MINERVA 14th May 2016 Part 13, the final one
Thursday 26th May 2016
We are still berthed beside BELFAST in the River Thames in London. I knew we were to leave at 04.30 today, Thursday, but had no intention of going on deck. I woke up when I heard the sound of engines, and contented myself with turning on the television and watching the View from the Bridge. I saw the bascules rising on Tower Bridge as we approached them stern first, then them closing as we glided through. Twenty minutes later we were turning with the help of a local tug at Wapping and then we were off down river, heading for arrival in Portsmouth tomorrow morning. It was fun to think of us passing Greenwich when we will be on the Meridian and going neither west nor east for a few seconds!
Today we have a sea day, which is lovely, as we will be able to enjoy the English coast from the sea side and the weather forecast sounds good for us. After watching our departure from London I went back to sleep and eventually got to breakfast. I intended to go to an 11.30 a.m. lecture by Rosalind Whyte about 'Art of the garden', and it proved to be entertaining and enjoyable. She invited me to join her and her assistant, plus a few other guests, for lunch, so that proved to be an interesting time too.
I went to the Watercolour Exhibition during the afternoon, which showed how talented some people are, and then to the Classical Elegant Afternoon Tea - which was to photograph and eat whatever guests wanted. I liked the large King Neptune and Mermaid on display, all constructed by the talented people in the Catering Department.
Then it was time to get to the Darwin Lounge again, this time for a 'Glorious Gardens and the Chelsea Flower Show - Cruise in Retrospect', with short talks from each of our lecturers.
I think I missed the final early evening quiz but it was soon time to prepare for drinks and dinner on our final evening with several of my new friends.
During the day I had enjoyed being out on deck between the social events and seeing the occasional ferry, the seals basking on the Margate Sandbanks, a dredger who seemed to want us to move out of his way by getting very close as he overtook us, the lovely sunshine in the English Channel and then the 'golden hour' when the light is fading at dusk and creates some beautiful effects for photographs.
Tomorrow we arrive back in Portsmouth and I have to go home but my time on board MINERVA has been very enjoyable.
Ships seen: Belfast, River Thames tug thought to be Bear, dredger Reimerswaal, a DFDS ferry, Baltic Merchant
Friday 27th May 2016
It seemed a short night but here we are back in Portsmouth.
Ships seen: Commodore Clipper, Etretat, Mont St. Michel
After breakfast and goodbyes, it was time to disembark. I had planned to see some of my new friends in the terminal ashore, so left the ship by myself. There at the top of the gangway in Reception was Captain Neil Broomhall; he shook hands and started talking with me about various things, so that was nice. I teased him about the 16.3 knots speed showing on the TV this morning as we went down river after leaving BELFAST. I was surprised and very impressed with the speed of MINERVA, I told him. Luckily he laughed and said it was because the tide was with us and going out, but we still thought it was an amazing and unusual speed for this little ship. I said how much I had enjoyed my first trip on his ship and thanked him.
I set off for the local train station, met my friends there for a final goodbye and headed home. I'd really enjoyed my time on board and think MINERVA is a little treasure. After I got home Rosalind Whyte sent me a couple of pictures of MINERVA sailing through Tower Bridge, taken by a friend of hers, which was very kind and an excellent way to end the trip, so here they are: