Archive for January, 2013

Cruisin’ Part 1

We took 2 of our grandchildren on a cruise in the holidays. It was a surprise Christmas Gift for them and they were speechless to say the least. They scolded us for being so extravagant until I explained this gift was for US because we love their company.

Passports were organized, forms were filled, shore tours booked and the anticipation killing us, until finally the day arrived. Of course I had over packed, as you do, and Hubby kept reminding me of this, especially since it was HE who had to struggle with the suitcase.

We caught an early train to Circular Quay, checked in our luggage then enjoyed a coffee while soaking up the atmosphere of the harbour. Watching my grandson scoff down a huge second breakfast, I thought how fortunate for us that Cruising includes meals.

When it was time to say goodbye their mum couldn’t hold back her tears. Usually the sensitive grandson would have been upset by this but his excitement abated his reaction.

On our last cruise I became a club member for future benefits so we were quite delighted to find the best benefit presented itself as we boarded. In fact it was so good that I almost felt unworthy. There were two dedicated parallel entry areas, one for the masses, and one for us. Woo Hoo! We skipped past about a hundred people then on to the next part of the Check In to find another line just for us. Oh this benefit was worth every cent that I didn’t pay with their free membership. With the embarkation over, it was then time to explore the ship.

We headed up to the top deck to start our exploration. The backdrop of the city was perfect for the multiple photos I was compelled to take and having grandkids that are always up for some mischievous posing made for a perfect combination. Now if I could just get hubby to enjoy this part of my personality.

The pool deck offered free Ice cream so we grabbed a cone and continued checking out all the places we would be spending our nine days aboard. We checked all the show rooms, cafes and bars, but the granddaughter became the most excited once she saw the variety of shops. I could see this is where she would be spending much of her time. By 1 our rooms were ready so we went to unpack.

We had 2 double rooms side by side in the middle of the ship at the front. It was much cheaper than a quad room, and with the amount of luggage we all had, it was probably a good thing. Hubby was with the grandson and me with the granddaughter. Being16 means myriad products so I felt fortunate that she at least ‘allowed’ me one shelf in the bathroom. By now our room was completely cluttered and disorganized from our unpacking while surprisingly the boy’s room was neat, tidy and completely organized so they were both relaxing on their beds watching TV. Oh the benefits of being male, simplicity in everything.

It was time to go to the Buffet for lunch. The grandson was overwhelmed. He had never seen so much food and didn’t know where to start. His big blue eyes grew even bigger at the prospects of choosing from all the variety before him. The granddaughter, who began her lunch with chocolate cake explained, “you don’t save the best till last in case you don’t get to enjoy the best.” Of course she finished her meal with “the best” as well.

While it was really nice sitting there overlooking the harbour and pigging out, we thought sitting on a deck chair by the pool was the ultimate “cruisey” thing to do and so chilled a bit while listening to a Reggae band. Since the grandkids were too young and hubby doesn’t drink, the chore of making sure the ships cocktails were up to scratch was left up to me. They were. But to be sure, it did take quite a few to convince me.

An announcement was soon made to gather for the mandatory Muster.  Though we have done this many times before I do take it seriously and wanted the Grandkids to do the same. Since being on our last cruise there had been the Costa Concordia incident so we happily went to our Muster station. But not all was right. The positioning of our rooms actually had us going to the Port side and the boys to the Starboard. (How about my Sea language? Took me a while, but when I attribute the shortness of the word Port to that of the word Left, I get it right. No I mean left. Well you know what I mean.) So here we are with the responsibility of assuring the well being of our grandchildren only to find my super duper swimmer of a husband would be on the opposite side of the ship if a catastrophe occurred. This was not good. Visions of the Titanic entered my head at this point.

It was finally “Sail Away”. Not quite as eventful as other cruise lines but none the less exciting. It took about 2 hours to get through the heads and in this time the Captain announced it could get a bit rocky due to a Southerly. This wasn’t pleasant news so early into the Cruise. I hadn’t gained my ‘sea legs’ yet.

We chose “traditional dining” with our sitting time being 8.30. This meant we catch the early show each night in the theatre. Tonight was a comedian. Not too bad but over the heads of the grandkids – I think?

I love the attention you receive from the dining staff. I also hate the attention you receive from the dining staff, and for or the same reasons. They are always there to enhance your dining experience and so – they are always there. Conversations were continually interrupted while they serve or clear or fill or inquire or sweep away bread crumbs. We couldn’t be rude to these lovely hard working people so we just waited out these repetitive routines then kicked back in where our conversation left off.

I decided to keep a diary of our trip and so after they had all settled in bed I went to the pool deck to enjoy a coffee and start writing. It was midnight by now and the swell was full on. The ship was really rocking and I wondered if it was going to prevent me from enjoying the experience. Would it be one of those nightmare cruises I have read about with me ending up spending the whole time sick in my stateroom? These thoughts were becoming a concern as I stumbled from side to side down the hallway toward my room. Would I end up ruining everyone’s holiday? End Part One.





” Seasickness: at first you are so sick you are afraid you will die, and then you are so sick you are afraid you won’t die.” – Mark Twain



The Mechanic’s Workshop

I spend a great deal of time at my Mechanics workshop. Not by choice of course but there is no avoiding the many repairs and services warranted for the upkeep of my money producing assets so I need to frequent this place regularly.

My mechanic laughs at the way I describe my vehicle’s symptoms but he is easily able to interpret what my flailing hands and variously pitched grunts, groans and squeals mean when I explain each new problem. He then speaks to me for a bit in “mechanics language” before I interrupt and ask the 3 important questions. Is it fixable? Is it going to cost a lot? And – WILL IT BE READY BY 2?

Each year he throws a mini Xmas Party for all his customers who arrive late afternoon on closing day to find his workshop has been transformed to include a BBQ, Bar, tables, chairs and music. He provides a wonderful feast and it would insult him if we didn’t down at least one of his supplied alcoholic beverages. People from all walks of life have their cars repaired so the people to chat with is diverse.

This year entertainment was provided.  Well, entertainment for men anyway. No, it’s not what you think, there were no strippers. It was a “Team Bin Racing” Car Simulator, which came complete with a BBQ and a ‘coldies’ trailer. There were 2 audience screens at the front to watch how the current ‘driver’ was performing, plus sound and smoke effects for realism. While not my cup of tea it was actually pretty cool.

It is lovely of him to show gratitude to his customers in this way and while this annual treat may seem strange to some, a Xmas party at the Mechanic’s Workshop has become a much loved tradition. Thank you T.





“I couldn’t fix your breaks so I made your horn louder” – Author Unknown