Britannia Rules the Waves!

Today we had a packed programme of events to look forward to, as we got up around 8.00am and went out onto our balcony to another warm and sultry day. 😊

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the Tintagel Restaurant, then went outside to take a stroll around the decks and breathe in the salt air.  Every now and again we paused, to stand at the railing and look down at the sea; we saw the usual bursts of silver streaks as the flying fish soared and skimmed atop the waves.

Looking further out to sea we thought we saw a dark shape and, sure enough, we caught a glimpse of black fins – it appeared to be a school of porpoises or dolphins; they certainly weren’t big enough to be whales.  We carried on walking around the decks until we had completed the five laps, equal to one mile.

It was then time to make our way to the Neptune Lounge for the first of today’s fascinating talks.  This one was called “Life as s Senior Criminal Court Judge” by His Honour Judge Radford, a retired criminal judge who appeared in the BBC series Murder, Mystery and My Family.  The presentation was interesting, apart from the judge’s slow and deliberate speech which was quite soporific, and you could understand why some jurors fall asleep during the judge’s summing up in court!

It took us nicely up to lunchtime, and we went along to the Poolside Grill where I enjoyed a delicious salad Niçoise with a fresh tuna steak, washed down with a cold pint of Stella.  😊

We then just sat out at the pool for a while, passing pleasantries with our fellow passengers and enjoying watching the Boudicca gliding along in the sparkling blue Indian Ocean, with no other vessels anywhere in sight.

At 1.45pm we returned to the Neptune Lounge to listen to a talk called “Rich on the Run”, which was about the infamous “Costa del Crime” in Spain.  The speaker’s name was given as Roger Cook, but it was only when the presentation started we realised it was the Roger Cook, of ITV’s The Cook Report fame.  The Cook Report was a very well-known documentary series on TV in the 1980s and 1990s; in fact it ran for 12 years.  The programme featured Roger Cook travelling the world to investigate serious criminal activity, injustice and official incompetence. But it is perhaps best remembered for its ground-breaking undercover ‘stings’ and for Cook’s trademark confrontations with his targets, during which he (and sometimes the film crew) could suffer verbal and physical abuse.  The talk started with a video montage from clips from the show, showing some of these (quite violent) confrontations.

The presentation was extremely interesting, and showed some of the most obnoxious conmen and scammers of the day, and how they’d fled to Spain to continue living the high life on their ill-gotten gains.  One of them was the infamous John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer, who was involved in the Brinks-Mat robbery as well as a multi-million dollar timeshare scam in Tenerife.  A thoroughly nasty character, he got what was coming to him when he was murdered, at the age of 64, by six gunshot wounds to the chest.

The talk overran by quite a lot and should have been followed by the dance class, but we’d had enough of being below decks by now, so we decided to go up to the Lido Deck and take advantage of Fred Olsen’s inclusive drinks package.  😉

We then bought some raffle tickets in aid of the RNLI, which is Fred’s chosen charity, in which a number of useful prizes were of offer.  We didn’t win anything, but Ruth and Mike, from table #31, got three of the prizes!

It was now getting on for five o’clock, so we returned to our stateroom (suite!!) and pottered about for a bit before it was time to start getting ready in our red, white and blue, for tonight was British Night!  I had been looking forward to this night, as instead of just wearing a Union Jack jacket or t-shirt or wearing something red, white and blue I was going the whole hog.  They wanted British, so they were certainly going to get British!

Yes!  While Trevor looked very smart in his Union Jack waistcoat and matching bow-tie, tonight was my pièce de résistance; I was dressing as Britannia, and I’d brought all the necessary props with me, including long white dress, a huge Union flag which I tied around my shoulders as a cape, a trident and Union Jack shield, and a long dark wig complete with Roman helmet!  When worn all together it looked fantastic, and I was glad I’d made the effort to create the shield and get the other props.

Predictably, while making our way to the restaurant, my outfit attracted a lot of attention and a lot of comments as I passed regally by, all the way to our table. Everyone on table #31 had made the effort; John and Margaret wearing garments in red, white and blue and Mike also wearing a waistcoat and bow-tie similar to Trevor’s, while Ruth wore a long Union Jack t-shirt and top hat.

The dinner was British-themed, with traditional meals such as bangers ‘n’ mash, steak and ale pie and chicken tikka masala, all washed down with rosé wine and finished with liqueurs.

There was no dancing in the Neptune Lounge tonight as, instead, they were holding the Great British Sing-Along.  As I proceeded along to the lounge, my shield on my arm and my trident held aloft, people kept stopping me and asking for photographs, and other groups of people applauded as I walked by.  If I wanted attention I was certainly getting it, but it surprised me that no-one had ever dressed as Britannia before, as it seemed the most obvious outfit to wear.

We managed to get seats right at the front, then the entertainment team (including Daniel) came onto the stage and we were all given song-sheets, then the band struck up and we all sang patriotic songs like There’ll Always Be An England and Land of Hope And Glory, to much flag-waving and singing with gusto.  It was great!  😊

The performance tonight, by the Boudicca Show Company, was called “Britain Rocks” and was described as ‘a journey through the decades of the very best in British music from the 1960s to the present day’.  It was a superb show, and finished with a rousing Proms Finale.  We enjoyed it thoroughly.

The show company all posed outside the Neptune Lounge in their British outfits for people to take photos of them.  While I was waiting for Trevor to come out of the Gents, there were as many people taking photos of me, and the show company even started singing an impromptu rendition of Rule Britannia!  On the way to the Lido Lounge I couldn’t believe the number of people who came up to me, congratulating me on my outfit or asking to have their photo taken with me.  We spotted Daniel on the way and got someone to photograph me and Trevor with him, so I could email it to his mum Julie (our dancing teacher).

Once again, we sat with Gary and Angela for the quiz, and once again we didn’t win.  We couldn’t see Joe anywhere, so he’d obviously gone elsewhere for the evening.

After not winning the quiz, we remained in the Lido Lounge for the music, although I didn’t get up and dance.  To tell the truth, it was sweltering in the wig and Roman helmet, but I was determined to remain as Britannia until we got back to our cabin. We stayed until about midnight, then got a final drink to take back to our balcony.  Inside our cabin (suite!!) I thankfully removed my helmet and the long wig, and allowed the warm sea breeze to caress my head, face and neck while I put my feet up on the balcony railings and enjoyed the cold drink.  There was no doubt about it – my Britannia costume had been a resounding success, and I looked forward to wearing it on future FOCL cruises.  What a lovely day it had been!

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