Posted by sean on September 18, 2019 at 10:00 pm in Holiday with No Comments

Made the decision with Claire in advance that we would be staying onboard Ventura for this port. Again, it is a lengthy trip to the local amenities and lots of cobbled pavements to deal with.

Got up fairly late, following a beautiful night’s sleep, before taking the lift up three floors to the buffet. Another accident involving my scooter, the lift and another cruiser was narrowly avoided when, upon reaching our destination of the fifteenth floor, a man with an enormous stomach walked into the full lift, before any of its current occupants had chance to vacate. The man’s wife realised his error and remained stood back, looking embarrassed.

The buffet was rammed and I mean rammed! One could be forgiven for thinking they had entered a famine-ravaged Ethiopia, following a food drop by The Red Cross. Taking one look at the madness, Claire and I made a joint decision to skip the buffet and find an alternate source of brekkie.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That may or may not be the case. One thing that is certain, is that coffee is the most important part of any breakfast. There was only one place we could go – Costa.

A short while later, I was enjoying a white Americano, with a complimentary croissant. We sat at a table, instead of returning to our cabin like yesterday.

By staying downstairs, we were able to watch the world go by, including hoards of stressed-looking people passing through, on their way to the gangways. As Claire and I enjoyed our relaxing hot beverages, I felt sorry for my fellow cruisers – but only for a millisecond.

The ship’s entire crew were involved in a training session throughout the entire morning. You would frequently hear the emergency alarm, followed by the message “FOR EXERCISE! FOR EXERCISE! MAN OVERBOARD!” – “FIRE” – or “ICEBERG RIGHT AHEAD!” OK, that last one may have been made up.

Returning to our cabin, we discovered it hadn’t been made up as normal. Entirely our fault. We left for breakfast far too late, forgetting everyone, including our steward, Laurens, was on ‘man overboard duty’ all morning.

Spent most of the afternoon just relaxing by the sea and enjoying the warm Canary Island climate. I find it fascinating how we are as far south as Africa. In fact the Sahara Desert.

I have recently listened to the audiobook of Michael Palin’s trek across the desert, hearing how unbearably hot and hostile the weather was. We are just a few hundred miles from this harsh, barren landscape; yet have been enjoying warm, spring-like conditions, surrounded by lush hills and vegetation.

The man in the next door cabin is making a telephone call to a child back home – presumably his granddaughter. I am not prying into his private conversation, although at times, due to his loud Scottish tones, it is difficult not to hear what’s going on. The other day, he let out a bellowing yawn, before being told by his wife to shut up. Today he is singing happy birthday. Every single word, of each and every verse.

The toilet flush stopped working again today. I reported the issue and asked why it kept happening. I was reliability informed that somebody had been using too much toilet paper. I don’t know who the guilty party is, but will state that it is just a coincidence that it always becomes blocked after I use the facilities.

Off to the restaurant tonight. For the first time on our cruise, this evening’s menu is something we would both enjoy. The only problem is going to be getting past the greedy masses to the restaurant itself!

Returned back from the restaurant with the ship still in port. This is the first time Claire or I have ever been on a cruise where there has been a late evening sail away.

Our first evening meal in the restaurant was a good one, despite all my best unintended efforts to cause mayhem…

There was trouble from the start – having been shown to our table, there was great miscommunication as to whether I was going to be sat on my scooter or a chair. When it had eventually been established that I would be dining while seated on the latter, there was further chaos trying to tell the poor restaurant staff how I would like to place my scooter cushion on the restaurant chair. Then the scooter had to be moved out of the way, to somewhere safe, where nobody will trip over it. By this point, Claire had her head in her hands.

I was eventually seated, but there was further trouble to come. I was offered the standard pre-dinner appetiser from the bread basket. I tried to explain how I would really like one of the small blocks of soft white bread. Instead, I was handed a tough-looking white bap. Not wanting to cause another scene, after the seating incident, just moments earlier, I smiled and thanked the man for my bread.

Cutting into the bap was predictably tough. I didn’t want to bite straight into it, as it was my intention to add butter to it. Plus I chipped one of my front teeth as a child, resulting in it being capped. I did not want this cap falling off, as it has in the past when biting into particularly hard foods.

I therefore stabbed and saw at the roll with my knife, as if I was a clumsy carpenter, attempting to cut a branch of a tree. A waiter approached, presumably concerned and perturbed by my strange table habits. I was asked if I would prefer a softer roll. I don’t know what would have happened if I replied “no” – possibly asked politely to leave without causing further trouble. I played it safe and accepted the kind offer.

The replacement roll arrived and once it had been buttered up, it was very nice.

It was time to order our starter and main. I had already decided what I would like – the same as Claire – tomato soup and gnocchi. After my wife had told the waiter, I piped up “I’ll have exactly the same please!” feeling rather smug that I had made the order somehow easier for the restaurant staff and therefore made partial amends for the seating and bread roll incidents.

Our starter arrived. Soup. Except this didn’t look like fresh tomato soup with basil. I whispered to Claire that I had been given the incorrect dish. “But you ordered the same as me”, I was told by my wife, “cauliflower soup”.

Sometimes all you can do is hold your hands up and admit that you have messed up. When Claire placed her order, I wasn’t fully listening to what she told the waiter. All I remember hearing was “soup”.

“Please tell me that you at least ordered gnocchi, as your main course” I begged. Thankfully, Claire confirmed that she had.

My wife, like me, is a vegetarian, but she does have a fondness for goats cheese. Personally, I would rather eat one of my own sweaty feet than anything containing gosts cheese – it would certainly be less smelly. I had fears that Claire had ordered a tart made from the most ghastly cheese known to man – actually, make that “second most ghastly” – cottage cheese is by far the most repulsive. Even my good lady won’t touch that!

The cauliflower soup was actually delicious. I do like the vegetable and often have it as a meal baked with cheese (not from a bloody goat!). I did not expect it to be this great though.

One of the small number of foods that I miss, since turning veggie over a year ago, is cream of chicken soup. This cauliflower soup tasted almost identical. If somebody had told me it was chicken soup, my only question to them would be ‘where’s the feathers?”.

The waiter must have seen how much I was enjoying the soup, so gave me another soft white roll. Prepare for Chaos No.3…

I don’t sit well at dining tables. I do have a genuine excuse for this. Due to my scoliosis, I lean to the left. This can make getting close to the table more difficult for me than it would for most other people. This inevitably resulted in spilt soup. Not much – just a few blobs, but enough to make my wife and I think “here we go again”.

The main course and dessert – lemon sorbet for me, naturally – passed without event. The waiter appeared towards the end of our meal to clean the once clean, white table cloth of my soup spillage. As if by magic, a couple of quick flicks with a knife removed the offending mess.

Returned to our cabin, satisfied that we had eaten a good meal and also caused enough mischief that would make Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx proud.

I lay on the bed, tired and sleepy, while Claire stood on our balcony, looking into the now dark, evening sky at the bright lights of La Palma. It all looked rather beautiful.

I did have to remind Claire that it would be wise to keep the balcony door closed, to prevent moths from flying in. We are not far from Africa, so the moths are probably the size of large bats – we certainly wouldn’t want one of them in our cabin – a moth or a bat!

It would be like an Indiana Jones movie, except instead of Harrison Ford, I would be the stereotypical, screaming woman, from sexist 1980s Hollywood.

No creatures did fly in and Ventura successfully navigated away from La Palma. Next stop, Tenerife the next day.

As I continued to relax on our bed, I heard Claire, who was still looking out from beyond the balcony, repeating saying “I can still see La Palma”, as we sailed further and further away from the Spanish island, and the lights got smaller and smaller.

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