August 2010

View of the Royal Court Theatre from stage areaView of the stage- its larger than it seems hereThe key saga...ah yes.  So there I was, around 11 PM,  having limped back on blistered feet to my cabin, with a newly recharged key card in my hand... and again it would not work. The light kept flashing red. I checked carefully that I was on the correct deck - because I have been known to try to get into a cabin with almost the same number - just on the wrong deck , but I was definitely outside my own cabin. I was tired and annoyed by now.

we gather for the start of the first workshop in Clunb HemisphereThis has been an unusual voyage from the dancing perspective because of the timing of the days when the ship is at sea. Wendy usually organizes two dance workshops taught by her dance pros in the morning on sea days and most times there is at least one quite early in the voyage. But in the cruise round the British isles, the sea days came at the end. So workshops were scheduled on the days that we sailed between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh back to Southampton.

We gathered in Club Hemispheres at 9 am for the first workshop taught by Robert, on rhumba.

Meringue - I couldn't resistBy the time we returned from our shore expedition  to Edinburgh, it was time to change for dinner. Most of us made it to the Britannia Restaurant by six-thirty though our ranks were a bit depleted.

har sui pork spring rollsThe dinner was as usual very good. I have been really impressed by the food and by the excellent dining room service on this particular cruise. It is also interesting watching how some dishes seem to catch everyone's attention, and other times the whole range of options appear on the table. 

Tonight most of the people at our table ordered the Char sui pork (Chinese barbecue pork) spring rolls with BBQ sauce- and they were good. Crisp and tasty.

Cruising in to South QueensferryAfter a day at sea cruising from Greenock, the Queen Victoria entered the Firth of Forth (don't you love that alliteration?) and headed towards an anchorage near South Queensferry, approximately ten miles  north-west of Edinburgh city centre. I was up early and sat out on our balcony enjoying the beauty of the early morning landscapes.

Dancers at Sea on Queen Victoria's British Isles cruiseAfter a full day at sea, tonight was Formal Night with a Victoriana Ball. Again the Queens Room floor was more crowded than usual as people came out looking elegant in evening attire, and joined the throngs on the dance floor.

My terrific cabin mate, Karen Dand meThese pictures will say more than words so here are some of the fabulous members of the DAS group in their evening gowns and tuxes.

Robert, Joe, Wendy, Honey, Magdalena,Gordy, Bill and RaoulWendy's team and guests.







Robert and JoeKaren R and Robert

Harlan and Peggy take the floorShortly after I wrote my first Dance Cruise Travelblogue, the West Coast Ballroom Dance Cruise,  I received a delightfully enthusiastic comment from someone I had never meet. Her name was Peggy, and she commented that she and her husband Harlan were long time cruisers with Dancers at Sea  and always had a wonderful time.

When I finally met  Peggy in person on the New Year Caribbean Cruise, she was as bubbly and enthusiastic  as in her correspondence. Harlan in turn I found to be an equally enthusiastic dancer, and a thoughtful gentleman, who made sure to dance with all the ladies at some time, especially when Peggy was up dancing. This  endeared him even more to all of us.

sailing out of the ClydeAs a medical student in the pre-clinical years when we still got much of the summer off, I travelled on one of the old Union-Castle passenger liners from Cape Town to Southampton. It was the year before I got married,and my fiance was on a year's work assignment in England. He met me at Southampton and we spent several weeks driving around England and Scotland. I still had relatives of my maternal grandmother living in Glasgow, and we drove up to Glasgow to meet them.  One of the images that has stayed with me was the beauty of Loch Katrine, a freshwater lake that provides drinking water for the city of Glasgow.

the group minus Nancy - taking the picture?Today the Queen Victoria has sailed up the River Clyde and berthed in Greenock, the port that is approximately 30 miles from Glasgow. This is another maiden call for the Queen Victoria - the newest Cunard ship to sail up the Clyde.

When our group convened to go shore it was larger than usual. There was me, Karen D and Karen R, Gordy, Bill, Raoul, Nancy and Melissa. Raoul worked his usual organizational magic and we hired a van driven by Danny, an affable man who talked just like my late granny used to despite her living for more than 60 years in South Africa.

A local explains that you can use GBP in ScotlandDanny tells his taleTogether with Danny we figured out an itinerary that would last about three hours. Then someone pointed out that in Scotland they used Scottish pounds not the GBP. So our first stop was at the supermarket Tesco where the group gathered around an ATM. In the meanwhile, I sat and chatted to Danny who regaled me with the story of how he and his wife met in a Tesco store.

In the vangoing backwardsThey all piled back in the van and off we went. 

First stop was Newark Castle, a  well preserved Renaissance Castle. According to the local guide it was built in 1597. And still looks amazingly intact. It has a glorious location on the south bank of an estuary of the Clyde.

The Beatles celebration(With apologies to Jimmy Webb) -  by the time I got to Belfast I was waiting... for  a massage to ease my dance-sore legs and feet. So I decided to skip going ashore on another grey and overcast day, and opted for a dance lesson with Robert,  a Viennese waltz practice dance session with Dean, and later a  deep tissue massage in the Cunard Spa.

After breakfast I headed up to Club Hemisphere where Magdalena and Honey were also giving dance lessons. I had a great lesson with Robert despite the small dance floor. Dean who was lounging in one of the comfortable chair, watching the lesson and kibbitzing in his own totally uninimitable style, asked if I would practice some new sequences he had been working on in Viennese waltz so we agreed to meet later in the larger Queens Room.

A grey rainy day in LiverpoolOf the 7 ports we visit on this cruise around the British Isles,  Liverpool has never been on my "must-see" short list.  In Ireland I was excited to visit Dublin because  of my interest in its great literary history. In Scotland, I am looking forward to going back to Edinburgh partly for sentimental reasons - a wonderful visit there with my then-fiance more than 40 years ago; and also because of the spectacular city-scape with Edinburgh Castle looming over the town. Glasgow holds family interest because that's where one of my grandmothers came from.   But Liverpool to me evoked images of grey buildings under grey skies, and apart from the fact that it was the birthplace of the Beatles, I knew very little about it.

A grey day on the Liffey River in DublinDublin is another first time port of call for the Queen Victoria. The ship travelled east to the St. Georges channel and then followed the Irish coast northwards. We docked shortly after 8 am at Ocean Pier in Dublin.

I have two nieces that live in and nearby Dublin and was hoping to meet up with them, but communications got confused and i did not make arrangements to see them. So after a breakfast in our cabin - including the delicious blueberry muffin - Karen and I met up with a group to explore the city ourselves. This time our group consisted of Raoul, Nancy, me, Bill C, Gordy and Karen D.

Gordy, Bill, Raoul and Nancy on the busAfter we disembarked, we decided to catch a bus into Dublin and see what to do from there. Most of us wanted to walk around the city. Nancy wanted to take a trip out to a village with lovely gardens.


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