delicious by the way!) which consisted of the Cunard special afternoon tea blend (or whatever you like), finger sandwiches and tiny savouries, cakes and fancies, warm scones with jam and cream. All served very charmingly by the wait staff in true white glove style. A very popular daily event.
Following tea, it was the passenger talent show also held in the Queens Room. We normally avoid such events like the plague to be honest, but one of our table friends, Earl, was performing. He is a great character, a theatrical, and works professionally still. So, we just HAD to go. There were 6 acts and Earl was on last. He performed a tribute to Judy Garland, dressed as Judy, and he was really really good. By far the best of the afternoon.
We took in 3 lectures today: General Lord Dannatt talking about his time as Warden of the Tower of London. Excellent. Lots of good stories. Then the naval historian talking about Captain Lord Cochrane, the British naval captain in the late 1700s/early 1800s who was a great naval hero. More interestingly he is the real figure upon whom Captain Hornblower, and Jack Aubry (main character of the Master and Commander series) is based. Napoleon named him “Loup de Mer), the Sea Wolf because he took so many prizes in such ingenious ways. Many of the adventures immortalised in the novels actually happened to him. The third lecture was from the theatre historian, on Oscar Wilde. He’s a tremendously good speaker. As well as being a Fellow of Durham University, he produces and directs plays, particularly working in conflict zones. Anyway, very interesting on dear Oscar. Refreshing to hear him speak also as he walks a line between not giving offense to any group, but also not being particularly “politically correct” or apologetic for the mores of the past.
Tonight was the last formal night of this sector of the cruise i.e. Southampton to Cape Town. 1200 people get off in Cape Town. Not sure how many get on. Anyway, a special dinner. I had escargots to start followed by lobster thermidor. At the end of the meal the entire catering team (about 120 people) paraded through the restaurant to music and all lined up to great applause. They prepare something like 18000 meals per day which is staggering.
After dinner we went to the movies rather than the show. It was the new Murder on the Orient Express starring Kenneth Branagh as Poirot and a whole host of others including Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer. It was beautifully shot but I can’t say it added anything to the story that has not been shown in the previous versions. Particularly noticeable were a number of very obvious product placements for Godiva chocolates. Enjoyable anyway.