Calypso Christmas

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 4th January 2009

Calypso Christmas


Just returned from the Calypso Christmas Trip on board the Aurora. 

 We were fortunate that the Bay of Biscay crossing was relatively calm but we encountered a storm on Christmas Eve and that was distinctly unpleasant.

As my son Jonathan couldn't take two weeks leave, I took with me my friend Doreen who  accompanied me last year  back from Capetown to Southampton on the Oriana.

I give my talks on the Sea Days and was very pleased with the attendance.  There's so much going on every day that people have a multitude of choices.  The Entertainment was, as always, extremely good.  The Headliners - resident song and dance Company - were superb as were Tom O'Connor and Stuart Gillies. I worked with Tom years ago on an excellent Quiz Show called 'I've Got a Secret' and Stuart was one of the regular singers we had on Pebble Mill back in the 70's - so it was a rather nostalgic trip.  Tom is brilliant and held the audience for an hour of side-splitting comedy and not one Four letter word in sight!!!!!!

 When we reached the Caribbean, the weather was very disappointing.  It was warm but on all but one day - when we visited Antigua - the skies were grey or we were beset with showers.

 We only took a couple of the organized tours as Doreen was suffering from a painful leg and many of the trips encompassed walking over uneven terrain.  I'd not brought my walking boots with me and, as the weather was dodgy, didn't really fancy hiking in the rain.  We did take the 'Under Two Flags' trip on St. Marten where part of the island is under Dutch rule and the other under French.  The port is on the Dutch side and nothing much to write home about and the pretty town is on the French Side with a small but superb Mall and a shop selling the most exquisite French and Italian Clothes.  Just as well I had Doreen to drag me away or I'd have spent a fortune.

 The only perfect day we had - weatherwise - was in Antigua and there I'd booked to go snorkelling with Stingrays.  I'm glad I had the experience but, as always, it was so commercialised as to detract from the joy.  I expected a group of maybe 30 people - only to discover it was more like several hundred.  Felt terribly sorry for the Rays with all the noise and disturbance but I have to admit they came flocking into the enclosure when we arrived - knowing they would be fed juicy bits of squid and octopus.

 They feel like velvet and you feed them from underneath the body with the warning to keep your hand a good four inches away from the feeding hole.  They suck the food in with the strength of a vacuum cleaner - quite an odd sensation as the titbit is whipped from your hand.

 Can't tell you much about the Islands as most of the interesting tours were already booked before we boarded and because of the inclement weather we didn't feel like taking taxis around the islands.  We did venture off the ship in St. Lucia and got talked into taking a taxi to a Beach.  We'd envisaged a cove with maybe a few dozen people - what did we get - Brighton Beach without the pebbles.  You couldn't put a pin between the Sun beds.  Sorry - not my idea of fun.  After that we decided to do our sunbathing - in between the showers - on board the ship.  This was a much nicer option as the Ship was almost empty as was the pool and we virtually had it to ourselves.

Our delightful Captain - Ian Hutley - very kindly invited us on to the Bridge for Sailaway from St. Lucia.  It was an amazing site to see this huge Ship performing a 'Three- Point Turn' in the Harbour - taking sitings to get the manoeuvre correct.  There's very little spare space and the Captain was very pleased that Serenade of the Seas had gone out just before us thus making his job a trifle - but only a trifle - easier.  

 Doreen and I enjoy the Formal evenings as we are both old enough to remember and enjoy the days when much more was made of 'Dressing for an Occasion'.  I'm told that there are Cruise ships where the order of the day is total informality - I don't think I'd enjoy that at all. It was lovely to see the Gents in their DJ's and the Ladies looking Elegant.

 Flying back from Barbados turned into a mini nightmare.  We got to the Airport with four hours to spare before the flight, checked in and sat in a relatively empty Airport lounge and then it started filling up.  There's not a lot to do at Barbados Airport so we were pleased when the time came to board - and more than pleased that it had stopped raining.  The rain was coming down in Stair-rods and was so heavy, we couldn't see the planes parked on the runway. 

 We boarded half an hour late and then sat for another hour and a half before we had clearance to leave.  There was an Air Traffic Controllers' Strike in Trinidad which was affecting everything in the Caribbean.  And then - Nightmare - we had two crying babies - one stopped after a while and the other cried and screamed almost without stopping throughout the night.  I simply don't understand why parents subject tiny babies (in this case they were a few months old) to long flights when, if nothing else, they are likely to experience pain in their ears due to pressurisation.  Personally, I think it's dodgy to take babies into hot climates where they are at risk of dehydration, mosquito bites and heaven knows what else.  I think the one who indulged in non-stop screaming might have been suffering from teething toubles and couldn't understand why the parents didn't give it one of the many preparations which might have quietened the child and given some respite to the rest of us. Suffice to say, along with many other passengers, I got about one hour of sleep in an eight hour journey and arrived home like a Wet rag.  I used to really enjoy flying but not any more.  I dread the queues, the security checking and the interminable waiting.

 However, our Calypso Christmas was yet another in a long line of 'Experiences' and it was pleasant to be waited on.  The staff were delightful and very appreciative of the efforts we made to dress up and look good.  Our table waiter Deepak and wine waiter, Xavier were particularly attentive and made our trip all the more enjoyable.

 Anyway, I wish you all, wherever you are, a Healthy and Happy New Year.

 All my very best wishes,  Jan


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