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After spending three weeks with the Queen
I would like to be able to say we are feeling wonderfully relaxed after our epic cruise from Dubai back to Southampton via the Suez Canal – well we were until we met the icy blast that was home. We had become accustomed to surviving the heat and sun aided and abetted by the various elixirs available on the Queen Victoria. We have been fed and watered royally and looked after impeccably.
Now almost a week after returning and finding temperatures more Arctic than Arabian we have both been afflicted with man and woman flu respectively. To add to my woes I have “gone in the knee.” I have often heard cricketers mention that they have “gone” somewhere in their body but I never thought I would ever need to use that phrase. That is, however, not the case, meaning for the first time ever at the ripe old age of 70, I needed to see a “physio”.
The verdict was “wear and tear” and probably cartilage damage. Driving my car has become somewhat difficult.
Having been away from the action for over three weeks there is much to be done, and done quickly.
Before looking at the cricket side of things, however, and to ease the pain in my left knee I will talk you through our journey with the Queen, briefly.
We flew out via Emirates to Dubai and had two splendid days there. It is quite an amazing place and being cruise fanatics the highlight was that from our room on the 28th floor of the Fairmont Hotel we could see the big red funnel of the QE2. The Burj Khalifa was quite a sight as well. Dubai was clean, no graffiti, driverless metro, enough shops to last a lifetime and helpful, pleasant people. I have no doubt we will return.
The good ship Queen Victoria was spot on time after travelling three quarters the way round the globe, and we set sail for Aqaba in Jordan. This involved five full days at sea including passing through Pirates Alley, otherwise known as the Gulf of Aden. We had a first – a first ever Pirates Shipboard Drill. The captain insisted it was highly unlikely BUT you never know and better to be safe than sorry. For the passage to Aqaba the ship sailed under black out conditions. One of the Heaton rituals on a cruise is our nightly game of seven card brag on the cabin balcony. No “lighty” meant cards indoors. We had a Royal Navy helicopter pass over one day and had a Royal Navy Commander on board along with some armed security personnel. On our fourth day an unnamed but rather splendid vessel came near and caused some excitement until a message from the Bridge told us it was the largest private yacht in the world named “Topaz” and it belonged to the Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE. I wonder what the Prime Minister’s yacht looked like.
After five days, plenty of sun and no pirates we docked in Aqaba, Jordan. There were 35 coaches outside our cabin balcony with trips to Petra and Wadi Rum for a good percentage of the ship’s passengers. We had decided that the amount of walking needed to try and locate either Harrison Ford or Lawrence of Arabia in temperatures pushing 100 would be too much. Instead we opted to take the shuttle bus into town. What a dump !!! There were plenty of posh, large hotels with security officers manning every gate but lots of locals elsewhere seeking a fast dollar or two.
Same could be said of Sharm El Sheikh, the following day. Supplies of a particular beverage we use for early evening tiffin, and as an accompaniment to late night cards was in short supply. We managed to locate a suitable emporium and purchased bottles of a well-known brand – Grants. On return to the ship we discovered that rather than being made in Scotland these bottles had originated in Greece. When in need you learn to tolerate however.
Our third port in three days was Sokhna, Egypt. Again two-thirds of the ship got off for the 2 hour drive to Cairo and the Pyramids. We had done the expedition to Cairo three years ago and had no overwhelming desire to return so spent the day on board watching activities in and around this very busy industrial complex.
The following morning we anchored off the port of Suez awaiting our call into the first north bound convoy of the day. Unlike the Panama Canal there are no locks in the Suez Canal and ships move in convoys passing half way through in the Great Bitter Lake. We were second on our convoy being relegated to that position by Fred Olsen’s “Balmoral”. Feeling a little peeved that this had occurred we then realised the yacht “Topaz” was behind us so felt a little better. The passage through the Canal took most of the day and it is still an amazing sight.
Thereafter two more sea days followed before Civitavecchia, the Gateway to Rome. Yet again masses of passengers headed off to the Eternal City. We headed into town for some shopping and a beer. It is a very pleasant place. The weather had turned cloudy for the first time. We were joined in port by two other cruise ships and an Italian Aircraft Carrier plus destroyer. Plenty of photographic opportunities.
Two more sea days saw us docked in Lisbon on an absolutely gorgeous, sunny and warm day. This is one of our favourite ports and we enjoyed our day immensely.
All that remained was two more days into Southampton. Our table companions on this cruise were not veteran cruisers and the Bay of Biscay loomed ahead. These days were sunny and the sea was as flat as it could be. The final day clouded over a little and our last evening’s highlight was the appearance of Queen Mary 2 outside our cabin. Both Queens were to dock in Southampton at the end of their world cruises for 2013. Believe it or not there were 400+ passengers on board who had joined our ship on January 6th getting off on April 26th after circumnavigating the world. What an experience.
Our journey back home was completed by train.
Back to sub-zero temperatures and the start of the cricket season for the Mount.
And not a successful start either at Bradshaw.
I opted to go to Gigg Lane to watch the Shakers take on play-off contenders Yeovil. We marmalised them – well at least for the first half. The final score of 3-2 meant we climbed off bottom place. I felt I had to go due to the ugly rumours that the club is about to go belly up. This may be the end for a club which has existed for 126 years. I bought a programme just in case it becomes a collector’s item and I can make money on eBay. The word is about that the Neville’s are helping out at the moment.
Whilst away I received emails indicating that the match between Bolton School and Lancaster for the John Heaton Under 13 LSCA Cup held over from 2012 was being played at Bolton on Monday 29th. I concluded arrangements on our return to the UK but then came across the minor problem of being unable to get there due to wonky knee. Quick calls to Number 1 son and Lenny “Ready for Any Eventuality” Kerr sorted things out. Philip took me to Bolton School, I paid the umpires, handed over medals and trophy for safe keeping, watched a little of the Final in a well sheltered part of the grounds and then handed over to Mr Kerr. The two umpires I arranged were from the Bolton League, and as Lenny also umpires in the League they had enough for a conference. I snuck off home to the warmth and comfort of coffee and co-codamol whilst leaving the icy school fields at Bolton behind. A later communication from Lenny indicated they had survived the Arctic conditions with Lancaster emerging as winners.
I have been able to ascertain that the Fixture List for 2013 for both boys’ and girls’ age group teams has almost been completed. There are still some little holes to fill but we look set for the season ahead with the biggest programme that I have ever been associated with. All we need now is the weather to enable us to complete as many of these matches as possible.
I attended a meeting of the Development of Excellence Committee at headquarters on Tuesday courtesy of Brian Woodhead who agreed to pick me up and return me home. It was a rather fraught day as Tom was involved in the Under 13 Final Trial at Stretford. I was due to pick him up at the end of the trial after his Dad delivered him this morning. Trigger Fielding helped out.
There were a number of issues to talk over with the mighty Titch and the good lady agreed to drive me in to the Emirates Old Trafford on Wednesday afternoon. I received little sympathy as to my predicament from Boss Andy but at least he made a grand cup of coffee for both of us.
My exercises recommended by the “physio” seem to be working a little. I have not needed the dreaded “co-codamal” for 24 hours and managed to drive the good lady’s car briefly this morning
I was telling my good friend Nigel Warne of my predicament and he suggested that all those years ago when I was bowling my phantom off spin at Radcliffe that pivoting on my left leg to get even greater purchase for my non-spinning off spin may have caused wear and tear. My reply was brief and to the point.
Shortly after I received a text from him – “Just talked to Geoff (our Treasurer). Enuff funds 2 buy you LSCA stick but will need voluntary donations 4 a zimmer.” He received the same response but correctly spelt.
Although I am now much into texting I cannot bring myself to using the shorthand that most others use. I sent John Stanworth an email last night looking at the needs of the Under 17 team in terms of coach travel and hotel accommodation for this summer. I was horrified to see that just after I had pressed the SEND button there was a big, big spelling mistake – “arrangments” instead of “arrangements”. I was mortifed. I hope he does not spot the error.
I have had a number of emails about when the Excellence Intranet will be working again for people to log in scores. Martyn, our Internet Maestro, has been hard at work and I will shortly be testing the latest version which should be available soon on the website. Our decision to work with Total Cricket Scorer and its links with Play Cricket mean that we will not need to worry about information about performances in Age Group teams.
Much to do and so little time in which to do it – especially with a wonky knee.
I have suggested to the most famous Zoo Keeper in the world that an automatic car would make me much more mobile, much quicker – but I am told nothing going. We need to pay off the bar bill on the Queen Victoria first. Talking of Zoos even though wi-fi reception was iffy at times the full allowance from Cunard to Mrs Heaton was used up long before the final day. In fact she had to conclude her business using some of my minutes.
Finally for now – the sun is shining outside, the temperatures are going up, the forecast for the weekend is reasonable and possibly we can kick off our cricket season in style.
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