Sunset over the Atlantic

Sunset over the Atlantic



Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny but developed into squally showers and the wind built up to force 7. The sea was a bit rough which made walking in a straight line a bit difficult for we landlubbers, but when the sun came out it was lovely sitting in a sheltered spot.

We were steaming south down the west coast of France but had not reached the dreaded Bay of Biscay. I had two impressions of the Bay. One from my brother in 1959 when he sent me a graphic description of his crossing when he was on a troop ship en route to Malaya, it was horrendous! the other was from the data I have discovered from my research into my father’s Naval career when the Biter was becalmed in the Bay! (Quite how an aircraft carrier was becalmed when it had engines I haven’t yet worked out)

Although the Balmoral is a smaller ship and does not boast a climbing wall or skating rink etc. life on board is never boring. Everyday there is a full programme of events offering something for all tastes from learning bridge to ballroom dancing lessons. There are also interesting talks from both cruise staff about the places we would be visiting and guest speakers. This cruise the guest speakers were Ken Smith, an IT specialist, Tony Gledhill GC about his life as a London policeman from 1956, and Norma Crocker an art instuctor  who took watercolour classes.

Every day at noon Captain RobertBamberg gave a report from the Bridge. He gave us our position, the shipping and weather reports and ended each message with two amusing bits of trivia eg “And did you know that the Dutch people are the tallest in Europe  and there are 6800 languages in the world!”

As members of the garden club we also had the added attraction of talks by “our” experts. On the Sunday Matthew Biggs did an illustrated talk on “The fascinating flora of the Canaries”,  Monday Tony Russell on “Gardening with trees”and Tuesday it was David Hurion “How Gardening will have changed in our lifetime” They are all both interesting speakers and extremely knowledgeable. At the talks we met a lovely couple from Norfolk, Patsy and Mike and immediately struck up a rapport.

On Sunday we went to  the Captain’s welcome party before dinner, where he welcomed us aboard and introduced the senior officers. This was a formal night so it was a glamorous time with everyone in Evening dress.

Monday afternoon I went to a perfumery workshop where we learned to make our own personal perfume, not as simple as it sounds so we had mixed results 🙂 Monday evening was the garden club cocktail party (JW says he could get used to this!)

We passed the Bay of Biscay without it getting worse than force 7 so quite relieved and by Tuesday the wind dropped to force 5 and it began to get warmer and people were sunbathing and using the swimming pool. I was out on deck and saw the most beautiful rainbow that I think I have ever seen. The sun was shining from the south and there were rainclouds to the north. The rainbow was complete arc and the colours were so clearly defined. As is usual in such cases I didn’t have my camera with me and by the time I had collected it from the cabin the rainbow had gone, so sorry folks, no picture!

One of the things I enjoy most about cruising is meeting interesting people. There is plenty of opportunity for this at mealtimes as only dinner is fixed seating arrangements. For the rest of the meals you can use whichever restaurant you like and sit wherever you please. The vast majority of the passengers are friendly folk and chat quite happily.

The crew were their usual friendly helpful selves  (JW thinks they have an extra smiling gene) and go out of their way to make the trip the best ever.