Looking Back In Time

As I look back fifteen months from today at where and how I am now, I can assure you that things were very different then. Not just for me, but for this beautiful world we live in too. There was no pandemic that we knew of, but my health was not as good as I should have liked either. In fact I needed treatment twice a week for a leg wound that simply would not heal. It was painful too, so I wasn’t sleeping at all well. It meant that I would fall asleep in an armchair at the wrong times, instead of going to bed at the right ones. I wasn’t eating properly either, but I didn’t let my friends know as I thought this was just temporary, that the wound would heal and I’d be out and about in no time. But that did not happen. I also tried to keep things to myself. Perhaps I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t manage on my own any more as I had for so many years. That was the physical effect of this on me.

When I was a child, as I grew up at home I had my parents, elder brothers and family around me. At school there were teachers, but I didn’t chat to my school colleagues all that much. I joined a music group and played a trumpet and I played chess, so I was mixing with others. Then I left school and was at work for thirty-eight years. Photography was one of my hobbies, I was part of a few different musical groups and singing in choirs, I became interested in home computers when they appeared on the scene, I also got married then divorced. I learned a great deal about many things, as well as about myself. I even started and ran my own business for a while. All this meant that I moved around the Midlands a fair bit, so I never settled in one place for very long until recent years. They weren’t always the happiest of times, but I wasn’t on my own all that much. I do know now that working as I did in a communications company certainly taught me and helped me to communicate! But then I retired and after a while some poor health along with my disabilities caught up with me. In fact by not looking after myself and not letting others know about things, by insisting I was fine, I made myself worse. That was silly of me. It took the knowledge of my habits by friends and neighbours as well as them not seeing me out and about or answering my phone that got whoever it was to break into my flat last year and get me to hospital. For that I don’t think I can ever thank them enough. My point is that throughout all of my childhood, school and work I always had people around me. Then, for the reasons I have already stated, I was on my own for much of the time each day. Yes, it was foolish of me not to talk about it, but sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the most painful and most folk do try and learn from their mistakes. In fact it is sometimes the only way to learn. What I had never thought of before was that the majority of us are never truly alone. Some are, perhaps out of choice for different reasons, but throughout our lives we usually have someone we can turn to or chat to somehow. But my foolishness was having a negative effect on me emotionally.

So last year, there I was in hospital where I was told that my heart rhythm wasn’t as it should be, but thankfully the electric shocks I was given then stabilised things. Following that I contracted Covid-19 and was therefore kept isolated for a fair while until I recovered. I was then moved to a few different Care Homes before arriving at the place I am at now. I am sure many of you will pick up on the fact through my writings that since moving here I am dramatically happier, hence my weekly blogs. Only now have I realised that in hospital and Care Homes alike, there have been people for me to interact with. I was and am not alone. So I have had to face an aspect of my well-being that I had never considered before, that of my emotional health. I have also been talking officially with medical students from the local University Medical School, under the watchful eyes of their tutors of course. That is a proverbial two-way street as they are learning from me about how I am coping as well as being managed, but I am also able to perhaps help them in their studies, so they perceive life from my point of view and maybe in this way I am ‘giving back’ a little for all the amazing help I have and am having in my life. I am more able to recognise and cope with aspects of my health that I hadn’t thought about before. I do wonder if we forget just how important the emotional side of our well-being actually is. It surfaces at times of special events like Christmas, birthdays as well as births, marriages and deaths, but they are always there. So many of us try and keep our emotions under control, but I think that can be a rather negative thing sometimes. I am still learning to let my emotions out on occasions, as some of the staff here in this Care Home have seen. But it was not always that way with me. Many years ago I was quite a shy individual and would avoid confrontation if at all possible. But that did me no good at all. Then came the time for me when things had to change. I had been promoted at work, but was finding it difficult to cope as I was getting stressed by the attitude of a co-worker towards me. These days we would call it ‘bullying’, but I let it happen to me. So one morning I arrived at work and was firmly told by a colleague there to go see a doctor. So I did. Despite not having an appointment there I was seen quite quickly and was given a bit of good advice, along with some tablets to take. They weren’t full-blown tranquillisers, but I relaxed a little. So it was that a few days later I was back at work and sure enough, this same person started having a go at me again. I looked at them and in an assertive tone, I told them to shut up and not talk to me unless it was about a work issue or they had something good to say to me. I felt really good at that, but it went very quiet for quite a while that day! The positive tone worked and the bully left me alone, which often happens. A few months later I was moved into a completely different office, doing harder work but with some really good people. It is true that two of them sitting opposite me reorganised my desk, as that way my desk was laid out the same as others on the team, (at least, that was their excuse!) but that helped me too and I am grateful for all they did. It helped me a great deal. I felt better in myself and was learning to deal with other people and work as part of a proper team. That all led to far greater experience and promotion, as well as a change of office to a different city. Moving house took some time and so for a few months I was travelling by train to that new city. I even ‘chatted up’ a certain young lady on the train journey and we were together for a number of years. That really did open up the emotional side of my life!

During my time working for this particular firm I was moved around every few years, mainly because of their changes and reorganisations. One move brought me in contact with folk I had worked with a few years before and that was good. I was also invited by a work colleague there to attend a talk being given on a particular form of Relaxation Therapy and Meditation. It sounded interesting, so I went along and sure enough it was to my liking. I attended a few more talks, read one of the books this person had written and then learned more about his work. This man was Srinivas Arka. A while later I was visiting my dear mother and I told her about this, but I then had to explain to Mum how this was not a religious group I had joined and my faith as a Christian had not changed in any way. What I found was that this relaxation therapy helped me to remain calmer in stressful situations. I still have more to learn on this, but it works for me. So after all these years, by bringing all this together I feel like I am perhaps now a better, more fulfilled person. To use a well-known phrase, I may have ‘found’ myself. I try not to get in any way annoyed or upset over those things that I cannot control, whilst those things which I can control or at least have an input to, I do my best by always giving an honest and clear opinion. I believe that the old saying how we “can lead a horse to water but we cannot make it drink” is very true. Just like my dear Dad did, if at any time I am asked for my views or opinions I will give them. If I am certain on a point I will say so, but if I am unsure I will also make that clear. Likewise, if I do not know I will say so, rather than just guess wildly! But then if I don’t know, there are bound to be others who do know as well as there being other ways to find out.

A quote I like is “the one constant in this Universe is that things change”. That really is ironic. During these past twelve months we have all found ourselves in need, missing friends and family, unable to do the things we have been so used to doing. We have been learning to use technology in new ways, adapting to limitations, even simply adapting to how we pay for items. I feel certain that we must continue to adapt and to cope with these changes in a positive way, having faith that things will change for the better as they did for earlier generations, but most especially not being afraid of change or afraid of asking others for help. It really isn’t easy, as I have found out over these last twelve months. For me it feels like a new level of bravery. Another aspect of this change can be to learn to trust, knowing that we may be hurt in the process. I try to remember that by doing so I will be much stronger as a result. If we remember that steel is made from soft iron and in order to become stronger it has to change, but not always in appearance, it goes through processes of both heating and quenching. The changes are inside, and are only noticed in how it behaves. It adapts. A good few years ago I was helping out in preparation for my teacher training course and one of the students needed additional tutoring. They needed guidance on a particular subject, so I had to explain not just what a spreadsheet was and how to use it, but what it could be used for. I learned that this student was very keen on a particular sport, so using a spreadsheet they were able to insert game scores, then calculate league positions and create charts on a season-by-season basis. For this student it was a ‘lightbulb’ moment, as all became clear. An ability to share knowledge can be invaluable, especially if it is then used to pass on to future generations. There are always different ways, but they are often tailored to suit individual needs, and should be.

Everybody Is A Genius

But it is not just the knowledge, it can also be how best to use it. A few years ago, when my eldest brother ran his own business by adapting motor vehicles for use by people with disabilities, he was called out to fix a car. Being a qualified motor engineer, my brother checked out the vehicle and promptly got the car working again by hitting an item in the engine with a hammer. He charged the customer his standard rates, but the customer was unhappy at the cost for such seemingly little work. So my brother politely pointed out that the charge wasn’t just a call-out fee, it was also for diagnosing the problem, knowing which tool to use, just where and what to hit as well as exactly how hard. The customer paid. Like I have said, it is not just the knowledge, it can also be how best to use it. I see that happening every day in this Care Home, as the Carers here know when to listen and when to be firm, like dealing with a child. For me it is a fascinating learning experience during these troubled times. I still have minor physical wounds that continue to heal, I do still get emotional at times but I say my prayers and am thankful. I look back over the last fifteen months or so and I know that I am happier now than I have been for quite a while. I am at peace, despite how things are.

We all need help, often when we least expect it…

Time for a smile. This week…
Whilst in a second-hand shop one day I bought an old record called “Sounds Wasps Make”. But when I got home and played it, I said to myself “These aren’t wasp sounds”. Then I realised – I was playing the Bee side…

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Travel Memories

Over the last few weeks I have detailed my lovely, extended holiday around much of this beautiful world in 2013 and it is such a good thing that I kept a daily log during the journey, noting the sights and sounds. In fact it has been so useful that I’ve been keeping a personal daily diary for a few years now and the only times I didn’t manage to was when poor health got in the way. Some days I have had more to write about than others and that is life, but I am glad that I have kept up with it. I try not to dwell on the past though, as I was taught a few years ago that we should surely learn from the past, live in the present and look to the future with a smile. In my recent writings I have done my best to share at least a few of the photos I took along the way, but as you might imagine one of the hardest things for me to do has been to decide which photos to share. I will try and sort out a few more though. I have both read and heard about some folk not liking sea travel, but it is something we can often adjust to. I found that P&O’s ‘Arcadia’, the large cruise ship I was travelling on coped extremely well and I do recommend such ways to travel, even if it is perhaps only a short cruise around the British Isles, which I know is done. In fact my first was a short ’taster’ cruise which I mentioned in my ‘Holiday Memories’ blog post in January of this year. It was as a result of that I was more than happy to get myself booked on a much longer cruise. The present restrictions on travel may mean it will be a while yet before the long cruises get going again, but I expect they will, in time. Having said that, I am reminded of the old saying that “A change is as good as a rest”, and I do believe that to be true. With what we have already been through during the last twelve months and are all coping with now, we have had to adjust, to adapt, to change. To take a quote from Srinivas Arka, “Our future depends mainly on the way we think at present. To change our lives, we must change the way we think”. It has often fascinated me the way some people will have an opinion about things they know nothing about simply by making assumptions.

So some of you reading this will have read my earlier blog posts and may not be too enthralled by the idea of the long journey I did. Yes, it is true that one of my grandfathers was in both the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy and it has already been suggested that maybe I have some sea salt in my veins! But one option taken by a few folk I met on board ‘Arcadia’ was to combine sea and air travel. In fact two ladies I met during my time on board were doing just that, as they had flown from Australia to the UK, had a bit of a holiday here and then sailed back home. I also learned only the other day of someone else I know who did that, except they did their sea journey ‘in reverse’ as you might say, going from Southampton, across to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal that way. I expect they did a trip up to Hawaii then across and down to Australia and New Zealand. Others have done a return journey through Australia to the UK by going across land part of the way and seeing the sights there, then meeting their cruise ship in somewhere like Darwin. Travelling north from there are so many places to visit, for example I have read about a vast religious complex in Cambodia called Angkor Wat which was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II. This vast complex comprises more than a thousand buildings, and is one of the great cultural wonders of the world. Continuing their journey and having stopped off at a few other places, the return to the UK included a journey through the Suez Canal. Happily for them strong winds did not cause a container ship to get stranded in quite the way one did recently and prevent other ships from travelling through for a few days! Fortunately this sort of delay is an extremely rare event. Then, after a stop off at a few ports in Italy, Spain and Gibraltar perhaps, the English Channel was reached. I still have mixed memories of the latter though, because whilst my encounters with the Channel in recent years have been absolutely fine, I still recall one particular time back in about 1967 on a school trip to Belgium. I was fine to begin with, but then it got a bit rough and let us just say I wasn’t at my best for a short while. It all settled down though. Whilst on that holiday, we had lovely tours around various places. We were staying in Bruges, where there are lovely canals and we had returned to our hotel for an evening meal. The first course was green-coloured soup, but one of my school colleagues looked at it and said they weren’t touching it as it looked like canal water! To be fair to them yes it did, but the soup tasted fine to me when I tried it, as were all the meals we had there. But others were put off by the adverse comment. That may have been the start of my learning to give some credence to my own thoughts and ideas rather than ‘going with the crowd’. Incidentally, whilst writing this I learned that a credence is also the name given to the small side table, shelf or niche in a church for holding the elements of the Eucharist before they are consecrated. Which means that I have stood by a credence table many times as I passed various items to the vicar during a communion service. I never knew that until now. But back to my travels. Our visits on that holiday were very well organised, as I got to visit the Atomium near Brussels, I even managed to meet with an aunt and uncle who travelled over from their home in Antwerp to see me. I had my first taste of real, Belgian waffles! On that same trip a few of my schoolmates had tried smoking cigarettes as well as consuming alcoholic drinks, but they made themselves ill as a result. The response from our Headmaster who was with us on the trip was simply “You’re not men yet.” A while later attempts were made by my school colleagues for me to try smoking a cigarette, but the reason they gave me for doing so was because ‘everyone else was’. That to me was illogical, I’d also learned how smoking might not be good for me with my singing and playing my trumpet, so I declined. Some years later I did try smoking a pipe, but that made me ill so I left that well alone! It wasn’t until years later that I was diagnosed with asthma did I realise how sensible that decision had been. But I kept a daily diary of the time and I am glad I did as it has proved useful. Time passes, so much happens and we don’t always recall exactly when events occur.

I have said previously about the lovely holidays to Devon and Cornwall but it was always a long journey, especially before the motorways we have now. This meant keeping everyone as happy as possible, not to mention safe so that Dad could concentrate on driving the car! After a few years it ended up with me as ’navigator’ and Mum as ‘stewardess’. It meant I was kept busy watching for road signs, signals, map-reading as well as identifying other vehicles. Both my parents smoked as we travelled, so I was inhaling second-degree cigarette smoke but we thought nothing of it at that time. If we knew then what we know now about smoking, then things might have been different but twenty-twenty hindsight can be wonderful… As a few folk will know from training sessions, “we don’t know what we don’t know”. A favourite quote of mine. After a few years Mum did stop smoking, but despite giving up the habit dear Dad had sadly left it too late. A good friend of mine still smokes and despite efforts to persuade him otherwise he has decided that it is his life to do with and live as he pleases. There is a very old saying that one can lead a horse to water but not make it drink. Except there are consequences! As I got older and began living my own life I started to explore this country, taking holidays in the Lake District, Wales and the West Country. I took a great many photographs, mainly slides rather than prints and I still have many of them in storage. One day I will sort through a few! It was not until a good few years later when I got married that my wife and I had holidays in the Algarve, Portugal. Then I was on my own again for a while, but these things happen. In 2004 I spent a week in Philadelphia, U.S.A., seeing the famous sights there and that got me out and about again, so I did the same a while later to Washington D.C. then on to Orlando, Florida and in both places I really did do the traditional tourist thing, seeing both the Space Centre along with Launch Pad 39b, where the Space Shuttle had been moved to the previous day. I also visited the Disney Animal Kingdom. Then I saw a simulator ride called Star Tours and I went on that. It was based on Star Wars and naturally our shuttlecraft became involved with a battle – it was fun to be behind an x-wing fighter, especially when I saw a trench appear on the screen – we were about to destroy the Death Star! It was all very well done. I visited the Epcot centre and was glad of the map they provided! Altogether my visits to the U.S.A. were most enjoyable. My next holiday abroad was a few years later and this time was to southern Spain. Dear Dad had sadly passed away and after a while Mum started having holidays of her own, initially to Brighton or the like. Then one year she announced that she was going to Lucerne and without thinking I responded “That’s in Switzerland, isn’t it?” To which I received a rather condescending “Very good dear!” in reply. I then learned that Dad had been there many years ago and had said he would take Mum. He didn’t manage to, so she was going on her own – and she did! After that it was regular trips abroad, one year to South Africa, but then she found a lovely place in southern Spain, so one year I went with Mum, just for a week. We had a lovely time together, especially as it became her last holiday abroad. So I have treasured memories of all my travels. Who knows what and where we will all be in the time to come.

The Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, U.S.A.

A thought…
Without art, Earth is just Eh…

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The U.S.A. And Voyage Home

Day 72. Sunday March 17th. Latitude: 21,18,13N; Longitude: 157,51,51W
We arrived in Hawaii. This was a special day as I celebrated my sixtieth birthday! I went on a special tour in the morning which took me to Waikiki beach, where I walked for a while until my tour boat was ready. This tour boat then took me out to a little submarine, where I and around thirty or so others went on board and we dived to around one hundred feet below the surface. The views were amazing, the water was extremely clear, it was so very special. I had planned this, as I had often been to see fish in aquariums and at such times they were seeing me in my own environment, so it felt only right and proper for me to now see them in theirs. After a while we surfaced and the tour boat returned us to shore and on the way some of us saw a whale as it surfaced – I managed to get a photo of it, although it was a distance away! On the way back to the ship I stopped off at the Ala Moana shopping centre and did some retail therapy, including a visit to the Apple store. I returned to the ship and in the evening, had a lovely meal in one of the specialist restaurants on board with a friend I had made whilst on board. It was a lovely surprise, she had arranged it as a special treat for me! It was a lovely birthday! After that it was a relatively quiet few days for me, though it had to be in many ways because sadly some bright spark had sneezed near me but not covered their nose or mouth, so I caught a cold. Thank you very much – not what I had needed just then! Though I did get to see a lovely sight, as early one morning a school of dolphins passed by us. The sun was shining and the temperature was around 16C, 61F. So it was decidedly cooler now as we headed towards San Francisco. Our clocks continued to go forward as we travelled east. The day before we arrived into San Francisco, during the regular mid-day briefing the third officer had advised us that the seas might be rougher that night and he was correct, in fact the sea was indeed a great deal rougher than I think I had ever experienced on the journey thus far. The winds had been up to force nine or ten at times. Given that I was trying to get rid of a cold, a good night’s sleep would have helped, but it was not to be. From the conversations of other passengers the following day, very few of us slept much that night!

Underwater view from the mini-submarine, Hawaii
Sunset at Hawaii

Day 77. Friday March 22nd. Latitude: 37,48,30N; Longitude: 122,24,24W
We were now docked in San Francisco. I was booked on a short tour, but instead I rested as much as possible. I still wasn’t totally recovered, but I was better. I took some photos of the sun as it set behind the Golden Gate Bridge, as that really lived up to its name! The following day was a better one for me, especially as I had caught up on some much-needed sleep. When a good friend of mine had sadly passed away a few years ago, I found myself in contact with a mutual friend and I kept in touch with her. I discovered that she was living in San Francisco with her husband and their two children. Long before my holiday started I told her of my plans and was delighted when I was able to meet up with her, along with her husband and children. So we all met up, I had a really lovely time with them, seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, then having a meal with them at a nearby Italian restaurant. It was a pleasure to meet them all. I had to get back to the ship though, as I was feeling a bit weary. Also, all passengers were required to be back on board by 5.00pm, ready for the mandatory safety drill. This was especially needed as we had quite a few new passengers on board. The following day, after a much needed and restful sleep, I was feeling better. My cold had about gone and the cough was gradually clearing. The sun shone, the skies were clear and it was a beautiful day. Very different weather conditions to those back home at that moment. Arcadia was now heading towards our next port of call in Mexico. The weather was good, the seas calm and everybody, including me, was happy for that. It was getting warmer again too… This day was the eightieth day of my journey but I hadn’t managed to get all around the world quite yet. I had another twenty days to go, but I had been stopping at a few places…

Seals at Pier 39, San Francisco
View of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Day 83. Thursday March 28th. Latitude: 15,45,12N; Longitude: 96,7,48W.
After a few quiet days at sea and on arrival in Santa Maria Huatulco, Mexico, it was a lovely hot day, clear skies, bright sunshine! But at that latitude and location, it was perfectly normal! The next event on my adventure would be traversing the Panama Canal, which would be on Sunday. I hoped to post more details of this, I had also let folks at home know about the Panama canal’s live web cams as with any luck they would be working! The following day we were off the coast of Guatemala, the weather was good although a little windy. At 8.00am the temperatures were 28C, 82F. It really didn’t feel like Good Friday, but it was! No sign of any hot cross buns though. It never ceases to amaze me how the sea conditions can change, sometimes in a short time. The captain had warned that Thursday night into Friday morning might be a little rough, also windy, but it wasn’t too bad at all – certainly nothing like the night before San Francisco! Now there was sunshine, light cloud and almost no swell at all, not completely flat calm but almost! The following morning Arcadia would begin its journey through the Panama Canal, I think at around 8.00am local time, around 2.00pm UK time, taking into account that their clocks would have gone forward to British Summer Time. I found the website, www.pancanal.com with free webcams which allowed folks to watch Arcadia as we went through!

Day 86. Sunday March 31st. Latitude: 8,59,36N; Longitude: 79,35,18W.
We were now traversing the Panama Canal. We started through at around 8.00am, guided through each lock by ‘mules’, the name given to the trains that help pull ships through each lock. Another cruise ship, the Island Princess, preceded Arcadia. The transit was completed by around 2.00pm. It was very hot though, at least 28C, 82F, with a high humidity. I discovered that it is high humidity which tires me out! The following day it seemed that most people, including me, were taking it easy, which was a good idea as we had rough seas, force eight winds but still with sunny skies!!! It amazes me how the weather and the sea can change so quickly at times. We would arrive at the island of Curaçao the next day. My thanks to the kind person who sent the following photo to me!

‘Arcadia’ traversing the Panama Canal
‘Island Princess’ from ‘Arcadia’ traversing the Panama Canal

Day 88. Tuesday April 2nd. Latitude: 12,6,36N; Longitude: 68,56,0W.
By 8:00am we were docked in Willemstad, Curaçao and the pre-arranged tours were soon on their way. I had a relaxed breakfast, then walked ashore and into the town. It was hot, but a breeze kept things fairly cool. I found the McDonalds that was widely advertised, but it was extremely crowded and sadly the free Wifi advertised there was not working. I would wait until our next port of call, Barbados, and try to find a free Wifi there instead. By lunchtime temperatures were up to 30C, 86F so I had coffee and biscuits in a Subway shop and then headed back to the ship. Temperatures were still the same by mid-afternoon, and the strong wind was deceptive. I think some were caught out by the heat. The pedestrian swing bridge they have there was entertaining – if a ship wishes to pass through then they simply close the bridge. Then the whole bridge pivots from one end, still with people on it! The ship then passes through, the bridge pivoting back to its normal position and then pedestrian access is restored! If you are on the bridge when it pivoted, then you moved with it. When Arcadia left the port, the swing bridge had to be opened fully – but the tug being used to move us off the berth had a problem with its towing rope. This was soon sorted out, but in the meantime the pedestrian bridge was left open. Even after we had left the port the bridge had not been put back to normal for pedestrians to use, as the pilot boat had yet to return. We then crossed the Caribbean, the seas had calmed a little since the day before although we still had a ‘moderate’ sea state, force seven winds and an average to moderate swell. Occasional showers were forecast but that didn’t stop some passengers sunbathing on the open decks!

A view of Curaçao from ‘Arcadia’

Day 90. Thursday April 4th. Latitude: 13,6,6N; Longitude: 59,37,42W.
It was a warm day in Bridgetown, Barbados. At 8.00am the temperature was 27C, 81F and forecast for higher levels. The sky was almost clear of cloud and a lovely blue, there was a slight wind but nothing at all like it had been. I had been busy charging up the various batteries on my phone and camera as I thought I might need them both today. I was correct, I was happy with the photos I managed to get. Then a quiet day was planned, especially after the lovely, busy days in Curaçao and Barbados. Already temperatures were dropping as we headed north-east, but I was hoping that the gradual change would allow an easier acclimatisation to the cooler conditions back home. Even so, where I was it was still 25C, 77F at 7.30am. At mid-day the ships clocks were put forward one hour, putting us to GMT-3. The following day I noted in my daily log that the last time I was in this area of latitude was January 10th, and I had travelled quite a few miles since then! The next day our clocks went forward again at mid-day, putting us just two hours behind GMT and three hours behind current UK time. We were catching up! This time-travel was tiring though. A few days passed and by now it was clear to me that we were moving in a north-easterly direction, as each day the early morning temperatures were definitely dropping. I was getting used to it though, ready for my return home. As we neared Ponta Delgada, at 8.00am the sky was overcast, the wind was south-westerly force 6, the temperature was 18C, 64F and there was a moderate sea state with an average to low swell. At noon, local time, Arcadia’s clocks were put forward one hour to GMT, putting us in line with Ponta Delgada and one hour behind London time.

As seen in Barbados

Day 96. Wednesday April 10th. Latitude: 37,44,12N; Longitude: 25,39,42W.
By 7:30am we were docked in Ponta Delgada, near Portugal. It was raining, and seeing the green grass, wet roads and lower temperatures there was getting me prepared for when I returned to the UK! I didn’t go ashore, but I took a few photos to remind me. Then the following day I was successfully immigrated! To save time when Arcadia reached Southampton, we had a UK Immigration Officer come aboard at Ponta Delgada and they completed an organised, face-to-face inspection of all 2,000 or so passengers against their passports. It was a very good idea, as it would still take time to get off the ship and go through Customs – or UK Border Control as I think they call it these days. The sun was shining and the wave height was around four metres, according to the bridge, so in their words, the ship was ‘moving around a little…’. I would say that was an economic way of phrasing it!!! All passengers were therefore asked to take care when moving around the ship. It was like that the previous night too, but after a while I got to sleep. I was used to it by now. I wondered how I’d manage when I was back home, where the ground stayed still – or ought to! It would feel strange for a while.

Day 99. Saturday April 13th. Latitude: 48,17,24N; Longitude: 7,34,12W.
Our course was 55 degrees, speed 16 knots and by mid-day Arcadia was about forty miles south of the Lizard. Unfortunately, weather conditions meant that there was not much to see as it was raining, with a heavy mist. The third officer had advised that the harbour pilot would be on board tomorrow at around 3.00am – I doubted if I would be on deck to watch, as it would be a bit dark then! All being well Arcadia will be on its berth in Southampton for around 6.00am. I had hoped that, as we got closer to shore, I would pick up a land-based mobile signal, rather than using the ship’s network. However, by around 8.00pm Arcadia was definitely in the English Channel, and whilst my mobile could recognise local networks, I could not connect to the one I needed. Perhaps later. I experienced yet another aspect of sea travel a bit later too – fog! The ship’s siren was sounding regularly, I did wonder if any passengers would complain at the noise? Just joking!

Day 100. Sunday April 14th. Latitude: 50,54,18N; Longitude: 1,25,42W.
We had reached Southampton. Arcadia was securely docked by 7.00am and those passengers capable of carrying their own luggage were allowed to disembark. The rest of us had to wait until our pre-arranged time, mine was not until around 10.30am. However, all passengers were asked to vacate their cabins by 8.00am to allow cleaning and preparation for the new passengers joining on the next cruise. For the staff there was no time to rest, these new people would come on board from about mid-day! I was able to disembark more quickly and easily than I had expected, I was off the ship at 10.10am. I walked straight through Customs, found my cases fairly easily and then joined the queue for taxis. Again I was not waiting long, although some other passengers were complaining – it can be a bit stressful if you’re not sure exactly where you are going… Soon I was at a nearby hotel, where I left my cases etc and walked across the road to the shopping centre for a coffee. A while later I walked to the train station and purchased my ticket for tomorrow. After lunch I window-shopped and then returned to the hotel. I could not buy any more items, my cases had no spare space! As planned, I returned home to Leicester the following day.

Me, Dinner Jacket, Bow Tie…

This has been my round-the-world cruise, I thoroughly enjoyed it, I saw things and places I never ever dreamed that I would. It has been good for me to share this with you, I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I plan to write more next week about more recent events…

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Australia And New Zealand

Day 51: Monday February 25th. Latitude: 27,22,54S; Longitude: 153,9,48E.
Because Arcadia was so large we were moored up in a commercial docking area. On arrival into Brisbane it was absolutely pouring with rain! I passed through the Customs area with no difficulties, having been sniffed at a couple of times by trained dogs who were on the lookout for banned substances. All of us passengers had been warned to not bring foodstuffs of any kind whatsoever from the ship, nor anything made of wood, etc. Bottled water was allowed, they really were very strict! The visit to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary was so lovely, I saw koalas, kangaroos, various birds and a baby crocodile, but the duck-billed platypus was asleep and therefore did not show itself. It didn’t stop raining, and I was utterly soaked through by the time I returned to the ship. It was all well worth the visit though! After an extremely wet day in Brisbane, we were then heading south towards Sydney, where we would stay for two days. I was hopeful that it would be a little dryer there! On the map it doesn’t seem that far to Sydney, but it is around 475 miles and Arcadia has an average cruising speed of twenty to twenty-five miles per hour. Add docking time, manoeuvring in and out of berths, often assisted by tugs, the time soon mounted up. It was also fascinating to watch.

Koala Bear at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary Brisbane, Australia

Day 53.
Wednesday February 27th. Latitude: 33,51,30S; Longitude: 151,12,36E.
Our arrival into Sydney was utterly breathtaking, especially as we were moored up immediately across from the Opera House, with a completely clear view of it. I had a tour of the city, as well as a visit to Bondi beach, which I walked on! It wasn’t as large a beach as I had imagined though. Following a return journey via other sights, I had a tour of the Sydney Opera house. That was much, much larger than I had imagined, with several different concert halls! After lunch I walked along George Street, where many major shops were to be found, including the Apple Store. You know me! I used their free WiFi to upgrade the software in both my iPad and iPhone. It really was a great help having the ship berthed so close to the city centre. My evening meal was in the Orchid restaurant on board ship, it made a pleasant change. Staying in Sydney for two days meant I was able to take a leisurely stroll into town. I was not booked on any tours, I simply wanted to stroll around the place and do a bit of shopping. So after breakfast I did just that. As I left the ship there were a great many people queuing up to get on board, I was told later there were around 700 new passengers! I had coffee and a doughnut in a McDonalds, but sadly the coffee wasn’t as good as I had rather expected. I returned to the ship for lunch and had a chance to review the photos I had taken. My timing was good, as the rain then started in the afternoon. This time every passenger on board had to attend an emergency drill, including putting on a life jacket, but I could do that easily by then! We were towed off our mooring by a tug at around 6.30pm and set sail for New Zealand. The following day was of course St David’s Day, but not many on board recognised it as I did. After leaving Sydney the weather was not at all wonderful, with rough seas and force 9 winds. It did start to calm down a little, though the ship still rocked at times! It was not a problem. Temperatures were down a little too, only 21C, 70F the next morning!!! We also changed time zones once again and were now twelve hours ahead of UK time. Temperatures continued to fall as we were of course heading south, it was only 18C, 64F, though that was considerably warmer than back in the UK just then! Some open deck areas of the ship had been closed off for safety reasons, but it would all calm down once we reached New Zealand. Our clocks went forward again at mid-day the next day, making us thirteen hours ahead of UK time.

Day 57. Sunday March 3rd. Latitude: 44,36,24S; Longitude: 167,50,6E.
My first sight of New Zealand was as we arrived in Milford Sound. We only had time to cruise around for a short while there before leaving and continuing our journey around the base of South Island towards Dunedin, where we would arrive the following day. The weather was not particularly good just then, with stronger winds and rougher seas forecast, especially overnight!

Day 58. Monday March 4th. Latitude: 45,48,30S; Longitude: 170,37,48E.
The following day we were docked at Port Chalmers, a sheltered port near to Dunedin. The weather was changeable with showers, the temperature was lower than we’d had for a while, only around 13C, 55F. This meant wearing a jumper and a coat whilst on our tour of Dunedin! Physically, I had now been the furthest away on this planet from the folks at home that I would probably ever be. From now on, I moved closer.

Botanic Gardens in Dunedin, New Zealand

Day 59. Tuesday March 5th. Latitude: 43,49,24S; Longitude: 172,55,18E.
We made several stops in New Zealand, the next one was a lovely day with blue skies, sunshine and friendly people in Akaroa. I was on a walking tour of the town which was extremely interesting and informative. Though a few of us chuckled when one passenger asked where the bus was! They were politely informed that the town was so small it did not need one in order to see it. I did chat to the local guide, who informed me that the earthquake that had occurred two years before in Christchurch was a mixed blessing. It meant that cruise ships could not call in their usual place, so they now called at Akaroa instead. The guide pointed out that the population of Akaroa was just over six hundred, so compare that to there being around two thousand five hundred passengers on board our cruise ship, every visiting cruise ship was a welcome sight for the trade in that town!

Akaroa, New Zealand

Day 60.
Wednesday March 6th. Latitude: 41,16,19S; Longitude: 174,47,18E.
Until now we had been seeing some of the sights of South Island, but now we moved up to North Island and our first stop was a view of Wellington. The locals call this place ‘windy city’ and I can understand why, as it really was very windy there, but I thought a certain place in North America was also given that title! I visited a sheep farm, we had a drive along a private coast road in order to get there. The views were amazing and the coach stopped a few times to allow photographs to be taken by those passengers who wished to. It was decidedly windier there than in town!

A Tender/Lifeboat from Arcadia

Day 61. Thursday March 7th. Latitude: 39,28,30S; Longitude: 176,55,18E.
The day was lovely and sunny and by 10:00am the temperatures were up to 18C,64F. The ship was docked in an area of Napier surrounded by huge containers and tree logs – there were hundreds of logs there, just as there were in Wellington. It was a short stay though, as we departed for Auckland that afternoon. On the map it didn’t look all that far, and by road it probably wasn’t, but by sea we had to go a fair way round, out of Hawkes Bay, then through an area called the Sea of Plenty.

Day 62. Friday March 8th. Latitude: 36,50,30S; Longitude: 174,45,54E.
I spent a lovely day out in the sunshine, first on a bus tour around Auckland which included a guided tour around a local museum by a knowledgeable guide, then lunch back on board ship followed by a short walk to the Sky Tower. This is, I was told, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and the views from the top were spectacular! After that I met up with old friends and had a lovely pizza with them. But I was very mindful of the time, as I was on a trip of my own. The ship will not depart until all passengers on organised tours are back on board, but those who go off on their own must be back by a specified time. Those who do not manage to, must make their own way to the ship’s next docking point that they could organise, no matter how far away. But port and other authorities were available for guidance and assistance, also the cruise line, P&O, had their own set of contacts. At each port of call, our onboard newspaper had relevant details. I knew I had to be back on board Arcadia by 7.30pm and I managed it – with just five minutes to spare… That evening the seas were rather brisk, in fact they were described as ‘a rough sea state and average to heavy swell’, which meant the ship was rocking around a bit more. It did calm down overnight though. Not a problem to me either way.

Day 64. Sunday March 10th. Latitude: 27,38,0S; Longitude: 178,30,54W.
It was amazing how the weather could change overnight, although we had travelled a bit of a distance north since yesterday. The sea had calmed down, with sunshine and blue skies now! You may notice that longitude is now West, not East, though officially we had not crossed the International Dateline just yet. However we would do, meaning that Sunday March 10th would occur all over again for us. So instead of being thirteen hours ahead of UK time, we were suddenly eleven hours behind…for now, anyway!

International Dateline
Because we crossed the International Dateline, this day occurred twice!

Day 65. Sunday March 10th. Latitude: 20,32,0S; Longitude: 174,3,12W.
It felt strange to live the same date more than once, but it did all balance out over the next few days. It was such a beautiful day with sunshine, the temperature was up to 28C, 82F and last night when I walked out onto the open deck it was so hot and humid compared to inside the ship that my glasses steamed up again! The hot weather tired me out though, I’d had a later start this morning and took things easy throughout the day.

Day 66. Monday March 11th. Latitude: 14,16,36S; Longitude: 170,41,18W.
We arrived in Pago Pago and I had a look around. There was some cloud, but bright sunshine and at 10.00am temperatures were about 28C, 82F. Despite there being a few organised tours of the island taking place many people were looking around on their own. The ship was securely docked opposite the entrance to the port and around a dozen stalls had been set up there by the locals to sell their wares. This meant that everyone had to walk past these stalls in order to exit the port! At around 10.00am an exercise drill was carried out by the crew, including the sounding of ship alarms, but I knew there was only one alarm signal that passengers had to respond to – the rest we could ignore. This was a working port, so adjacent to the passenger exit there were a great many containers. It still fascinates me to see how the containers are lifted on and off lorries so easily and so accurately. I also knew this must be American Samoa, as I found McDonalds on the waterfront!

International Dateline
Tuesday March 12th
Because we crossed the International Dateline, this day did not exist for us!

Day 67.
Wednesday March 13th. Latitude: 13,49,36S; Longitude: 171,45,42W.
Arcadia was now docked in Apia, Samoa. As you can clearly see from the latitude and longitude numbers, we were not far from Pago Pago. However, we had leapt forward in time again! We were now fourteen hours ahead of UK time, instead of eleven hours behind. This would change again – very soon. It was extremely hot there, for me, anyway, but I am used to living in a temperate zone, not equatorial. At around 11.30am local time today the temperature was 29C,84F.

Day 68
Thursday March 14th. Latitude: 9,2,6S; Longitude: 169,51,12W.
Still at sea, it was a bright, sunny day with relatively calm seas. Even at 7.30am the temperature was 27C, 81F but that was not surprising, as we were almost on the equator itself! Tonight Arcadia crossed the International Dateline again, going back in time so we would live March 14th again. This aligned us with Hawaii and we would not have any further date adjustments to make during the journey back to Southampton, just the appropriate time zone changes – one hour every fifteen degrees of longitude. This morning, as I watched the news, a new Pope was elected – Pope Francis.

International Dateline
Because we crossed the International Dateline, this day occurred twice!

Day 69
Date: Thursday March 14th. Latitude: 1,31,6S; Longitude: 166,55,30W.
Our clocks went back by twenty-four hours this morning, as we had crossed the International Dateline. At 1:00pm we crossed over the equator into the northern hemisphere, on our way to Hawaii, our next port of call. Naturally it was hot, in fact at 8.00am it was 26C, 79F.

Coming up… A special day for me.

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Round The Horn

Day 24. Monday January 28th. Latitude: 54,49,0S; Longitude: 71,4,0W.
As it turned out, we did not go round Cape Horn itself. We went through the Beagle Channel, a strait in an archipelago on the southern tip of South America between Chile and Argentina. This channel separates the larger main island of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego from various smaller islands, its eastern area forms part of the border between Chile and Argentina whilst the western area is entirely within Chile. We saw some amazing sights such as glaciers and waterfalls and the views were just breathtaking, utterly indescribable, they were also changing by the minute. We then carried on to Punta Arenas, but we could not dock there because Arcadia was far too big. So those passengers booked on trips were ferried ashore using the ships tenders, which are also used as lifeboats if needed. When there is very little else to say we often to talk about the weather, but on this occasion it is totally appropriate as we had passed by a weather station a short while before. We learned that it is manned by two families and their nearest shops are a 50-mile boat trip away!!! The following day around 9:00am the sea state was very rough, meaning that the wave height was between 4 and 6 metres (13.1 to 19.7ft), with the swell reported as average and heavy. All in all it was a bit rough, but then Arcadia was designed to cope extremely well in such conditions and it did. The wind was still quite strong, around force 7, so some of the uppermost decks were closed off for safety reasons, but things soon calmed down. Later in the day we sailed up to and stopped for a while at the Amalia glacier – that really was a spectacular sight. Then it was on to Pio Decimo, also known as Pio X. For me personally this wasn’t as spectacular as the Amalia glacier, but it was still an amazing sight to see! It also rained, quite heavily at times, so by the time the ship started to turn away I was very wet! This meant that a compete change into dry clothes as well as careful checking and drying off of my camera equipment was needed! We were now on our way out to the Pacific Ocean, turning north for a while then winding in and out between various islands, before heading north again up to Chacabuco. I have sorted out three photos from all the ones I had taken of this spectacular area but I cannot decide which one to share. So here are all of them. I even managed to include a fun one which I like, a photo of others taking photos where you can see the view that they too are capturing!

Beagle Channel, Chile
Amalia Glacier, Chile
Pio X Glacier, Chile

Day 28. Friday February 1st. Latitude: 45,28,18S; Longitude: 72,49,42W.
The following day we anchored in the bay near to Chacabuco. The views were amazing, the hills all around, ice & snow on the mountains, with the clouds and sunshine changing the light all the time. Then there were rain showers and we could see them appearing from over the mountains! I didn’t go ashore though. Once all the passengers were back on board, the tenders were stowed away and after pulling up the anchor from its position at fifty metres down, we sailed away and were treated, around 7.00pm, to seeing a partial rainbow – it was a lovely sight. It meant that I could see the end of the rainbow as it disappeared into the water, but sadly the pot of gold is still at the bottom of that fjord…

Day 29. Saturday February 2nd. Latitude: 41,28,48S; Longitude: 72,56,12W.
The following morning I was awakened by the sound of a boat being lowered, ready for transporting people ashore to Puerto Montt. After my usual breakfast I did go ashore and have a good look around, taking a few photos of course! There was a small shopping area in what I discovered was the local bus station – this was all near the sea and there were some good views as the sun was out, the clouds were almost gone and it was beginning to warm up again. In the afternoon we were treated to a surprise air display from members of the Chilean Air Force – it was stunning! They used our cruise ship as a centre-point for their display, making really good use of the white smoke trails they created, ending with a heart shape with an arrow through it, finally creating a perfect 5-point star! The following morning the sun was shining, the outside temperature was 15C, or 59F if you prefer that scale. I discovered that I had caught the sun more than I realised yesterday, I should have worn my hat! My sunglasses would have been an idea too. I had my hair cut and some oil was put on my scalp as it really was very red! I knew it would settle down over the next day or two though. I had a busy day, what with the regular 10.00am ‘singles’ get-together, then I attended a coffee morning at the photo gallery, followed by lunch and various things in the afternoon, including the sorting out of photographs taken over the last few days. There was a good sunset, too.

Day 32. Tuesday February 5th. Latitude: 33,1,54S; Longitude: 71,37,36W.
The driving distance between Puerto Montt and Valparaiso is around 587 miles (944 kilometres), but by sea it is slightly further. We proceeded at a steady pace on board Arcadia and so it was that a couple of days later we arrived in Valparaiso. This was the end of another cruise ‘sector’ and the beginning of the next, so 250 passengers left to go home and the same number of new passengers joined. We were required to take part in the standard ‘lifeboat exercise’ drill, where we go to our designated muster stations throughout the ship and this was set for 5.30pm, but those of us still away from the ship on shore excursions had already done this drill when we first went on board. After this visit, we were at sea for a full nine days. At 2.00am that morning the clocks went back one hour and more time adjustments were to come. We would pass by Easter Island and Pitcairn Island before reaching Papeete and this would give me time to simply relax and enjoy a few days at sea. I was beginning to understand why my maternal grandfather loved being at sea, it was constantly changing, sometimes calm, sometimes rough, with glorious sunrises and sunsets. There were some on board who wanted to be always doing things, whilst I was content to sit near the stern of the ship, watching and listening to the waves. But it was amazing how the ocean could be so calm at times…

A very calm ocean!

We were now heading west, as you can see from the changing latitude and longitude details. There was a good sunset one night – not spectacular, but still lovely to watch. There was as much or as little to do on board as each individual wished, just what I needed. I had been neglecting my music though, so as I wrote my daily log I listened to some lovely music via my headphones – that way I could listen whilst walking around the ship, sitting outside or working inside in the ‘computer room’. I also had a few choices as to where to get refreshments, either free ones or purchased. The free coffee in the cafeteria was basic, made with hot water along with sugar sachets and the individual ‘long life’ milk cartons – basic Americano style. For latte or other speciality coffees there were several different places, there was a charge made for those, but I would treat myself! The clocks continued to go back in time, but it gave me extra sleep which I did take advantage of when it was needed. We were reminded about crossing the International Dateline a total of four times, so as a result 20th February and 12th March would not occur for us, but 10th March and 14th March would occur twice! Meanwhile the sea remained calm, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and I was enjoying my holiday. The following day we were due to sail by Easter Island, but there was a 25 knot wind which meant that with our relative speed we had winds of around 40 knots (around 45mph) over the deck – as a result we were warned to take good care when opening doors to the deck areas. These doors were quite heavy, so in very windy conditions needed some effort to open them. We continued westwards at a steady pace but for the next few days there was little to report on. Apart from relaxing out on deck in the sunshine though, there was always a great deal on board to keep us fed, fit and entertained. A wide range of eating places with varied foods, different deck sports, swimming pools, theatres, a night club, pubs, shops, a cinema and a gym to name but a few. There is so much that goes on. You might like to look at the P&O website Arcadia, Cruise Ship Exclusively for Adults | P&O Cruises for more detail! I also found the library. I guess my favourite place was The Crows Nest lounge, located just forward of deck 10. That is because it gave spectacular panoramic views and by day we could sit back, relax with perhaps a book as well as a coffee to just enjoy the view, whilst at night we had the chance to sip our favourite drink, at times accompanied by the sound of quiet piano music. But with this area located just forward of deck 10, I would have expected it to be called ‘Ten Forward’ – many of you will know why!

Day 39. Tuesday February 12th. Latitude: 25,3,18S; Longitude: 130,8,0W.
The Pitcairn Islands, officially the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, are four volcanic islands which form the sole British Overseas Territory in the Pacific Ocean. These islands are scattered across several hundred kilometres of ocean and have a combined land area of about 18 square miles (47 square kilometres). Henderson Island accounts for 86% of the land area, but only Pitcairn Island is inhabited. The nearest islands are Mangareva (of French Polynesia) to the west and Easter Island to the east. Actually, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world. The Pitcairn Islanders are a bi-racial ethnic group descended mostly from nine HMS Bounty mutineers and a handful of Tahitian captives, as is still apparent from the surnames of many of the islanders. As of January 2020, there were just 43 permanent inhabitants. So a few days later we were quite close to Pitcairn Island and circling whilst locals came aboard to sell some of their locally-made goods. After noon we headed towards our next port of call, Papeete, which I was advised is in fact pronounced Pah-pee-tay. We would arrive there in three days time. Our clocks kept on going back, we were now in the same time zone as San Francisco and this time change would occur again the next day. But as the old saying goes, times change… It was now that I managed to photograph the amazing cloud which looked to me like a howling dog. I thought it was so good that I used it later on my business cards. A couple of days later it was St Valentine’s Day. A dear lady friend said I was excused not getting her a card and a present – this time – as I was so far away, like 9,100 miles (14,645 kilometres)…

A howling dog!

Day 42. Friday February 15th. Latitude: 17,32,18S; Longitude: 149,34,18W.
On our arrival into Papeete, the sky was a glorious blue – well, most of it, anyway! The sun was shining and it was a lovely day. At around 9.30am here it was 7.30pm UK time, so I did not see the asteroid that was passing by Earth. I was booked on a tour around Papeete that afternoon and as I have mentioned before, I do prefer to go on the ‘organised’ trips. If I had known my way around, it might have been a bit different. We had to be back on board ship by 5.30pm so we could sail away to our next port of call, Bora Bora.

Day 43.
Saturday February 16th. Latitude: 16,30,30S; Longitude 151,45,30W.
Sure enough, the following morning we were anchored in a lagoon at Vaitape, Bora Bora. At 8.00am the sun was shining, but dark clouds were visible. I immediately grabbed my camera! A member of the bridge crew had made an announcement regarding the possibility of rain showers later in the day and she was right about that! The view from the ship was lovely, what with Mount Otemanu rising up above us into the clouds, but with clear blue skies out above the lagoon. There was another cruise ship visiting Bora Bora, the Statendam from Rotterdam. Those going ashore had been reminded to make sure they boarded the correct tender and return to the right ship! This would have been highly unlikely, as each passenger had to show their cruise card to staff before leaving the ship, also boarding the tender for the return trip, and before returning on board. There had been quite heavy rain showers, but they had passed by quickly. It had been possible to see the rain bands approaching! The locals did have fun in their canoes though, trying to hold on to the tenders as they approached the ship, or use the wake from them to go faster.

International Dateline
Wednesday February 20th.
Because we crossed the International Dateline, this day did not exist for us.

Day 47. Thursday February 21st. Latitude: 18,8,5S; Longitude: 178,25,25E.
We arrived in Suva, Fiji. It was a very warm day but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was on a tour which included men walking on hot stones, a mock tribal conflict as well as some traditional music & dance. The journey to where we saw all this was done via a local bus which had nothing like the features we had enjoyed on other coaches in other places as there were simply sliding windows, standard cushioned seating and no air-conditioning, but I really enjoyed it! The roads were a bit bumpy though. Sadly some people were complaining afterwards, but to me it was all part of being there! The following day we were steadily on course towards Noumea and it started out like being a cloudy day. But the skies cleared and it started to warm up, more than it already was! Most days that we were at sea, those of us who were on our own had the option to attend a ‘singles’ get-together, which I often did. However, there were other events on which we were clearly expected – or at least invited – to attend, so one day the singles event was cancelled! A few of us still met up at the usual place, but there was no sign of any free tea or coffee like there usually was. Not a problem, we still sat and chatted! A weekly ‘computer help’ group had been set up, so after lunch I met up with a few other passengers who had been designated as ‘mentors’ to help those with iPads and iPhones to use them better. The other mentors all felt that I knew the most on the subject, so I was doing one-to-one training with those who needed specific help, rather than just general assistance! It was kind of them to think so highly of me. I did my best.

Tribal Dance, Suva, Fiji

Day 49.
Saturday February 23rd. Latitude: 22,15,54S; Longitude: 166,26,12E
The morning visit to Noumea was over quite quickly, I went on a tour which included a visit to a local aquarium, although it contained larger and more exotic fishes than I had ever seen before! I was able to take some photos, but using flash was not allowed. The time went very quickly, but we were able to see a bit of the main town as we drove back to Arcadia. We left at 1.00pm so that we could get to Brisbane on time. Because we were visiting Australia, we had to fill in forms for their Customs and Immigration checks and in other countries these checks had been done for us by staff from our ship, but this time we already had Immigration staff from Australia who had been brought on board. We had to present ourselves, along with our our entry & exit cards all filled in, to the immigration staff. We had designated times to attend these checks, starting from 9.00am, but we were also told we could attend early, from 7.30am, if we wished to do so. I decided to go early and discovered that a great many others had done the same! It didn’t take too long to be seen though. The staff checked all my passport details to ensure that I was who I said I was. My passport was then returned to the ship’s staff for safe-keeping. Job done.

Our next stop? Australia!

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