The Banks - Half a World Away travel blog


At Sea

The weather continues to be mainly cloudy (or, as the Officer of the Watch described it in the midday broadcast “6 parts of 8 cloud”), but also still pleasantly warm and very “sittable”.

The Sea here must be quite a busy shipping lane, as they seem to have built in a number of “speed bumps” among the waves – at least, that’s what it feels like ! If there were any ploughed fields in sight, one would imagine we had drifted off course and were proceeding over them- anyway, you get the picture.

I had lots of fun lying on a sun lounger trying to decide which way the clouds were going and if that little patch of blue over westward was coming or going. First the clouds scudded west quite rapidly, (boo, wrong way for the blue), then they scudded east quite rapidly (hurray)…..after they had done this a few times, I stopped thinking what contrary winds they have in the mid-Atlantic, and realised that in fact what I was watching was the clouds against the rail of the ship. One’s brain is so used to “things” staying still and clouds moving that it took quite a while to realise that the rail was going up and down, the clouds were in fact moving slowly but steadily north. And we did get a tiny bit more blue, briefly.

You can tell it is still pretty warm (26 degrees?) by observing the definition of “appropriate attire”. I am not that fussed what people wear lying down on their rows of close-packed sun loungers on Deck 9. It’s a Sun Deck, after all. And on Deck 11 I understand that you can get away with not wearing anything, and that’s fine as I do not have to go there if I don’t want to. However, there is supposed to be a bit of a “dress code” for the Buffet also on Deck 9, including said words “appropriate attire”. This does not mean “shirt and tie”, one must be practical; the only official guidance is “no swimwear, and no bare feet”.

Believe me, this leaves a LOT of leeway for sights you really don’t want while choosing or eating food……there is a marked positive correlation between their age, the amount of flesh and the propensity to display it, and I have seen swimwear that covers more than some of the garments reveal. The film “Calendar Girls” had WI members eventually, reluctantly stripping off for charity. I bet many of our fellow passengers are also WI members: it would be a charity to persuade some of them to put some clothes ON ! That’s all I’m saying. There are numerous outfits around that simply do NOT fit and should not be seen out ! And that’s just the ladies……

And of course on the way around the ship – lifts, stairs, corridors – with no Dress Code in operation the best word is probably “sketchily attired…”

Overheard at breakfast – clearly and distinctly into one of those occasional quiet moments that restaurants are subject to : “Beetroot and HP sauce.” Wondered briefly if this was an obscure menu request for an off-beat breakfast item, but no….and there was nothing audible before it and nothing came after it, as if someone had just nodded and smiled. We spent a happy half hour in culinary discussion, trying to concoct a suitable dish featuring these two items, and with what additions – if anybody out there knows to what they were referring, please do let us know, we are keen to try anything….?

Black Tie dinner again tonight. That Marco P White still can’t make Seafood Bisque (I had it again to check, and while it had a marginally better consistency, still the nearest it got to seafood was if it has been in the fridge next to a bowl of prawns, or possibly scooped out from the saucepan (does MPW use saucepans?) into the bowl using a half-lobster shell…..) However, my wonderful “man on the door” had been true to his word, and after I waved away the Dessert menu and said I was having yesterday’s Panna Cotta, it duly arrived – and the plate was cold enough to suggest it actually HAD been in the fridge since last night with a little note with my name on. And it was just as good second time round. Any staggering on the way back from Dinner was of course down to the speed bumps…….

First mentions of the “d” word are sending people back into “fomo” mode at least a week early. True, the paragraph on the back of the Ship’s Daily was as clear as mud on the proper procedure for getting off in good order in Southampton next week – remember the kerfuffle caused by 1000 people stressing to be first on in Hong Kong several months ago? Well, 2500 people need to disembark, and they all want to be first off, of course, so the queue at Reception of people seeking elucidation and a prior place in the pecking order was the longest it has been all cruise…….but hey – there’s over a week to go yet. Who starts worrying about the return journey half way through a 2 week holiday when there is sun to sit in, sparkling blue rippling waves to scan, books to read, knitting to knit, clouds to watch….?



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