Archive for Jan, 2015

Oceana 5

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 31, 2015 by David Palmer

Agadir today, so an early breakfast and then a trip onto the deck to watch the ship dock. A sunny warm day, clear blue skies, in contrast to the heavy snow being suffered by those back home. I wonder if Suraj is making use of the Zipfy we bought him for Christmas?

We sat in the lounge on deck 7 and waited for the call to disembark. Agadir is a freight port and doesn’t support a cruise terminal so after our cabin cards were scanned we descended on to a rather industrial quay. We found the little group of 4×4 vehicles that was to be our transport for the day among the many tour and shuttle buses all lined up neatly. We were sharing our vehicle with two other couples and the Arab drive.

Soon we were leaving the port in a convoy of 4 vehicles and passing through the city along the beach route, giving us a good look at the facilities and associated hotels. The trouble with Arab countries is that they build some lovely buildings but they never maintaintain them and plastc bags and other forms of modern litter are scattered abundantly everywhere. Plus to avoid paying local taxes they usually leave part of the house they build unfinished, giving who!e areas the look of a rundown unfinished building site.

A forty minute drive saw us leave the city and enter what I am sure if there was sufficient rain fall would be very fertile farmland. Agadir has very little annual rainfall. To overcome the lack of rain there are huge expanses of material green house with the aim to retain water than increase. From a distance they look like large bodies of water glittering in the sun.

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After a rather bumpy ride through dunes we can across the little fishing village of Tifnit. We had a photo stop and didn’t actually enter the village. That is the problem with organised tours, much prefer to hire a car and do our own thing as I am sure it would have been quite nice to have spent some time wandering about.

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From there we set off again through the dunes and skirted the beach eventually arriving at a little settlement of cave dwellings. We had a short time to o explore one of the cave houses, not very la he at all though I should think comfortable enough to a short stay. Of course no electricity. Again back into the cars and more dune bashing, this time to a picturesque hotel for refreshments. Mint tea was offered but Sue and I opted for lemonade and coca cola, experience has told us that the alternative is just a very sweet liquid tasting very little of mint. A few more photos and then back to the cars.

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We were to explore the wetlands of the Massa. Possibly to see pink flamingoes (we didn’t) but there were plenty of herons to see. We only stayed a very short time, it was sufficient as it was totally the wrong time of day to see wild life in the heat of the day. Next began the long journey back to the ship, stopping at a perfumery for the obligatory hard sell. They were unsuccessful in our case, butg they did seem to do some brisk business with the other tourists.

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On boarding the ship Sue opted to go to eat and I opted for an afternoon snooze as I was feeling a little under the weather. I slept through the ship leaving port while Sue enjoyed the sun on the top deck.

We ate early that evening in the Plaza as it was buffet service and you could choose what and how much to eat and I wasn’t up to 4 courses with our usual dinner partners. One advantage of eating so early was that we took in two shows, the first being the song and dance troupe, the Headliners and after coffee down to the other end of the ship to see the flautist Steven Clark. He was very entertaining.

In bed for midnight, though there is plenty of other distraction available on the ship until the see small hours.

Oceana 4

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 30, 2015 by David Palmer

A sea day today, so we weren’ t surprised when we were only the second couple in to breakfast at 8am, even by the time we had finished there couldn’ t have been more than half a dozen souls hungry for further sustenance.

Returning to the cabin we donned thick sweaters for a turn around the deck, though on emerging into what was expected to be a bracing breeze the latitude had seriously kicked in and we were greeted with sunshine and a warm whisper. 15 degrees said the Tannoy at that appropriate moment, rising to 19 degrees later in the afternoon. Our thoughts turned to our children and the hardship of an English winter, momentarily.


Sue spotted a sign stating that 3.2 times around the deck equalled one mile. Now we had a challenge. At a leisurely pace we successfully completed the task with no other ships, whales, seabirds of marine life to be seen, though we did have to run the gauntlet of the fog bank on each circumnavigation. The smokers on board are restricted to feeding their habit on the port side of the the activity deck (7), why you would select this deck of those available I have no idea. Mixing passengers purposely marching around in order to keep healthy with those bent on an early destruction seems rather idiotic. Why not restrict them to the stern of the ship on the lowest deck then any fumes would then be inhaled by trailing Russian spy ships and sick whales.

As an aside, we seem to have an inordinate number of passengers with sticks, summer frames and mobility scooters on board. More than I can recollect on any other ship we have sailed on. To be fair they haven’ t impacted on our journeys around the ship or limited our enjoyment of the activities and in some way that is encouraging. Perhaps there is a full life after 40 years of playing rugby to still look forward too?

Both Sue and I attended the morning lecture on the ‘Rolling Stones’, though neither of us being a great fans of the band we enjoyed it. We remained in the theatre for a port presentation on La Coruna.

Lunch followed in the waiter serviced Lagurian. We were seated at a table with two single passengers and had such an enjoyable chat about everything under the sun that well after we had finished our three courses and coffees we had to be prised out of our seats by heavy hints from the waiters. Both ladies had seen off their husbands a few years earlier and reassuringly Sue mentioned that she would intend to cruise if likewise, I felt the need to reassure her that in the reverse scenario, Thailand would be on the itinerary.
A much brisker walk along the promenade deck followed, again exactly a mile, though on this occasion the temperature had risen considerably and the stop in the cabin to pick up sweaters had been a mistake. On completion of the post meal activity I visited the reception to hand over my camera charger so that the battery could be topped up in readiness for tomorrows excursion into the dunes. There was not enough room in the cabin socket to fit the rather large charger into so the cabin steward had left a note letting me know that reception would do it for me. In the past Sue has always had an adapter that would sort out such problems but age has started to take its toll and she has left them at home. The odds are in favour of Thailand rather than a cruise I think.

I met Sue again in the Atrium. We had spurned the multitude of lectures, demonstrations and activities available on board and she settled down with her tapestry from Bergen and I with Lee Child and London Pride.After a little while we were joined by one of the ladies that we had shared lunch with. We chatted again for around an hour, before Sue excused herself and went back to the cabin. I stayed and listened to stories of her family and travels for another hour before excusing myself to go and wake Sue up for her afternoon tea and cake.


On return, Sue was truly fast asleep and reluctant to stir even for High Tea! I left her sleeping and read some more of the novel that I had been denied earlier.

Dinner was again informal and we had 6 of us dining, though the conversation by the other guests was quite depressing and centred on physical ailments, major operations and types of medical insurance. One wondered why they ever dared venture abroad with major bypass surgery already undertaken or in the pipeline (pun!)

The entertainment we chose was a medley of routines based on ‘school days’ by the ship’s resident song and dance troupe the Headliners. A similar extravaganza based around Matt Monroe was on in the other theatre. We chose well.

An early night (11.45pm) after a brief walk on deck as we have an excursion tomorrow.

Oceana 3

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 29, 2015 by David Palmer

Woke at 7.30am, switched on the TV and clicked over to the channel showing the camera on the bow. Still dark but there were some twinkling lights around that were smudged with what I guessed was rain! Breakfast in Jardine then onto the deck to check where we were. The ship was slowly progressing passed the outskirts of Lisbon which was just about visible in the gloom and yes it was drizzling lightly so, curiosity satisfied I descended back into the bowels of the ship and the sanctuary of a warm cabin.

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Sue and I then dressed and prepared for our day out in the city. On the TV we could see the bridge approaching that we
had been forewarned by the captain during the address at his party last night. On deck, along with many of the passengers we took photos and video of the ship’ s passage underneath this feat of engineering. Returning to the cabin we finished our preparations and then disembarked.

The drizzle had stopped. Ignoring the queues for the excursion buses and the pleas of the many waiting taxis we set off left of the terminal, towards a very impressive square that could be seen from the ship. It took around 10 minutes to get there and yes it was as large as it appeared from a distance. After exploring its expanse we chose to wander up one of the pedestrian esplanades that led towards the centre stopping briefly in one shop for Sue to buy some cards and slightly longer in another specialist outlet for me to buy some 20-year-old vintage port (when in Rome).

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We came across another impressive square, this time purchasing some custard tarts from a patisserie that had been recommended by the ship’s port presenter a few evenings back. We sat on some theatre steps and scoffed them. Very sweet and probably very moreish, if we had some. Our wanderings took us into a quite dismal looking church, but once inside it was another story. Not dripping with gold or statues or even painted ornately. It had burnt down in August 1959 and they had rebuilt it. But wow, had they done it right. Of course the roof had been replaced but the rest of the building’s structure had been left as the day it had caught fire. It had been cleaned and the pews etc. had been replaced but essentially it was a time capsule of that momentous day and it looked so right. Sue remarked that you could smell the smoke, of course you couldn’t but that is the effect I think they were after. A brilliant building and so full of soul. In contrast, we visited the Cathedral later in the afternoon and were disappointed by its lack of character, just another huge empty space that they have tried to fill with icons.

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Amusingly, it was while we were leaving the first church that Sue visited the toilets. On ship, the one-armed bandit has severe problems putting on tights, watches and other necessary bits and pieces. Buttoning her trousers has so far remained beyond her skills and I have been lending a hand. Now faced with wandering the streets of Lisbon in trousers that were likely to disappear towards her ankles, at any given moment, she requested that I again lent a hand. There was no where private to perform this act, so I am afraid the deed was accomplished on sacred ground. Whether this had anything to do with the two prostrate priests we came across I wouldn’t t like to say, but I guess celibacy can be difficult at times.

We visited the castle next. We both agreed that it was one of the better ruined castles we have ever visited. Much of the structure was intact and that which was missing could be easily interpreted. The views over the battlements were great for photography. Well worth a visit.

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We returned to the ship via the Cathedral and a short section of the old castle walls just as some of the tour buses returned. We had lunch in the Jardine and the retired to the Atrium, Sue to do some needlework and me to read my book.

By and by, my eyes started to get rather heavy, so I returned to our cabin to replenish the batteries which had obviously been drained by 5 hours of tourist activities. Sue, hardened by years of retail therapy opted to go on deck and watch the ship leave port and then watch the shenanigans of the leaving party, aft. Afterwards she did some more embroidery in the Atrium before returning to the cabin, waking me up and then falling asleep herself. I read my book.

I notice on BBC World weather that the UK is having a fair bit of snow. I bet the roads are in chaos and the schools are shut.

Dinner was smart informal, making dressing for the meal considerably quicker, though Sue did have a problem with the hairdrier which required the cabin stewards attention to show her which button to press to make it work (I wonder how many times he has had to do that?) Two of our fellow dinner partners were taking advantage of an Indian themed night in one of the other restaurants, so there was just 4 of us on the table; Daphne and Colin.

We chose to watch the Four Tunes in the Footlights Theatre for our evening entertainment. We had seen them on the Oriana and they again didn’t disappoint. In bed for midnight.

Oceana 2

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 28, 2015 by David Palmer

Excellent night’s sleep and Sue woke saying that her wrist felt much better, despite it being still very swollen. Breakfast was in Jardine and I had a couple of wonderful poached eggs on a bun base laid on a bed of fresh salmon and topped with an exquisite sauce that had just a hint of cheese. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

We had a quick turn around the deck, but the weather was cool and miserable, you could see several squalls around the ship but they appeared to rapidly pass us by, though it was obviously a matter of time before we would plough through one, sensibly we took shelter back into the cabin. Somewhere between the two Sue managed to lose one of her gloves.


First lecture of the day was on the Beatles. Enjoyable but as it was our era we knew most of the information imparted. Sue remained in the theatre to watch a port presentation on Cadiz while I relocated to the photography studio for a lesson on how to take good landscape photographs. We met again back in the cabin before proceeding to lunch in the plaza.

I spent an hour in the Atrium reading my book and occasionally glanced up to watch a line-dancing class, it seemed fun and perhaps if Sue could be persuaded we might give it a go?

We had lunch in the Plaza. Afterwards, I went to a port presentation on Gibraltar then after a couple of chapters of my book I relaxed in the Footlights Theatre listening to the music of Grieg by the pianist Nick Powell. Very beautiful tunes (I nearly drifted off during the second set). He had once performed in the Grieg Theatre in Bergen, we had been there during the autumn.

I found a little niche in one of the bars and settled down with my book, but it wasn’t long before I was disturbed by a quiz. It was too difficult to concentrate on the plot so I gave in and concentrated on the answers: 17/20.

Returning to the cabin I found Sue had dressed for the Captain’s Party. She went to listen to some music while I showered and changed. The part was held in the Atrium and after a glass of wine and a photograph from the onboard photographer we stood and listened to the Captain as he spoke a few words. He wasn’t a patch on the captain of the Oriana who had natural charisma and an eclectic sense of humour, this one is hopefully a better seaman than he is orator.


Dressed in our glad rags for the evening meal we had a choice of menu specially prepared by Marco Pierre, but notably no one chose any of his dishes.

The entertainment in the theatre was a song and dance troupe, who performed a variety of dances from musicals finishing up with the Can Can. Very energetic and quite exhausting to watch as it involved a lot of audience clapping. We will sleep well again tonight.

Oceana 1

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 27, 2015 by David Palmer

It was 12.15am before the sheets got snuggled into. The random movements of the ship were soon ignored and the Land of Nod enveloped the cabin.

It was 7.30am when I woke and then showered. Sue’s wrist is quite swollen and tender, though no signs of bruising have yet appeared. When we were both ready we made our way to the Jardine restaurant which fortunately was just down the corridor. Surprisingly we were only the 2nd couple into this Marco Pierre establishment (I bet he isn’t on board). I opted for an omelette Panini, strange but tasty.

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Afterwards we returned to the cabin, where Sue chose to rest and I ventured out onto the decks to look for dolphins. With no sea creatures seen, I retired inside and checked out the gym (we shall see), before making my way to the Footlights Theatre via the cabin to see Sue. She joined me there just before a lecture on The Swinging Sixties began. The topic of course ensured its popularity on a cruise ship and the memories obviously flowed profusely with many murmurs of recognition by the audience. On its conclusion we remained in our seats for a short wait, before a presentation on Lisbon. Quite informative and gave us an insight as to what we could see in the city. As we had not booked an excursion in any of the ports we are visiting, other than Agadir, preferring to just go-ashore and do our own thing.

We had lunch then took a turn around the deck (bracing), part way around the Captain announced whales off the starboard side but we couldn’t see them, even through the binoculars. Perhaps he meant Wales?


We started the afternoon with a port presentation of Agadir. The city itself sounded drab and uninspiring so we were pleased we had booked a 4×4 trip to the dunes and wetlands.

A little later we both retired to our cabin for a little nap, cruising can be so exhausting in the early part of the voyage: getting to know the layout of the ship, deciding what to eat and drink and when, but of course the trickiest is working out your own itinerary so that you don’t miss out on anything you don’t want to miss. Yesterday we were sat in the theatre waiting patiently for a lecture when it was brought to our attention that we were just about to be presented with the film Philomena! A mad dash the full length of the ship ensued to the ‘other’ theatre to catch the start of our preferred activity. Today, we had planned to watch ‘Hercules’ but then realised if we were to eat before the afternoon presentation we would have to miss it. We ate.

On waking I ensconced myself in one of the bars and started my Lee Child novel, Killing Floor (with London Pride) while Sue washed her hair, one-handed.

We have been moved onto 2nd sitting for dinner, as our request last night. Prior to dinner we sat and listened to Pete Brew in the Atrium playing an excellent choice of rock guitar riffs. A very talented musician worthy of further evenings of listening.

We joined our new dinner partners at 8.30pm in the Adriatic Restaurant, there should have been 8 of us but two had changed to an earlier sitting, so that left 6. We got on well and chatted throughout the meal. Afterwards we watched a comedian in the Starlight Theatre, he seemed familiar and it eventually dawned on us that we had seen him on the Oriana in September.

In bed for 11.30 tonight

The Viscosity of Seagull Poo

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 27, 2015 by David Palmer

Sue and I set off for Southampton at 10.30am on Sunday morning. The journey down was quite uneventful and for once we didn’ t stop on route to explore some feature of the English countryside that we had pre-researched.

We arrived at the Star Hotel (old coaching inn) just after 1pm and checked in. The outside of the establishment looked rather tired, as did the reception, but we were pleasantly surprised that our room had obviously been updated and decorated and was lovely. After munching our sandwiches and drinking the coffee that Sue had made that morning at home, we ventured out to see the sights.

The hotel turned out to be in a brilliant location, right on the High Street and within the castle. We first trotted down to cinema we had been to on a previous cruise and opted to return at 8.15pm to see “The Theory of Everything” (which we did) and then set off to find the memorial to the Titanic. It took a bit of searching and back tracking but we got there (before dark). We returned to the hotel via a march along the QE2 mile and the reading of many information plaques set in the pavement to rest, before popping into an Indian restaurant sited next door to eat and then making a rapid exit to the Chinese restaurant across the road because it had turned out to be vegetarian only! After a suitable intake of protein we watched our selected film. It was excellent, well worth seeing – Stephen Hawking – a remarkable man.

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We slept well, rising at 9am. Eager to walk the castle walls we set off and things went well until just after passing through the West Gate Sue slipped on a patch of concentrated seagull poo. Hitting the cobbles with a crunch, she lay prone for several seconds before realising what had happened. It was that fast, a tribute to the viscosity of seagull faeces, a substance grossly overlooked as a lubricant for all types of applications. I feel a patent in the offing. Supporting her to some nearby steps I sat her down and checked her over. Luckily her wrist was sprained and not broken. After the shock had worn off she noticed the seagull legacy spattered about her person, but she was too sore to do anything about it, so it remained with her until we got to the ship.


Returning to the hotel, she sat in the foye recovering while I checked us out and put the cases in the car. Surprisingly I received a text from the port parking company I had booked with and they were upgrading us to Meet and Greet for free. That made things so much more simpler for us, I hadn’t fancied dragging two suitcases and Sue onto a shuttle bus. Thank you Nan.

We next found a cafe and sat for a while having coffee while Sue recovered some more. From there we ventured into the shopping complex and worried the assistants at Primark and a couple of outdoor clothing retailers. I purchased some freezing spray from Boots for Sue and gave her a squirt.

We returned to the car and found the ship. Gave the cases to the porters, the car to the chauffeurs and boarded. We were soon having lunch onboard and feeling good. The obligatory life boat drill followed at 4pm and then a trip around the deck on a prelim exploration of the facilities. Later we sat in a bar and listened to some guitar music and I rang Charlotte as we were still within range of the shore.

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We are on Freedom Dining which means we can eat when we please in the Ligurian Restaurant, however at 8pm when we arrived, it was full so they gave us a pager and said they would call us when a table was ready. Fifteen minutes later it went off and we took our seats with a pleasant couple from Morecombe. The meal and service was excellent, but on the way out we requested to the head waiter that we change to set dining (8.30pm). We would prefer not to change dinner partners each night.

The evening show was a cabaret of 5 singers performing a medley of well known songs. John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ was particularly good. Afterwards we spurned the various acts and activities going on until the wee small hours and retired to bed.


Saying Goodbye

Posted in Uncategorized on Jan 24, 2015 by David Palmer

The trauma of the past few weeks has left  us all drained. After the necessary contacting of relatives and Nan’s friends and informing them of the sad news, having to relate the events of the past weeks did not help the emotions. A couple of days after Nan passed away the Rothwells, Sarah and I met in Dingley Woods to walk one of our favourite routes in an effort to fill that empty void. Nan particularly enjoyed this little walk, especially during the spring when the blue-bells were out, we have some lovely photos of Nan and the family in various poses among those pretty spring flowers. As usual we enjoyed the rope swings and discovered a secret wooden shelter as well as conducted our annual search for bears. As in the past we never actually found any, but discovered lots of evidence for, obviously making it worthwhile to return next year.  Afterwards we drove over to Braybrook and had a drink at The Swan.

There have been many tasks to complete and things to arrange. Not least, the most unpleasant of all was registering Nan’s death. Appropriately on the 13th, Charlotte and I visited Kettering Hospital for the last time and collected the Doctors certificate before proceeding to Kettering Registry to complete the procedure with a rather faceless bureaucrat. Afterwards we visited the Co-op Funeral Directors in Harborough and made arrangements for the funeral. Sue had suggested them and I had heard that they were very good. And this turned out to be true.

A couple of days later I had a dentist check-up in the morning and as I had an appointment with the Vicar (Susan Cooper) that afternoon, Charlotte and Sarah made themselves available. I had telephoned Nan’s sister (Josie) prior to her visit to make notes on Nan’s childhood to aid my own memory and provide material for the Eulogy. Susan was appropriately sensitive and made the process easier than I had imagined it was going to be.

I had contacted an old friend from Farndon Fields (Pat Edwards) to do the catering for us and she kindly agreed to do so. We were hoping to have the ‘Tea’ in the lounge at Huntingdon Gardens, making it easy for us to invite Nan’s friends from there. However, the builders were upgrading the whole building and it wasn’t going to be finished in time for the funeral. However, the landlord of the Royalist pub around the corner (I used to teach him) offered us the pub lounge, which we gratefully accepted, thus solving the problem of refreshments.

During this these days Sue, Sarah and Charlotte were busy sorting Nan’s things and flat out as Seven Locks (the management Company) required the property to be emptied. I gladly accepted the job of sorting out all the paperwork and phone call tasks needing to be done, at home, as I couldn’t face dismantling and getting rid of all Nan’s possessions.  The local charity shop (Air Ambulance) did well and many items that were not wanted by the family were sold very quickly on Facebook. It is fortunate in a way that Sarah is soon to move into her first house and has need of quite a lots of house-hold items.

The few days before the funeral Sarah and I went to see Nan at the Chapel of Rest. She looked so peaceful and surprisingly young. There were Nan’s teddy bears in a beautiful casket that looked as is it would just dissolve into the lovely bright flower strewn meadow scene  which covered the outside, she would have been so pleased and I think contributed to the slight look of smugness on her face. Inside there had been placed her favourite Care-bear along with a small collection of other bears that she treasured. Sarah didn’t think she looked like Nan any-more but when I showed her the  photograph of Nan in her twenties I had included in the Order of Service, she had to agree that it was. Sarah and Charlotte visited again the following day and placed some pictures from the boys alongside Nan.

The funeral was held on Wednesday 21st January. The weather forecast was horrendous. Heavy overnight snow had been expected. Though it was damp and cold in Harborough we found out that the Yorkshire relatives had 5 inches of the white stuff, yet the Welsh relatives who live on top of a mountain just had fog. To our relief, everyone committed to the journey and all turned up and met at our house prior to the funeral cortege. David had flown in from Bulgaria again and I picked him up from the train station during the morning. I went with him to see Nan at rest and I think it helped. Sue had made a rather tasty chicken casserole for our visitors as they had travelled from such a long way, and it was much appreciated by all when they arrived. It was nice to see our relatives meet and chat and be so comfortable and comforting to each other.

When the hears appeared on time at 3.15pm, it was accompanied by Susan Cooper , Close family members occupied the second limousine while my family (less Ellis who was at school) took the first one behind Nan. We were surprised and pleased when the cortege proceeded slowly down Welland Park Road, preceded by a marching attendant, appropriately dressed with silver cane. Nan would have loved that.

Upon arrival at the Crematorium David and I were instructed on our duties as part of the pall-bearers while the rest of the mourners waited patiently. I was surprised how heavy the casket was. I had always told Nan that she needed to lose some weight. We led the procession into the the Chapel while  ‘Myfanwe’ played in the background and we placed Nan on the dais while her friends and family took their seats. After a short welcome from the priest Jamie, Charlotte and Sarah spoke of their memories of Nan.


I think we can all agree that Nan was special. And her most endearing quality was her sense of independence. She knew what she wanted to d and God help anyone who got in her way. As a family we would cringe when Nan had decided she wanted to have her say and no-one could predict what it was going to be.

Years ago at a friend’s wedding she stood up during the reception speech and announced that my dad was going to deliver a speech on behalf of the Palmers. At the age of 18yrs and having no knowledge of the bride or groom he did as he was told and still bears the scars of that memory today.


I think we can all agree that Nan could be the most stubborn person you could ever hope to meet. We were never left in any doubt about the things she didn’t want to do and more importantly about the things she was going to do.

When we lived at our old house in Fairfield Road my mum had a moped it was always Nan’s desire to have a go on it. Most probably with the idea that if it was easy, she would buy one herself. Despite our protests she mounted the moped and refused any instructions on what to do, saying it is just like riding a bike and set off down the drive.

Picking up speed she headed for one of the apple trees, and realising her dilemma she twisted the accelerator rather than the brake and at the last moment grabbed onto one of the branches as the moped continued on its way. Swinging from the tree branch she refused to discuss the matter any further, blaming the stupid moped.


What can I say?  Nan would often get herself into a stew about anything that had to be arranged or organised, much preferring to wing it and do her own thing. But boy could she make stew If you haven’t tasted it,  it is your loss.

Nan was the most generous and loving individual to us all. We were always spoilt no matter what time of year. She would collect her 5p’s in a little pot and enjoyed sharing it out between the three of us.

But, we do share a little secret with our Nan. Often when we were visiting Steadfolds Lane, we three would quietly listen for mum and dad going to bed and then one by one sneak into Nan’s room to sleep. She never complained nor did she ever let on to mum and dad.


We sang ‘Lord of Hopefulness’, chosen because it is my favourite hymn and was sung every Friday afternoon by Farndon Fields School before the children left for home. We also sang it at my father’s funeral and it somehow seemed all the more appropriate.

After a Bible reading by Susan Cooper she gave the Eulogy. Despite the sad scenario its content caused smiles and  nods of recognition as our Nan’s character and spirit was outlined with many a descriptive example which made this passing a little more bearable.  Nan would have approved.

We sat and reflected while ‘A Nightingale Played in Barclay Square’ played. Only a month earlier Sue and Nan had been to a Glen Miller tribute concert in Kettering and she had sung along to all the tunes played.

After the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ followed the Commendation and Committal and as the curtain closed, Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll meet again’ played. So hard to say those last farewells.

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We stayed a while to admire the beautiful flowers that had been thoughtfully arranged outside, before proceeding to the Royalist to meet the residents and friends of Nan we had invited to tea. Pat had prepared a splendid buffet and I think was much appreciated by those relatives that had travelled such a long way to help celebrate Nan’s life. Sarah and Charlotte had created a slide show of some 500+ photos of Nan and this we showed on Nan’s own TV, which we had brought around to the pub earlier that morning. There was much laughter and smiles as family and friends looked at some of the antics that Nan had got up to (she was no shy retiring flower). It was lovely and helped to break the ice between the three groups of family: Parsonage, Palmer and Nixon. The entertainment was further supplemented by Lizzy, one of Huntingdon Gardens residents and a friend who first stood up with Ellis and sang a song (how sweet) and then buoyed by people’s praises, sang a further two in tribute of Thelma.

As the evening grew on, people left to make their own way home, some stopping for a drink of tea back at Willow Bank. Last to leave the Royalist was Charlotte, Sarah and Jamie and myself with Suraj and new family member Lee. We tidied up the buffet and powered off the TV before joining Sue back at the house, she had returned with the earlier leavers to put the kettle on.

When all had gone, Suraj and Lee returned to the pub and brought home the TV and what was left of the buffet. We all had a relatively subdued early night.

The following day I took David to the train station to catch a flight that afternoon from Luton. As it transpired a few days later, we shall be seeing him again sooner than expected as Genya’s mother passed away soon after he arrived back in Bulgaria. He will be driving back this weekend. Our thoughts are with them.

That evening we met again as a family at the Nepalese restaurant in Desborough (Gurkha) for a lovely meal and to help heal the sadness of the last few weeks.

On Saturday morning Sue, Charlotte and I travelled to Smeeton Westerby for the first Council Walk of the year. The weather was cold but bright and sunny. Afterwards we had a pleasant lunch at the ‘King’s Head’.

Today Sue and I are travelling down to Southampton to catch the Oceana on Monday. I had booked our passage on the ship as Sue’s Christmas present, though many times during the past few weeks we thought we would have to cancel.