Handbags and Gladrags

Wednesday.  The holiday was certainly looking a bit sick now – had we really been on the Balmoral a week already?  Despite us only having two days left I could not get out of my pit this morning which was hardly surprising after our very late night last night.  It was after half-ten before I dragged my backside out of bed and sluggishly got washed and dressed.

It was nearly 11 o’clock before I went up to the Palms Café to get a cup of coffee, thinking that breakfast would have been long over.  However, they were still serving food and there were still quite a lot of other people having a late breakfast, so I wasn’t the only one.  As tonight was formal night again, the inevitable bottles of cava were present, so I decided to have a hair of the dog along with my plate of cold meats, smoked salmon and fresh melon and pineapple.  😊

Trevor had already had his breakfast a couple of hours ago, but he had a cup of coffee to keep me company.  Afterwards we had a wander around on deck before deciding to go ashore once more, as Rouen was, unfortunately, our last port of call.  ☹

Once again we proceeded down the gangplank, which was quite steep today because the tide must have been higher.  We made our way to the waiting shuttle buses for the short ride into town, this time making a note of where we were dropped off.  Then we just wandered through the streets again, looking in the shop windows and at the architecture and just stretching our legs, trying to work off some of the vastly excessive calories we’d consumed (a tiny drop in the ocean, so to speak).

As I was really tired and was walking around like one o’clock half-struck, we only spent about an hour or so looking around, before taking a slow stroll back to the shuttle bus and returning to the ship in time for lunch.  Even though I’d only eaten breakfast a couple of hours before, the food is so delicious and tempting it was far too easy to make a pig of myself, and I washed it down with a cold beer.

As we discovered we still had some free on-board credit to spend, I went along to the Atlantis Spa to see if they could fit me in for a luxury pedicure tomorrow, when we had a day at sea.  I was booked in for 12.45pm, so that was something to look forward to.  The salon and spa prices are very reasonable on board; in some cases they’re cheaper than what I pay back home!

Back in our cabin I spent some time doing this blog, catching up on emails and reading.  Then tiredness overcame me and I decided to have a kip to try to catch up on the lost sleep last night.  Trevor went to the quiz with John and Linda at 3.45pm, but I was too tired to get out of bed.

By this time the Balmoral had cast off and was starting to make her way back along the Seine towards the English Channel and, eventually, the North Sea.

When Trevor came back from the quiz he said that they only narrowly lost; a couple of the questions they answered incorrectly I knew the answers to, so if I’d been there we might have won the quiz!

As the ship was now sailing again, it meant the shop was open, and they were having a special “£10.00” event where bags, purses, hats, pashminas, watches and costume jewellery were all ten pounds each.  If you bought four items you could choose a fifth for free.  We went along and I had a good browse through the goodies, choosing a couple of handbags. One was a neat little pink one (I wear a lot of pink) and the other was a grey satin clutch bag decorated with diamanté.  As I had forgotten to bring an evening bag with me, the clutch bag would be ideal to carry with my formal dress tonight.  😊

Afterwards we returned to cabin 6009 where I had a bath (our cabin has a bathtub) and took my time getting ready for the formal evening.  My hair was back to its usual messy state so I put on one of my wigs and did my makeup.  Then I donned a black off-the-shoulder dress with silver polka dots, and a pair of Irregular Choice shoes in silver glitter, with a big bow on the top and high heels.  The shoes were interesting as they were pressure sensitive, and when you walked or danced on hard floors the bows came alive with flashing lights.  😊

I teamed my new bag with my outfit and Trevor put on his DJ and bow-tie, and off we went to the Ballindalloch Restaurant once more.  By this time any tiredness had left me and I looked forward to what the evening had in store.

After dinner we went along to bag a good seat for the inimitable Balmoral Crew Show, and we got our usual front row seats with Gill and Carl sitting in the row behind.  I showed Gill the new bag I’d got for a tenner, and she decided to go and get one too, in a beige colour that would match a dress she had.  She returned a few minutes later carrying a white paper bag.  😊

While Gill was away getting her bag, we heard a kerfuffle behind us and turned to see that a lady had knocked her drink over, and her Tequila Sunrise had gone all over Carl’s jacket.  Waiters were summoned to clean the table and provide some paper towels for Carl to blot his jacket with, and meanwhile the lady offered to pay for the dry-cleaning.  However, a member of staff kindly came over with a voucher for Carl to get his jacket cleaned for free.  😊

The colourful Crew Show began, and we were treated to traditional folkloric songs and dances from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.  Then the deck hands came out in their sailor suits and danced and postured to the Village People’s In The Navy and YMCA.

Then cruise director Allan Tait introduced the boys from the engine room.  We’d seen this before so we knew the audience were in for a real treat.  When they came out onto the stage to the strains of the Crazy Frog, there was a huge laugh from the audience.  The guys wore their overalls tied around their waists and had their arms, shoulders and heads covered in black material to look like hair.  Their bare torsos had faces drawn on them, and the overall effect was that of a very short man with a very big head.  They danced around and goofed about, bumping into each other and falling over as the manic music played and it was very entertaining.  If the laughs and giggles from the audience were anything to go by, the Engine Room lads were a huge hit. 😊

At the end of the show, the whole cast came back onto the stage and sang “We Are The World” to rapturous applause.  It certainly was a very good show, and the talented crew had made all their costumes themselves.

A clip from the fantastic Crew Show

Afterwards it was the usual; the quiz in the Observatory, where Trevor and I and John and Linda were joined by the pleasant couple we’d met the other night.  John said that the rules were that we were not to change our minds about any answers.  We got a decent score between us; in fact we were one of three teams who had the highest score, so it had to go to the tie-breaker.  The question was “How many baked beans are there in a standard size tin?”  Who on earth would know that?!  We estimated about 300 but the actual answer was 465.  Another team had over 400 as their answer, so we missed out once again.  John said the first thing he was going to do when he got home was open a tin of beans and count them!  😊

We then had to get to the Lido Lounge with all speed as there was a special show tonight.  Howard Johnson, the guitarist and singer in the Morning Light pub, was doing his tribute to Freddie Mercury and Queen.  When we arrived there, some people were just coming out from the previous show, and we spotted Gill and Carl there.  Eventually we were able to get a table near the front, and Gill and Carl joined us to see the show again.  As we were all in our gladrags, Gill asked someone passing by if they’d take a photo of us, which they did.

John and Linda then arrived, but the Lido Lounge was packed out and there was nowhere for them to sit near us.  Not to worry though; the Queen tribute was very entertaining and the guy put all his heart and soul into it, even putting on a fake tache and slicking back his hair so he looked more like Freddie Mercury.

After his encore, in which all the audience joined in with We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions, the lounge emptied out a bit and John and Linda came over to join us as Gill and Carl went off for their late-night buffet.

We all marvelled at the fact that we didn’t get to bed until three o’clock this morning, and we vowed that we weren’t going to have such a late night tonight.  Every time the bar staff came over and said “Would you like another drink?” we said “Oh, OK, just one more then…”  But one more became two more, then three more etc. but we were enjoying the conversation and the banter and the laughs so much we didn’t notice the time, and whilst it wasn’t 3.00am when we left the Lido Lounge it was still after half-past two!  Oh well, you only live once!  😊

Back in cabin 6009 we got washed and into our PJs and I was feeling quite sad that tomorrow would be the last day of this excellent cruise in which we had seen and learned so much.  Despite the late hour I was determined I wasn’t going to waste the last day languishing in my pit, so I set the alarm for 8.30am and we settled down to sleep in our comfortable bed in our comfortable cabin.

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