Sea Day 8

We are not ones for sunbathing. Many of our fellow passengers are, and by now you can guess that their bodies are approaching the colour and texture of freshly polished shoe leather. This set me thinking of the rare occasions when as a couple we lay on a sun bed and soaked up the rays. Usually this would be on the first few days of a holiday when we were recovering from jet lag and before the hire car was delivered. One particular time comes to mind when because of this attitude we missed out on joining the ‘exclusive’ sun worshipping set.

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On a holiday in Cyprus when Charlotte was still very young, we were staying in a hotel which at the time was the only one in Coral Bay. Lounging by the pool a girl in her early twenties asked if it was OK that Charlotte could play with a little girl of the same age in the water. “Of course”, we said. We noticed a couple also by the pool that the staff seem to fawn over and that the little girl occasionally went over to see, but they showed little interest. This happened over several days, we thought it strange. Sue eventually spoke to the chaperone in the pool and found out that she was the little girl’s English Nanny and her parents were the British Ambassador to Greece and his wife. Later that afternoon I was on the sun bed reading my book when the ambassador appeared and asked what I was reading, was it science fiction or an adventure? Keen to impress, I explained that it was a manual on the architecture of the 6502C computer chip and the machine code used to program it.  I saw instantly the eyes glaze over and  a complete lack of interest before he muttered, “That’s nice”, and wandered back to his wife who obviously asked, “Is he one of us?”, or something similar. He probably replied, “One of the working class dear, we shan’t bother.” Hmm, with a bit of a lie, I may well have been offered the job of ‘cultural attache’ to Athens. Damn! See what becomes of sun bathing?

Today we were in the Strait of Bab al Mandab in the Red Sea. Warm and sunny on deck.

Breakfasted, we attended a lecture on Petra, our excursion tomorrow. Straight afterwards we entered a science quiz in one of the bars. Again we came second, though this time it was our own fault as we talked ourselves out of two of the correct answers.

Later, sitting having coffee in the Pizza Restaurant I noticed a few dolphins swimming with the ship. We watched them for nearly fifteen minutes, there was dozens keeping pace with us and obviously having fun. At one point they were just a few metres off the hull of the ship and we could see them coming up from the depths. Very exciting.

Our next diversion was to watch a cookery competition between two of the ship’s chefs in the Grand Bar. They had to create their own dish and they were to be judged by three lucky passengers. One chef chose beef and the other fish and by the look on their faces and the effort made, they took it seriously. The fish dish won. Perhaps the loser was destined to be relegated to waiter services or worse still moved onto the vegetarian section.

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We returned on deck to catch a glimpse of the island of Perim which divides the channel into two, we passed on the western channel Daqqat al Mayyun which because of the depth of water means we had a lot of large ships close by, mostly container and heading in the same direction. Through the binoculars we could see just a few buildings on what appears to be largely a desert island.

After lunch the sea became eerily calm. I guess this is what the Doldrums must be like, at times I half expected the Marie Celeste to come sailing out of the heat haze that blurred the separation of sea and sky. The water took on a jelly like sheen, that only our wake disturbed. Occasionally, slight movements of air created patches of tiny little wavelets that skittered by. Very spooky.

On Deck 8, Sue did a ‘Costa’ quiz then a ‘Rocks and minerals’ quiz while I finished my 2nd book and then went to exercise.  Since heading towards the Suez Canal the air con has struggled to keep the temperature down in the gym. The sun facing, panoramic windows add interest to our exertions, though now through sweaty eyes.

After showering I went on a fruitless search for Sue. We had arranged to meet and play Scrabble late in the afternoon, but at 5ft 1 inch it’s like looking for ‘Wally’ on a cruise ship in the middle of the Red Sea. I returned ‘dejected’ to the cabin, though that particular word wouldn’t be possible on our Italian version of the game as there is no J or for that matter, K, W, X OR Y. I had a little ‘sleep’ (10 points) instead.

We watched the comedy magician show in the theatre before our evening meal and afterwards we played Scrabble up on Deck 11 in a nice warm breeze (4:0).

I write these blogs last thing at night, usually between 11-12pm and then post them before I sleep. However, the ship is reliant on its satellite connection to access the internet or TV and the closer we have been getting to Europe, the more erratic the connection has been. There was no problem off the coast of Africa. recently I have not been able to get a connection until sometime the following morning. Perhaps Europe is not so advanced after all?

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