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Cruise Control … Except For The Weather

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(Oceania Marina)

When I wrote about the Oceania Marina yesterday (see blog below) I had no thought that the voyage would make the National News that night.
Perhaps a bit of interest about the *first* cruise of the season might make some local newscast. But, what caught the eye of the  national network was the fact that the ship (and, of course, its passengers) landed in the middle of a snow storm.
Probably the possibility had been mentioned. After all, one does not set out on an Atlantic cruise without the chance of poor weather. And, the cruise ship, with its myriad of dining options, would be a nice place to hole up.
I know I would have no trouble saying that I would just get to a restaurant or two earlier than I had planned on the twenty-eight day trip. No problem.
And, the Oceania Marina’s next port of call was Newfoundland and Labrador, a rugged place in it’s own right; once a country in its own right; and currently well-known as the location of the hit play, Come From Away
But, most of the passengers interviewed seemed right happy to be where they were. One gentleman of solid years announced that he had “Moved to Florida twenty-five years ago so he would never have to shovel snow again.”
Which is newsworthy enough for me, who was out shovelling at 6:30 this morning.

 

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This cruise on the Oceania Marina caught my eye because 1) it actually comes to the Atlantic coast of Canada the second week of April (the earliest I have seen) and 2) it ends in Barcelona – a destination I would appreciate.

In between it goes to Ireland, France, England, France again, Spain, Portugal, Spain (again). It takes twenty-eight days out of New York.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a publicity writer for pricey cruises. If I ever did go on such a jaunt, I’d prefer a ship much smaller (the Marina can handle 1258 – 1447 passengers). And – in truth – I would rather go on a Freighter that only handles a dozen or so paying passengers. Oddly,  the main character in my  work-in-progress, Alison Alexandra, went on such a Freighter cruise and enjoyed herself immensely. But she’s that type of gal.

However, Alison Alexandra also enjoys the finer things in life (she also had a hearty jaunt on The Orient Express), and would not eschew the accommodations and offerings aboard The Marina.

In addition to the extensive voyage, and numerous ports of call, (and the complementary 24 hour room service) Alison Alexandra would enjoy a night or two in the twelve dining venues offered.

Alison Alexandra could dip into various menus to have :

Roasted veal rack: marsala sauce, mascarpone polenta, sautéed asparagus, tomato

Tournedos rossini: foie gras, truffle sauce, fried lorette potatoes

Roasted Beetroot and Garlic Goat Cheese Napoleon with Champagne and Truffle Vinaigrette

Pancetta Wrapped Filet of Veal with Bay Lobster Tail Oscar Style

Bone-In Milk-Fed Veal Chop prepared in your choice of style: Grilled to perfection and topped with Sautéed Piedmonte Wild Porcini Mushroom Sauce Pounded thin, lightly breaded and sautéed in Lemon-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil Vinaigrette, crowned with Trio of Diced Roma Tomatoes, Radicchio and ArugulaAged Marsala Wine Sauce

Gambas Sautées ProvençaleSautéed Jumbo Shrimp in Lessatini Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Garlic, Parsley and Tomatoes

And, from he Dom Pérignon Experience:

Curry jaune de homard bleu, nuage de coco: Brittany blue lobster, yellow curry broth, coco foam:

w/ Dom Pérignon 2006

Alison Alexandra is not (unlike her author) much for desserts.

All the menus, and other cruise details, can be found here: https://www.oceaniacruises.com/ships/marina/cuisine/

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You’re In The Army Now

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Bus rides do give one time to observe people – particularly a bus trip longer than one might want to take.

So, I had time on my hands to observe the fellow across the aisle. I’ll take a guess at early thirties, well-dressed, though well-dressed for travel on a bus. He had a fashionable pea coat, tailored jeans, and rugged dressy boots or dressy rugged boots. He was of slender but muscular build, with short hair and a chiseled face.  The man exuded military.

He had a neatly appointed carry bag for his food stuffs. It seemed each compartment had its own designation. There was one for sandwiches, one for granola bars, one for fruit. There was even a compartment for a slender, space age-looking thermos. I am not certain what it might have held.

When he used his iPhone, though I was too far away to actually read anything, I noted  the cycle of images he went through.  There was a deep red shield with a crest and wings; a large silver image of vertical slashing lightning bolts; and a photo of an almost-smiling attractive brunette. Whatever messages he sent seemed to consist of only a couple of lines of text, all done with his thumb.

About half way through the trip he took a book from another case. It was large enough to read the title across the aisle. It was “Merry Hell: The Story of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919” .

No, I wasn’t able to read all that from across the aisle, but a book search of key words led me to it a few minutes ago. And a fitting tale, think I, for a military chap.

When the bus reached its destination, he kindly indicated that I could precede him to disembark. For which I thanked him. And, as I waited to get my luggage, I saw him embraced – fulsomely – by the attractive brunette on his iPhone. A smiling brunette. An embrace he, as-fulsomely, returned.

 

 

Ship’s Cat, Erik The Red, Leaves For Final Port of Call

I shall repost this repost, as the illustrous life of Erik The Red comes to its close. I was always on the outlook for him when I passed The CSS Acadia.

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Erik The Red, the mouser of The CSS Acadia, moored permanently in Halifax harbour as a museum ship, retires today. Even as I write this. So, I will repost my own encounter with Erik, one day during the winter.

Dark comes early these days, and will do so for months. My frequent walks along Halifax harbour now usually begin in the dusk and always end in the dark. The lights near and far are beautiful, and the lack of fellow travellers is pleasing. And any ships that pass in the night on their way to sea are well-lit sights to see.

On ship stays in port, however. It is The CSS Acadia. The CSS Acadia survived the Halifax Explosion and sailed for many a long year afterward. She served in both World Wars and retains her original steam engines and boilers. She even has her original crew quarters. The CSS Acadia is still afloat in Halifax Harbour and is a part of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.  She is open to visitors and receives many. She also has a cat.

I met the cat the other night (not for the first time). He is an orange tabby called Erik, and is classed as the ship’s Junior Rodent Control Officer (Junior because there is a more senior cat aboard). He is not a “house cat”, but ranges the wharves at will. He is generally intent upon his business but deigns to be  friendly. If he deems he has the time, he’ll give you a look over and allow some fraternizing. Perhaps the lack of human folk prompted him to trot toward me and encourage some human hand contact. At any rate he allowed himself to be patted a few minutes. He even walked with me  (well . . . scooted around me as I walked) for a few ship lengths before he returned to his nocturnal endeavours. A sleek, gold arrow aimed into the dark.

DE

(death notice)https://haligonia.ca/beloved-erik-the-red-passes-away-after-brief-illness-200456/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=haligonia

(image)https://haligonia.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/FB_IMG_1501779912940.jpg

 

Louie-the-Dog Dines Well After A Day With NATO

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An excerpt from: The Bonner Prediction

05:14:31 ZULU Time

“I’ll sweep the house.” Bonner puts the keys on the dining room table.

“That’s fastidious.” Bess looks at her watch. “It’s a quarter past one in the morning. Who’s going to visit?”

Bonner gives her a closer than usual look to make sure she is kidding. She winks and sets out to find dishes. He stops her with a hand on her arm.

“Are you familiar with NATO safe houses?”

“Nope – never been in one.”

“Don’t try to use the back door.” Bonner points through the kitchen. “It’s wired with explosives.”

“You call this a ‘safe’ house?’

“Makes it safer for us.” He removes his hand. “It will explode if someone aggressively attempts to break it down.” He smiles. “We can also detonate if from here, if necessary,”

“But this wasn’t your idea?”

“No – alas.” He starts away with his handheld. “But I approve.”

The house is conventional in its layout, ready for a family. She wonders if there are families any more. If these buildings have been relegated as guest accommodations, she doubts either diplomats or military travel with a family.

She removes the food from the containers and places it on dishes. As she puts them in the microwave Bonner passes with his electronic handheld. She thought he might give only a cursory search (no one can possibly know they are staying here) but – no. The walls, the light fixtures, the electrical outlets, the appliances, the taps, the windows, the doors are all given a sweep for tell tale signs of transmission. The doors are closed and their locks are tested. As with any place of sanctuary, every room can become a ‘safe’ room. If this dwelling is like others she has experienced, the windows can even withstand an RPG.

When Bonner is finished, he goes to the cupboards and removes napkins. On his way past the fridge he takes out a bottle of wine. He shakes his head disapprovingly.

“Screw top.” Bonner carries the wine and napkins to the table.  “Not the usual standards of NATO.”

“I was planning on Sprite.” She looks toward the kitchen as the microwave beeps. “NATO lives it up while we Swiss live in parsimony.”

“If NATO inclined towards having us live it up, they would have put us in more graceful accommodations.” Bonner twists off the cap. “At least it’s white.”

“Where’s the dog food?”

“They’re a tidy group. I bet food will be in the kitchen.”

As Bess takes the food from the microwave and hunts for plates, Bonner searches for dog food. Not only does he find a bag in the corner, together with a foil pack of dog treats, but there are two shiny, new, metal dog bowls – one for food, one for water. Bonner guesses that a member of the supply personnel is a dog lover and raided the stores of the guard dogs.

“How much?”

“Two scoops.” Bess is putting the salad into a bowl.

“What about treats?”

After.” She looks at him. “I bet you don’t have kids, either.”

“Nope.” Bonner puts two generous handfuls of food into the dish. “I’d make a lousy father.” He runs water from the tap then fills the other bowl. “There’s time.”

“Not that much time.” Bess takes their food to the dining table.

“Ouch.” Bonner has little interest pursuing this thread. He opens a cupboard and takes out two wine glasses. “Louie is fed and watered.” He carries the glasses to the table. “And now, soon to be us.”

Bess looks over to Louie. He is attentive to her, but also has side glances to the kitchen.  She waits until he is only looking at her, and then makes a hand gesture.

“Go.”

Louie is out of the room before Bonner can pick up the wine bottle. His claws clatter across the kitchen floor, quickly followed by crunching and the scrape of the dog bowl on wood.

“He’s not going to savour, is he?”

“Nope.” Bess takes her wine glass. She is about to take a drink but stops. She extends the glass toward Bonner. “It’s been a night.”

“But our wee family is safe to home.” Bonner clinks her glass. “Though Louie’s table manners could be more refined.”

DE

(image) http://www.madrivercanecorso.com/wp-content/uploads/Smiles6-2-1.jpg

God And Death Kept Me From A Poetry Reading

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Admittedly I set out later than I should, but the poetry readings were to go from 7-9. Enough time for some of it. However, as I was a few blocks away from the harbour (yes, I was also going to stop by the harbour first) I heard Latin chanting.

I greatly enjoy Latin chanting, so imagine my surprise. It turned out there was a large tent set up in a parking lot beside the Roman Catholic cathedral. Six men were chanting a service for a small group. It seemed related (in some way) to the jazz festival happening in the city. They had mics and lights. I lingered by the  fence and listened. Evocative and effective.

However, I did feel I should go to the poetry readings, so off I went.

But I gave in to my temptation of visiting the harbour on the way. It was there, as I sat looking out to sea, that an elderly, white haired man struck up a conversation. A visitor who had arrived by train for a week of vacation.

The first vacation without his wife, dead these fourteen months.

She was eighty-four.

When he said this, he saw the look of surprise on my face.

“Bet you can’t guess my age,” said he.

I answered, with some truth, that I never answer that question.

“Eighty-one,” he said.

I granted I would have shaved a dozen years off his age.

“Married sixty years,” he said. Always had travelled with her. Always went by car. “But it wouldn’t be the same,” he said. So he took the train.

So – yes – I stayed to talk to him.

“Get up every morning to fill the day is my motto,” he said.

So I answered his questions about the islands, and if the helicopters flying overhead were military, and if all the ships needed the use of the tugboats we were standing beside, and was there somewhere close he could buy magazines, and how he got this real good travel deal through CAA, and how he talks to everyone.

“Is that really the ocean out there?” He pointed.

I nodded.

It was.

DE

(image)http://www.poetseers.org/wp-content/uploads/emily-dickinson-because-i-could-not-stop-500×344.jpg

God And Death Keep Me From Poetry

(image)
Admittedly,  I had set out later than I should, but the poetry readings were to go from 7-9. Enough time to attend some of them.
However, when I was a few blocks away from the harbour ( I was also going to stop by the harbour first) I heard Latin chanting. I greatly enjoy Latin chanting, so imagine my surprise.
 It turned out there was a large tent set up in a parking lot beside the Roman Catholic cathedral. Six men were chanting a service for a small group. It seemed related (in some way) to the jazz festival happening in the city. They had mics and lights. I lingered by the  fence and listened. Evocative and effective.
I did feel I should go to the poetry readings, so off I went. But I gave in to my temptation of visiting the harbour.
As I sat looking out to sea,  an elderly, white haired man struck up a conversation. A visitor who had arrived by train for a week of vacation. The first vacation without his wife, dead these fourteen months. She was eighty-four. When he said this, he saw the look of surprise on my face.
“Bet you can’t guess my age,” said he.
I answered, with some truth, that I never answer that question.
“Eighty-one,” he said.
I granted I would have shaved a dozen years off his age.
“Married sixty years,” he said. Always had travelled with her. Always went by car. “But it wouldn’t be the same,” he said. So he took the train.
So – yes – I stayed to talk to him.
“Get up every morning to fill the day is my motto,” he said.
I answered his questions about the islands, and if the helicopters flying overhead were military, and if all the ships needed the use of the tugboats we were standing beside, and was there somewhere close he could buy magazines, and how he got this real good travel deal through CAA, and how he talks to everyone.
“Is that really the ocean out there?”
He pointed.
I nodded.
It was.
DE

Lock Up Your Sailors – Daughters On The Loose In Town

(image)

I http://www.searlecanada.org/volturno/images/sailorWW1postcard2.jpg

Sailors from ten or more countries were in Halifax a few years ago, to participate in a fleet review for the Canadian Navy’s 100th Anniversary. HM Queen Elizabeth took the review from a Frigate plying the harbour.

As I walked myself up the hill from the harbor, I fell into step behind a couple. They were in their late teens or early twenties.  As we ascended, a Military bus descended. Because this happened in real-time, I can not be certain of what exactly occurred, though the gist is certainly true.

The young lady shouted something at the bus. It, in truth, did not sound derogatory but, shall we say, encouraging. When the incident was over, I noted she wore a T-shirt which proclaimed, over her ample bosom, NAVY. It is possible this is what she shouted. It is also possible she shouted BABY. There was an “AY” at the end of the word. And – yes – although this is Canada, she did not just shout “EH?”

As the bus passed me, and thus was nearly past the couple, an American sailor in his whites put his head out a window and shouted “I’ll be your Daddy!” The bus was not moving quickly, and the male of the couple in front of me took umbrage. He started toward the bus.

He yelled.

“What?”

“Excuse me”.

“What did you say?”

The sailor was still looking from the window. There was a lot of laughter from the rest of the bus. The male stepped from the sidewalk and started toward the bus.

The ample female in her NAVY T-shirt grabbed his hand and pulled him back.

I thought this a wise decision.

We all continued on our way.

DE

The Bluenose

 A number of years ago, I was seated on a bench in Halifax, watching a cruise ship prepare to leave.  I had noted a tall-masted sailing boat pass, but was more immersed in the huge ship leaving port. Suddenly a man was at my back, asking me to move so I would not get struck in the head.

I turned to see the sailing boat – The Bluenose – coming alongside. It edged toward the dock, closer and closer, and then a crew member on the bow shouted to me.  He asked if I would grab a rope when it was thrown. I agreed, happy to do so. I immediately  had the bow line in my hands and at my feet.

They shouted down to me and asked that I put it over the ‘second’ post. This proved to be quite a chore for something thicker than my arm and heavy in weight.  It took a couple of minutes, but I slipped it over. I jumped back. It was a taut rope indeed.

DE

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