Across the North Sea

We were up early this morning to make the most of our last sea day (in fact, our last night on the Black Watch) before our arrival back in Newcastle tomorrow morning.   😦

I got showered and sorted before we went up to the Neptune Lounge to listen to a lecture by polar expeditionary /historian Dr Ian Stone, with the intriguing title “Polar Bears and How to Stay Alive When They’re Around”.  This interested us as we had had very close encounters with wild polar bears when we spent some time on the sub-Arctic tundra in Canada in 2011.

The lecture was very informative as well as amusing in places, as Dr Stone accompanied it with some fantastic photos he’d taken of polar bears in Svalbard, some of them just having killed seals ready to eat.  Polar bears are majestic and beautiful animals but their sheer strength and power can never be underestimated.   🙂

After the talk we went back to cabin 4085, dragged our cases out from under our beds, and started packing away the things we wouldn’t need again this cruise.  It was then time for us to go up to lunch.  We ate it out on the Marquee Deck in the sunshine, but as we were now in the North Sea and the ship was doing a fair rate of knots, there was quite a brisk sea breeze, so we needed to find a sheltered spot.

We enjoyed a couple of drinks with our lunch, then went back to the cabin where I read my Kindle.  I am reading The Chess Men by Peter May which is the third book in the “Lewis” trilogy, about Scottish detective Fin McLeod and set on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.  Like the first two books in the series, there are plenty of twist and turns in the plot and it’s hard to put the book down (or my Kindle, in this case).

Around 3.00pm we went back to the Neptune Lounge for another lecture, this time called “A Lifeboat on the Road” by Howard Nichols, who trained with the NHS Ambulance service but who then went on to train RNLI crews the length and breadth of Britain, touring around in his articulated Mobile Training School.  During his talk, he took us on a virtual tour of many different lifeboat stations, some of them in the remotest locations imaginable.  It was very interesting.

We then spent an hour or so pottering around the ship before it was time to start getting ready for dinner, the “last supper” as it were.  We enjoyed our meal as ever, along with some chilled rosé wine and some after-dinner port, then said goodbye to our table companions for this cruise, Ted and Fiona.  🙂

Then it was, as ever, off to the Neptune Lounge again for tonight’s Grand Farewell show, which featured little snippets of all the entertainers and the Black Watch Show Company and was as good as ever.  🙂

After the show we went along for the quiz – nope, we didn’t win, only losing by one measly point.

When we went up to the Lido Lounge, it was absolutely packed.  I think everyone was making the most of their last evening on the ship and of the free booze (I certainly was!).  We sat with our friends John and Lynda Colbert who had already done all their packing.  We hadn’t finished ours yet, but I was reluctant to go back to the cabin until I absolutely had to.  All the cases were supposed to be placed outside the cabin door before 2.00am, but as the clocks go back another hour tonight to take us back to Blighty time, it effectively meant another hour’s drinking.   🙂

So it was around 1.00am when we dragged ourselves back to cabin 4085, finished our packing, and put the cases outside ready for collection.

In the morning when we woke up we were back in the Tyne; as Geordie folk group Busker sang, it was Home Newcastle and the end of another fabulous cruise.

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