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An announcement last night advised us of a change to the itinerary. With a big storm and heavy seas rolling in from the West, in the way of our proposed route to Ponta Delgada, the ship has changed direction and we are now heading towards Funchal, Madeira instead.

Not that the change gets us out of the woods entirely. It is an exercise in damage-limitation; the warning of rough seas remains, at least for the next 24 hours.

When we awoke this morning, things were definitely looking a little choppy. After breakfast, we headed to the craft room unsure as to how the weather might affect turnout at this mornings class. As it turned out, it didn’t. Not only did we have a room full-to-bursting with people, but with only five minutes to go before the start of the session, folks were still pouring in – not what I had hoped for at all…

As a consequence, with the last of the seats being taken up, and a quick count of heads still waiting outside in the corridor, there really was no alternative but to agree to run a second class at 11:30am, straight after the first.

I ended up with about 20 people turning up to the second class. By this time, the rocking of the ship had increased considerably, and as the class progressed, folks were dropping like flies – including Tracey, who dashed off to crash out on the bed, leaving me to clear things up by myself at the end. I don’t have a problem with that, except to say that clearing the room at the end of the session was a long, slow process. The craft room is situated right at the front of the ship, on the 11th floor, which means that any movement of the ship is exaggerated. Walking from one side of the room to the other felt like wading through treacle, and by the time I finally returned to the cabin, I felt completely drained.

Because of the second class, I missed lunch. This would not normally be a problem; in the event of missing lunch, Plan-B is always to head up to the Bistro for afternoon tea and top up with sandwiches and biscuits. Unfortunately, when I headed up there, I was dismayed to find the bistro closed – very closed, in fact; locked and bolted… you couldn’t even go in there to the tea, coffee an water station.

From here on in, the weather deteriorated quite spectacularly. From our cabin we could see mountainous swells, and occasionally, the ship would lurch, sending stuff flying to the floor. At one point, I went downtairs to the sore excursions office in reception, when a particularly large lurch send glasses and plates, from the little teashop there, crashing to the floor, and parts of the reception desk just seemed to fall apart. Folks were running around trying to hold things together as a second lurch came (big lurches to one side are almost always followed by another on to the other side)… chaos ensued.

Needless to say, we spent the rest of the afternoon in the cabin, listening to drawers opening and closing and things falling to the floor. We are currently binge-watching our way through five seasons of Stargate Atlantis, so back-to-back entertainment was the order of the day. This was all fine… except we were hungry. On previous occasions, when the bistro has been closed, afternoon tea has usually been served in the reastaurant, but that too was closed and deserted. We were donated a couple of packets of crisps from Chrissy, the creative writing, who lives in the cabin next door, though.

By late afternoon, with no let-up on the rocking and rolling, it was announced that the bistro would remain closed for the time being and that a limited-menu dinner would be served from 5:45pm in the restaurant only (open sitting).

We’re not fans of eating in the restaurant, preferring to eat in the bistro, where you can take your time and eat as much as you want, and not have to wait for others on your table to finish a course before ploughing on to the next – just can’t be doing with it. As it turned out, dinner was fine. My only disappointment (apart from the smaller portions) was that minestrone soup, despite being on the menu, was not available, and my anticipation of the vanilla ice cream for afters was right royally dashed when the whole lot crashed to the floor on in one of the ship’s larger surges.

It wasn’t until later into the evening that the sea started to calm down. With two more sea says before we arrive in Madeira, we’re hoping that we’re over the worst of it. Fingers crossed!

Peter Woolley

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