September the 8th  dawned sunny and warm, just as it had 36 years before on our wedding day. We were already travelling along the Kiel Canal, back towards the North Sea.

JW  and I exchanged anniversary cards, and opened those given to us before we sailed two weeks earlier, and put them on the window sill of our cabin, and then went down to breakfast. When we returned we found that our stewardess, Nina, had fashioned two swans from hand towels and placed them with the cards.

We had a lazy morning, sitting on the deck watching the traffic on the canal, this was mostly cargo boats and the intrepid car ferries as it was a weekday, so fewer leisure craft.

After lunch we could have joined in one of the many on-board activities, but settled for a visit to the photographer to collect the official photos and a last minute rootle around the shop.

As it was the last formal evening and also the Gala dinner, I had booked myself in to the hairdresser.

The clever hairdresser managed to control my fine fly away hair, so I thought I had better stay indoors and not take up my usual space hanging over the rail, with the wind blowing through my hair, so I settled for tea and cake in the Majestic lounge and chatting to our new friends.

I was relieved to find that the dress I made still fitted, so we went down to dinner and found everyone looking very smart. I usually wear very casual clothes at home, but it was rather nice to get “togged up” and JW and the other men looked very distinguished in their DJs.

The menu was impressive and it was even more difficult to choose than usual. Just before the desserts were served, the waiters gathered  round our table and gave a stirring rendition of “Congratulations!” (complete with the “Cliff” stamping.)  All around I could see their wide smiles and felt the friendliness flowing from them. The Maitre d’ presented us with a cake (complete with candle),  a card signed by the entertainment staff and we were all served with champagne.

The waiters then disappeared for a few minutes and reappeared with the dessert, Baked Alaska. The lights dimmed and they lit the sparklers with which the Alaskas were adorned.

After the meal, while we were still recovering from all this splendour, Ronnie and his fellow waiters demonstrated yet one more of their skills and fashioned flowers from paper serviettes which they handed round to the ladies.

We spent the rest of the evening quietly chatting to our new friends, listening to 2gether and Ocean Vibes.

As we stumbled off to bed, we both agreed that this was one of the best anniversaries we had had for several years. The only improvement would have been to have Jennie and Co sharing it with us!

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