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We have two more sea days to go before we are due to arrive back at our starting point in Tilbury, on Thursday morning. I’ve finished all my classes, so the days are mine to use as I wish.

This morning, after breakfast, we headed upstairs for some deck-walking and wave watching. Surprisingly, the sun was out and the weather was quite warm, with most of the sun loungers occupied wth happy sunbathers.

We ended up walking the deck and watching the sea all morning, and it was glorious! Not only that; as lunchtime approached, we saw no fewer than four separate whale blows – a rare sight in these parts. Having said that, we suspect that this may have something to do with our location; as you approach the Bay of Biscay from the South, there is a subterranean ledge that produces a circulation of water and nutrients… and food for dolphins and whales… sort of the equivalent of a whale and dolphin MacDonalds.

To mark the fact that my classes have finished and that I am ‘off the clock’, we celebrated by having a lunchtime ice cream from the deck vendor… we know how to live.

It was Formal Night tonight, and showtime was none other than ‘The Batchelors’, which takes me back quite a bit. They were before my time, but I remember there always being Batchelors LPs and singles in our house when I was little.

Of the three performers, only John Stokes remains from the original line-up, but backed by four members of the Columbus orchestra, providing keyboards, drums and a brass section, the sound was an authentic, real blast from the past. There’s a special kind of nostalgic awesomeness about old guys from their own time at the top, playing songs that helped to shape that era that, for me at least, really hit a chord. They played all their greatest hits, of course, ‘I Believe’ and ‘Diane’, and went down a storm. Having recently played seven summer seasons at Blackpool and recorded a couple of new albums, it seems The Batchelors aren’t so much having a renaissance… the truth is that they, apparently, never went away…

Peter Woolley

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