Sean's Stories

Posted by sean on 11/07/2017 at 2:58 pm in Holiday with No Comments

So, there have been no blogs for the past two weeks. Pretty normal, given the fact I can be very lazy with posting.

This time, however, I have an excuse for my lack of activity. I have been on a Mediterranean cruise.

Despite being away, on the luxury P&O cruise ship, Britannia, I kept a daily blog, which I have now uploaded.

Posted by sean on 08/07/2017 at 2:28 pm in Holiday with No Comments

Was awoken in the middle of the night by some inconsiderate passengers shouting in the corridor outside our cabin. Regretted not sticking my head out of the cabin door, to see where the louts were staying, so I could return the favour in the morning – either by yelling by their room, or better still, switching the card on their door from “I’M RESTING” to “PLEASE MAKE UP MY CABIN” – I am sure any tired, hungover passengers would love to be awoken by a steward at some stupidly early time.

Claire and I slept in ourselves, so it was too late to go to the restaurant. Tried the buffet instead, but that was like a school jumble sale – a real free for all. Returned back to our cabin to order room service – something we should have probably done all along.

Have been abandoned by Claire for the final time this cruise. She has gone to see another Strictly themed event. I won’t miss all this ballroom dance stuff. Annoyingly, Claire informs me that the series returns to BBC1 next month. Sigh.

Today’s lunch was taken at the buffet. We should have learnt from last time – another reason to avoid the place. Managed to get half a tea cake and two slices of sponge cake, which was soaked in some kind of tasteless fluid. Whenever we go cruising again, we’ll steer clear of the buffet!

Stopped off at the shop on our return to the cabin and spent a lot of money. Was asked by the man on the counter if we were using up our on-board credit. Unfortunately, that privilege was used up a long time ago!

Back in our cabin, it was time to face the daunting task of packing the suitcase. Claire being organised had already done hers. Mine was going to be a challenge, especially as two weeks’ worth of dirty laundry was scattered near my side of the bed. Claire kindly used her powers, which can only be described as magical, to neatly pack all my belongings.

A potential disaster has just been avoided. Claire’s Mum has just informed us that we will require our disembarkation paperwork, when leaving ship tomorrow. To her horror, Claire realised that she had packed it, right at the bottom of her own suitcase. Cue a very stressed wife leaping from her seat in the Headliners Theatre, sprinting up eight flights of stairs and running back to our cabin, to rescue our credentials from her luggage, before it was taken away. Luckily, Claire got there in time, recovered the paperwork and even made it back to the theatre in time for the show, which was very good and a nice way to the cruise from the entertainment team.

I wasn’t too impressed with the main course of my evening meal – cheese and onion soufflé. In the past, soufflés I have eaten are crispy on top and fluffy inside. This was just soggy throughout. I don’t wish to complain, as generally the food from the restaurant has been excellent, with a fabulous service from all the staff. Generally, if I have disliked a dish, it has been down to personal taste. Well done to all the catering staff.

Went to the photo gallery, after our meal. We had ordered a DVD of the cruise, which was only available for collection from the final day. The queue to pick up our disc was half the length of the ship, with some very disgruntled and rude customers. However, frustrated you are with waiting, there is no need for rudeness.

Once we finally collected our DVD, we decided to have one last drink, to commemorate the final night. I chose a double vodka and lemonade… well, a small splash of lemonade. Claire has two, that’s TWO, strong cocktails. This is after she said she wasn’t going to drink, as it was too late.

Now in bed. All are cases are packed, have been removed and are now no doubt in some storeroom, deep in the bowels of the ship. As we are going to wake up in England, the clocks have gone back an hour – therefore, while it has actually just gone midnight, all the clocks and phones in our cabin say we are a few minutes past 11pm. Problem is we are up at 7, for a busy day and drive home. I’d better get to sleep, for the last time aboard Britannia.

Posted by sean on 07/07/2017 at 2:24 pm in Holiday with No Comments

The penultimate full day aboard Britannia. Despite being close to southern Portugal, the weather has taken a turn for the worse, and is getting back to the English climate (although there is apparently a heatwave in Bath). Can’t enjoy the balcony today. It’s cold and far too windy. The sea is choppy, but sparingly it is not rough yet.

Daytime interests aboard are of no interest to me. Watched The Secret Life of Pets in our cabin with Claire. My wife has now left me on my own, to attend another Strictly Come Dancing session. I think I have been very good attending a Strictly themed cruise. Maybe next cruise can be based on something I like? I wonder if P&O do David Attenborough, Grand Theft Auto or Leeds United themed cruises?

With Claire out, I have taken the opportunity to watch a film she would hate – Die Hard 2. I am snuggled up on the bed, drinking coffee and eating Walkers cheese and onion crisps – something I have been craving throughout the cruise, and that Claire kindly found me when in Gibraltar.

A fellow passenger took up the captain’s duties – I believe by making a donation to charity – to make the daily lunchtime announcement. This includes a weather report. Apparently, things aren’t going to improve tomorrow. It looks like it’ll be more films and comfort food tomorrow- just like being back home.

Claire is now back in the cabin. We are eating at the buffet tonight, as the restaurant meal is not attractive at all. We will then join the queue outside the theatre for another Strictly event, this time a dance competition involving passengers. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t enter.

Apparently, former Premier League referee Mike Riley is on the ship. Claire spotted him in the bar, while collecting an autograph from a Strictly star. He was dressed in a Celtic shirt and apparently is a passenger and not here to entertain.

The sad news this afternoon broke that the young Sunderland fan, Bradley Lowery, has today lost his long, brave battle with cancer. Bradley has touched the hearts of thousands over the last seven months. Rest in peace.

Have returned from the buffet. Can now say 100% that I have been converted to restaurant dining. The food from the buffet was adequate at best. It certainly doesn’t come close to the restaurant, although to be fair, how could it? The restaurant is cooked to order, whereas the buffet is pre-prepared. It’s basically school dinners.

Went straight from the buffet to the theatre for the dance competition. Five sets of passengers each performed for three judges, including the ship’s captain and Craig Revel Horwood from the Strictly TV series. The first few acts were relatively amateurish, although still a million times better than anything I could manage. These efforts resulted in Craig, who is infamously mean to contestants, being very critical. The fourth act was the best of the night and proof that looks can be deceiving – a man who looked like Peter Kay and his dance partner, aged 79. Turns out they were very good, and even forced Craig into giving positive feedback. Rightly so, they were deserved winners.

Returned to the cabin, knowing that there were just two more nights aboard the ship.

Posted by sean on 06/07/2017 at 2:15 pm in Holiday with No Comments

Our final port, before the great ship Britannia takes us back up to Southampton. It would appear that Gibraltar is adjusting our bodies to the British climate, so that it doesn’t come as too much of a shock to us on our return. Today’s weather is very overcast with the temperature in the low 20’s. Claire was disappointed by the lack of sun. She’ll be even more so when I inform her that my Mum has said there’s been a heatwave back home.

The ship doesn’t birth long in Gibraltar. In fact, everyone must be aboard by 1.30pm, or risk being left behind with the monkeys. Once when Claire visited Gibraltar without me, a couple was left, as they failed to make it back on time.

Gibraltar is still owned by the British. The local language is English, the shops take pound Stirling and there is even a Morrisons supermarket. It’s no wonder all the ex-pats flock here.

We left Gibraltar, heading back to Southampton. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a little sad. Ensured we spent the final port departure on the top deck of the ship, for the famous Great British Sail Away Party – an event which takes place every time a P&O vessel leaves Gibraltar. Union Jack flags were handed out, and music from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland was blasted across the upper tier of the ship, while everyone was left to feel very patriotic. At first, it made me feel uncomfortably like I was attending a UKIP rally, but then told myself that it is perfectly fine to be a leftie, who is also a proud Brit.

Tonight’s offering on the menu was another pleasant surprise – one of my favourite dishes from home – chicken tikka masala. I skipped the starter, as there wasn’t anything to really take my fancy, and I besides which, I wanted to leave room for the main course. Our waiter, feeling sorry for me as I had no started, attempted to give me two curries on one bowl! I had to politely stop him, after he generously loaded on many chunks of chicken breast. I did ask for mango chutney though.

Claire and her parents have gone to another Strictly event this evening, which I have willingly decided to avoid. I therefore have the cabin to myself. I think I will treat myself, and round off the day with a couple of Fawlty Towers episodes, that I have saved onto my tablet.

Posted by sean on 05/07/2017 at 2:13 pm in Holiday with No Comments

This is the first time I have visited Cartagena. Claire has been before, and assures me that it is a long walk from the portside into the Spanish side.

Decided to have a day on the balcony, so order breakfast in the cabin. Sitting on the deckchair above the picturesque port, listening to the distant sound of Spanish guitar, while enjoying fresh orange juice, coffee and pastries was bliss.

Joined by Rapesh, our cabin steward, who was itching to clean our room. We are normally out when he does he daily amazing job, and today I saw just how much effort he puts into his work.

Left our cabin early afternoon and made the very long walk to the opposite end of the ship. I was determined to do what I was unable to do yesterday – meet Peter Andre. Started to queue outside the Live Lounge bar – some of my fellow passengers were already waiting – with an hour until the door opened.

By the time the bar opened, there was a massive queue of Peter Andre fans, all as desperate as me to meet their 90’s idol. As I was one of the first ones to turn up, I was able to meet the unofficial king of pop first. Peter was lovely and a perfect gentlemen. He must have thanked me for coming for than I thanked him for signing his autograph. A fellow fan took a photo of Peter and I, with my mobile. Unfortunately, it was an awful effort and only managed to capture me staring at the floor. One of the ship’s official photographers also managed to capture the Bromance moment, so hopefully that will come out well… although I’ll need to pay an arm and a leg for it.

This evening’s meal was a great improvement on be previous night’s offering, including a unique apple and celery soup, stir fry and strawberry sorbet. It has become a running joke with my party that I will only order sorbet for dessert.

The restaurant was also where I encountered possibly the rudist man in the entire world. He was sat on the table opposite us and I observed his conversation with a waiter, taking his drinks order. The restaurant did not have the beverage he asked for, so the man, with no pleasantries asked the waiter to leave the restaurant and go to a cocktail bar, to find the drink he required. Furthermore, when his meal arrived – presumably from the kitchens and not some bistro offshore – he asked the waiter to add pepper to his dish. I had to double take and ensure his fingers, hands and arms were working! Why couldn’t he season his own dish? Needless to say, I refrained from following the man into the bathroom, as I would probably be asked to wipe his bum.

Currently sat in the Headliners Theatre, waiting for Peter Andre’s live show. Like earlier, we arrived very early. It was worth it. We have front row seats…

The performance was as good as I hoped. Peter was fantastic in entertaining the crowd. The majority of the songs were covers, ranging from Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder to Frank Sinatra. The best, however, was saved until the end of the night, when he performed the hit that he is most famous for – Mysterious Girl.

Along with the rest of the theatre, I returned to the cabin thoroughly entertained after one of the most enjoyable evenings aboard the ship.

Sean's Stories

On this website, you’ll find me blogging (almost) daily about everyday life, living in Bath, working with computers, and the occasional bit of football stuff thrown in.

If you're expecting The Man Booker Prize, you've come to the wrong place. If you want to read a collection of sometimes eccentric, often disturbing and rarely amusing ramblings, gorge your eyes on this.

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