Saturday, June 17, 2006

England, Day 2, Birds, Bees and Flowers in the B&B Garden

We're staying here and this is just a little of its pretty pretty self.

Morehens or Moorehens (or however you might spell it) are exceptionally hard to photograph. Especailly when they have babies and there are dogs and cats around.


Yesterday's breakfast.

Dinner At The Bear

Above: Olives and hummus. Below: Pate.
Below: Burgery burger.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Breakfast for the last QM2 morning was a half of grapefruit and a toasted (sad) bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and red onion...familiar, eh?

Once off the boat we went into this scene and collected our baggage.
This photograph is out of sequence but captures my parents dancing down deck 12 on our morning aboard (we were off the ship by 10:00 am).
Once we got off the boat everything went wonky. Sea legs are not land legs and I still find myself compensating for non-existent's like being drunk, only different. Trouble started when we got to where we were to pick up the rental car and found that they had not, in fact, reserved it for us...this was partially because of U.S/U.K. business communication and links and partially just because it was dumb. Anyways, it took an hour before we were told to wait two and half hours more and to go somewhere else entirely and pick up a completely different car. So we wandered around Southampton, stopped and had a half pint at The Bosun's Locker (Dad keeps on foisting real British ale at me, but it's warm and kind of bitter and I don't think I like it very much) and then wandered around a big British mall for a while. We then returned to the first car rental place to collect our large amount of baggage. After the baggage was gotten we took a taxi to the Southampton airport, at this point in time it was around 2:30 pm. We went to the car rental place we had been told to go to and the man behind the counter had no idea who we were or why we were there. Long story short: we waited an additional three hours at the airport. Ugh.
This is one of the three big, black and beautiful dogs at the B&B we're currently staying at. I think this one's name is Badger. I need to head off to my second meal but I have three more meals to report, a few harrowing traffic incidents, beer and some bird for the two of you who care about such things.
In fact, Magpie guy, I've seen a few magpies...I never knew how pretty they are. My parents are all 'duh, that's so obvious' but I'm all 'hey I totally didn't know about them'. Blah.

Queen Mary II, Day Six/England Is Sometimes Pretty But Sometimes Stupid

Our last full day on the ship was on Wednesday. Mom and I had lunch in the Britannia Restaurant, I had a salad and the fish and chips.
This is what my lunch looked like, if you can believe it.

It was finally a bright and sunny day. Still exceptionally windy but, well, with sun.
I tried to get a photograph of the sun setting but I got there too early.

For dinner I had the chicken livers with poached egg, I had some kind of salad but I don't have a photograph of it, I had the Vermont Turkey dinner and finished the meal with a Florentine basket (sugary shaped thingy bob) with fruit and lemon custard.

The night was rounded out with a 10:30 showing of Failure To Launch. The best part of that movie was that Zooey Deschanel girl. But, either way, I was entertained.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Queen Mary, Day Five

Queen Mary II, Day 5

Well last night after writing up my post I drank a lot of beer. Actually I drank a lot of beer way before writing the post as both men I was watching the soccer match with ended up buying me a half pint. Then we had wine with dinner, then I went to the pub and met a nice older couple from the UK and we talked about this and that and then the husband bought me a beer…I had asked for a half pint but he decided I needed a full pint. So much beer for so very long. Today I paid the price of little sleep and too much alcohol and ended up doing very little.

Very little means going to breakfast with the parents, lying down, going outside and briefly reading, lying down, writing by the pool, taking a nap and then dinner. For dinner I had the Symphony of Seafood appetizer-one cold scallop, salmon terrine and salmon tartare. For dessert I had the ice cream but could not finish it. Now I'm in the Commodore Lounge sipping a virgin Mary and thinking about all the typos in the post I just put up on blogger. I'm still wearing my dinner clothing but think I will get out of them soon and maybe go use an outdoor hot tub. The most interesting part of dinner tonight was when after they brought our entrées to the table, our waiter went to each of us with the lobster and removed the tail from the already split shell, luxury.

My lying down a lot today did facilitate the finishing of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It's an interesting book because it is all in letter form and the main character, Charlie, is an extremely quirky guy. I was kind of sad when it ended, I got to really like his wack-a-doodle perspective on things.

Tomorrow I'll attempt to actually get to the kennels and that's really the only thing I'm sure I need to do. Oh, and I want to have lunch in the Britannia Restaurant. The movie they'll play tomorrow is Failure To Launch and I'm always up for a little SJP, so perhaps that will happen. It probably will.

This trip has gone by both quickly and slowly, like many weeks or almost weeks do. I feel a little guilty that I wasn't enjoying the scenery as much today but lying down and reading was awfully nice. Tomorrow is our last day on the ship and the day after that we'll be pulling into South Hampton. The parents and I will take a taxi to a car rental place and then go spend two or three days in the bed and breakfast owned by the niece of a friend of my parents (the man of my makeout photograph for those of you who have been with me for a while). Then we'll go on to Lambourne and stay in the B&B that my parents have been going to for ten years. Oh my goodness. A four phased fantastical trip. Big breaths, cc, big breaths.

Queen Mary II, Day 6, High noon
Well I just had a late breakfast of eggs, meat and tomato. I plan on lunching at the Britannnia today, so look forward to two rather nice meals instead of just one. I only have twenty minutes left out of my two hour internet allotment and we get off of the ship rather early tomorrow so how the rest of my day goes may be a mystery…I know, so sad.

I do plan to, finally, go see the kennels. Yesterday I got another book out of the largest library at sea—Kazuo Ishiguro's We Were Orphans…I started it last night but I'm going to have to really dedicate myself if I'm to finish it before I need to return it. I don't think I'lll be able to.

I'm pretty sure that the Captain just said we had, so far, traveled 5,206 miles. I know it ended in 206, but maybe it didn't start with 5?

Oh and today is supposed to be sunny and 'bright'. The one problem with having the late seating at dinner is that we miss the chance to see the sun set. I'm trying to think of a way that I can both eat and photograph the event, but I'm not sure the way exists…unless it's getting up mid-meal and running to the back (or is it the front?) of the ship, snap, snap, snapping away and then hustling back in time for dessert. Something to ponder.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Queen Mary II, Day Four

Queen Mary II, Day 4

Today I woke up late, we all did. And by late I mean 10 something. We missed out on the, in my opinion, far superior Britannia breakfast as well as, I don't know, but we must have missed out on something even if all it was ended up being hours of nothingness.

Yesterday I finished my bad book, the title of which I will now reveal:
The Fabulous Traveling Funeral Of Annie Freeman or (I can't quite recall) Annie Freeman's Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish. I may have cried but that does not, in my estimation, make it a good book. Okay, I did cry. I cried when she wrote about mothers dying or friends dying young. I had a burst of death, back in my sixteenth/seventeenth year, of so many different varieties of death (old age, suicide, completely unexpected meningitis) that I can't help but feel a bit for any character that has had a similar experience of a 'boom, boom, boom' series of loss

Anyways it was early in my afternoon that I saw famous guy whose name ends in Black but doesn't start with Jack. After that I finished my latest book, The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg (pretty good) and was in need of stopping by the cabin to pick up a new book. I chose to take stairway C ( I think it was C though it could have been D) which would mean a short walk outside and then through the pavilion bar/pool. I walked through that area and found it to be not ridiculously crowded and so my plan was to pick up my new book and then go back there to read and write a bit. Well, JK, you'll be disappointed in me because I did not, by any means, kiss Uma Thurman. Nor did I approach her. But she was there. Within minutes of my buying myself a Stella Artois and setting myself up facing the pool I was approached by Uma. She wanted a cigarette, I had one, she asked if she could borrow one, I saw this as my opportunity to take a photograph without losing my common decency. And so we traded, photograph for camel light. There was an exchange of a few words and then she assumed, I guess this is what most people want, that I wanted a photograph with her. At this point, I'm ashamed to admit, my hands were shaking a bit (it was like when I saw Tom Hanks for forty five seconds at the boyfriend's graduation) and so we put our heads together and we took, for me, the worst photograph ever. I look terrible! She, of course, looks beautiful and gracious. And of couse I will post it on this blog because, well, how could I not. So I would just like to make it clear that yes, she is as beautiful as she is in the movies only moreso because it's completely natural and all that. But, for my sake, I do not (or at least I don't think I do) look quite as greasy, cross eyed, double chinned and generally sucky as I do next to her. I won't lie. It was pretty neat, especially since I accomplished a photograph without actually coming up to her and asking. See, there are benefits to smoking.
I really wish I didn't look like such a tool in the photograph but what can you do...I saw her today and I almost aske for a re-do, but once again common decency got the best of me. I swear my face doesn't look that bleck. Or maybe it does and so what I should really say is that I swear I don't think of my face as looking like that. Blah.
This is what I wrote within minutes of my interaction with the famous woman….I'm sharing this with you but I'm not sharing the three or four pages of dialogue I managed to write for my Reality Story novel…though I did come up with a great analogy for Stephanie (for the one or two of you from class who know what I'm talking about) and that was that Stephanie felt like the bird in the alligator's mouth, cleaning the teeth thus getting food but really the less powerful in the supposedly 'altruistic' arrangement….oh yeah I was going to copy my hand written notes:

"Very much similar to my forty second proximity to Tom Hanks, I began to shake a little when, just moments ago, Uma Thurman asked me for a cigarette….It was embarrassing—this shaking—because it was a clear indicator that I didn't consider her just somebody. But then I didn't gush either, so I guess it could have been worse."

Well, actually, that quote is a repeat of what I've already said. Oh well.

But the dialogue I wrote was a conversation between Stephanie and her father and step-mother when she first tells them she's going to be on the show. It seems that Stephanie looks very much like her mother, just a bit overweight (who knew? I certainly didn't until I wrote it) and her father is awfully upset about the whole thing not enough to change her mind but enough for her to think hard about the phone conversation just days before she is going to go under the knife..

Before all this Uma shizz, I went to the Planetarium and saw the "Stars of The Atlantic" show. My favorite part was when they digitally/planetarily re-created the slow building of the International Space Station. The planetarium was much larger than I thought it would be though not as large as Chicago's planetarium.

Right now I'm sharing a table with my dinner table mates but am not participating in their conversation.

I watched the Italy/Ghana game this evening, before dinner, with a Scotsman, an Englishman and their wives. It was a far more interesting game than the last match I watched. This trip may make me care about football. Though I thought, for a while, that I cared about baseball after the whole White Sox world series thing…basically I'm a sports climber, I watch when it's socially interesting but maybe not always. What?

I'm ashamed that the majority of what I can say about today (tomorrow by the time I post this) is Uma related but what can you do. I liked the books I read. I'm now reading The Art of Being a Wallflower which is the third out of the four books I brought for this trip…damn, I read fast.

Lunch was a small turkey sandwich and cookies...I think that was yesterday. I have photos of the breakfast too but...blah.
Dinner was: Thai Fish Cakes, Smoked Chicken Salad and Fettucini with a cheese plate for after dinner.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Queen Mary II, Day Three

Queen Mary II, Day 3

Well, the technicalities of boat travel continue to go swimmingly (hee hee), today the parents and I went through "Customs". We gave a woman our boat ID and she scanned it then we gave our passports to another guy and he scanned that and stamped our passports and then, well, then we were done. I mean, really, anyone who has done international air travel knows that the wait in line for customs can be quite time consuming and here we were in and out in under ten minutes. Crazy.

Last night I got back to the cabin rather late, though exactly what the time was is unclear as every day we forward our clocks an hour, but I'd say it was between 12:30 am and 2:30 am. Due to the double espresso I had with dinner, I stayed up even later and read more of my book.

Today got the best of me and I, along with my parents, didn't get up until 10:30 thus missing breakfast in Britannia. Right now I'm in the Commodore Lounge sipping on a virgin mary and doing this...oh yeah and you'll never believe who was at the next table, you're thinking Uma but you're seems that there are at least two people of celebrity status. This latest sighting/sitting nearby involves one Frank Black (wait, not Frank, shit Louis? The comic guy, you know who I mean). Sightings, left and right!
I was awoken at some ungodly hour to the sound of my father snoring. This is not run of the mill snoring, no, this is like the philharmonic of snoring and I am seriously thinking of video taping it…not my father as much as the darkness and the overwhelming sound of him trying to breathe. Mom and I, again, got up before my father and went to breakfast. This time we opted for the non-buffet Britannia Restaurant where we sat with a whole new bunch of faces and had Eggs Benedict. I'm still adjusting to mom's camera so please excuse the shoddy-ness of most of the food photographs.

The day went by in a flurry of non-activity. I read outside, though the weather continues to be windy and intermittently rainy. I read inside and drank Earl Grey tea. I met up with my parents and had a midday pint then went through customs. Mom and I played a scrabble game next to a window with a huge view of the ocean (as opposed to a huge view of, hmmm, well, the ocean) and I beat the socks off of her…though she wasn't too shabby a player. Then she and I had a small bite to eat in the buffet world, I had a small salad and a hot dog…she had two very cute ham sandwiches. We had a brief Uma sighting and then I went off and finished reading my book.

I joined my mom and dad in the hot tub briefly and then jumped in the pool but I didn't stay long because right before I got into my bathing suit I realized that I had misplaced the camera…so swimming wasn't quite as enjoyable as it could have been…I retraced my steps and quickly located the camera and was quite relieved…the wrath and disappointment of my mother would have been immense.

The 'rents and I attended the Captain's reception where we received complimentary champagne and canapés (or 'can of peas' as my father would say). I've been taking the occasional bad video of certain events, which I guess I will upload to youtube once I get back to the land of free internet.

The thing about all of this is that it is all happening on a boat. One can forget it a little as the weather is so lackluster. The first morning when I took a swim I lay on my back and just floated, the water gently swaying itself (and me) back and forth with the boat. The horizon exists but in such a way that it's hard to completely fathom (hee hee) how much in the middle of deep water we are. Today we were within an hour and a half's boat ride to where the Titanic silently sits…I thought it was a bit strange that they pointed this out to us over the intercom system but then I would probably be disappointed not to know it.

For dinner I had the vichyssoise soup, a salad with smoked chicken and blue cheese, an amazing sea bass with vegetables and for dessert I had another cheese plate that included a delectably potent Roquefort. All members of our dinner table were in attendance. In fact I'm currently type type typing away at a table right next to Fred and Samantha. There was, until this very second, a jazz band but they seem to be done for the night.

The amazing thing about this, this being everything that has already happened and that will happen in the next month, is how big it is. This is a full blown vacation/travel experience complete with parents, friends and even another relative (my cousin, at the last minute, has become a member of the French part of our trip). It's what memories are made of and all that (gag).

My days are full of time. In Chicago my days were also full of time but it was time laced, always, with guilt. This guilt stemmed from a firm knowledge that I am old enough to be doing more than I was. Here, though, I am happy and comfortable. I am doing exactly what I like to do…sitting in beautiful places writing, reading and smoking. How I can ever thank my parents properly for this week and the coming month is a bit unclear but I am sure I'll think of something.

I think because I'm not writing online my posts are changing a bit…obviously in length and location but also—well maybe they're not changing so much, I'm still not proof reading nor am I writing about the great questions of life. Rambling is what I'm doing, but I'm not feeling too bad about that either.

As I said before, the most important thing to remember is that I'm on a boat, I'm on a boat, I’m on a boat!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Queen Mary II, Day Two

Queen Mary 2, Day 2

After writing in the pub last night, I returned to our cabin and continued reading my latest book…a very middle aged chick-empowerment-lit book. I woke up around 8:00, though I wasn't exactly sure what time it was due to the lack of outside light in our cabin. Once I realized that I wasn't actually being a sleeper-inner I debated with myself about whether I should get up or not. I decided to get up and take a quick swim in the pool on our deck. I assumed that it wouldn't be crowded that early in the morning and I was correct. The pool is very short and square shaped and never gets deeper than about five feet. It is flanked on one side by two hot tubs, on the other is a small stage where a pseudo Caribbean band plays during the afternoon. I say pseudo because every time I passed them later in the day they were playing songs that lacked any trace of the island vibe…they were more easy listening, lounge rock…in any case I swam back and forth a few times whilst a teenage boy partook in one of the hot tubs. The boy came into the pool at one point and I said hello but he wasn't into conversation and, frankly, neither was I. The boy disappeared and then I partook in the other hot tub briefly before returning to the now refreshingly chilly pool for another few back and forths.

When I got back to the room my mother stirred and we went to the King's Court Buffet for breakfast. I had a rather disappointing omlette along with a slice of bacon and a sausage link. Oh and one half of a fried tomato, that was very nice. We then went to the Golden Lion pub to watch the England/Paraguay World Cup match. There's something quite lovely about being in a pub surrounded by, mainly, English people, drinking a bloody Mary and watching a game of football where everyone actually cares. We could hardly see the screen as we arrived just minutes before the game whereas many of the others there must have been camping out to get the best seat to view either the large screen or flat screen televisions in the pub. A little ways into the second half we learned that they had the game playing in the Royal Court Theater. We decided that though it was lovely to be able to drink whilst watching the game it would be even nicer if we could actually see what was going on and so we walked down to the theater and sat in the front row for the rest of the game.

Afterwards we met up with my father and wandered around a bit before lunch. This is where I drop my one big piece of gossip…you simply aren't ready for this jelly…while trying to find our way down to the food we were on one of the upper outside decks when we saw a woman walking in our general direction. My father was a few hundred feet ahead of my mother and I, doing dad-like things (trying to open clearly locked doors), but we were facing this woman. It seemed like she was asking my mother a question but then I noticed that there were two kids behind her and that, in fact, she was addressing these questions to them. Okay. Well. This woman looked kind of familiar and as she got closer I became rather certain that she was none other than Uma Thurman both in looks and voice. And I was right. Yes, folks, I'm voyaging across the Atlantic in a boat with Uma Thurman. It's entirely possible, if not probable, that I won't see her again as I can only assume her lodgings are in the "Queen's Grill" section of the boat. The Queen's Grill Section of the boat is for people with tens of thousands of dollars who want an even more luxurious cruise than the rest of us and I'm pretty sure that Uma probably has a few thou' to spare. Anyways it was kind of neat and I couldn't help but share…If I see her again I'll be tempted to take her photograph but I am loathe to be just another celebrity hound….but then again I'm pretty certain she and I aren't ever going to be friends so what, exactly, is the problem with being like everybody else in this situation? I guess common decency. Damn you common decency, damn you!

After the Uma sighting and a nicely made turkey sandwich I began to do a more thorough deck by deck exploration of the ship. I saw the library and the bookstore. I also took in the bridge viewing area. Actually I went to the bridge viewing area with my parents after we ran into the captain of the ship and I father asked if he could come onto the bridge…the answer to that was: well, no but you can look through a window at us like we're monkey's in a zoo…only the Captain didn't actually say the monkeys part. I sat on a deck chair in the extremely windy and rather gloomy weather and listened to my ipod while reading my bad chick book. I had a cup of tea inside and continued reading my book. I went to where they hawk the photographs they insisted on taking of us when we boarded the ship…I took a photograph of the photograph thus getting around paying for the print.

Paying for things is a rather big part of this experience. The meals are included and are excellent, especially in the Britannia Restaurant but most everything else (drinks, laundry, room service, water color class, the spa, the Oxford lectures or Royal Academy of the Dramatic Art workshops etc etc) is not. Let me make it clear that I am not, in any way, complaining as much as finding it funny. I am not overly surprised and most of the above things aren't really things I care about one way or the other. The trivia games, however, are free to participate in and I may just do that some time tomorrow. If there's one thing I can say about myself it's that I know a lot of useless shit. Right now I'm sitting in one of the more sheeshy lounge areas, drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette and watching the staff close the place up for the night.

Dinner tonight was lovely and Fred's wife Samantha was also at our table. That lady's got some spunk. I had the mussels in a saffron sauce for an appetizer, a frisse and boston lettuce salad with duck confit, the cheese ravioli with a sage/crème fraiche sauce and the cheese plate for dessert. We had one bottle of white wine and one bottle of red. A cruise photographer came around and insisted (strongly) that we have our photographs taken. I insisted (strongly) that I would only have my photograph taken if it could me of me taking a photograph of the photographer. He acquiesced but immediately after insisted that he take a photograph of me without the camera in front of my face. I tried to say no but basically said that if I didn't say yes he'd be fired. He then made Andy (is that the made up name I made for our other table mate?) and I pose for a photograph though we were pretty clear that no, we were not a couple and that no, we were not siblings and that no, we did not, in fact, know each other at all. In the end I suggested he hold up his glass of red wine while I held up my white. It was funny enough.

Samantha livened up the conversation a little bit but at the expense of her husband. Well, not really at his expense so much as at his having to be happy with being interrupted constantly. Their story is a bit interesting, the little we learned…it seems that about forty years ago, when Samantha was 18 and Fred was a bit older, they met under the circumstances of Fred marrying Samantha's best friend. She said she fell in love with him then but, well, they ended up with different people…she married a guy into the Spanish language who, it seems, turned out to be less than a perfect match. So, that was interesting. After dinner my parents, Andy (or was it Arnold?) and I went up to the tenth floor and to the Commodore's lounge. I had a dirty martini and then a peach martini. We talked about speaking French and had other strange turns of conversation that can only happen when you're a bit in the sauce and talking to a complete stranger while on a boat.

I was going to try for another image or two but things are getting a little wonky. So yeah, that's that.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Queen Mary II, Day One

Well I was very excited about going on down to The Gold(en?) Lion for a beer, smoke and wireless access but I can't find the network and I've already ordered the beer so I thought I would compose a post without wasting my precious internet minutes (it's not cheap to be connected on the QM2). (meaning that I composed this in word and then today copied and pasted it)

I've been out of internet land for two days and in that two days I've had one extremely amazing meal and two very fine meals. The amazing meal was on Wednesday at Aqua Grill (address 210 Spring Street, New York). I met up with a friend from high school in the afternoon and we traipsed around in rainy NYC looking at many interesting Japanese type stores. I refrained from buying anything but my friend did treat me to an especially good pot of Earl Grey tea. She and I then met up with her boyfriend and, eventually, Seth for the meal to end all meals. And it was about time. Aqua Grill specializes, get this, in seafood. We went crazy crazy crazy. Not one but two and a half dozen oysters…the first round was 6 Malpeques and 6-er I forget because the Malpeques were so god damn good, they got an initial five golden star rating (wait I remember Kumomotos from Washington State). But then, with the arrival of Seth and an insatiable desire for more bi valves, we had the Hama Hamas and they usurped the five golden star spot and so the Malpeques will have to be satisfied with their four and a half stars. Oh my goodness they were good. For an entrée, of sorts, I had the soft shell crab appetizer which was quite good. Really the stars of the meal were the oysters…though their dirty vodka martinis were awfully tasty.

On Thursday my parents and I went to Deux Amis near our hotel. We shared the fois gras terrine and Salad Nicoise. For an entrée I had the roast chicken breast with potatoes Daphinois (spelling?).

Now for the QM2.

The Queen Mary II was very much an abstract notion to me. A funny thing I was going to take part in but not an actual thing past the conceit (what this means is a little fuzzy I plan on working on the idea at a latter moment in time). I imagine that, to a much lesser extent, the suspension of belief is similar to what an expectant mother goes through. It is a remote thing, the distance from its actual being making it conceivable. But as the months become weeks and then the weeks suddenly disappear into days and then the days are whittled down to hours and finally it's a matter of minutes and you still don't quite understand what exactly is going on.

We left our hotel around 11:30 in order to get to the boat and board by 12:30. Our driver had never been to the Brooklyn port in question and my parents became a little nervous about it due to his rather limited English…I, however, was not worried…I'm always the most laid back of the three of us when it comes to travel, I think. As we approached the bridge (I think it was the Brooklyn Bridge, but I'm not sure) we could see, in the distance, the Queen Mary II but she still seemed not completely real. (You should also understand that I'm sitting in this pub listening to some piano man sing jazz loungey versions of Beatles songs…currently Strawberry Fields Forever). Our driver said something to the effect of, 'that's your boat, yes?' and we replied 'well, yes'. But once we got to the actual terminal our driver said, with proper emphasis, 'that's a BIG boat' to which we replied (just as awestruck I think) 'yes, a very big boat'. The check in process was amazingly swift and easy. Seriously people, boat travel is the way to go…there's no wait, at all! Within fifteen minutes we were through security and walking up a glass walled walkway. Once we reached the end of the walkway a woman used a fancy bar code scanner to scan our newly made cruise IDs (with awful photograph of course) and then we were in.

The Queen Mary 2 has twelve floors that the guests are allowed to see and I would suppose at least another ten for the crew and inner workings…I may be wrong about this but I can't be sure.

We didn't set sail until five, so we took in our surroundings a bit then went to the buffet lunch on the seventh floor. Then there was more exploration. We had a half pint at The Golden Lion, saw the outside of the brig, briefly looked into the Royal Court Theater, sat in lounge chairs, sipped champagne and pointed at the Statue of Liberty. About forty minutes before the boat left the port we had a safety drill that consisted of hearing the alarm system, going to our appointed emergency assembly place and sitting with a whole lot of other people (most over sixty, I'd say) and listening to some guy on an intercom system tell us what to do if we see someone go overboard (mainly throw any thing that will float in after them and yell 'MAN OVERBOARD!'), how to work our life vests and what the proper way of jumping off a boat is (use your thumb and forefinger to close your nostrils then put the rest of your hand tightly over your mouth…use your other arm to firmly keep your jacket from riding up when you land in the water…proper getting into the water technique is to walk straight off the boat, NO jumping).

After the drill was over we all jockeyed for positions for our departure. My parents and I went to the highest observation deck, along with about fifty other people. As the boat began to move, the huge horns blew (see photograph) and a man who cares about New York maritime history tried to explain to us which land mass was which and why it was interesting. We passed a Staten Island Ferry and the newest ship in the Princess Line the two ships had an ear shattering exchange of horn hellos. We then went under a bridge that felt very close to our heads. Then people started straggling off. We, too, straggled off for a brief respite in our cabin.

Our cabin is an inside cabin. My father had hoped to upgrade but the Queen Mary is filled up to capacity and so we have no view. This is regrettable but not all that bad, there are a million places to sit inside and outside anyways. Our cabin is small but not overly claustrophobic, there are two single beds and then two pull-out-of-the-ceiling beds above them and enough closet space that we're not tripping over anything other than our own feet.

We have the late seating for dinner at the Brittania Restaurant and so dinner for us was at 8:30. We met two of our dinner mates (out of a possible three) and their names are Arnold and Fred (not really those are just names I made up for them). Alan is a late twenty something guy who is actually here to update/maintain the theater's show board/technology stuff. He says it's really only two days' worth of work but that the Queen is never in the same port for two days so he's doing it whilst going across the Atlantic. Ned is a sixty something man and I'm not sure what I think of him. His wife didn't accompany him tonight but I'm sure we'll meet her tomorrow. Ned worked for a classic car part manufacturing company but he's retired now and lives in Charlotte. Alan grew up in France to American parents and now lives in Miami. For dinner I had the salmon terrine with keta caviar (a slightly more bitter egg than ikura, but similar in looks), an oak leaf and boston salad and something that was like beef tenderloin but with a name I forget that came with potatoes, peas and Yorkshire pudding.

That may be all I have to say (a lot I guess). Hopefully tomorrow I'll figure out the wi-fi and be able to post this relatively quickly before going on to a whole new set of things.

Boat internet is a little slow on the upload draw and so I may have to severely limit my images...I had narrowed them down to fourteen but that's way too many. So, I guess, you'll get the full imagistic glory at some other point in time.

Today I got up way before my parents and went for a swim in the Pavilion Bar and Pool area. Very short pool but very close to our cabin. Then my mother and I had breakfast, then we went to the pub and had a screwdriver and bloody mary, respectively, while watching the England Paraguay soccer game.