24th September 2015
Question: how many witches were executed following the Salem witch trials of 1692 and 1693?
Answer: none….because of the twenty people hung or crushed to death none of them were actually witches (so I was told)
We had another bright and sunny day to explore ashore, but with only a few hours before we head off for the next stop we have to get a wiggle on as there appears to be a lot to do.
Salem is a fairly new location for the cruise industry, although many thousands of tourists flock here every year on the ferry from Boston, so maybe we need to be on our best behaviour if we want to be invited back.
First impressions are this is a very pretty town and, but for the history of the appalling and harrowing events of over 300 years ago, it would probably be a very sleepy place too.
But it isn’t, far from it.
First of all, as you leave the port, there is a house with all kinds of junk in the garden and around the house. It’s the same stuff we’ve just spent the last eight months getting rid of back home, but the owner has used his/her imagination to create works of art….or just things of interest. It would be possible to spend some time looking through the bars of the fence at all the immerging artefacts, but like I said….wiggle, wiggle.
Once outside the port there is a red line to follow, a tourist trail which takes you to or past every point of interest in this vibrant town. The House of Seven Gables is first followed by the court house and the historical maritime area. There are waxworks, museums, houses of interest, a cemetery, a pirate house and more ghost walks than you could rattle Jacob Marley’s chains at. And it’s all good and overall not too demanding on the pocket book (wallet for us English)
Now the most interesting place for me was the memorial area for the victims of those heinous accusations. I’ll not go into much detail but I found the walk past each marker dedicated to a prematurely despatched, ordinary human, quite emotional. I’m sure their only ambition in life was probably to be happy, healthy and allowed to live as long as possible, in peace.
But then there’s always someone with an axe to grind, a point to make or just wants to be a spoiler for no other reason than they can.
Anyway, back to Salem, and we’ll certainly be back if given the chance, although maybe the witch theme is just a little OTT. I suppose this is definitely a case of ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’. I’m sure Salem has more to offer than that but on this occasion we didn’t have the time to find it.
My joints are stiff and rusty
Old paint’s already peeled
I’m looking fairly shabby
With all my faults revealed.
And my undercarriage droops a bit
Well, a lot to be quite fair
My fallen arches need a lift
And success in love is rare.
But at least I’ve had the chance to live
A full and active life,
Free from persecution
Safe and happy, little strife.
It doesn’t matter who I am
Or what my interests be.
Criticise me all you want,
You can’t stop me being me.
(A grateful tribute for life, inspired by the innocents of Salem)
Fifty Shades of Red
Well we’re heading south for the rest of this trip so the weather will improve and the sun should make a bit more of an effort to join us….we hope.
And as if by magic we meander out on deck to be greeted by a crisp cool morning….with a clear blue sky and sunshine.
It’s only 8am and there has already been a scramble for the sun loungers.
I know I’ve said it before, but it still amazes me that despite so many health warnings about over exposing our skin to the harmful UV rays of the sun there are still many who never seem happy unless they are excessively tanned (leave the room if you had improper thoughts then) Don’t get me wrong, I too love to expose my pasty body to the warmth of the sun (sorry) but I prefer to sit in the shade more often than not.
By lunchtime I think a fair few had underestimated the power of our great yellow sky companion, with several turning some interesting shades of angry pink.
Here comes the sun,
You folks must run
To grab a spot to lie.
Hitch up that skirt,
Before it passes by.
But stay it may
For just this day,
So get it while you can.
Don’t whinge “It’s sore,”
Grit teeth much more
Stand up and be a man.
Forget the creams
Their blocking means
Delaying darker skin.
Avoid the shades,
In many ways
They stop the ray’s way in.
For panda eyes
Are no disguise,
You need an even spread.
Just like a spit
Rotate a bit
To brown from toe to head.
Now stay all day,
Not shift or sway.
Raise arms above your head,
Red bingo wings
And other things
Will burn tonight in bed.
But that’s the plan,
You have to tan
To prove a time well spent.
If pale you stay
While you’re away
Then no one knows you went.
Don’t you just love a know it all?
There you are sitting quietly and enjoying the sun, now it’s finally made an appearance, when a large shadow blots out the light and a loud voice asks if “This seat is taken?” referring to the spare chair next to you.
You politely look up from the book you’re reading to inform the unknown enquirer that it isn’t ‘taken’ and they are welcome to use it.
They thank you and sit.
With the obstruction now settled next to you the warmth of the sun is immediately restored, and you return to the complex plot of the indulgent murder mystery you were enjoying.
“Isn’t the sun wonderful?” the arrival asks just as you’re trying to get your head round a new blood stained clue.
You don’t wish to be rude so you answer, “Very,” but you also don’t want to perpetuate a conversation so you remain head down, avoiding eye contact.
Unfortunately the one subject this numpty has no knowledge of is the art of reading body language.
“I lived in Bahrain for three years,” he announces, “Forty degrees in the shade, day in day out.”
You sigh and look up from your book. Bad move.
“Really….how interesting.” Even worse because you have now offered an in.
“I use to play golf out there….well they don’t really have golf courses, just sand and greens. I was part of the women’s PGA golf tour you know….”
You have nowhere to go and as you glance around at your fellow travellers with a look of ‘Please help me’ on you face you have to accept that….
You’ve been hit by….You’ve been struck by….‘A Smooth Know It All’
Now luckily this didn’t actually happened to me today, but rather to the poor unfortunate sitting just a few feet away from where I was also enjoying a rare kiss of warmth from the sun. Yet everyone in earshot knows that the ambient peace has just come to a very abrupt end.
Several folk give up, get up and leave, others (like me) settle in for a bit of entertainment….and I’m not going to be disappointed.
To try to record or even remember the ensuing onslaught meted out on that poor individual, whose only desire when he awoke that morning was to immerse himself in a really good book, would be impossible. To say the least we were transported around the world, played every sport, met every imaginable famous person who had ever lived and spent several fortunes in the process.
Wow, and all that before lunch.
Well here’s my tribute to him and the many like him who just excel at ruining someone’s day.
What Do You Know?
Can’t you tell that I’m a smart arse?
Have an answer every time,
And I know you’ll love my stories
Every anecdote sublime.
You’ll be hooked by revelations
Gripped by every single word.
Laughing at my clever humour
Loud and proud, I must be heard.
This my umpteenth cruise with Freddie
They consult me every time
I know every port in detail
Where to shop or wine and dine.
Port talk speakers, what do they know?
And the singers, pile of poo.
Entertainers? Bunch of posers,
I could teach a thing or two.
I can tell you want to be me
Don’t deny, I see your face
Cause your life will be so much richer
If I let you take my place.
I know exactly what you’re thinking
That you love me, can’t deny.
You hang on every sentence
Every other word being I.
But please don’t try, you can’t out do me,
Been there, seen it more than most.
Bigger, better, more expensive
‘Is that all?’ my favourite boast.
You should really do things my way,
Entertainer, champion Brit,
Not to mention greatest lover
Can’t you tell I’m full of s**t.
15th September 2015
Sea Day….time to reflect!
I’ve been out of the habit of writing for the past few months because my days have been taken up with a ‘slightly more’ demanding project. Life has certainly been hectic so far this year (something I’ve not been used to for a long while) so I haven’t had much spare time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and the desire to be creative has been severely beaten into a corner by apathy and fatigue.
But now things are different and I find myself returning to a more acceptable state of lazy limbo again. This being the ideal opportunity to re-establish my relationship with my reliable companion and boredom buster, ‘writing’ (or technically….typing) I charge the battery on my neglected laptop and begin the search for inspiration.
Now if someone had told me that writing is a bit like exercise, meaning the less you do the harder it becomes to get back into a functional rhythm, I would have seriously laughed at them for suggesting such an absurd notion.
But at this moment in time I have to admit I couldn’t be more wrong.
I’m sat in the most ideal place, surrounded by a million and one things to take pleasure in and yet I’m struggling to string together a single coherent idea. I’m even starting to wonder if maybe my lack of attention has ticked off my abandoned friend and companion and it has no desire to return to this heartless traitor.
I reflect on the times when ideas had come so fast that many were forgotten long before being recorded. They ended up in limbo somewhere in the back of my mind with a hope of their resurrection on a barren day, but even these little gems have deserted me.
Inspiration is definitely like a snowball, the more it rolls the more it grows. But it has to be cultivated and supported because if neglected it may very well roll off down the hill, taking all the good ideas with it, and that means the process has to be started all over again.
Where is that inspiration?
It’s such a fickle friend.
Sometimes it overwhelms me
With ideas that have no end.
Another day it taunts me
And tells me many lies,
Promises an insight
But delivers nothing wise.
Why won’t the words come quickly?
I’m stuck with no idea.
I need you Inspiration
Right now….I’m over here.
Give me mountains not a molehill,
I need a new intent.
I promise to stay faithful,
If you help me I’ll repent
And I promise not to leave you
Just like I did before.
Please help me Inspiration
Come feed my mind once more.
14th September 2015
Well here we go again.
The last few months have been very busy as well as a touch draining, but things back home are almost back to normal again, so it’s time to head off on another adventure (it’s possible that not all of our trips were well deserved….but this one is J)
We’re off for a cruise starting in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada which then takes us all the way down the eastern seaboard of the USA to Miami. Then we’ll return back to the UK via the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Azores.
As usual we stayed at in a very comfortable Premier Inn last night and the process of embarkation this morning was faultless and efficient.
Normally there’s not much going on during the first day that hasn’t already been commented on in previous blogs….except today something different happened.
Muster is always a bit of a necessary evil. The vast majority of passengers have gone through this drill many, many times before and trudge bored and uninterested to their assembly station. We all reluctantly listen to the master drone on about the safety of the ship and what we should all do in the event of an emergency. Then we all don our life jackets with a distinct lack of enthusiasm and stand wondering how much longer this is going to take before we can get back to the important matters in life….like eating and drinking or watching the hapless stevedores kicking the last few pieces of luggage across the dock and onto the ship.
But one of the assembled has become quite poorly, quite suddenly and is in desperate need of medical attention. Now this is not an uncommon problem on a cruise ship, after all a fair number of our fellow travellers are well over their allotted three score and ten….but most of the previous ‘code alphas’ have at least been able to enjoy a modicum of the holiday before disaster has stuck. This poor person is off loaded into the care of the NHS whilst a thousand others who remain onboard head off for the sun, the sun that poor individual was hoping to enjoy as well.
I’m suddenly reminded that life is, and will always be, unpredictable.
I consider that my dear lady and I are really fortunate to be able to take these trips and I hope we never take these experiences, or our health, for granted.
But the incident did get folk talking, specifically about their own ailments and the medication they take to control their many problems….so I give you
Please Forgive Me if I Rattle
The tablets keep me going,
They lower this and that,
There’s a tiny one for water
And a larger one for fat.
Three are for my ticker,
Two to keep me sane.
A puffer eases breathing,
Sixteen capsules numb the pain.
There’s a daily dose of aspirin
So my platelets don’t occlude,
And a blue one gives a little lift
For when I’m in the mood.
There’s a yellow one for weight loss
Which results in smelly poo,
And a pretty shiny pink one…
God knows what that will do.
Now my kidneys barely function
And my heart beats way too strong,
It’s because I’m hypertensive
That I have to play along
With this medication buffet.
Omeprazole stops acid
With Gaviscon on the side.
While Metformin fixes sugar,
Quinine stops cramps at night,
A heavy dose of iron
Puts anaemia to right.
Diuretics, just the start.
And a hefty swig of Lactulose
Plays a most important part.
Now when it comes to pain relief
I’ve tried the blooming lot,
Codeine, Morphine, Pot!!
And I’m sure a course of HRT
Would really do me well,
It’s the only thing that’s missing
From my medication hell.
So forgive me if I rattle
It’s because as you may guess
It’s the drugs that keep me going,
Is it really worth it?…YES.
6th November 2014
Oh look……it’s a sea day!
It’s been a little bit rough over the last 24 hours and today the sky is full of billowing clouds……I feel a poem coming on.
God lifts the water from the sea
To paint his sky majestically,
With candy floss of every shape
From smiling face to swinging ape.
A bird, a bear, or just a ball
Then building, swirling, growing tall
As veiled in grey dark mists surround
With thunder, lightning, raining down.
Uniquely formed each quickly dies
It’s tears to empty from the skies.
And so my friend don’t curse the rain
God clears his sky to start again.
J Arthur Gray Nov 14
Madeira tomorrow, let’s hope the weather improves.
Caribbean & Cuba with Freddie
3rd Nov – 7th Dec 2014
It only seems like just a few short weeks we were doing this same journey down to Southampton to head off on our latest vacation…..probably because it was only a few short weeks ago. I consider myself very lucky to be able to indulge in such wanton behaviour on a regular basis.
Anyway, there’s a slight amount of trepidation this time because we had such a fantastic time on the last cruise, accompanied by such lovely people, that it’ll be a very hard act to follow. But we’re open minded, so let’s see what fortune offer us…..
This blog only exists thanks to generous contributions from our fellow cruisers and the strange and wonderful things they do and say…….let’s hope they’re all in a very giving mood.
In the meantime, here’s my take on a little ‘sea’ related poetry:-
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
Let’s face it…that would be such a great colour for a cruise ship, it would look just like a huge ball of phlegm gliding into the harbour….such fun for the locals!
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
Messy or what? but how much money could you actually wrap up in a five pound note especially considering there’s also a jar of honey involved. Maybe not enough I reckon.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
Better known as a ukulele…….
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are, You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”
Hang on a minute, has the Owl really just told a small guitar that it’s a beautiful Pussy? Go on read it again…..see I was right he ‘sang to a small guitar’ so he’s either blind or perverted.
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
I’m not surprised with all that honey…but then Pussy must be stupid as well because she hasn’t realised that he was actually talking (singing) to the ukulele.
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?”
Now how many females do you know who would ask that question? Unless of course Pussy’s adopting the sarcastic approach having already picked out a ring and then casually walked Owl past the jeweller’s window a thousand times already to point it out. Then that previous line does suggest Pussy’s starting to get a bit desperate….Too bad my dear Pussy, he was talking to the ukulele anyway.
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows,
This is all very apt for a trip to the Caribbean…a Bong-Tree? But surely the jeweller’s shop is in the other direction…….AND Pussy’s had to wait yet another year.
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose, His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
This is a disaster, looks like you’ve bagged yourself a cheapskate there Pussy, oh well there’s still the five pound note!
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
See what did I tell you?……..CHEAPSKATE!! – and the Pig should have held out for more.
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
Ah, but is the turkey licensed? And were the Banns read? It all sounds like a bit of a sham marriage to me, or just a rouse to get into your pants Pussy….
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
I really can’t think of a single thing to say about this
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon, The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
And how much of a part did the Bong-Tree play in these celebrations?……quite a bit I would suggest…………..And is there a moral to this story?………Nah not really, it’s just a kids poem
Thank you Mr Edward Lear for the original poem.
The Other Side of Me
Dreams hide in the shadows all unspoken through fear,
And I dare not to tell you just in case you don’t hear.
So afraid of rejection and the pain of before,
Here concealed in the darkness will love pass by my door?
And then you look at me
The darkness disappears, I long to be
That special someone you hope to see
And I pray that there’s another side……..
I know if you’ll be mine
Forever in my heart a light will shine
To show the way, tomorrow we’ll define
As you lead me to the other side…..of me.
But how do I tell her and just what should I say?
She may not feel the same as I do.
Then she’ll think that I’m foolish, it might push her away,
Then my pitiful life would be through
But then she smiles my way
With eyes so full of love that I must stay
To be with her for more than just this day,
There just has to be another side…..of me.
And when you look at me
I hope you’ll see the one you love, and we
Will always be together endlessly,
And there can be another side……
Please say you’ll be right here
To hold my hand and chase away this fear.
My every dream becoming crystal clear,
As you open up the other side….
I know that there’s another side….
Please God she sees the other side…..of me.
5th September 2014
Sea Day – how much longer the cry goes out
The weather has cut up a bit rough today and many have taken to their cabins to lie down for the duration of the less than perfect weather. Now I just love this because I actually want to feel the ship move (but not too much hopefully) I find that the movement of the ship as it follows swell of the ocean reminds me how powerful the sea is and how completely awesome and dangerous nature can be.
I also love it because the ship is lovely and quiet without everyone milling around moaning about this and complaining about the other. I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or whether it’s just the type of folk who cruise, but boy oh boy do some of these geriatrics know how to whinge?
It’s too hot or too cold in the cabin and despite the fact they have a thermostat they can control the temperature with they can’t be bothered. The foods too this or the entertainment is too that, the swimming pools not open (and even when it is no one goes in it) Nothing escapes their attention and no one is immune from scrutiny. Now here’s the interesting bit. In my experience those who complain the most are the biggest pains in the universe. They cough and sneeze without putting up a hand to capture their escaping germs, they refuse to queue, they talk with mouths full of food, they witter on incessantly about themselves and always load their plates with the last of the bananas, yes even if there are twenty left they take all twenty…….
So there you have it, the downside of cruising, but hey it’s not that bad really because it gives me loads of inspiration……….just like this –
All my life I’ve been perfect
And have always been one
To look up to and get good advice
I’m humble and caring, with generous streak
And I’m honest and truthful and nice
I’m always on time
And I’ve never been known
To be grumpy nor glare with distain
Unbelievably happy whatever life throws
And I’ve never been heard to complain
I never jump queues
And I keep my mouth shut
Whether chewing my lunch or some gum
Never leave the seat up
Never lewd or unkind
With my comments
And always such fun.
And I’m always polite
Unlike some I could name
Highly polished and cultured, so sweet
I am never too loud
And prefer just to sit
Never argue or boast to compete
So as you can see
Good as gold I have been
The ultimate husband and son
A model employee
An incredible friend
Unbelievably loyal, loved a ton
So when I go cruising
I feel duty bound
Not to act as my usual self
It’s a must that I let down what’s left of my hair
Leaving manners back home on the shelf
I must whinge, I must moan
And quite often I do
After all I’m just here on a break
From my usual life, it’s not easy you know
Cause it’s so very hard being this fake
So I’ll grunt a ‘Good Morning’
Cough and sneeze on your food
Fuss and moan like I don’t give a rat
You just have to accept that I’m playing a game
This is not really me
It’s an act.
Because unlike the rest
I’ve been perfect for years
This my chance to have oodles of glee
But then I’m assuming you’re doing the same
And being a pratt, just like me?
WELL THAT’S WHAT I THINK ANYWAY (AHEM)
3rd September 2014
Sea Day – A bright and sunny day
More importantly it’s our 35th wedding anniversary and I can’t believe where the time has gone. But I am grateful to the lovely lady who’s put up with me for all those years. Happy Anniversary Cheryl xx
There used to be a very popular TV show that claimed ‘Animals do the funniest things’ the grammar implying nothing else could be funnier. But I have to totally disagree with that statement because I’ve yet to see an animal acting as daft as some of our fellow cruisers do.
It’s an undeniable fact that there is enough food on the average cruise ship to……well to ‘sink a ship’ (if you’ll excuse the pun) But there always seems to be a number of individuals on board who feel the cruise company is laying down some sort of a challenge and are determined to do their very best to try eating their way through several tons of delicious fare. But in order to attempt this seemingly impossible feat they are forced to spend all morning charging round the decks at a million miles an hour in the hope that they’ll burn off most of the calories they consumed at breakfast in order to prevent themselves from actually exploding during lunch. This activity is then repeated in the afternoon for the same reasons, but only if they manage to prize themselves off the toilet first, which out of necessity is where they tend to spend most of the day.
Now please don’t get me wrong because I certainly enjoy a stroll around the promenade to treat my lungs to the clean ozone rich air all around us and to feel the fresh sea breeze and salty spray on my face (please leave the room if you had a little giggle to yourself over that last comment, shame on you.) But just lately this healthy ritual has almost become a near death experience for those of us who merely amble around at a leisurely pace as the self proclaimed ‘professional foodies’ have no choice if they don’t want to become comatose from hyperglycaemic shook and have only one goal in mind, and woe betide anyone who gets in their way.
So we’ve discovered it’s far more entertaining (and safer) to sit around the back of the ship watching the mass of wobbly bodies panting at break neck pace around the promenade deck in hunting packs. The weak are trampled, the slow are tutted and moaned at until they concede room for the bullies to pass. They have to willingly punish themselves in order to abuse their poor overly distended stomachs further with indescribable amounts of grub at every possible opportunity, and trust me there are many, many opportunities.
And I’m reminded of a very famous poem. Here is my version……………
The Charge of the Cruise Brigade
(Influenced by ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson)
Twenty laps, twenty laps, twenty laps onward,
All around Balmoral’s decks
Strode the six hundred.
Forward the Cruise Brigade
Charged you the food displayed
Now on the decks parade
Strode the six hundred.
Take heart the Cruise Brigade
First sitting almost laid.
Crew still in shock, amazed
How lunch was plundered.
Theirs not to give reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs just to make more pie
For the six hundred.
Burgers to the right of them,
Teacakes to the left of them,
Spare ribs to the front of them,
Tempted by custard.
Bombarded with bacon roll,
Boldly they scoffed then stole
Down to Palm Café with bowl
Starving six hundred.
Flashed knives and forks they bare,
Flashed as they feasted there.
Stunned all the waiters stare
Greedy six hundred
Straight through the buffet broke
Spurred on by rum and coke,
Sous Chef and Commis choke
Their tears greatly numbered.
Then as a savoury treat
Cheese trampled under feet
Cheddar and stilton eat
Down to the final plate
Chef is in such a state
Supper club would now be late
Damn you six hundred.
Burgers to the right of them,
Teacakes to the left of them,
Spare ribs behind them,
Where were those hiding?
With so much food in store
Rest there could be no more,
Pride has to win, for sure
Turn back six hundred.
Sound aloud that tea-time bell.
Bravely face this living hell
Till none are left to tell
Of the six hundred.
With thanks to Alfred Lord Tennyson for the original poem