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Lancashire Cricket Board - Well that fooled you – or did it??
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Well that fooled you – or did it??

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Back from 23 days with the Queen

If you are one of my long term Blog readers you will know that we are seasoned cruisers and that indeed in my first year of Blogging I reported about a cruise we did to the Holy Land whilst on the ship. You may remember the heading “Forty eight coaches parked outside our cabin”.  Well this exercise got me into some trouble with my son, supported by the Good Lady, about broadcasting our intentions not to be at home. After that I have been forced to cover up our escapes as best I can and before we left for this latest cruise I submitted two prepared Blogs to my good friend Dipesh for him to post whilst we were away. I wonder how many of you spotted this subterfuge. Anyway we are back now so I can bore you, just a little, with our latest adventures.


The “Queen” in this instance was again the good ship “Queen Victoria”. We had opted for its Grand Caribbean Adventure from Southampton across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and back – a total of 23 days with a goodly proportion of those days at sea. It turned out to be quite an adventure with some surprises as well. The first of these surprises came as we got to our cabin – or State Room in Cunard speak. There was the usual letter about “Norovirus” but another one from the captain saying that our first port of call in the Azores had been scrapped. This was pity really as it was the only port on the whole cruise we had not been to before. He had good reason to reach this decision however.


The “Hurricane Season” in the Caribbean and beyond lasts from June through to October. We had realised this when we booked but hoped we would not have any problems. Well the latest such hurricane named “Raphael” had moved out of the Caribbean and headed for Bermuda. As we left Southampton it was located just north of the Azores. The captain had decided to take the southerly route to the Caribbean avoiding the worst of the weather. We are blessed to be good sailors and we needed this for a couple of the seven days we spent crossing the Atlantic to our first port of call in Antigua. By the time we arrived on this beautiful island the weather had become warm, sunny and the seas were settled. Having said that in the couple of days before getting to Antigua we had been watching the American news channels checking on the course of the next hurricane – “Sandy”. This had begun as a tropical storm in the seas around the Windward Isles including Antigua. I am sure you will all have witnessed the damage done by what became Super Storm Sandy as it moved up the eastern seaboard of America.


Just a few days either way and we could have been well and truly caught between “Raphael” and “Sandy”. Instead we had a superb cruise with plenty of sun, rest and recuperation after a most stressful cricket season. The island of Antigua was followed by St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Tortola, Grenada and Barbados. They still retain that Caribbean magic we first experienced way back in 1997. The only cricket experience we tried was to go to the Bridgetown Oval whilst in Barbados. I amazed our taxi man by telling him I had played with the great Garfield Sobers – well I did, 50 years ago !!! When we got to the cricket ground it was closed !! It was in fact Independence Day on the island and everyone was gearing up to celebrate. I asked the taxi driver to take a picture of the two of us under the statue of Gary outside the ground. Whatever he pressed I do not know – but no picture. Such is life.


After our Caribbean escapades we had another long journey across the Atlantic back to the UK. This time our planned stop off in Madeira was possible bringing with it another special surprise. One of the great excitements of cruising for me that is not shared in the same way by my good lady is the chance to see other ships in port. Well on this occasion we were joined by two. The first was Fred Olsen’s “Boudicca” but the second was Cunard’s flagship the “Queen Mary 2”. She snucked in the early morning to park just behind us. I say “park” because these massive ships do it all themselves. If there are tugs around they are just keeping a watchful eye. Plenty of picture opportunities from the town of Funchal as you can see.


The Queen Victoria sailed at lunchtime having been in port overnight and we had a splendid view of the Queen Mary. The two respective bridge teams had a battle of the whistles or “horns” deafening everyone on shore. Off we went for our final two days at sea before getting back to Southampton and then home base in Radcliffe.


I had been keeping a reasonable eye on my emails. We have sailed with Cunard enough times now to qualify for the top tier of their World Club which brings some goodies, including free time on the Internet. We had a grand total of 16 hours available. I managed to sneak in some 45 minutes of this but the remainder was used by the Mrs ensuring she kept her business interests up to date. She even managed to go over our allowance by a few dollars. These business interests are all linked to her position as a major zoo owner with offshoots into prehistoric toy villages. I admire her tenacity and fortitude after all the sniping she got from me over the 23 days on Queen Victoria.


Back home with 204 emails to deal with. Some of these are minor – but some are major with potential changes for the programme this coming season of 2013 and beyond for almost all our age groups. I am due to meet with the mighty Titch this week to consider our options. The publication of fixtures for next season will be somewhat delayed, probably until well in the New Year. I may be able to release some Festival details prior to Christmas however.


All I need to do now is wind myself up after three weeks of bliss. The major diet has started and I refuse to tell you how much weight I have added.  This has been the product of some of the best food we have ever had during all of our years of cruising.  Heaven knows what my girth would have been like because we did not go to Afternoon Tea at all, and missed out on all Late Night Buffets. We also did not avail ourselves of Room Service. We did make a decent fist of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner every day and enjoyed the Heaton family traditions of a glass (or two) of Tiffin prior to Dinner. We managed to complement our evening repast with wine and were known to have a glass or two of beer at various times throughout the day both on the ship and when on dry land. The odd glass of Rum Punch did not go amiss.


The reason we did not engage with the Late Night Buffy is that we have another tradition centred on that well known card game of “7 Card Brag”. Accompanied with glasses of similar liquids to the Tesco Moments variety we sit in our cabin, or in this case out on our balcony, and challenge each other to see who will become the “Champion 7 Carder” of the Queen Victoria (or whatever). I know my place as do most others chaps and always try to ensure I come second. I am pleased to say I was successful being roundly thrashed yet again.


Enough for now. I hope to get back to proper blogging quickly. Whilst away the Shakers have become re-vitalised and are no longer bottom of Division 1. Sophie and Thomas reckon I will not know half the players as so many loanees have moved in. As long as they keep on winning who cares.


My major disappointment is that my hoped for leap in sales of the BOOK does not appear to have materialised. They may be keeping the news from me in the LCB offices that there have been record sales whilst I have been away. I will be in there tomorrow afternoon. I did have a message on the answer phone to ring Gigg Lane, the home of the mighty Shakers, when we got back home. I thought it might be Jill Neville with some massive news that Gary was going to buy up all the copies of the BOOK  and then allow us to issue them free to last year’s players. Not to be !!!


A nice lady at Gigg Lane had noticed that at the last game I attended before departing for the Caribbean I had given the young girl at the turnstile the wrong numbered ticket from my Senior Citizens Members Book. She was ringing to tell me that she would leave a ticket for me at Reception for the next game for which I had surrendered my ticket by accident. What a nice action. In any event I missed the match as we were with the Queen.


You know what they say about Help the Aged.


Time for a Moment or two (but not yet Tesco as they do not have a store in Barbados).



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