Going Home, Newcastle

I’m going home, Newcastle,
You can keep your London wine.
I’d walk the street, all day all neet
For a bottle of the River Tyne


Got up at around 9.00am and looked out of our window.  We could tell we were back in the open sea as the water was a little choppier, and we could see one or two white horses.  At first I thought it was foggy until I realised our window was covered in a fine mist of sea spray.  The sun was bravely trying to penetrate the clouds.

At 10 o’clock we went along to the packed Morning Light pub to do the quiz.  The only seats available were the stools at the bar, so we each perched on one and attempted the 20 questions.  We only got 15/20 – not enough to win.  As we’ve only amassed two prize tokens this cruise, we decided we’d keep them until our next FOCL voyage, which will be next March and will be on the Balmoral again.

We the returned to cabin 6009 and reluctantly dragged one of the cases out from under to bed to start our packing, figuring the more we do now, the less we’ll have to do later on.  Then we just pottered around the ship for a while and decided to take a stroll around the deck.  On the lee side it wasn’t too bad at all, but on the windward side it was uncomfortably blustery in the North Sea, so we went back inside again.

Today they were advertising the Grand Gala Seafood Lunch Buffet in the Ballindalloch restaurant, starting at 12.00 noon, so we went along in good time as I had to be ready for my pedicure in three quarters of an hour.  The doors were opening just as we got there, so in we went, and I piled my plate high with lobster, crab claws, king prawns, shell-on prawns, fresh mussels and the large green-lipped mussels.  My mouth was watering at the sight of the gleaming fresh seafood on its bed of crushed ice.  Yum yum!  😊

We washed it down with a crisp, cold glass of cava each, then I wandered around the food works of art, looking at the amazing ice sculptures and melon and fruit sculptures and the way the food had been laid out so artistically.  It really must have taken some time, just for the sculptures to be demolished by hoards of hungry Brits!  😊

I took lots of photos for my web site; one of them was an iced cake in the shape of the Balmoral sailing on a blue sea from which the tail and head of a spouting whale appeared.  It was wonderful.

Afterwards I went up to the Atlantis Spa with its floor to ceiling windows affording fantastic views of the passing seascape, with its occasional distant oil rigs and other ships passing by.  I really enjoyed my pedicure; it included a foot and leg scrub and massage, as well as deep moisturising mask in which my feet were wrapped in cling-film then placed into some warm bootees for 15 minutes.  During that time, I received a complimentary neck and shoulder massage which was bliss.

I was in the spa for about an hour, and was surprised to find it was only £35.00, way cheaper than I pay for a luxury pedicure at home.  I tipped the lady a fiver because she’d done such a good job.

Back in our cabin we did a little more packing, then I decided to have a power-nap to make up for our late night once again.

We then went up to the Lido Lounge and watched the “Singing for Fun” group practising their scales before we went out into the conservatory part of the Lido Lounge, the one that overlooks the swimming pool on the rear decks.  We spotted Gill and Carl by the window and went over to join them for a short while, before joining John and Linda for the afternoon trivia.  A win eluded us once again!

We then had to go and get ourselves ready for the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party at half-past five.  It wasn’t a formal evening, but I still dressed smartly in a blue floral maxi dress with a pair of Irregular Choice shoes that matched very well.  One lady sitting at a nearby table came over and asked me where I got my shoes from, and I explained all about IC and gave her the URL for the web site.  Hardly anyone seems to have heard of Irregular Choice, which I find quite surprising when they’ve been around for 20 years.

This time the captain appeared at the captain’s cocktail party; in fact it was the first time we’d seen Captain Victor Stoica all this cruise. He introduced a selection of crew members while we enjoyed some glasses of fizz and hot and cold pre-dinner canapés (more eating and drinking!!)

Afterwards Trevor hotfooted it along to our cabin to pick up the bottle of cava we’d won previously, so we could all enjoy it tonight in the restaurant, as it was our “Last Supper”.  ☹

In the Ballindalloch we enjoyed the usual scrumptious four course meal: appetiser, salad or soup course, entrée, and dessert or cheese.  We washed it down with the bottle of fizz and clinked glasses with each other, then followed it with coffee and in Trevor’s and my case, a liqueur; Trevor had a Benedictine and I had a ruby port.  It was sad to be leaving the restaurant for the last time.  ☹

Clockwise: Trevor, Gill, Bev, Barry, Carl and Debbie, on our last evening on the Balmoral

As the cabaret this evening wasn’t due to start until 9.00pm because of the second-sitting captain’s party, we went back to our cabin and did most of our packing, only leaving out whatever we’d need for the remainder of this evening and tomorrow morning.

We then bagged out seats in the Neptune Lounge for the Farewell Variety Show, with Gill and Carl sitting well back because the magician and the comedian were performing again, as well as the fantastic Balmoral Show Company and the talented musicians of the orchestra.

Trevor and I sat in our usual front-row seats but it meant that both Trevor and I were picked to help Rick Green, the magician, with a trick.  😊

We enjoyed the show very much and went, as usual, to the Observatory for the quiz, but it was fairly empty due to most people, I would imagine, doing their packing.  There was no sign of John or Linda or any of our other team-mates, so we just did the quiz on our own, and didn’t win once again.

There was nothing on in the Lido Lounge tonight, so we just stayed where we were in the Observatory.  Shortly afterwards Gill and Carl joined us, and we sat discussing various points of this very good cruise, with some excellent ports of call and interesting cultural and historical experiences.

As we had to be up at 7.00am, we determined we weren’t going to be burning the candle at both ends tonight, and in fact we were back in cabin 6009 by midnight.  We then finalised our packing and put the cases outside our door for collection.   Then we settled down for our last sleep on board the Balmoral.  As we were back in British waters now, we had to put our clocks back to BST, so we gained an extra hour in bed, which was no bad thing.

By the time the alarm went off the next morning, we found ourselves right back where we started from, in the Port of Tyne.  Needless to say, the skies were grey and the rain gusted down.

As Geordie folk group “Busker” sang, it was “Home Newcastle” and the end of another fabulous cruise.  Can’t wait for the next one!  😊

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