When The Boats Come In

We got up this morning around 8.00am and eagerly went out onto the balcony to see what the weather was like. It promised to be sunny and warm, and we’d left the balcony door wide open last night to let in the cool sea air; it is so much nicer than the drying effects of air-conditioning.

After getting ready we decided to go down go the Borealis Restaurant for breakfast rather than the buffet; as it was formal evening once again it meant that the freebie cava should be on offer, and indeed it was. πŸ™‚ We therefore mixed it with our orange juice and washed our breakfast down with a Buck’s Fizz.

I enjoyed a bowl of Bran Flakes to start, followed by Scottish kippers and poached eggs, accompanied by good strong coffee. We then went out on deck for a look around; we could see the Isle of Wight and the town of Cowes on one side, and Portsmouth with the distinctive Spinnaker Tower on the other side. Several small craft, speedboats and yachts cut through the calm water, some of them tooting their horns in a greeting to the Borealis as they went past.

It was very pleasant out on deck. The sky was blue with lots of fluffy white clouds, the sea was perfectly calm and there was nary a breath of wind.

We were slap-bang in the middle of the famous Cowes Week, which in 2021 runs from 31 July – 7 August. Cowes Week is one of the oldest, and largest, yacht regattas in the world with 40 daily races, up to 1,000 yachts and 8,000 competitors taking part. The first race was due to start at 10.00am and we looked forward to viewing it from the topmost deck (Deck 9) of the Borealis.

Ten o’clock came and went, and there was still no sign of any yachts. About 15 minutes later, Captain Victor Stoica’s voice came over the PA to say that they’d received the news that the start of the race would be delayed due to the lack of wind! It was a perfectly calm and lovely day. Isn’t it just typical of the British weather that when you actually want there to be wind, there isn’t any?! πŸ™‚

At 11.00am, with still no action from Cowes, we went to the Morning Light to do the quiz. Once again we didn’t win. Was this going to be one of the rare cruises where we have a complete duck-egg for the entire voyage?

After the quiz we adjourned, once more, to the rear decks near to The View bar. The sun was out and most of the loungers were occupied. We sat at the edge of the pool and I decided that wearing black jeggings was not such a good idea in the sun; my legs were roasting. I decided to go back to 6176 to change into my white trousers.

Back up on deck we ordered a freezing cold drink each; Trevor opted for the cocktail of the day while I decided on a pint of cold Strongbow cider. When the drinks came, Trevor’s cocktail was there but instead of a pint of cider my drink was a half of lager. Oh well, I was sure it would still go down very well. Shortly afterwards, another bar waitress arrived with the correct drinks, so I think we’d inadvertently been given someone else’s order the first time. None of the drinks went to waste, however (more likely to waist, ha ha!) πŸ˜€

We then stood at the railing watching the bright sunshine dancing on the water. The glittering, twinkling and sparkling was quite hynotising, and I just stood there staring at it for ages.

Sunlight glittering on the water

As it was now 12.30pm (mad dogs and Englishmen and all that) we decided to seek refuge in the shade while we finished our drinks. Then we went along to the Poolside bar for lunch, where the decks had all been decorated with bright flags to celebrate Cowes Week (when any yacht racing did actually start!)

It was great sitting by the pool watching the best of British holiday-making. I enjoyed a delicious Santa Fe salad washed down with a chilled glass of fizz and followed by fresh fruit salad and cream. Then the resident band Funky Blue struck up with a selection of foot-tapping music, as I contemplated going in the very inviting-looking pool for a swim once our lunch had gone down.

Soon afterwards, another announcement came from the captain that, around two o’clock, some of the yachts were going to make an appearance for a trial, to see what sailing conditions were like. We decided to go up to the Crow’s Nest to do the music (“Name That Tune”) quiz, but it would also give us a great vantage point if anything should be happening outside.

Despite the beautiful weather, the Crow’s Nest was pretty full (the quizzes are always popular and some people take them very seriously). We collected a quiz paper and a pencil and took our seats, while the DJ played a 10 second clip of each song and you had to give the title as well as the artiste. We scored 30/30 and thought there would be a tie-breaker, but we were the outright winners! Finally – we’d broken our duck! Our prize was a couple of Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines luggage straps which will come in very useful on future cruises. πŸ™‚

By this time, we could see that several yachts had made an appearance, gliding along serenely in the Solent; lots and lots of triangular sails going back and forth. Even if it wasn’t the proper race it was still a spectacular sight.

The afternoon passed in its usual pleasant way, and around 6.00pm Borealis weighed anchor and put to sea once more; next stop Liverpool.

Soon it was time to start getting primped and preened in time for dinner. I wore a long burgundy coloured dress with a sequinned bodice and a matching lace sequined jacket, paired with a gorgeous Murano necklace.

Trevor looked very handsome in his DJ, and he went out on the balcony for me to take a photo; we spotted another cruise ship on the horizon which MarineTraffic told us was Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. You can just see it over Trevor’s left shoulder in this photo:

Trevor on the balcony, with the Queen Elizabeth in the background

Dinner was scrumptious as ever; I started off with mini Scotch eggs as an appetiser, followed by a delicious Stilton and walnut salad, then chicken breast stuffed with haggis as the main course, accompanied by fresh vegetables. Dessert was a popcorn and honeycomb sundae with caramel sauce, and it was all washed down with chilled Sauvignon Blanc and finished off with coffee and amaretto. Leaving the table fit to burst, we made our way along to the Neptune Theatre for the Captain’s farewell toast. Farewell toast! How the time had flown. 😦

Tonight’s show, by the Borealis Theatre Company was excellent. It was called “Magical Mystery Tour” and featured music by the inimitable Beatles. The singing, dancing and costumes were fantastic, and we could see everyone in the audience singing along as well. A great show.

We then finished of the evening by meeting up with Sid and Carol to do the 10.00pm quiz, but our earlier luck didn’t stay with us, and we didn’t win.

Then it was off to the Crow’s Nest for the late show called “Spotlight on Music” and featuring one of the show company singers, where we once again made the most of the all-inclusive drinks and didn’t leave until after midnight. πŸ™‚

Back in cabin 6176 we settled down for the night in our comfortable bed. We had a full sea day to look forward to tomorrow, and I tried not to get too depressed that the end of our cruise was looming far too quickly.


Thursday, 5 August 2021

We didn’t do an awful lot today really, so it doesn’t warrant a blog entry of its own. We just spent the time relaxing and doing what we wanted, and we barely looked at the “Daily Times” activity programme, preferring not to live our lives by the clock. I didn’t go up to breakfast, but instead enjoyed a cuppa and made the most of the fruit bowl in our stateroom.

We pottered around the ship and I went round and took loads of photos for a Borealis album. Then we went into the Neptune Lounge where Trevor listened to a talk called “Living in Victorian Times” while I did some of this blog and sorted my photos.

We then returned to cabin 6176 to do that most tedious chore of them all – our packing. I really hate that moment when you have to drag the cases out from under the bed and start putting stuff in them. When we pack before coming on holiday I tend to do it over a week, putting things in as I remember and as I decide what to wear, and it helps to build up the excitement of the impending holiday. But packing to come back is just a pain in the proverbial. 😦

It took us nicely up to lunchtime which we enjoyed in the main restaurant. I enjoyed bangers and mash with a glass of fizz, then we went out on deck for a walk about. While the air temperature was still quite warm the skies had clouded over a bit, and because the ship was going along there was that little ever-present sea breeze.

As we stood at the railing and watched the ship’s wake (always a fantastic sight!) we reflected on the fact that it was just so, so wonderful to be able to do this once again – to be on a ship, watching the sea, breathing in that clean salt air, hearing the hynotic sound of the waves and the cries of the seagulls. How could anyone not love this?

The wake of the Borealis as she steams along in the Irish Sea, en route to Liverpool

After returning to our cabin for an afternoon nap and a bit of R&R, we went along to the Morning Light for the afternoon trivia which we didn’t win. I was about the only person in the whole room who knew that it was Dido who had a bestselling album called Life for Rent and, after the quiz, a lady who had see us win the “Name That Tune” quiz yesterday asked me how I knew so much about music.

To live without my music
Would be impossible to do.
In this world of troubles
My music pulls me through.

Music – John Miles

The answer was simple – I am always listening to music. I have it on in the house when I’m cleaning and tidying up; I play it in the background when I am working, in the bedroom when I’m getting ready, and even when I’m out and about (on a walk or at the gym) I have my earbuds in and I listen to it on my phone or iPod. Depending on your mood, music can move you fantastically; it can lift you up, it can bring a lump to the throat, it can make you get up and dance. I couldn’t live without my music! πŸ™‚

Once we were back in our cabin I sat out on the balcony for a while with a chilled glass of fizz while Trevor decided to go up on deck. Then it was time to start getting ourselves ready for our final dinner on board. 😦

I wore a black off-the-shoulder dress with silver spots and Irregular Choice silver shoes which light up when you walk on a hard floor! They certainly received a lot of comments on our way the main dining room!

After another delicious meal (the diet starts tomorrow!!) we said our goodbyes and “safe journey” and all to Brian and Alison, George and Dorothy. Then we went along to the Neptune Lounge for the Farewell Variety Show which featured all of the great entertainers we’d seen this cruise.

We finished off in the Crow’s Nest and tried to put off the time when we’d have to return to our cabin and finish off our packing. We had to be up in the morning at 6.00am as we were hoping to be one of the first off the ship. We’d therefore opted to carry our own luggage off which made much more sense as we has learned that the luggage was going to be taken back to the ACC Exhibition Centre, with shuttle buses taking passengers back there. It seemed daft us going there when we were only parked a 15 minutes walk from the cruise terminal!

Also, it meant that we could pack at leisure and put our last-minute things in the cases in the morning.

We reluctantly left the Crow’s Nest around 11.30pm and I brought a final glass of cava back to 6176 as a nightcap. Then we packed up most of our stuff apart from what we’d need tonight and in the morning (and put our new luggage straps on the cases!)

Getting into bed, I read for a while and enjoyed my drink, before turning off the lights and settling down for our last night on board the wonderful Borealis. We’d had a great little cruise, much better than we’d expected under the restrictions in place.

When we woke up in the morning, we were docked back in Liverpool, where the rain was lashing down in torrents. As we watched the raindrops sliding down the windows, it reflected exactly how we felt. 😦

And so ended our voyage around our own green and pleasant island, and we could start looking forward to the next one. πŸ™‚

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