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What a difference a day makes. We’ve left the Bay of Biscay and are now in the English Channel. It’s cold, windy and raining outside, and the the only people on the upper decks are the smokers, huddled together under the sheltered section of the deck that permits their addiction. The going isn’t quite so smooth, either, with a lumpy sea that occasionally feels like we’ve just gone over a speed bump.

After breakfast, we went to listen to Louise Bonner’s talk on the English Channel; how it was formed, how it has been crossed in the intervening centuries, and how, at one time, the channel was a cold, semi-frozen tundra that was home to sabre-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths.

In the afternoon, we went along to Ian’s last, light-hearted talk on ‘how not to photograph wildlife’ before making a start on packing (although, I have to say that it doesn’t take us long to pack, since it mostly entails stuffing all our dirty laundry into a suitcase and sitting on it until the zip closes). We ate dinner to the sound of a howling wind whipping the top deck and whistling through the doors every time someone entered the bistro from outside.

As the cruise draws to an end – and it’s flown by, to be sure – we’re looking at the cabin and the ship and thinking forward to January, when we will be returning for the first leg of the Columbus’s World Cruise, to Sydney. I’m guessing we will be allocated more or less the same cabin, or similar in the same area on this deck. We’ve really enjoyed the convenience of having a kettle in the cabin and a big window that lets in plenty of natural light (even if there is a lifeboat in the way of the view), and although we haven’t really used it, having a small fidge in the room is nothing short of luxury for us. Even the shower has been a pleasing step up in terms of size, power and consistency.

We will be arriving at Tilbury at around 8am in the morning, and expect to be off the ship soon after that. Home in North Yorkshire is about four and a half hours drive away.

Until January… in the words of Mary Poppins and Bart Simpson… my work here is done.

Peter Woolley

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