***   I have left a trail of stars as I wrote *** they are  meant to signify one of two things:   

three stars and a number: ***1 are  questions I have had that either need further investigation or I had more to say about; the second group, smaller by far with one star and the number*1 are things I mention  I would like to clarify. 


===================                      ========================                   =======================

  BIRTH of a future TRIP

March 1, 2018

I’ve finally finished the journal of the last trip and I’m sifting aimlessly through what mail is still on the counter from yesterday’s delivery,  and I find  a brochure from Seabourn.   I started leafing through it when my eye is caught by a map which just happened to be of a cruise in the UK.

++ I FELL FOR IT.   

If you’ve read my other journals, you’ll notice how frequently this has happened.  I do often indulge in what has got to be interpreted as impulse travel buying.

That was definitely  a  wow trip I fell for this time.  it was on one of our favorite ships,  going to one of our favorite places, and it was  a reasonable amount of time in the future.  (there are certain people in this family think  it is  indecent to go on too many cruises a year after all).

It was scheduled to visit England, Ireland, and Scotland, in August:   PERFECT -  SHAZAM!

  But not quite:   That cruise went LAST August.

I am simply CRUSHED:    I had been thoroughly psyched.  Being somewhat obsessive I immediately launched in to  a search for a replacement.  And here it is: The Ovation scheduled to do the same route in August 2018 - more appropriately the next year.

 CALL GEORGE!   (he’s our point-man for Seabourn).

This automatically shot us into the preparation mode.

Verbatim and from out of the blue it hit me…. I’VE BEEN ABANDONED…  That was me, I was  in the SHOWER where I do all my best thinking,  when it suddenly occurs to me this emotion of abject horror-  Pretty serious stuff for so early in the morning. What was it that caused this sorrowful emotion?

On Wednesday  Lori had happily pointed out that the itinerary would include Stonehenge.   Oh, no…we’ve already experienced that in all its mysterious pre- tourist glory:  There’s no way I would want to disturb that image.  Also, this  trip seems to be predominantly  ENGLAND…NONONO- I can’t go to England as a ” tourist” … but even worse,  the Ovation turns out to be  Seabourn’s  new 600 passenger ship –I  actually  think this was  the inaugural voyage. 

Well ok, I started to relent.  It is,  after all, still   Seabourn, and  I was quite willing to try it out -  to test the waters so to speak.     We  plopped down the requisite $20,000 and we were all set;  but  I was still not comfortable with that itinerary. 

 The name  SILVER SEAS  floated into my conscious:  This is another small line with a Very Good reputation.  I did a bit of computer action and came up with one of their ships carrying 300 passengers and with A MUCH BETTER ITINERARY.  I was exploring this possibility when I  just happened to discover that two days of it is London  - nonono.  BUT, the ship is docked by THE TOWER BRIDGE. HOW COOL IS THAT? ***1 (Maybe that will give me time to do The  London Eye,- oh, I was so excited.

I have other concerns:    

 This cruise is HUGELY EXPENSIVE,  and  I’m really beginning to feel;  I am not going to dwell on it.    After all, you can’t take it with you and I’ve been anxious to get rid of that totally useless money that’s  languishing  in the bank.  So I came up with  a plan which I figured might serve to  overcome my feelings of guilt:   I’ll take one of Seabourn’s next February cruises,  either the one from Dubai to -Singapore, or the one to South Africa, with the sole purpose of giving one of Seabourn’s larger ships a fair trial.   Sounds reasonable.

I’m very unhappy, but I’m probably fighting a losing battle: in the future a small size ship is going to be  600 passengers.  Change is inevitable;  we’re going to have to except the fact that the quality we’ve been experiencing with the smaller ships is maybe long gone. Sorrowfully, If a 600 passenger ship is what Seabourn is limiting us to, there is no reason at all why we wouldn’t sail with REGENT OR OCEANIA or maybe even VIKING - their competitors. *5  

A few problems popped up;  the most serious of which involved the time of year.  AUGUST for god’s sake. You do not go ANYWHERE, especially not Europe, in AUGUST unless you relish being  run over – the entire continent has the month off for summer vacation.  Aside from that,  this is my very favorite time of year;  sun, pool, and tomatoes, peaches and corn season- warm being the key point,  and here we are going to what possibly may be quite  the opposite: chilly, damp, grey.   Even worse;  we’ve just spent a great deal of time, money and effort planting  new stuff and  transplanting, and a lot of my houseplants are outside.  We’re in a huge drought with  mega-heat so all of that will require   a lot of watering.   I was thrown in to a state of anguish;  all that work.  We were all set to pay someone, anyone, who? $50 to water AT LEAST ONCE and RJ set up three sprinklers in the most strategic spots to lighten the load:  Our cat sitter agreed to take on the job.   FORTUNATLY it rained the entire week before we left so a great deal of the pressure was taken off – PHEW, but that was a really close call.  But still  ……..AUGUST ---+++ you do NOT GO TO EUROPE in August –….NO, YOU DO NOT GO ANYWHERE IN AUGUST.



To take a moment off from the subject at hand.  I was nearing completion of my article on our last cruise and I was probably under a certain amount of stress and was probably doing a bit of venting about how much work all this writing is and all the computer griefs that come with it,  so my friends naturally questioned me about how come I do it – what was my motivation that apparently resulted in all this grief?

WHY DO  I TRAVEL?         Somehow I felt a bit as if I were being put on the offensive,   I quick simmered down and came up with:    IT’S MY HOBBY.   That statement was met by total silence – is that good or bad? 

Well it is and it isn’t, so I tried “: traveling is my life”. Well, not quite that either.  There is however,  no doubt that it occupies a great deal of my conscious life.    I really do enjoy it, and further,  it contributes greatly to my general sense of wellbeing …*6


April 5 -:      

We’re stuck on the question of whether we should attend a rather significant  tour offer: The “TATOO”  performance in Edinburgh.

The price of the tour is  a rather steep $750 VIP/$250 haul yourself…get a grip. The former may provide a “Rarified” atmosphere, but it would have to do considerably more than that for that price.  I may not have been very interested in the first place  but there’s no denying that  it’s a major ‘TO DO” in Edinburgh.  If we feel we need to see the castle lit up at night there is a shuttle into town; this would eliminate the caterwauling bagpipes but it would also probably eliminate that all desired cocktail hour.  That’s probably doable-  we’ll see.

The issue has finally been resolved, but not without a great deal of contention…I‘ve been waiting for an answer so as not to be the deciding factor – like pulling teeth.

All of that is insignificant next to the real highlight of this cruise; the utterly awesome fact that the ship would be berthed by the Tower Bridge.    This simply blew me away.   I’ve never known such a treat was possible. I wonder if any other ships dock there….I shall check, but How?  This has got to be one Google won’t be able to answer. (and I’m always on the search for that undoable question …  Bye.  I got an answer and it’s a real pip.   It’s at the end 1***

FINALLY we did it, no backing out, just have to suck it up and pray.  We bit the bullet and put our money where our mouth is.

  we have paid and we will be traveling with the cruise line Silver Sea – for the first time I might add.

I don’t seem to have mentioned this, but we had already paid for reservations with Seabourn.  So of course this meant calling George and cancelling – I didn’t, Roger did.   I’m too chicken.  If you’ve been tracking the progression of our traveling, you’ll know that this is not the first time we’ve backed out of a reservation – with mixed results.  George was very nice and cooperative; Oceania,  however, kept my ENTIRE FEE – the rats. (you’d think I’d never speak to them again.  I really don’t have any sense and we actually ended up doing that same cruise in a different year – but with a firm commitment of a balcony the second time).  They did ok but I’m not thinking of a repeat.

Everything is settled and all we have left now is to enjoy that delicious sense of anticipation.

Now it’s time  for some details, like the ITINERARY:

We will be going to 1/ The Irish Republic (Cork and Dublin); 2/ Northern Ireland, UK (Belfast):  3/ The Hebrides Islands, Scotland (Tobermory, Ullapool), 4/ The Northern Islands ( Shetland (Lerwick), and Orkney (Kirkwall);   and 5/   Edinburgh (Leith) all Scotland.

This is also  a good time to explain what I’m hoping to  gain from this trip.

First of all,   I am an  enthusiastic  anglophile.    Of course I’ve always been fully aware  that there is more to the UK than England;  but  I have never been willing to  leave England itself once I got there. The end result of this is that I’ve never been to the rest of the country; and it’s about time.

There are at least a few reasons for this sad state of affairs.  Mostly  because of  the distances involved,  the  lack of time,  and absence of an  easy access transportation- wise.   To put it simply; it wasn’t practical.  I also have to admit I’ve always felt a tad negative about those countries.  I’m  a bit  skeptical of what I perceive to be a latent tendency for the mystical which  I tend to steer clear of.    Here’s my chance to clear up a few prejudices. 

In due course I was reminded of a number of things I’ve always been interested in checking out:  Certain of the tour stops are familiar to me from prior encounters.  

1/ The first  stop is Cork… in 1947 we sailed on the Mauritania (I am mentioning this point as being a bit noteworthy.  It had been a troop transport during the war and this was its first civilian crossing since then) from the U.S. to join my father who was stationed in Europe and we had a brief stop off in Cork.  I have vivid memories involving  a very large, very green and very treeless hill the bottom of which there was a small wooden dock – do remember this was 1947 right after the war, and also that this is the memory of an  eleven years old.  I’ve always wanted to check this out.  2/ The Book of Kells in Dublin – is a magnificently illustrated manuscript wrought by monks in the 9th c. which I have often used as inspiration in my own art work; 3/ The Giant’s Causeway is a unique geological formation located on the scenically outstanding Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland.  I discovered it thanks to a British board game I brought home from England many years ago involving tourist destinations and railroad routes in England; *1.  4/ Egg, Rum and Muck, rather fancifully named Islands of the  Western Hebrides and a  strategic stop on the board game  due to their importance as  a ferry port connecting Scotland and  Ireland. 5/ Shetland is the location of the British tv series of the same name.             6/ Orkney has come to my attention for the  Skapa Flow and the notoriously brave role it played during WWII  as the only connection to the outer world for beleaguered Norway.  And finally 7/  Edinburgh, which is without a doubt notable in its own right, but is of particular interest to me as the location of a great deal of the action which takes place in the books of  Alexander McCall-Smith, one of my very favorite authors.

As icing on the cake  I’m pleased to discover that the ship  has a pool.  Our prior small  ships Pride and Spirit I think only had token pools;  the scary things that look somewhat like caskets,  and if I’m lucky it might even be a  salt water pool -my favorite.   The only thing open to concern is the temperature – I’m a sissy and I prefer HEAT.   I’ve been monitoring the temperatures of our destinations and think that with a bit of a stretch,  a great deal of fortitude and a fortunate arrangement of timing (hard to predict with travel)  I may possibly be able to get in to that pool .  Maybe even take a dip the afternoon we board.  I’d just love to get a photo of me, the pool, and the Tower Bridge - wouldn't that just be grand.