Fading Memories

Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, October 18, 2018

When the sun is over the yard arm.
Thursday 18th October - Southampton

It’s a sure sign that we’re in to the swing of this cruising thing when go out early to take a photograph and discover it’s ten already.

There she was though, waiting for us, floating in a sea of cars, our home for the next week. We weren’t allowed closer of course, not till after lunch, but one of us got excited at the very sight of the thing, in contrast to the usual icy calm of the other ever thankful that he didn’t have one of those watches that publicly monitor his heart beat.

When the sun is over the yard arm, we’ll think all those left ashore, and…… no.  We  probably won’t!

What were we thinking?.
Wednesday 17th October - Southampton

Southampton is famous for many things, perhaps none more than its ties to the Titanic.  It was not just the port from which that ill fated vessel departed, but also sadly the port from which it drew the greatest portion of its crew. 

Without wishing to be too unkind, our impression of the city is that despite its best efforts it’s a bit of a shipwreck as well.  The history is there, but much of the past is safely buried out of sight thanks in no small part to that episode of war known “fondly” as “the Blitz”. 

We’re a bit “historied” out at the moment, but always suckers for a good naval yarn, took ourselves to the Seacity Museum, which sets out Southampton’s Titanic story.  Barely a household in the town was untouched in some way when the ship went down taking with it almost 700 inhabitants. It was a pleasant way to spend a rainy morning, but it won't be easy to rid our minds of some of the images from that exhibition tomorrow as we set sail on the same track as that ill fated voyage. 

Forewarned is forearmed, although I suspect we won’t be going anywhere near the deck chairs.

Travel Weariness.
Tuesday 16th October - London to Southampton

We’d been there almost a week, give or take, but when we pulled Matt and Kathy’s front door closed behind us this morning, it could have been just yesterday that we’d arrived.

Travel is a bit like that.  Our commute this morning involved just one change of station in the Tube and we were deposited just below the platform we needed at Waterloo station, arriving early enough to scores some sample chocolates and in time for the guard to sneak us on to an earlier train, which in turn enabled us to check in to our hotel in Southampton before most had finished lunch.

We had been on the move for just a few hours, yet our minds and bodies felt as though it  had consumed an entire day. Here we were, in the place where Bowls was invented, in the same hotel (it is said, despite not a shred of supporting evidence) that Jane Austin celebrated her eighteenth birthday (in a time when attaining that milestone was of no particular significance), where Lord Nelson had stayed in the shadows apparently of Henry V, with it's ruins and its ramparts, and all we wanted to do was snooze.

The Sky is Falling - In London Still.
Monday 15th October - London

With just one shopping day left to dress ourselves correctly for the forthcoming voyage, we set out with a certain resolve.  First into the City which we now know is entirely devoid of suitable shops, to run a small errand, then back into Westfields we went, without hope but armed with a healthy dose of desperation, into the cheap shop.  There without ceremony “we” tried several sample shirts for size, “she” fussing about fabric thickness, underarm tucks and neck, while “he” would have accepted anything just to be finished with it all. Finally we found the perfect fit.

An eternity later, after returning home with the precious package one of us discovered that the other, after all that effort, in his haste to be rid of “shopping” forever, had picked the wrong size off the shelf. 

She on he other hand, after thumbing through the entire stock of what seemed like nine thousand boutiques to no avail, will be wearing “this old thing” for the voyage, consoled perhaps by the thought that she’ll shine very brightly none the less,  beside the bloke in the ill-fitting Seven Pound shirt.

Rainy Days and Sundays.
Sunday 14th October - London

The man with his hand on the weather switch, seemed to suddenly realise his mistake, and made up for the blue sky and happiness of yesterday in droves.   Having raised our family in a climate where the rain will stop tomorrow, we hadn’t given too much thought to what happens to children in an unpleasant winter climate until quite recently when we read that the average child in England spends less time outdoors than high security prisoners do.

It wasn’t winter by a long chalk but it was chilly and wet, and Vivi and Juni are certainly not going to grow up to be average children by that account at least.  Armed with a big umbrella and boots for the former, and with the latter bundled in cling wrap we took to the great outdoors for the afternoon, jumping in puddles and kicking leaves and crossing moors and generally having a lovely time, with our faces barely stinging at all with the rainy chill. 

Despite the pleasures, as the afternoon turned to evening, and with the warmth steadily draining from our Antipodean extremities we must confess that we did take a sneaky sideways wonder about what the people with cable television and warm cosy fires were doing.

Finding Ben.
Saturday 13th October - London

Given our complete lack of success in the shopping stakes over the past two days, we decided that we would get the same results by not shopping, so we thought we’d have a go at sight-seeing instead.  With that creamy blue sky, and the almost balmy conditions, about twenty-five million Londoners decided to join us, perhaps only too aware that this may actually be the last gasp of what had been a glorious summer indeed.

We’ve seen pretty much all of the sights that one imagines one wants to see in the City, but for reasons that are not entirely clear, one of us despite having for the past few days ridden on the Underground almost constantly, being nearly skittled by Black Cabs and Red Buses, not to mention wandering round with a purse full of Pounds thought that we couldn’t be certain we were in London unless we’d seen Big Ben.

That in itself was no mean feat as the Old Boy and pretty much the entire Palace of Westminster Palace are hidden under a cloak of scaffolding at the moment.  With that sorted, we strolled idly back towards the Tate Modern, smiling inwardly at the sunbathers, laughing at the buskers, and marvelling at the way our cleverphone (we’re sure it’s a notch up from smart) could find Matt and Kathy in a feat that was like finding two grains of sand on the beach.  (Four grains if you count the kids.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Day at the Shops.
Friday 12th October - London

Passengers aboard the ship on which we are about to undertake the next leg of our journey are expected to maintain a standard of sartorial elegance that is beyond the usual demands of either the Captain or the Purser of our own cruising domain.

Having failed miserably in our previous attempts to find the necessary accoutrements, we thought that it would be difficult to fail in Oxford Street, the heart of London shopping.  With more than three hundred shops, designer outlets and landmark stores to choose from, how we wondered, could we go wrong?

By lunchtime, having still not quite satisfied the brief, we wandered casually into Selfridges.  Before our very eyes the perfect top just seemed to materialise.  Wonderful!  Thankfully we had taken a quick glance at the price before being approached by the friendly assistant.  We had a moment to decide whether to proceed with the purchase of the shimmering blouse to be worn to dinner on one occasion or whether to use the money to buy a new car.

“May I be of assistance?” she enquired.

“Not at the moment thanks, we’re just making a decision.” 
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