MINERVA 14th May 2016 Part 9 at sea
Sunday 22nd May 2016
Today is a sea day, sailing up to Rotterdam, so there was a Church Service at 8.30 a.m. I noted that the hymns were played at a good speed so that we could all get down to breakfast before the restaurants closed; in fact I met the pianist from Opera del Mare in the Veranda and mentioned that, and he confided that he had been hungry too.
Walking from my cabin through Reception, I met the ex-Union-Castle Engineer Tim so we went for a chat in Wheelers Bar. That became a gossipy and fun hour, deciding we might have met whilst working on the cruise ship REINA DEL MAR way back when. It is his and his wife's 40th wedding anniversary today so I had time to write a card to give them later. I noticed from the daily programme that I have missed Napkin Folding and a talk about Tulip History. I sat on the outside Veranda deck in warm clothes to write my diary, peering through the gloom, although all I could see was a Grimaldi ship in the distance heading north.
After lunch there was a 2.30 p.m. lecture from Rosalind Whyte entitled 'From Tudors to Tars: A History of Greenwich', which was very well attended and enjoyed. She has such a relaxed and knowledgeable style of public speaking.
At 4 p.m. there was a Choir workshop, practising choruses of 'Feed the Birds' and 'Rule Britannia' ready for our London concert participation. After a cup of tea I went on the top deck and walked around for a mile, but I did see the Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic over on our port side as we went through the Straits of Dover. This is not manned but maintained by Trinity House, and also has an automatic weather station on board. The Sandettie Banks pose a significant threat to the major shipping lanes in these Straits, so it is comforting to know about the Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic; many hundreds of thousands of us know about her simply from hearing the daily Shipping Forecast for UK waters from the BBC, which is updated four times a day by the Met Office.
Then it was party time again, this time for first-time Swans, so I was amongst several new friends. The Captain made a welcoming speech and announced that the Rotterdam Pilot would come on board on Monday (tomorrow) at 5 a.m. to take us into port for 8 a.m. arrival. The Captain also announced that instead of berthing in Greenwich on Tuesday, it had been arranged that Tower Bridge would open for us on Tuesday at 5 p.m. and we will then tie up beside HMS Belfast near the Tower of London. Well, that raised big cheers amongst us of course: Greenwich would have been good, but Tower Bridge was even better.
I met Engineer Tim and his wife again at the party, and had already been invited to join them and other friends for dinner, so we could celebrate their Ruby Wedding Anniversary.
After dinner many of us headed back to the Darwin Lounge for the 'Minerva Crew Show' at 9.45 p.m. which was fascinating and enjoyable and performed by so many talented members of the crew.
Ships seen: a Grimaldi vessel, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic
To be continued...