Calmer Waters and Full Steam Ahead

We had slept much better last night as the gale had died down a lot and the ship was not pitching and rolling as much, so it was quieter. When we woke up this morning and looked out at miles of Atlantic Ocean the sun was shining and there weren’t quite as many “white horses” on the sea. The Balmoral looked as though she had speeded up a bit, but I suppose the captain will be trying to make up for lost time.

I didn’t go up to breakfast, preferring instead to have a coffee in the cabin and wash and blow-dry my hair to save having to do it later. So we just had a wander about the ship, and watched the on-board artist complete his paintings of the Titanic. We also went along to the photo gallery to look for the formal portraits they’d taken of us last night in our evening wear; I actually quite liked mine and bought it; which makes a change because I’m not at all photogenic and I usually don’t like seeing photos of myself.

At 09:45 it was time for us to go, yet again, to the Neptune lounge for the first of today’s lectures – this time by Philip Littlejohn who is the grandson of Alexander Littlejohn, a steward on board Titanic who was ordered to row Lifeboat #13. The guy didn’t use any prompt notes, just a few slides showing copies of original documents, including a postcard of the Titanic (with Alexander Littlejohn’s handwriting on the back) that had survived the disaster along with his grandfather. He explained that he didn’t dare bring the originals with him as the postcard alone had been insured for around £10,000. Wow.

After the talk we then went for a coffee in the Palms Café, had a look around the shops then ventured out on deck. It was still quite windy but at least there wasn’t as much spray about and the deck was dry. You could have had your pick of the sun loungers though. 🙂

The afternoon talk was given by Commodore Ronald Warwick, former captain of both the QE2 and the QM2. We had previously met him in 2004 on the Queen Mary 2 maiden voyage. He looks just how you would imagine the captain of an ocean liner to look, ruddy-cheeked and with his shock of white hair and white beard; in fact, he doesn’t look unlike Captain E.J. Smith himself. Commodore Warwick’s lecture was all about his research into the officers of the Titanic and the Carpathia using the resources available on the internet, as well as census records, national archives and records kept at Somerset House. It was fascinating to see some of the old hand-written ledgers and documents relating to the officers and seamen of the old liners; it really gave you a little frisson when you saw an employment record of some of them, listing RMS Titanic as the ship on which they were engaged before the record came to an abrupt end, after which was written “lost at sea”. It is all these extra little snippets of information that continue to add to, and enrich, the legend of the Titanic; the personal element and the everyday lives that only became significant because of the disaster, and otherwise would never have been known. Fascinating stuff.

When we went up to dinner there was only Trevor and me, along with Donny and Barbara; there was no sign of David and Joanna so we assumed they’d gone to the Palms Café where they were putting on an Asian buffet. We decided to have the ‘Titanic Dish of the Day’ which was chicken curry and rice, a dish which had been served to 2nd class passengers. It was very tasty and we enjoyed a bottle of rosé wine with it. We had a most interesting conversation with Donny and Barbara; they are Sherlock Holmes fans and devotees of the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They had met some descendants of his and had even bought, in auction, some undergarments that had belonged to Lady Conan Doyle. They really knew a lot about him and about his works and their enthusiasm was infectious.

The entertainment tonight in the Neptune lounge was the Balmoral singers and dancers putting on a show with clips from some of the West End musicals, such as Les Misérables. It was really entertaining; I think they are one of the better on-board singers/dancers we’ve come across compared to some cruises.

We finished the night off by going to the Lido lounge for the quiz at which a lot of cheating prevailed. 🙂 The questions were all cryptic clues, the answers to which were parts of the body, but some of the clues and answers I felt were quite wide of the mark and the hostess was just more or less accepting any answers. So despite scoring 16 out of 20, we didn’t win. 😦

We stayed just long enough to watch the final cabaret act of the evening a ‘swing’ singer called Jamie Clarke. He was actually very good and added a comedy element to his excellent singing. We hadn’t intended staying this late but we enjoyed his show so much we saw it through to the end.

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