Archive for March, 2014

Perth was our next advertised port of call. Our visit to Perth wasn’t actually so. The port is Freemantle from where one can get to Perth. Perth is a place we never went to, so I suppose, Perth wasn’t really our next port of call after all: it was Freemantle. But Perth was advertised, so Perth we’ll call it – but really, it was Freemantle.

We had elected to take an excursion, not to Perth but to Caversham Wildlife Park followed by a visit to Sandalford Winery vineyard for some always welcomed wine tasting. The best bit was that the excursion didn’t start until after lunch so we could have a relaxing morning starting with a lazy breakfast in a [relatively] empty restaurant while everybody else was out exploring. After this, we went ashore just to get a picture of us in port. And then ‘view’ the Queen Mary 2 that had parked behind us, back-to-back, or stern-to-stern for those with a nautical bent J.

She may regret parking behind us later!

Having had such a late, and rather hearty, breakfast we opted to skip lunch though I did promise myself I would need to hunt down some food on my return, scheduled for 16:30. Anyway, with that decision made, we made our way shore side to join our tour bus and tour guide. As we boarded, we were told that we were the last excursion to leave and would most likely be the last to return which would be just in time for the ship’s allotted departure time so, when we returned, we would be asked to re-board the ship as quickly as possible. No pressure there then! On our last coach excursion, in Adelaide, we had a great tour guide, a ringer for Steve Erwin, but this tour guide was definitely not Australian, or English. She sounded Italian so Italian she shall be. Her grasp of the language was good but not good enough and seemed to have trouble when trying to explain some aspects of the local area: This wasn’t helped by a PA system that worked only half way up the coach with intermittent feedback and even, on occasions, cutting out. For the first hour, we made our way through the city traffic and the myriad of traffic lights, which always seemed against us. Eventually however, we reached the outskirts and, at last left the city behind. Not before however, we caught a brief glimpse of Perth’s skyline, so at least we can we say we’ve seen Perth even if we never actually went there. The one thing we did notice was how dry everything was. This area is known to be hot but this season had been a particularly hot one with no rain for 4-months. (As I’m writing this and looking at the news from Perth –re: the lost Air Malaysian flight MH370 – I get the feeling that the dry spell is most definitely over). The ground was so dry and the grass looked like straw: a far cry from the floods we had left back home in England. How ironic that we in the UK are seeing the most rainfall since I don’t know when yet here on the other side of the world, they’re experiencing heat waves and extended periods (4-months) without rain.

Eventually however, we reached the wildlife park and were told we would have 50 minutes here before we would have to move on to the winery.

As we got off the coach, the wall of heat hit us; it was chuffing hot. 50 minutes I decided would be more than enough. And anyway, we had already seen a group of wild Kangaroos on the way to the park so we’d already got our money’s worth :-). As we made our way through the park, it quickly became obvious that once more, Mrs Me (now official) would be happy as there was an abundance of wallabies / kangaroo’s (even white ones) and Koala’s for her to play with.

IMG_3663 IMG_3603 Mrs Me was truly, once more in heaven and if Mrs Me is happy, then so am I and even better, we still had the wine tasting to come. At this centre there was an abundance of Koala’s and Mrs Me got to fiddle with, not all of them, but enough to sate her appetite for Koala acquainting. After that, it was a quick dash to the Wallaby / Kangaroo section, where once more, we were able to feed them, if they had any appetite of course. And an appetite they did not have. We put this down to the fact that there was a great big bin from which anybody could grab as much food as they wanted for feeding purposes. Clearly, they had had more than enough for one day, though there was one that had some interest. IMG_3643 But, before we left, we espied an area with numerous birds, including a Kookaburra.   IMG_3630and, a Wombat called Neil who we simply couldn’t resist having our photo taken with. I’m note sure it was the most flattering of photos, at least from Neil’s perspective: I’m sorry Neil, but Mrs Me did insist on me being in the picture. IMG_3638

Time for the Winery.

In no time at all, we were back on the coach and heading over to the winery where we would have the opportunity to listen to them tell us all about the grapes, the history of the vines, how the wine is stored in barrels for who knows how long, the bottling process, and finally how to taste the wine.  Now, there’s a couple of things you need to know at this point: my parents used to run a pub where we sampled and sold lots of wine and beer, we handled barrels of all sizes (Kilderkins, Firkins & Polypins / Pins). We were also keen gardeners so we know how things grow and I briefly worked in a brewery so I also knew about bottling so if anybody thought I was going to stand around and listen to all that, they were so very, very much mistaken. While everybody else stood around waiting for their ‘lecturer’ to turn up and talk, Mrs Me and I went straight into the shop where a rather attractive (ouch, my ear hurts again) young assistant who was more than happy to let us taste all sorts of wine before we bought some bottles, just for the journey and of course to support the local industries. Having bought what we wanted we went over to the lecture area, which was now finished while the rest crowded into the store. We now had easy access to all the remaining wine plus cheese plus biscuits. We were well sorted. At the allotted time, we made our way back to the coach then had to wait until everybody else had made their choices / purchases before we could leave, now 30 minutes late and 30 minutes before the time we had to be back on the ship with a 45 minute drive ahead of us.

We were going to be late.

Now, I’m sure you can work this out. We had to be back by 16:30, we were 30 minutes from last boarding time so it was therefore 16:00. We had a 45 minute drive back to the ship through the city of Freemantle, just when people are starting to finish work for the day and head for home, or the beach or the bar, etc., etc. The 45-minute drive was going to take longer than 45 minutes. It took 75 minutes. And what an interesting 75 minutes it was to be. Naturally, the traffic took its toll on us as did the numerous traffic lights but at least it enabled me to view the sights of Freemantle. I now know that if I ever want to buy heavy duty diggers, giant earth movers, tankers – of any variety, cement mixers, 18-wheeler rigs or even a WWII tank, the outskirts of Feemantle was the place to go. They also seemed to like their ‘adult shops’ though Mrs Me wouldn’t let me jot down the website address’s. Bulk Billing for various medical services was another frequent observation as well: What that was all about, I really don’t know but as every other one was of a dental nature I took little notice. At last, we reached the ship, late. But as it happened we weren’t the last but the sail away party was set to start in 15 minutes so it was a mad dash back to out cabin to deposit our purchases (fridge magnets, cuddly toys, post cards, etc. the usual stuff) before heading up the terrace bar.

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I think we need a bigger fridge.

The deck was packed with fellow travellers all waving either UK or Australia flags, either way, the Union Jack was flying, to a mix of English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish and Australian songs all of which got louder and more involving as the sailing time approached. The volume and general boisterousness of our singing, cheering and dancing was in response to the passengers on the opposite deck on the QM2 who just stood there and looked at us in bemusement. Clearly those on Cunard do not know how to have a good time although eventually, they did stoke up a 4-piece jazz band but they had no chance against all the Arcadia passengers in full voice backed up by the Arcadia PA System including LOUD recordings of the ships horn. The songs came and went; the minutes ticked by; the QM2 looked on – in silence; and still, we didn’t move. Then came the dreaded announcement (happens at virtually every port). The ships announcement is made, could Mr so and so from cabin so and so please contact reception. This means that somebody has been ashore but they either haven’t yet returned or they haven’t been registered as returned (it’s normally the latter of course). At this point the vote takes place, all in favour of waiting for them to return shout ‘aye’ (nothing): all those in favour of leaving them behind shout ‘aye’ – without exception, all shouted ‘AYE’. Then we shouted across at the QM2 to ask if Mr so and so was on their ship. They looked back, blankly and said nothing, though a couple had managed to find a flag to wave (obviously previous P&O passengers). The ships announcement was repeated a couple more times before eventually Mr so and so had been tracked down. But still we didn’t move.

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And why didn’t we move? We didn’t move because we were waiting for the QM2 to go first as she was in our way. But at last, about an hour and half later, she untied her strings and pushed away from the the side and she was away with us on the Arcadia waving her farewell. And, with that, we also cut loose our strings, pushed away then we had to do a complete turn to face the right way and then we too were off.

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And, as the sun sett on yet another beautiful day, we set course up the west coast of Australia across the Indian Ocean towards Bali, a journey that would take us 3-days.

That was the end of Australia and so for us, Perth truly was our final frontier: for Australia anyway. But fear not Australia, we loved you all. It was probably the best country we’ve visited to date and yes, we’ll be back, with P&O of course.

I never did get any lunch that day 😦

So, the long awaited day had arrived: that day was, by the way, March the 4th 2014. The day when Debbie agreed to me becoming her Husband. Ten years in the waiting, neither of us really knew how we wanted the day to be but we did know that we didn’t want it to be a church wedding. Equally, we didn’t want it to be a big ‘let’s shout it out’ wedding. It would be a quiet affair and the quieter the better.

Before the day……..

Now, earlier last year when browsing through the cruise brochures, as was our want, we spotted a cruise that would take us from Auckland in New Zealand via Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth & Bali to Singapore. The significant aspect of this was Adelaide, where Debbie’s eldest boy, Matt, had spent some time at university but, more importantly, had entered a big race, sponsored by the Alphutte Restaurant, beat the Aussies and won it. Debbie so desperately wanted to see the trophy with her boys name on it. Obviously, the whole trip had its attractions not least of which was the chance to see, stroke, even hold, a Koala. So that was it, our minds made up, we booked the cruise, with a three night stay in Singapore afterwards and the countdown begun.

Some while later, and we’re talking months here, we both, simultaneously posed the idea of getting married at sea and the Australia cruise would be the ideal time to do it. That was it: minds made up we put the wheels in motion with P&O and that was that. All we had to do, was join the ship, await the allotted day and, knowing that P&O would ensure all happened as it should, dress up smart and turn up and get married. Obviously, it wasn’t that straight forward. Debbie would need a dress but we felt that there was no hurry and we could get one in January.

January came and come the middle of the month, we were starting to worry that Debbie would not find a dress. She knew she’d seen an Alice Temperley number she liked so off to Bicester Village we travelled and lo and behold, there was that very number in the shop, and, it was the right size. Yay I said, buy it and lets go to the pub for a drink to celebrate. Nay she said, lets look at the other shops to see if there is anything better. Nay I said, buy it and lets go to the pub for a drink to celebrate. Nay she said, in a tone that suggested that she was right and I was oh so very, very wrong. OK I said, let’s look at ALL the other shops, then, lets go back to Alice Temperley and buy it and then go to the pub to celebrate. I was walking on thin ice I know but, I got away with it.

Bet you can’t predict what’s coming next 🙂

I won’t go into the number of shops we visited, check out Bicester Village website to get an idea, but it was a lot, and it was cold and it was rainy and I was a broken man. But, I knew I was right and this knowledge kept me going. Eventually, having looked at just about every handbag in every shop but no dresses we went back to Alice Temperley and bought the dress. We then went back to the pub to celebrate, except the pub was closed so we went straight home for a cup of tea instead. But not to worry, we (she) had the dress and all was well. All we had to do now was wait for the 19th February when we would fly out to Auckland to join P&Os Arcadia.

Then, sitting at home on the evening of the 6th February, the delightful Mrs Me (future) suddenly announced that she didn’t feel the dress was right after all . She had to have another one. The Alice Temperley  was to become the evening dress (did I mention that Mrs Me (future) had already bought an evening dress?). So, trawling over the internet she found a shop in Newbury (Mrs Jones Bridal Boutique) that had a dress that she felt was just right. A couple of phone calls later, and she was booked in for a Saturday try out, subsequently followed by three amendment fittings and the dress was ready by the 15th February. I don’t know how much it cost, I do know how much the Alice Temperley cost but not the new number. I do however know that the cardboard box it came in cost £50.

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Come the 19th February, we flew out to Auckland, via Hong Kong, picking up many comments about the pretty box Mrs Me (future) was carrying. It’s my wedding dress she announced; it (the box) cost £50 I announced. Take that she said as she clipped my ear over and over again. At last however, we reached the ship and the confines of our cabin on the Arcadia and we settled in and having found the champagne that P&O had left for us, we spent the first evening on our balcony, chilling.

The next day, we met with our Wedding Co-ordinator, Ellie, from hereon to be known as Miss Ellie who ran us through the process and confirmed of course that we were who we said we were and took the particulars of our Best Man. Jack was our Best Man, we met him the day before he joined the Arcadia in Southampton for the whole world cruise (we were just doing a leg of it) and as such he was our [kind of] advance scout. Little did we realise just how devoted to his new role he was. “Jack?” asked Miss Ellie. Yes, do you know him, we asked. Oh yes, he was a witness at another wedding three weeks ago. It turned out that a couple on his dining table were getting married at sea as well and when Jack told them about us and his role as Best Man, they asked him if he would be their witness: a kind of practice run. That’ll be him I confirmed and that was that. All we needed was another Witness, Miss Ellie would do this if we found nobody so we were just about ready. All we needed to do now was to arrange with the Ships’s Photographer to ‘do our pictures’ and a session in the Spa on the morning of the wedding.

So, who would be our second witness?

For our evening meals, we had opted for a table of six, that way you get to meet four new friends. As it turned out, two of our unknown friends had switched to the early sitting, so we just had the two remaining. Tim and Jill, as was their names, turned out to be a fantastic couple who did in fact have very similar personal stories as ourselves (no need to go into the detail) and they both in fact came from the Southampton area; given that Jack was from Portsmouth as was I, everything seemed so just right. And in due course, we asked if they would join us on our special day and for one of them, Jill, to be our second witness. Thankfully they agreed: in fact, Jill was more excited about the day than Debbie.

The Big Day has arrived.

The clock showed 08:30, I was on the balcony having my early coffee, watching the sea go by, wondering how the day would go. Would Mrs Me (future) cope with the pressure; would the dress be ok (believe it or not, I hadn’t seen it yet); would she get the words wrong; how would she cope with her lizard legs; would her hair be ok; would they (the Spa) do her makeup the way she wanted it These were all concerns I had. As for me, all I had to do was have a hair cut and a shave put on my best dinner suit and go to the bar 30 minutes before the allotted hour. At this point, there was a knock on the door. It was our Champagne Breakfast. This is a good start I thought, breakfast delivered to our room with a nicely chilled bottle of bubbly, to accompany a bottle from Mrs Me’s kind friends where she works. As we settled down to eat the door knocked again, it was another bottle of champagne from my lovely Sister. Obviously, we couldn’t drink it all but we could at least make a start. Today, I thought, was going to be a good day.

Having breakfasted, Debbie had to go to her 09:30 appointment at the Spa. Mine however wasn’t until 11:00 so I settled back down on the balcony and had another welcoming glass of champagne before I too headed off to the Spa. On my way, I popped into the on-board jeweller and bought her a Clogau bracelet to go with her Clogau Necklace earrings that we bought earlier and gave it to her as a sort of pre-wedding present (must have been the champagne). Then, it was my turn for the pre-wedding treatment.

I was greeted by the lovely Tania who explained that she would be giving me a nice haircut, nice shave, a facial plus hand, arm shoulder and scalp massage. The one thing she didn’t tell me was that she was also going to put cucumber like things on my eyes and a face mask. Fortunately, there are no pictures of this event but I have to admit, I did feel a new man and so chilled and relaxed (or was that the champagne?). I was now ready for the main event. All I had to do was change out of my shorts, sandals and t-shirts and squeeze myself into my suit and head on up to the Crows Nest to meet Jack, Tim and Jill and to be subsequently met by Miss Ellie.

While we were waiting, Tim and then Jack obtained large whiskeys for me to settle my nerves.

Jack Me & Tim

Once at the Crows Nest, my first task was to ask Jill if she would be able to go down to our cabin to make sure Debbie was ok and walk up to the Crows Nest with her. Well, I didn’t have to ask her twice, a big kiss and a big hug, and she was gone. At least I knew that Debbie would have some company and moral support for the long walk from Deck 7 towards the rear to Deck 10 at the front. This left just Jack, Tim and me to relax for half an hour, with another whiskey, when right on cue, Miss Ellie arrived with my Button Hole and reminded me how the ceremony and day would unfold and reassured me that I had nothing to worry about. Worry? Me? I don’t think so, I’m more worried for my future Mrs Me.

The Time Has Arrived

Just before two o’clock Captain Aseem Hashmi, MNM (merchant Navy Medal), who was to conduct the ceremony arrived and asked me if I was still ok and told there was still time to duck out if I wanted to, just as I was about to answer, he said, too late, she’s here. You may turn and view your bride. I did turn and saw my future Mrs Me looking more beautiful than I ever remembered or could imagine and to see her standing there in her last minute choice of wedding dress literally took my breath away. Was it really true that this vision really wanted to marry this fat old git? Apparently it was. It was at that moment that I lost all my composure, turned all wimpy and became an absolute blubber guts. For all my concern about her coping with the whole affair, it was me that folded. But, I did manage to compose myself and the Captain proceeded with “Are you Kevin Stirzaker….” – I looked at him and asked “Am I what?” – “No” he said, ‘Are you Kevin Stirzaker?” – “Oh I see” I said, followed with “Yes I am” and then the ceremony continued. I just couldn’t stop looking at Debbie though; I couldn’t get over just how stunning she looked. She had indeed scrubbed up really well. 🙂

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After being pronounced Husband & Wife, and the subsequent kissing and shaking of hands and cuddles it was time to sign the register before heading off for a series of photo shoots around the ship, starting with the Bridge.  Adrian, the Ships Photographer took us around the ship making us feel like royalty as we moved from location to location to have those special photo’s to be taken. I have to say, he made us feel really special throughout the day. The plan was to get a couple of sunset photo’s from the very top on Deck 12 but the cloud cover prevented this but for all that, the day was a fantastic day and one I, and my Wife 🙂 would remember for ever.

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Throughout the whole shoot and the rest of the day in the restaurants, we were drinking champagne and the occasional whiskey to fill any gaps, so that by the end we were both feeling a little tired, as can be clearly seen in this last photo.

Oh no, what have I done?

The rest of the day became a blur, possibly due to whiskey and champagne and so with that, it was time for bed, once more on a different day to the day we actually got up. Ho Hum.

Night Night all.

Koala Steals Mrs Me’s Heart

Posted: March 16, 2014 in Cruising, P&O, Travel

Today was the day we visited Adelaide, the primary reason for selecting this particular cruise itinerary:

  1. Because Mrs Me’s son Matt spent some time in Adelaide as part of his University years;
  2. Because they had Koala’s that you could stroke and even possibly hold;
  3. Because Matt won a big Cycle Race while in Adelaide and the trophy was in the sponsoring restaurant and we wanted to see it;
  4. Because they had Koala’s that you could stroke and even possibly hold;
  5. Because Mrs Me wanted to visit the restaurant that Matt worked at;
  6. Because they had Koala’s that you could stroke and even possibly hold.

The original idea was the we would hire a driver for the day who would collect us around 09:00 and could take us first to the Cleland Wildlife Centre where Mrs Me could arrange a ‘private’ viewing and holding of a Koala before heading on to the Alphutte Restaurant [where the trophy was] and then to the Chianti Classico Restaurant [where Matt had worked] before returning to the ship mid-afternoon. The problem with this idea was that the Australian’s were asking for £500+, which seemed more than a little too steep.

Getting a taxi on the day seemed a better option but we needed to be sure we could secure one for the day and be confident that we would get back to the ship in time. Getting back late for the ship did carry the risk of it sailing without us and as such was a risk too great for me to take.

I’ll tell you what I said, ‘Let’s wing it and see what the day brings’

But, this in itself brought the risk that we may achieve nothing: that also was a risk I wasn’t comfortable with, so we needed to mitigate this somehow. The obvious option was to bite the bullet and pay the £500+ but we both dig our heels in on that one. We therefore elected to book the cruise excursion to the wildlife park (at least that way, we got to fiddle with, I mean stroke, Koalas) and see how much time we have left to get to the restaurants.

Blooming heck, I thought we were on holiday

Being on an excursion does mean that you are now time driven and need to watch the clocks. And our tour required us to assemble at 08:10 for an 08:30 departure.  This meant that I had to be up at 06:00 to get myself ready before making Mrs Me her early morning cup of tea prior to her getting herself ready: this can be a drawn out affair and one that I am best out of the way of for, [believe me] Mrs Me is not a morning person. But, ready we got, breakfast we had, and off to the coach we went.

As we boarded the coach, we met our tour guide, a Steve Erwin ringer who had the personality to match, complete with the Aussie Hat which just looked right on him. As we headed out of Adelaide towards the Wildlife Park, I noticed that we seemed to be heading along a route that would take as past, or at least very close to the Alphutte Restaurant. Spotting an opportunity, I asked if we would be coming beck this way. Yes was the answer as some people may want to get off to check out some of the shops before returning to the ship. Brilliant I thought and then explained how we wanted to visit the restaurant to see Matt’s Trophy. By the time I’d finished explaining to him what the race was, it had been interpreted and announced to the coach that Matt had won the 2nd biggest race in Adelaide, 2nd only to the Tour Down Under and that we would be driving by the restaurant on the way back so that all could see this locally famous landmark.

Mrs Me was now happy as she knew she would be fiddling with, I mean stroking, Koalas and seeing her boy’s Trophy. And if Mrs Me was happy, I knew that I could also be happy and so relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the trip.

On our way to the Wildlife Centre, the tour guide while pointing out the many points of interest, he now also pointed out the various roads, and especially hills, that were used by cyclists and particular, major races such as the Tour Down Under and the ‘Alphutte Tour’.  While facts and figures were pretty much correct, nomenclature was up for interpretation :-).

Eventually, we reached the Park. The guide and park ranger gathered us up to explain what was happening and time constraints, etc. and suggested we might want to stick with the guide to get the most out of the visit. Er, ‘No Way’ thought both I and Mrs Me who subsequently obtained the obligatory bag of food for the wallabies and of we went while we waited for the Koalas to come out to play, which by all accounts would be between 11:00 and 12:00.

In no time at all, we were in with Wallabies. Unfortunately, we were also in with the Emu’s. Now, while Wallabies are cute and cuddly, Emu’s are actually great big chickens who’ll eat anything that looks edible including fingers and hair and armed with that, slightly false, knowledge, we snuck past the Emu’s and hunted down a hungry looking Wallaby: either Wallabies are little piggy’s or they’re not fed because it took no time at all to find one that was all too eager to accept our food offering. For my part, I seemed to find the politest one in the Centre. He would sit up, hold my hand with both his paws, take some of the food and then sit there while he chewed it all up, keeping hold of my hand ready for his next mouthful.

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Soon enough however the time suggested that we were now bored with Wallabies and that we should head for Koala Land.

Come on, let’s be honest with ourselves, who doesn’t like Koalas. They sit there looking at you with those big soft ‘hug me’ eyes and a nose like that of a traditional Steiff Teddy Bear. They move about, only if they have to, a bit like an overactive sloth yet they just look at you as if to say ‘I just want a cuddle’

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Well, Mrs Me was only too pleased to to comfort such Koala. It was all I could do to stop her from snatching him and hiding they poor Koala in her carry bag. Fortunately such event didn’t take place and she agreed to give him a bit of a tickle and a cuddle, though the Koala still looked unsure of her intentions.  In the end, I had to intervene and get between her and the poor Koala. Not sure but I think she was okay about it but I do know she still has feeling for the poor little creature, the Koala, not yours truly. There is also, luckily, another factor that probably saved the Koala from abduction. They are all taken away at 12:00 and placed out of harms way. Phew, safe at last, the Koala climbs a tree out of the way of Mrs Me and Mrs Me slinks sulkily away to the gift shop to buy a stuffed toy Koala. I think I know who’ll be getting the most cuddles tonight, and it aint gonna be me :-(.

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At last, the time came for us to return to the coach for the drive back to Adelaide and the Alphutte Restaurant.

On the way however, we had a scheduled stop at Lofty’s Mount, the highest point over Adelaide from where you can see for miles and miles and miles. And do you know what I focussed on the most? The sea of course; cos that’s all I’ve been seeing for day and day. I jest of course, the sea was there but a long way away and here’s a picture just to prove there was land as well as sea.

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Soon enough, we left Lofty’s Point and headed back into town. This is where Jan, the coach driver, really came up trumps as she drove past Alphutte, pointing out to all on the buss that this was where Matt’s Trophy was held. She then continued into town and round to the Mall so that Mrs Me & I would know where we needed to get to, to pick up the shuttle bus back home. She then drove us all back to the restaurant to let us off before returning the remaining coach party back to the ship.

After only a few minutes, Leo and Miriam, owners of the Alphutte came along to allow us inside to see the trophy.

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He also showed us some other memorabilia such as a signed photo of Miguel Indurain and Tony Rominger as well as the first full carbon bike made by Colnago specifically for Tony Rominger and yes, I got to stroke it. As for Leo & Miriam, they were both so sweet. They had no need to break into their Sunday to come and meet us and yet they did: they offered us a drink and we talked about cycling, Adelaide (Leo was from Switzerland) and then it transpired that Leo had sent me a text to my other phone offering to pick us up from the ship and show us around, including their own place, which by all accounts is between the Cleland Wildlife centre and Lofty’s Point and they even had wild Koala’s in their, not insubstantial grounds, just sitting there in the trees. Ah well. Opportunities lost….

All too soon, the element of time took over the situation and forced us to beat a hasty but sad exit in order to get the last shuttle bus back to the boat (it was a 45 minute drive from the pick-up point to the ship) as missing this would mean us missing the ship. The walk, close on a mile, was along unshaded city streets with the temperature around 82 – 84f. For two not so young people from the UK and having spent more months than we cared to remember in cold wet weather conditions, such an opportunity should be welcomed but in fact, it was quite telling, especially on myself: after all, I hit 60 last year. We reached the pick-up point just in time, hot, perspiring and glowing (animals sweat, men perspire and women glow) and with very sore feet, and to make matters worse, my cancels (swollen ankles, more on them later) had returned.

Having made the ship, we dumped our stuff, put on our drinking heads and headed for the rear pool deck for a couple of glasses of wine while we enjoyed the now traditional sail away party before heading dinner, late drinks and lamenting the cancelling of the 60s & 70s party under the stars owing to too much wind. Don’t remember those years anyway.

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With that, we both retired for the night, although once again, we failed to go to bed on the same day we got up; tsk; tsk; naughty stop outs. We now had just two more sleeps before our wedding at sea. My only concern now was will I still fit into the suit and will Mrs Me fit into the dress. Only time will tell.

Given Up

Posted: March 12, 2014 in Cruising, P&O, Travel
Tags: , ,

I’ve decided that blogging using satellite WiFi is not good. My posts for the rest of my cruise will follow after leaving the ship. Items to follow include:

A Koala stole the heart of Mrs Me

Memories of a Memorable Day (Our Wedding)

The Final Frontier

King Neptune – Will He or Won’t He?

Singapore,  Land of Wonder

Plus pictures

 

Help, I’m Marrying a Lizard.

Clearly, [slightly] misleading; or is it?

The one thing that Debbie really hates is the cold. Even walking round the cold isles in a supermarket will turn her fingers white where the circulation has stopped resulting in agony when the blood does finally return.  I have no idea what the cause is or if anything can be done to address it other than to wear gloves, which she clearly does when outside, though even then gloves are not enough.

Stick with me, this will all come together….

Around the beginning of 2013, I asked Debbie, “If I asked you to marry me, would you say yes”. Much to my delight, her response was ‘Yes, of course I would’.  Brilliant I thought, when the times right, I’ll propose, safe in the knowledge that I won’t be rejected. 🙂 I know, I’m an old romantic.

Anyway, not long after that we were looking through our favourite magazine, the P&O Cruise Brochure when I pointed out a cruise that went from New Zealand to Singapore that actually included Adelaide (where her Son Matt went to Uni’ for a while and won a big cycle race). I also pointed out that it was likely to be warm (hot) for most, if not all, of the cruise. Better still, it had many, many sea days, which would allow us to rest & relax. It was however quite a long trip extending to close on 23-days. We just knew however that this was the cruise for us. So, we booked it.

Shortly after that when out for a meal in our local, I decided that the time was right and asked her, properly, if she would marry me. To my great relief, she stuck by what she said and agreed. A few drinks later we started to discuss possible dates when almost simultaneously we suggested getting married at sea and where better than when on the cruise round Australia. That was it: a done deal. A wedding at sea it would be, with a party afterwards when we returned back home.

And today, is the day before that long awaited day. I was excited when she accepted my proposal of a proposal. I was excited when she accepted my proposal. I was excited when we both agreed to a wedding at sea. I’m still excited now.

But:

Ever since boarding the ship, Mrs Me has been constantly seeking the sun’s rays soaking, nay, drinking in the sun’s warmth and sitting there with a glazed looked about her and a smile of contentment. For sure, I just knew that Mrs Me would be happy here. And yet, this constant desire to seek out warmth, which brought about an apparent inner peace and self contentment made me wander whether or not everything was as it should be. I began to fear that maybe she was in fact a ‘Visitor’ from ‘V’.  This would also explain why she was happy for me to be getting a little plump: A nice plump meal.

My fears were further reinforced when she started to shed her skin all over the balcony floor. How reptilian I thought. Maybe the marriage has an outcome I was not prepared for. Or:

Maybe I’ve been taking too many tablets with too much whiskey 🙂

Back to the land of reality, I continue to sit on the balcony quietly content in knowing that tomorrow, the title ‘Mrs Me’ will become official. I look forward to seeing that magical dress that was created and fitted within 7-days and 3-fittings. No doubt I’ll never know the true cost but I don’t really care. I look forward to having Jack as my Best Man and witness and Jill from our table to be our second witness. Most of all, I look forward to spending the rest of my life with Mrs Me (her real name’s Debbie by the way).

For those that are interested,  the music I wanted for the ceremony was:

Happiness – Ken Dodd;
Bring Me Sunshine – Morcambe & Wise;
Unchained Melody.

In the end however, we elected for:

Cantata from Fifty Shades of Grey;
Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini;
Unchained Melody.

Until then however, I’m going to enjoy my last day of freedom and drink whiskey without being nagged.

Byeeeeeee.