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A freeloader writes... Day TWO

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    A freeloader writes... Day TWO

    When the Mayflower left for the New World on the first ever Transatlanic in 1620, it had as its passengers a group of people totally unsuited to the task in hand. They would arrive, mid winter, in a land they believed was occupied by savages. They would need to find a source of clean water within a couple of days, and within a few months plant crops, establish some animal husbandry, and basically perform what even then would be an extraordinary feat of survival.

    That amongst the 100 or so passengers they thought it sensible to invite two tailors, a printer, a silk worker, numerous merchants, a shopkeeper and a gentleman’s hatter suggests things perhaps hadn’t been properly thought through. They found room for sundials, a drum, a trumpet and a compendium of books on the history of Turkey, but they didn’t think to bring a cow or a horse. Fishing by pole or rod was then very similar to the practice we see today, but no-one thought to include a line and hook. One man, a Mr Mullins, saw fit to pack 126 pairs of shoes, including dancing slippers and 13 pairs of riding boots replete with spurs.

    I made a mental note to check Mrs B’s family tree for the name Mullins, whilst I sat back and reflected that with Cunard, I need not worry. Someone, I was very quickly learning, had thought of everything. We took breakfast on this first morning in the King’s Court. We like to mix and match when on a cruise; sometimes it’s the MDR, sometimes the buffet.

    First impressions; the buffet was designed by someone with a background in pinball machines. It’s chaotically arranged, and you seem to be forever retracing your steps. It struck me that all this backtracking and rejoining queues may be OK with Brits/Americans/Germans, but I would pay for a ring-side seat if it were Greek/French/Italian. Like all these things, much is a matter of familiarity, and we’ll soon get used to it. Down to business, Mrs B has a liking for smoked salmon and scrambled egg, and she pronounced this morning’s as ‘perfect’.

    We shared an alcove with a nice couple from Michigan. By chance we had lived in the state some years ago, so we were able to share some reference points. Unfortunately this coincidence did nothing to counter our new friends’ belief that everyone in the UK knows everyone else.

    ‘Do you know the Staffords, of Witney?’’ asked the lady pointedly, or it could have been the Witneys of Stafford. I was a little distracted by the couple’s rapid fire approach to conversation, as if they have a certain number of topics to get through before the end of the meal. I was therefore a touch relieved when they took their leave, though not before noticing the manners of the gentleman. Mrs B left to get something from the buffet and the man rose silently from his seat as she returned in a gesture you wouldn’t see one time in a hundred at home. We often deride American’s as brash, but when was the last time you heard a Brit say Ma’am or Sir in other than a condescending way?

    ‘’See y’all later’’ said the lady, as they left to attend some sort of class. We both liked the idea of enjoying some of the various enrichment classes on offer on QM2. Though we hadn’t yet had a proper look at what was available, Mrs B had vetoed fencing, based, I felt, on a rather unfair assessment of my physical co-ordination.

    ‘Arriving as Nelson did is one thing’’ she said in that tone of voice that I’d learned brooked no compromise, ‘’but looking like him is quite another’’

    She was probably right. Since we left Southampton the ship has rolled and rocked, due to a force 7 or 8 that will apparently continue, so thrusting sharp blades at one another is probably not a good idea.

    We had bought a soda package each, and we added to this a coffee card immediately after breakfast. Like most cruise ships the normal coffee is like bilge-water. It’s usually not hot enough either, so we’ve grown used to making the coffee franchise one of the first day’s cruising necessities. Mrs B has anyway developed a shoreside Costa habit that would have Nigella nodding in approval. As usual, this was a good buy. 10 coffees for $38.22 is not unreasonable, and we looked forward to a nice afternoon Cappuccino or skinny latte.

    The soft-drinks passage was $7.50 per day each, and for that we could have unlimited quantities of a very limited selection of diluted syrup. Neither of us tend to drink alcohol so for us it’s probably a bargain, but we both felt they could learn a lesson from Princess where so much more choice is offered as part of their drinks packages.

    I had a bit more of a poke about whilst Mrs B telephoned back home to our two daughters. I had left strict instructions that I was to be contacted only if the house was reduced to rubble or one or both were charged with a capital crime. Anything less was to be managed locally. My daughters enthusiastically agreed, seeing at last a boundary they could work within, but Mrs B had other ideas. She had only ever spent a handful of days apart from them and then never both at the same time. Her price for accepting the domestic arrangements was regular phone and face-time contact, and it was time for the daily check-in.

    Last night was the first formal night and I was pleased but not surprised to see that the dress code was observed by most. I really didn’t see anyone flouting it. It was nice. Ambience is a very difficult thing to describe or insist on, and there’s very few ways of encouraging it other than through standards of dress.

    I suppose in simple logical terms how could it make a difference to my enjoyment if someone else chooses to wear something casual? I don’t know, but it does. Maybe it’s another example of the benefits and joys of a shared experience over numerous private ones? I know everyone on the forum has had their fill on the subject of dress codes, but surely it’s a simple enough thing? Have them or don’t, but if you do, make sure you mean it. Cunard mean it.

    The food in the MDR was better than standard class, in my opinion. I keep reading how this line or that one is standard and that one over there is premium, but I confess I think they’re all good. Well, all UK/USA lines anyway. Cunard are slightly more presentational in their approach, but how are these things to be different if not in the small things? I also think in matters of presentation Cunard are a little more practised and possibly a little more subtle than Celebrity can be. I think in the end, with a baseline of fine food for all cruise lines, it’s in the detail that they’ll win or lose you. Cunard are good at detail.

    We fell into bed with full stomachs and heads full of memories, some of which will doubtless survive the mental pruning that goes on in the background without us ever choosing or acknowledging it. I picked up my book, and was pleased to see I was already on page 98. I woke in the small hours with it open on the same page.

    A veritable tome today Max and full of imagery to conjure with ... were the Americans you met very BIG and how full were their buffet plates? Sorry but we have a stereo-typical view of people from the USA so I like to check if this is still valid or not.

    So apart from drinking and eating (which all sounds very nice BTW) what have you done in terms of entertainment so far ?


      A great account of your day, and I love the history lesson at the beginning.

      I hope the rocking and rolling calms down a bit, apparently that's heading our way. I reckon you should take up the fencing class,at least there are protective garments. Looking forward to the next instalment, have a wonderful day
      BIG SHIPS, little ships, small world


        Cracking third episode Max.

        I would say most of the older Americans we meet have innate courtesy about them [even if it's not quite rising in deference to a lady] and the younger ones are polite and chipper. 'Have a nice day/enjoy your evening' may seem hackneyed to many, but when you're used to receiving it many times a day, it's rather comforting.

        I must say it's all boding well for our forum cruise next September, even if we're not an a TA and [gosh what a drag] have to get off the ship in a port!!

        Thanks Max.


          I somehow suspected you would be a Force Majeure when it came to blogging Max.

          An excellent read.............Wilba


            Another enthralling episode! I can't wait for the next instalment!
            Duncan S

            See my blog!


              My goodness the man can write!!! Quite honestly I'll be sorry when this particular cruise comes to an end, I'm enjoying the blogs so much

              As you say, the Pilgrims took a load of stuff with them, not much of it suitable; I've always felt that they took our "grace in living" with them too ...



                Fantastic blog today, I loved the opening. You're not related to Bill Bryson are you, by any chance?


                  What a splendid episode. Loved the historical section and can't wait for your next historical TA crossing - Eric the Red perhaps.

                  ‘Arriving as Nelson did is one thing’’ she said in that tone of voice that I’d learned brooked no compromise, ‘’but looking like him is quite another’’

                  Good job you're not travelling eastward as Nelson arrived back in a barrel I believe.

                  Keep up the good work....HT


                    I think you are going to have a captivating reading audience Max.
                    Cant wait for the next one.


                      Looking for Homer!

                      yes, another good read from Max and nice read something of interest. I particularly liked the quote
                      "One man, a Mr Mullins, saw fit to pack 126 pairs of shoes, including dancing slippers and 13 pairs of riding boots replete with spurs."
                      Now he must be my great great Grandfather as I certainly carry on the tradition and take the shoe collection with me on Cunard.
                      I do leave the spurs at home though

                      Now don't forget to check out Homer Simpson and report back your findings. There is a lot to check out on QM2 so go for it.


                        Well Mr Freeloader, you done yourself proud with that Day 2 blog. It made me chuckle throughout.

                        Loved the historical introduction and though I frequently feel my age, I didn't see the Pilgrims depart but
                        have seen where they landed!

                        Hope you find that the 'grand dame' copes well with any rough seas...that 'pointy' deep hull of hers should help.
                        Last edited by All at sea, Yorks; 17th December 2013, 03:17 PM.


                          A really interesting and good read Max, look forward to the next installment, meanwhile enjoy!
                          Lizzie sigpic


                            Thanks for sharing Max, I hope the weather calms down a bit for you............................................... ................Carol


                              Another spellbinding blog Max, fantastic read, thank you!

                              Wishing you calmer seas on this great adventure you are taking us on with you!


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