Most of the next day was spent at sea sailing around the coast of England and South Wales and then across a beautifully calm Irish Sea.

I enjoy these days at sea as you get the chance to get to know your fellow passengers. Only at the evening dinner are the tables and restaurants fixed, so other mealtimes you tend to share a table with different sets of people and most of them are only too pleased to chat. It is easy to start a conversation, “have you travelled with Fred Olsen before?”, “On Balmoral?” “To the next port?”  “Where do you come from?” From this it is an easy progression to other subjects.

There is a programme of events each day from interesting talks, to games and demonstrations, being pampered in the Spa , or just relaxing by the pool or listening to the musicians in the various bars.

We had an added attraction as we were travelling with the Victoria Travel group, (part of Cruise .co.uk)which specialises in tours for gardeners. We had the lovely Matthew Biggs who gave a very interresting talk about the Lobb brothers who were famous plant collectors who introduced many species into Britain.  William Lobb worked for Veitch and co. in the early 19c. and travelled to the Americas, and brought back the Sequoia and the Monkey Puzzle tree amongst other things. Thomas travelled mainly in the East.

We had travelled with Matthew before on the Canaries cruise. He was with us for the first part of our cruise and would be accompanying us on our included tour to Mount Usher Gardens next day.

It was sunny again but there was a cooling breeze so it was very comfortable.

We arrived in Dublin  about 4pm. Some went ashore straight away, but we decided to have dinner first and then took the free shuttle bus into the city. We drove in by the side of the Liffey right into the centre.

Many of the bigger shops in Grafton St. were open and the streets were crowded with good natured folk out for the evening. There were street performers and musicians, all very cosmopolitan, but very hot!

We meandered around for a while and then decided to go back to the ship and enjoy the Elvis concert on the Lido deck.

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