1st September 2014
So once again we find ourselves on the way to Southampton en-route to some exotic destination on the other side of the world (well not really exotic as I’m not sure you can class Canada and USA in that way) But we’re certainly looking forward with anticipation to a really enjoyable trip with a mixture of big cities and small colonial towns.
We’ll be going with Fred Olsen this time, on their biggest ship MV Balmoral, and although we’ve had the pleasure of sailing on this vessel before we’re treating it as a brand new adventure, far away from our usually outings with P&O. It’ll be interesting to compare both the service we receive from the crew and the people we’ll meet and share this experience with.
From memory there is a much more relaxed atmosphere on Balmoral and although the food is not quite so elaborate and fussy, I remember it being well presented and very tasty. Once again I’ll need to remind myself that maybe, just maybe it’s not my job to attempt to consume every dish on offer in the first few days and I should at least take it easy for the first couple of weeks.
So off we go, and for the next thirty two nights we’re expecting fun, laughter and hopefully some inspirational moments to keep this expectant Bloggist’s contributions somewhat interesting for you the reader.
Readers????? Well….we can all live in hope
Packing for a holiday is a stressful and often soul destroying task involving several individual stages, each generating its own set of emotions.
1. Euphoria – the realisation that the meticulously planned and long awaited break is literally just around the corner and the time has arrived to assemble all the trapping required for perfect holiday brings on an immense feeling of joy and happiness. There’s a permanent smile attached to your face as you troll through the drawers and cupboards at home discovering all the wonderful clothes you’d forgotten existed.
2. Expectation – you have to try them on.
3. Irritation – nothing fits properly and you have absolutely no idea how your clothes have managed to mysteriously shrink so badly since you returned home from the previous vacation.
4. Hope – you vow to go on a diet immediately despite the fact there’s only a week to go before your departure.
5. Despair – you realise that your plan to lose the required amount of weight is probably way too ambitious and resign yourself to the fact you’ll just have to go shopping.
6. Excitement – you’re going shopping and that is something you definitely enjoy. Deep down you’re glad those ‘so last season outfits’ no longer fit you and convince yourself that you must have shrunk them deliberately on a hot wash so as to avoid any unforgivable future fashion foe pars which might simply ruin the holiday. You clever thing you!
7. Indecision – there are so many nice things in your favourite shop that you really like but just don’t know where to start.
8. Resolve – not to spend too much, after all the holiday has already cost you a small fortune.
9. Smugness – there are ample opportunities to tell all of the shop assistants who serve you about the adventure of a lifetime you’re about to embark on as they ask if you’re shopping for a special occasion. They’ll tell you how lucky you are and excitedly ask many questions like ‘Do you have any room in your case for me?’ and make many flattering statements like ‘That colour is just perfect for your complexion.’
10. Guilt – maybe you were a little too smug about your holiday and hope you didn’t upset any of the lovely shop assistants who fussed around and helped you choose so many wonderful new outfits.
11. Confusion – how on earth did you manage to buy so much more stuff than you were planning on? Seems like someone deliberately set out to distract your resolve. You feel mugged by shop assistants
12. Determination – with your new outfits all neatly assembled with the old stuff on the bed back home you realise that it’s not all going to fit in one case. You need to be considerably ruthless if you’re to get under the weight allowance.
13. Surprise – the pile of clothing you’ve assembled that equates to your weight allowance is dwarfed by three other enormous stacks of stuff you just have to take as well, not to mention the other two piles which you really would’ve liked to include had there been the slightest gap available.
14. Anguish – how on earth are you going to get by with so few possessions?
15. Hostility – stupid allowances!
16. Submission – not much choice really.
17. Loathing – stupid allowances. So many expectations yet so much disappointment. Why oh why oh why do I even bother?
18. Satisfaction – the taxi’s been outside for the past 15 minutes and the case is finally packed. It’s only taken a whole week and fifty three repacks but now it’s done and the padlock has been attached. Too late to change anything now.
19. Paranoia – what have I forgotten? There’s bound to be something.
20. Panic – you sift through the remaining mass of apparel and suddenly realise that all of the new clothes you bought are still strewn around the room in puddles. You quickly stuff a few of these items in your hand luggage, grab the suitcase and race for the taxi.
21. Denial – Stuff the baggage allowance, no one will notice.
22. Apathy – never…..ever……again.
If something’s worth doing……..Someone is bound to form a committee.
When I was fourteen I had a Saturday job working at my uncle’s chemist shop in the middle of the town of Halesowen. There was a plaque on the wall in the dispensary which stated,
‘The customer is always right’
(Often confused and misguided, but always right)
I suppose it would be true to say that as a young teenager back in the early seventies I didn’t really understand the concise message this little gem of wisdom was attempting to convey, and the same could probably be said for my older, wiser and much more experienced fellow workers.
But why I hear you ask?
Because in general, the British public never used to complain, well……..rarely complained.
Back then this sign was just a parody, a bit of fun (at the customer’s expense of course) but no one really took these wise words too seriously, least of all the customer.
If any punter actually managed to drum up sufficient courage to stutter an objection about some wrongdoing carried out against them, then more often than not the protest would quickly fizzle out and turn into a humble apology from the very same person who ‘didn’t wish to be a nuisance or cause any trouble’.
I have a clear memory of an event that occurred many years ago when my two older brothers and I were dining out with our parents. We were at a Chinese restaurant in Birmingham, a place we would go to as a family maybe once a month to mark something ‘special’ and on this particular occasion we were celebrating my Father’s birthday. Laughter and merriment were the order of the day and everyone was understandably happy.
The starter platter with a heaped mixture of spring rolls, prawn toast and spare ribs kicked off proceeding, and for a while things went quiet, except for the sound of chomping, as everyone busied themselves to the task of eating their share before someone else with an insatiable appetite pinched it all.
During the chicken and sweet corn soup phase things relaxed a little as each person now had their own portion delivered in individual bowls, so the jovial chatter intensified and the mood became buoyant.
When the time came for the main course one element of the meal (the chicken chop suey I think) wasn’t delivered to the table at the same time as the rest of the many flavoursome dishes, an oversight which we as a family also failed to noticed as we were too busy shovelling as much onto our own plates as possible before a certain older brother snaffled the lot.
So when the missing delicacy finally arrived most of the lavish banquet had already been scoffed, with only a few grains of fried rice and a handful of disliked and discarded green peppers remaining. This, in my Mother’s opinion, was totally unacceptable and she had wanted to call the waiter over to express her displeasure, but my father wouldn’t let her.
“Please don’t make a fuss,” he’d said.
“But we can’t eat it on its own and it’s spoilt the evening now,” Mom had replied, “I’m sure if we forgot to put out the sandwiches or cakes at a wedding reception there would be all hell to pay.”
I must explain at this point that my parents ran a retail catering business specialising in home-made cakes and savouries, which they produced in large amounts as they catered for many different outside functions.
“Why has the late arrival of one dish ruined the entire meal?” my father asked her, “Until the waiter bought it over just now we didn’t even realise it was missing and yet we were still having such a great time.”
“But it’s the principle,” Mom protested.
“Well there was plenty to eat and I don’t think it’s fair to be unkind to the waiter just to make an issue of one small mistake, it might not even have been his fault. Everything else was fine so please……..let’s just leave it at that.”
Normally my father was quite a brusque man, but on this occasion he took the time to consider the feelings of someone whose sole purpose in his job was to ensure we were having an enjoyable evening, and the truth was in all but a small issue he had succeeded. That single demonstration of my Dad’s thoughtful attitude towards another person was probably the main influence on the way I now react when things don’t go quite to plan and for me clearly demonstrates how attitudes have drastically changed over the years.
And I get to thinking……………………
Nowadays there is an ever increasing culture of complaining and mainly it’s about trivial matters. There is too much consideration of self and rarely a thought for the feelings of others, we are becoming a very egocentric society (if we’re not there already)
Let me give an example.
We’re currently staying in a hotel on the west coast of Kintyre. It is an incredible location with stunning sea views and large and clean comfy rooms. There is a good choice at breakfast and the food here is generally well cooked. It has a nice bar, not too noisy, reasonable prices and the staff are friendly and helpful. Now it’s fair to say they’ve had a few problems with the boiler and for several hours each day there has been no hot water supply to the bedrooms. So far there has been plenty of hot water in the mornings and again in the evenings, but nothing in between.
Yes, it’s been an inconvenience, but I would consider it a minor irritation rather than a major catastrophe and it hasn’t detracted from the many positive attributes of this venue.
However it would appear that we are in a minority, and to our knowledge at least three couples have created a few new mountains out of molehills.
One lady stood in reception and flatly refused to pay for her room as the lack of hot water was a complete travesty and had completely ruined her stay (wow, talk about spreading it thickly
Yet she had still taken advantage of the room, slept in the comfy warm bed and, I assume, partaken of the refreshments provided therein.
The manager had offered multiple apologises and agreed to her demands, without a single quibble. The lady obviously wasn’t listening to him because she kept going, her only intent was to have a damn good whinge, why? because she could and he wasn’t going to argue back.
Amazingly the drama didn’t stop there as the lady, and her partner, headed straight to the dining room to order a full Scottish breakfast each, and then proceeded to empty the buffet table of most of the fresh fruit………..Priceless……….literally priceless.
Now I’m not saying that she didn’t have a case for some form of compensation for the inconvenience she had experienced, but I do think she demonstrated a totally selfish attitude with no consideration for the consequences of her demands.
Ultimately she and her partner cost the hotel money to accommodate and feed them and the manager will probably get some backlash from the owners as to why takings are down. (It may even affect his position in some way or even cost someone their job)
Unfortunately, in the hospitality industry the die is so heavily weighted in favour of the client because of the massive influence of the availability of online reviews and owners are somewhat forced to kowtow to even the most unreasonable demands (but that’s a topic for another day)
There can be no doubt that over the years the British have learnt to complain, but for me there is a vast cavern of unacceptability surrounding the majority of the trivial things folk constantly whine about. If there is a genuine reason to complain then do so but if a small issue occurs then maybe we should consider accepting that sometimes mistakes happen, after all we are human and we all make mistakes.
We should at least be honest and not dramatise the situation just to get our own way…………………or our money back.
Good afternoon everybody and welcome to The Cruise Company’s new sea day activity “Toss the Tosser.”
Is there someone on board who you’ve taken a dislike to because they’re particularly obnoxious, odorous or just clearly a waste of space, then maybe this is just the activity for you. Enjoy consequence free retribution and while away the long hours at sea by ridding the world of one annoying little git.
The rules are simple.
Between 09.00 am and 10.00 am on ‘Toss Day’ everyone on board gets to cast a vote and the passenger who receives the most votes becomes the designated ‘Tosser’
The Tosser is now allowed 10 minutes to hide somewhere on the ship. Any Tosser caught leaving the ship during the ‘hide time’ will automatically forfeit any onboard credit they have and will also waive their rights to any later rescue attempt by the crew.
At the end of the ‘hide time’ the ship’s whistle will sound, this will signal the start of the ‘Toss’ phase of the activity. The remaining passengers now have around one hour to locate the ‘Tosser’ and ‘Toss’ him or her from the ship.
Please note that only the designated ‘Tosser’ (who can be clearly identified by a high visibility waistcoat with beeping and flashing beacons) is eligible for the ‘Toss’ and anyone caught ‘Tossing’ none designated persons will be denied access to any of the ships dining rooms for a period of 24 hours.
If at the end of one hour the ‘Tosser’ has not been located and ‘Tossed’ they will be allowed to remain in hiding indefinitely until the remaining passengers can no longer identify them as the ‘Tosser’
Following a successful ‘Toss’ the ship’s company may ‘give a toss’ and instigate a rescue of the ‘Tosser’ but no guarantee is offered and any attempt will be solely at the discretion of Dave, the ship’s cat.
No Cruise Company staff are to be included in the vote, search or ‘Toss’ and any passengers claiming to have mistakenly ‘Tossed’ the Captain instead of the Tosser will be required to pose for and purchase an entire album of pictures from the ships photographers.
Please note that The Cruise Company accepts no liability for any injury occurring as a direct result of this activity and passengers taking part do so at their own risk (except for the ‘Tosser’ of course)
We hope you enjoy this new and innovative activity and if you are voted for then maybe next time you cruise with The Cruise Company you may consider being a bit more pleasant to your fellow passengers, and a bit less of a ‘Tosser’.
I hope to die a young man’s death.
Still in my prime and feeling fine,
Not weak and over toiled.
Just quick and clean, not in between
White sheets, confused and soiled.
I hope to die a brave man’s death.
A hero me with city key,
Admired for selfless part.
Senility, please not for me,
That’s no way to depart.
I hope to keep my youthful looks.
My manhood straight, still working great,
Not limp and shrivelled bits.
Big ears, big nose, I don’t want those,
Nor skin that barely fits.
I want the right to choose my fate.
Don’t want a fuss, hop on that bus,
Depart for place unknown.
Heaven? Hell? It’s hard to tell,
As long as it’s like home.
I know I really ask too much.
And have no say at end of day
The way my life is shoved.
But I’ll stand tall and face it all,
Because I know I’m loved.
“There is only so much we can carry through life, and if we insist on clinging to too much of the past it might restrict us from collecting the very best of the presents…..”