Good day to all my readers!
My final blog before going on leave tomorrow in Southampton. First of all I would like to say a huge thank you for all the messages I have been receiving. This cruise has been very interesting as a great many of our passengers on board had been reading the blog at home (or at their work place!) before joining the cruise, so they have been able to tell me in person how much they have been enjoying it!!! So this is blog forty three and I hope you'll be pleased to hear I will be back again one day doing the blog for P&O Cruises! I set out to give you an insider’s view on the wonderful world of P&O Cruises shipboard entertainment, facts, ports of call etc, etc and I do hope that I have achieved that for you all.
I thought today you might like to hear about what my plans are for my leave and when I actually return to sea.
I am contracted to work 219 days a year but that can be divided up in to work and leave segments just about any way possible, although I should not work over four months at a time. When at sea we work every day, and are on call 24 hours a day so our leave is vital to enable us to re-charge our batteries! I always love to go home, I still get great satisfaction from my job but the real world for me exists at home with my wife Mandy and our son Bradley.
My leave this time only lasts for 20 days before a very busy demanding schedule! I join Arcadia on 18th December for their 23 night Southampton to Southampton Caribbean Christmas Cruise. That is followed by the first leg of the Arcadia World Cruise 2010, Southampton to San Francisco - that lasts 22 nights. I then fly home for three days to Cheshire on leave before flying out to Hong Kong to join Aurora for the last four legs of their Grand Voyage 2010. I will be on board Aurora for 71 days before going on leave again on 19th April 2010!!! I think I may just have a touch of jet lag at home for the three days leave and by the time I get out to Hong Kong I imagine I will be a little jaded!!
I do have a hectic leave planned, Mandy is picking me up in Southampton and we are driving to Bristol to see my mother. We will let my mum have not only her Christmas cards and presents but also her birthday gifts as she is 88 years old on 22nd December and we will not have another chance to see her during my leave. Mother will also give us our Christmas Cards and presents which usually include a bottle of Champagne and Italian Chianti - we have trained her well over the years!!! She is also constantly on the hunt for classic album operatic recordings, for not only our son Bradley but his fiancée Jenni as well, they are both in training to be operatic soloists. I am sure we will be taking some albums home in the car!
After we have spent a few hours with my mother, we are driving up to Broadway in the Cotswolds to stay overnight. Then it’s back up to Cheshire and home.
After a few days of relaxing back at home, Mandy and I are going to Salzburg, Austria on holiday for a few days. It is somewhere we have always wanted to visit and it should be super in early December with their Christmas Markets to browse around and apple strudels to devour!
The night after we get back from Salzburg, Bradley is playing Agamemnnon in the opera La Belle Helene. I am really looking forward to seeing him perform once again. He loves his operatic studies and performing, and both Mandy and I realise how fortunate we are that Bradley is doing something he enjoys so very much. Being an opera student is however very hard work; their holidays are far shorter than university recesses and during term breaks he is performing and singing here, there and everywhere in various music festivals!
Also on leave we will be seeing friends and family, and having Christmas Lunch on 14th December! I know I am hardly unique in that I will be away from home at Christmas, its part of the job - some years I am at home, some years I am away. If I am going away just before Christmas we have Christmas lunch before I go. I know for a fact that this is something that probably hundreds of thousands of families have to do worldwide, not just people who work on cruise ships. Think of all the millions of people who work away from home in the world’s armed forces, merchant fleets, and in the service industries. It is not only people who work away from home who have their Christmas lunches at strange times! Think of those at home as well, policemen, doctors, nurses, fire-fighters and a whole range of other essential service personnel who have to work on Christmas Day!
By the way we really will do the whole Christmas Day routine on the 14th December, turkey, presents, the lot! Wonderful!
A photograph with a difference today, me on leave out for a walk!! When my friend and colleague Deputy Cruise Director Karen Campbell saw this shot she said I looked like something out of the TV programme ‘Last of the Summer Wine’! The Youth Director Carol Ann Montgomery said, ‘You’re now responsible for all the endless nightmares I’m going to have about the strangely dressed being from ‘Father Ted’!!! As you can see I work alongside such lovely girls...........
The shot was taken in the National Trust Property Lyme Park on the Cheshire Derbyshire border, near where we live. Lyme was Pemberley in the BBC Adaption of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In the photograph I am standing in front of ‘The Cage’; it was built in 1580 and rebuilt in 1737. It has been a hunting lodge, a park keeper’s cottage, and a lock up for prisoners. It is a Grade 2 listed building. Looking west from ‘The Cage’ on a clear day you can see the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park in Wales and looking east you can see Kinder Scout in the Peak District National Park.
It is with great pleasure that I can tell you that our Managing Director Carol Marlow will be taking over the P&O Cruises blog for a few weeks.
Farewell from me and a very happy Christmas and New Year to you all.