The Banks - Half a World Away travel blog


At Sea

Just when we are nearly home and we think there will be very little left to say, the cruise throws a new source of fun at us.

In a bid to make Disembarkation easier on Thursday, it was decided to give a UK Immigration Officer a nice little holiday; fly them out to the Azores on Sunday, and have them check the Passports of those on board while we sail the last few days, so we can all just “get off” when we get there.

So we all had brief letter explaining the procedure, and giving us each a Number; we would be called in groups by Number to come and produce our Passport in front of the Officer for a “visual check”. Simple enough ?

Not when you say that you will call the groups of numbers using the Captain’s Bing Bong Public Address system, you insist on starting at 9am, but then fail to broadcast it in the Breakfast Room……..which surprise surprise is where a lot of people actually ARE at 9am on holiday…..As we arrived for breakfast I joked with the nice man in charge at the door that we were expecting to be called, and if we abandoned our toast and tea, to keep them on the table for us. Knowing we needed to know, he duly came over a couple of times to indicate they were up to 300, then 400, but there had been no announcements. Our numbers were in the “to 500” batch, so no problem, and suddenly the public address system started up and our call came as I drained my tea and we stood up to go.

Then two adjacent couples realised that they had not heard any previous announcements – one couple had a number in the one hundreds, the other about 300. Have you ever seen British people notified that there is a queue they should have been in but have failed to join ? Hilarious.

And in actual fact, it took about 34 seconds to be “done”, and there was so not a queue that we barely broke step as we walked into the room, handed in papers, produced the Passport and walked out again. Quite disappointing !

That done, the rest of the day was more or less uneventful.

Remember what I said a few days ago about not making jokes like having 3 puddings but no starter as someone will happily arrange this ? One of the breakfast not-queueing ladies jokingly said to the young waiter that she could have done with a spoon to finish her strawberry smoothie (yes, I know, for breakfast – but it is optional). He engaged her in an earnest and lengthy discussion about whether she would like it made thinner tomorrow? Or smoothier or something? If it is not ok, we can make it better for you…..in the end they settled that he will in fact bring a spoon tomorrow – that’ll teach her to make jokes…..The idea that she could in fact if necessary use the teaspoon provided with her cup of tea seemed to escape both of them……

I am also pleased to announce that the Scone Chef has responded well to lessons, and today’s afternoon offering was visually approaching the required grade – a full inch and a bit high, level tops, and a good colour, which could be pulled apart (not requiring the use of a sharp knife/chisel as previously). Texture is still a little dry, caused by the inevitable over-handling of bulk mixture, but compared to the offerings of the first few days, I have hopes that he will soon be able to produce a good scone. Perhaps Mary Berry is aboard after all ?

Tried sitting out late this afternoon but the balance between sun and wind just didn’t add up; still, we seem to be doing better than at home where rain seems to be “stopping play” in quite a few places.

Dinner time came and the all-important Match had not quite reached half time. For some reason, there was a longer-than-usual queue for tables tonight (all of about 10 minutes, and we had business at the Photo place and the bar anyway), and it was not a record-breaking 34-minute dinner, but the full hour. At an adjacent table was our breakfast friend of the “Fay Weldon” remark; my starter was an excellent Smoked Haddock risotto – I had to restrain myself from making over-loud comments about what Fay Weldon would think of the poached egg with which it was topped……

It will be a rude shock next week when I am NOT choosing between Banana Split, Peach Melba or a Chocolate Tarte, having already rejected Fruit Salad, Ice-Cream and Sorbet and the inevitable Sultana Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding (“a cruise favourite”).

Anyway, this meant that by the time we came upstairs, the TV was proudly announcing that Leicester had Done It, so we felt a small celebration was in order (yes, photos). Which made us a bit late to bed !



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