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.
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.
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.