It did not take long, the next morning, for me to realise that the ship’s motion was making me feel rather queasy. On went the Seabands again. I made it to breakfast but ate very little; glad to find Marmite on the jam tray to put on my half piece of toast.
Back in my cabin, I took a Stugeron tablet and lay down for almost two hours. I felt much better after a cup of beef tea flavoured with Tabasco sauce that is a daily feature in the sun lounge at 10.30am. Indeed, I was so much better that I managed to do some knitting while on a recliner on the sun deck, chatting to a fellow passenger who had also been sitting in the same row as me on the flight from London. He even came down from
Edinburgh too – well Newport to be precise – but earlier in the day.
The ‘problem’ with RMS St Helena or ‘the boat’ as it is widely known on St Helena, is one of having too much choice and not knowing when enough is enough food-wise. Lunch is offered in two places. In the dining room, a three course meal is provided; whereas in the sun lounge a buffet of cold meats and salads is the choice. I did not realise this and
headed straight for the dining room. I ate gurnard which was tasty but very bony.
Through not concentrating on what was in my mouth, while listening to
the conversation around, I managed to get a fish bone stuck in my throat. After realising that it was not going to go up or down as well as beginning to cause me to gag, I excused myself and quickly returned to the cabin to find magnifying mirror and tweezers. The bone was easily visible, stuck in my left tonsil and equally easily removed. That
was a big relief. I returned to the dining room to finish the fish more carefully then top it off by a lovely custard tart and custard. As you can tell – the seasickness had already
A random poll of fellow passengers revealed that some cabins were too hot and some too
cold. Mine was certainly on the cold side and I had had one of the technical people down to try and sort it. He did not do anything effective and I continued to be very chilly for the duration of the voyage. Thankfully, the public areas were all warm enough. Speaking with people who have done the journey many times before, this seems to be a regular problem – and an unfixable one. If ever anyone reading this should choose
to sail on RMS St Helena, be advised to avoid cabin A28.
The days passed in a leisurely but occupied way, with various activities put on by the officers in charge of the social side of things. There were documentaries about St Helena, films, deck games, quizzes and more on offer. I was kindly invited to join a team of
teachers from Shropshire on their team for the Music Quiz. I did warn them that I would be no help at all unless any of the questions were easy ones about classical music. Thankfully, they did not need my limited help as the Shropshire Six (as I shall refer to them from now on) ranged in age from twenties to beyond retirement and had a wide knowledge of various eras of music. Their general knowledge was
impressive too, though I was able to help out a bit more in this quiz. We won both and gained a free drink at the bar as well as an RMS St Helena pen and notepad. Bingo was another activity provided which I had not intended to partake in, but was encouraged to do so by a couple of the Shropshire Six. One even lent me the money for a few games. I then went on and won two of the four rounds, paying him back with a bonus and leaving me with enough money to leave a tip for the cabin steward and waiter who served us over the five full days on the boat.
And then there was the fancy dress night – the photo may be a bit blurred but the impression of the Shropshire Six dressed in their albatross headdresses will stay with me for a long time! Check out Alan the officer on the right of the photo – yes the one that looks like a milkmaid!
Other activities that were unscheduled included bird-watching with some amazingly knowledgeable people from the RSPB on a work trip; and a couple of half-hearted work outs in the gym next to my cabin. I got known as the sock knitter, since every chance to sit down – out came the knitting! Another passenger had cross-stitch and I noticed someone else drawing too. We were a resourceful lot..
The last night’s dinner was a feast of barbeque type food served on the sundeck, following
cocktails in the sun lounge. Tables with red gingham covers were set up on deck and all the catering staff stood behind tables groaning with food – roast beef, chicken, spare ribs, sausages, lots of salads, garlic bread, fruit, gateaux, cheese and biscuits and more – loading our plates as we walked past. The evening’s entertainment finished with skittles – at which I can say with certainty: I am no good. My team (half of the Shropshire
Six and I) managed to come third and were ousted by the team that eventually
won (who were a team of athletes returning from The Island Games held on the
Isle of Wight); but they might have gone further with someone who could at
least knock over a few skittles every turn!!
The next morning, bags were packed, accounts paid, tips left with the right people, immigration clearance completed, small boats boarded (not as terrifying as I had thought) and off we sailed to arrive at our destination: home for many, return visits for
some and a new adventure for the Shropshire Six and I.