Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Northwest Pool, Austin v. The Lido, Winchester

The cruise log is over (thank GOD, I hear you say) and I'm deep in the land of Dubai tales.  Before I get swallowed up, here's an ex-pat POV of an Austin, Texas treasure.  Austin's earnest Parks & Recreation Department offers many super swimming holes including the world renowned Barton Springs and Deep Eddy Pool but my own local, Beverly S. Sheffield Park, aka Northwest pool, is surely the prettiest in town.  I've been going there for years and swimming regularly for the last three.  I used to take my stepsons but now it's usually just me.  I was on the doorstep when the pool opened on April 23.  It was sunny but the water was cold; I was exhausted and shivering after only 6 lengths.  Still, I was there. 

Across the basketball court, alongside the tennis courts

Lovely Northwest Pool
Now it's May 29 and in the mid 90s.  The water has warmed up and every visit's a treat.  After performing Creepy Campfire Stories for crazy end-of-semester elementary kids all morning and invoicing all afternoon, I grab my swim bag and make the 1-mile drive to the park.  Leaving my car in a shady residential street, I walk over the wooden bridge, across the basketball court, alongside the tennis courts, up the hill and along the path to the main entrance.  Schools break for summer tomorrow so while the pool is busy today, it's nothing compared to the watery Bedlam I can expect this weekend.

As the sun slips slowly westward, I see the regulars who do what I do: swim for exercise while at the same time enjoying the perfection of the park.  Along with the swimmers, there's Tall Round Man who walks from one side to the other; never seen him swim.  There's Grumpy Old Lady who sets up her floating bed so it's half poolside, half in the water.  She never swims either and gets thoroughly bad-tempered if the water rocks her bed, mumbling to herself and scowling at children who come near her.  All last summer, Tall Round Man and I commented lightly as we passed each other, him walking, me swimming: "I see she's no happier today!" and "She's particularly miserable this afternoon!"  All last summer, she scowled at me when I swam nearby, even when it was just to touch the side before swimming another length.  Today, I take a breath and say, "Hello, how are you?" and the next thing, I'm having a full-on conversation about England and how much she loves it.  I've broken the ice!  And I may, like it or not, be chatting with her daily for the next 5 months! 

"But it could be worse," I think. "I could be at the Lido Swimming Pool in Winchester."  In Austin, it's pool weather from May until October.  Not so in England.  The Lido opened annually on 1st May regardless of the weather and when I remind you that it occasionally snows in England in May, you'll understand my appreciation of central Texas' climate.  When I was ten, a Hampshire Chronicle photographer came to my school, St. Peter's Roman Catholic Primary, to find kids who wanted to be first in the pool on 1st May.  Since I was an appalling swimmer (could barely swim at all), it seems unlikely I'd respond, and yet I apparently volunteered.  More likely, I was volunteered.  Along with a boy from my school, Keith Tasker, I went to be "first in the pool."  There were three other kids from other schools.  It was a freezing, blustery, grey day and none of us wanted to get in, let alone swim.  There was no question of us not getting in; nevertheless we hung back.  If I recall correctly, the water temperature was 50 deg. F.  The photographer eventually shoved me bodily into the icy water.  I screamed as if I'd been stabbed.

Mum kept the black and white photo for years; I wish I still had it to show you.  The caption read: "Five Brave Young Swimmers Battle the Water at the Winchester Lido on 1st May" and shows the five of us huddled together like penguins in an Antarctic storm.  I'm wearing a regulation black swimsuit and a white rubber cap.  I was utterly miserable, and I look it. 

I smile at Grumpy Old Lady.  "See you tomorrow," I say as I head into the sunset.  I know when I'm blessed.

The pool was behind the wall.  It's a parking lot now.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Sixteenth/Seventeenth Day

Wednesday, November 10, 1971.  There were issues with going ashore today, after yesterday's events.  I think we visited a museum, something like that.  Shame on me for this gross memory lapse.  As we were flying back from Venice to London the next morning, Thursday 11 November, I guess we packed for disembarkation and the flight. 

I'd never been on a aeroplane before.  Flight GK 164 was with Laker Airways, a wholly British enterprise, privately owned by Freddie Laker, one of the pioneers in low-cost air-travel.  In high spirits, glad to be going home, I jabbered away cheerfully prior to take-off.  We were all laughing at the brown paper sick bags at our seats, "spew bags" we called them.  We went up and down the aisles getting them autographed.  There was nary a blank space on mine; a few boys I'd come to like signed it which was tantamount to saying they loved me!

It was a short flight (3 hours) but I didn't know that when we took off.  It'd taken 16 days to reach Venice; for all I knew, it might take that long to fly back!  Laker Airways' flights were famous for getting you high fast...that sounds terrible...I mean, for reaching altitude quickly, so as to save fuel costs.  Actual take-off was petrifying.  I was a little uneasy about the speed reached on the runway but totally shocked by the sense of being thrust back in my seat as we lifted off the ground.  The swift upward motion of the aircraft made me feel like we were in a rocket so far back in my seat was I thrust.  I was upside-down, facing the stars!  I immediately lost hearing in both ears. 

Do you recall that I'd discovered my fear of heights when I was on the back of the Santorini mule?  Can you imagine my panic now?  I couldn't see out of the window because it was stormy but that may've been a good thing, looking back on it.  No one warned me that plane engines were noisy and that those noises altered regularly as the captain changed gears.  From the moment of take-off I thought something was wrong.  "Shouldn't someone be checking the engines?" I thought, looking about anxiously. "They're obviously about to explode."  Then the turbulence began.  Naturally, I'd never heard of turbulence.  All I knew was that the plane was shaking violently and things were falling out of overhead bins.  This seemed to go on forever, so long in fact that I started to feel sick.  Then the plane shuddered and the engine noises abruptly shifted their timbre.  They got even louder: my ears were so painful, I thought they might pop.  I tried not to cry.  Suddenly, out of the blue, the plane swerved and started going down.  "We're going to die!" I wanted to shout but of course I couldn't because I'm English.  Now I felt really sick.  Oh no, please God, please don't let me be sick.  I'd rather die than be sick in front of all these people.  I'd been car sick since a baby and was NOTORIOUS as a child for throwing up on people's party dresses.  PLEASE don't let me be sick.  I reached for my now fabulously signed spew bag -- no, no, not my lovely spew bag -- and had just shaken it open to vomit when there was an almighty thud which shook me to my core.  I was suddenly knocked back into my seat.  We've crashed, I thought, too scared to throw up.  Absolute terror overtook me and I looked around to see if I could follow what everyone else was doing.  Which was...NOTHING.  No one was doing anything.  A voice said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we've landed safely at London Gatwick airport."  

And that was that.  We got a coach back to Winchester.  It took three days for me to get my ears back.  I still believe that group willpower gets a plane off the ground and fervent prayer lands it.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Fifteenth Day

I believe we arrived in Venice today, Tuesday, November 9.  I've heard that Venice is spectacular in the sunshine but today, it's raining.  It's grey and a bit smelly.  Still, we're glad to get off the ship.  Venice is famous for its hand-blown glass so our first stop is the glass blowing factory.  It's fascinating to watch and I love it.  I buy my sister an orange/yellow horse ornament; she's 13 and into horses in a big way.

We're in full school uniform in groups of five as we do the sights: St. Mark's Square, the Basilica, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs.  Then we walk the streets, window shopping: there's a dazzling array of available Venetian goods.  Equally dazzling is the array of available Venetian gods, from mid-teens to early 20s, that follow us, call out to us, and try to touch us as we pass.  At first it's exciting, enticing and we almost encourage it.  A few of the girls, one in my group especially, are actively egging on our admirers.  Not me.  The boys are a little too close for my comfort level.  I like looking at them from a distance; having them look at me the same way.  It's starting to get dark as more and more boys appear and now we're being crowded and jostled by them.  I feel a hand on my bum which disturbs rather than flatters.  I notice as yet more boys emerge from side passages that it's like they're trying to separate us and pull us into the alleys.  I wonder if it's my over-active adolescent imagination but I don't think it is; frankly, I'm getting nervous.  I see our headmistress notice the same thing.  "Grab each other's hands!" she shouts, "Link arms!"  She's gathering her groups together so there's safety in numbers.  At one point, much to our hilarity but also somewhat to our consternation, she actually swipes one of the boys with her handbag.  Surrounded by them, these youths are everything I've read about Italian males: at once attractive and menacing.  They make strange clucking noises which I assume are meant to be alluring but are oddly threatening as if they're herding us, like lambs to the slaughter.

It's nearly dark.  The rain-soaked sidewalks gleam beneath the street lights; the canals shimmer.  Our headmistress herds us herself now, back towards the ship.  Oh, the fickle duality of puberty -- disappointment and relief on either side of this tantalizing tightrope.  Me, I'm just thankful someone is taking charge.

Safely on the ship, we peer out of the portholes.  The more daring Italians are trying to climb on board, swinging from the guy ropes like paper lanterns in the breeze.  As I write, I envision "Pirates of the Caribbean" -- hundreds of fervent, sex-crazed pirates with striped t-shirts and earrings, shimmying across the ropes to reach these pale English damsels.  It's more like four or five eager youngsters showing off to their friends.  Nevertheless it creates a journal moment. 

Finally, we're told to move away from the portholes and go to the other side of the ship.  "Nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see here!"  With a groan of rebellious regret, we head to the common room for dinner and delicious dissection of the most interesting thing to happen since leaving the dull shores of England.

Friday, May 18, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Fourteenth Day

Without a log, I mostly reminisce.  On Monday, November 8, we certainly travelled from Greece, west across the Mediterranean towards Italy.  No doubt we did the usual things: breakfast, classes, lunch, deck games, dinner, dancing, hot chocolate and cookies before going to bed at 9:30.  I must've met a few boys by then and spoken to at least one because he (Colin?) made his way to my home in Winchester about a month later to ask me out.  I was aghast!  He arrived by train early one Saturday morning from a town called Andover.  He had my address; at least, he made the 7-minute walk from Winchester Railway Station and found our house.  My 13 year-old sister opened the door and told him to wait on the front steps.  She woke me up to say,

"There a boy called Colin to see you."

"Who?  Where?"

"Colin.  At the front door.  What shall I tell him?"

I didn't know any Colins.  Wait...from the cruise?  Visiting me?!  I didn't want to see him.

"I don't want to see him," I said, thoroughly panicked.  "Make him go away."
"What do you mean, make him go away!  How do I make him go away?"

"Tell him I'm not here."

"He knows you're here.  I told him you were here.  You'll have to think of something else."

"Tell him I'm asleep.  No...wait...say I'm sick.  Get his phone number; say I'll call him."

So that's what happened.  As soon as she closed the door on him, I ran to the front window; watched him walk back towards the railway station and out of my life.  Poor Colin!  I felt truly sorry for him.  I was grateful on the one hand that he was keen on me, terrified on the other because I'd no idea how to behave with a boy who was keen on me.  I couldn't have rung him even if I'd wanted to because we didn't have a telephone.  And I wouldn't have rung him even if I could've...because, after all, what on earth would I have done with him? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Thirteenth Day

As I don't actually remember the day trip to Itea, Delphi, I thought I'd post a few photos taken from the web.  Itea is so exquisite, so unbelievably beautiful that I'm sickened by my lackadaisical attitude.  Please enjoy the photos while picturing a big bunch of uniformed English schoolgirls, nonchalantly ambling through this scenic loveliness and allowing their juvenile disregard, their shocking indifference, to swallow the moment whole without tasting a single morsel.

I suppose, in recalling my own adolescent apathy, it's also a chance to extend a little empathy to the lethargic teen I may meet later today...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Twelfth Day/Thirteenth Day

This is actually the last day I wrote up my log even though we didn't fly home from Italy until Thursday 11/11 -- the cruise was 17 days long.  "The following day" I cite here was Sunday 7/11 and it seems we went to Itea in Delphi.  I admit with shame that I've no recollection of this excursion.  Evidently I did not write my log unless forced.  However, rest assured that I recall arriving at our next and final stop, Venice.  My teenage memory bank can retrieve every sordid detail of that visit; no log required.  Tomorrow's blog, my friends.

One last thing here though.  My Uncle Trevor (who died in 2010) was on this cruise.  I think I knew he was going to be there but had forgotten and it wasn't until he found me in the Ship's Common Room that it came back to me.  Trevor was my dad's brother.  I hardly knew my father as he left when I was 5 and Mum barely kept in touch with his family: younger brother, Trevor and elder sister, Mollie, although both had tried to help after Dad left.  Anyway, Uncle Trevor found me on this evening, before we arrived in Venice.  He was party leader for another school and had chosen this cruise because he was Catholic (as were all the Nasons, including my father) and wanted to visit Catholic sites in Venice.  He seemed charmed by me and, I think, surprised I'd turned out so well considering my father's absence. 

After Dad died, we cleared his cottage and discovered a suitcase of letters under his bed.  Not only did we uncover everything we'd written him as children, we found a letter from Trevor.  He said he'd met me on this Mediterranean cruise and that I was "a lovely girl" of whom he should be proud, but who needed a father.  He reprimanded his elder brother, suggesting he reconsider his life decisions and start taking care of his children who were somehow growing up to be fine adults, in spite of his dereliction of duty.  If Dad felt some guilt, there was no evidence of it, and I didn't see my Uncle Trevor again for many years.  He gave me a map of Venice which I'm looking at as I write this blog.

Pireaus to Itea

Personal Log: Twelfth Day

Today we had lessons as usual, as we were not going ashore.  We were told that we had to get our scrapbooks finished by this evening so I spent most of my time sticking in pictures and the essays that I had already written.  Then we went to the assembly hall for a lecture on Delphi by Mr. Gawthorpe which was very interesting.  He is a good speaker.  In the afternoon there were deck games again but these were the finals of deck hockey and deck cricket.  I played in deck hockey and we lost.  The cricket players won.  Perhaps that was because I was not playing!  After having played hockey I went back to the common room to finish the scrapbook and bring my log up to date.  I spent a long time tonight getting ready for the dance because I had so much time to spare.  Went to bed at 9:30 because we have to get up at 6.00 the following day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Eleventh Day

This was an important day; my log entry doesn't come close.  The Parthenon had a profound effect on me.  My mum, an amateur historian, always said that some folk had "a sense of history" and by this she meant, could "feel" the past when standing at a ancient site.  I attach a photo of me in the precise spot where I felt overcome with emotion: people had stood in this same spot for hundreds, no, thousands of years and I could sense their presence, hear their footsteps, feel their emotions.  It was the first time I'd ever had that sensation.  You'll also notice in the picture my school uniform.  We'd been advised that our skirts should be an "appropriate" length.  I lengthened my skirt 2" for the cruise.  Imagine it beforehand...I must've been flashing me frilly bloomers to all and sundry.  I recall being appalled by the lecherous men on the Metro.  Interesting that I describe both Athens and Piraeus as clean...I've been there many times since and I think them among the dirtiest, dustiest places I've ever been.

Santorin to Athens

Personal Log: Eleventh Day

Alison's birthday.  We were called to disembarkation stations at 910 and went on another guided coach tour.  This time our coach was no. 3 and our guide spoke like Charles Boyer.  He was very nice.  The Acropolis was beyond compare.  It is the loveliest thing I have ever seen before.  We then went round Athens and Piraeus which were very large and clean.  We went back to the ship for lunch but we were late.  When we redisembarked we went to the museum in Athens.  This seemed small at first but turned out quite large.  We had taken the underground there and took it back but we still did some walking and I was surprised to find that the men thought we were wearing very short skirts.  We did a little window shopping on the way back, because we had no money left to buy anything.  In the evening, shore visits were permitted if escorted by a member of staff.  I didn't go and instead went to a small dance held in the verandah.  We went to bed at 10:00 because the others were late back.

Friday, May 11, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Tenth Day

Santorini remains one of my favorite places in the world.  When you see pictures of it, believe what you see -- it's as magical in real life.  The buildings are that white, the sea that blue, the air that clear.  For once, my teenage disdain is in abeyance and I write honestly about my pleasure.  Sadly, I underscore the word very twice in this entry, embarrassing not just because of my grammar but also because I'm not entirely honest about the mule ride.  I did not enjoy it!  I was scared stiff.  My mule kept slamming me against the short wall edging the cobbled, winding pathway up the hill, that wall being the only thing between me and certain death.  My shins were bruised and scraped under my white jeans.  To this day, I believe those mules are trained to throw tourists over the side of the cliff.  "English Schoolgirl in White M&S Jeans and Odd Jumble Sale Sweater Falls to Death on First Trip to Greece."  My fear of heights (and mules) was confirmed!  As a side note, we were told that Santorini had not changed in aeons, that there were no phones and only one car -- the taxi.  Since the island is now a bustling tourist attraction, I'm glad I was there then.  Just a glance at my photos makes me LONG to go back.

Heraklion to Santorin

Personal Log: Tenth Day

In the morning as we approached Santorin, four students and a few adults went on to the live volcano.  This was probably very interesting for them but for us in the common room, it wasn't much fun missing out on everything.  We were supposed to disembark at noon but were delayed by the mules who were working slower than usual.  Finally we got on to the small boat and across to the island, and after having had an argument with the mule man, I actually got on the donkey.  The journey up was very long but very enjoyable although I am not sure that our party leaders thought much of it!  I was surprised at the beauty of the village.  It was all white to protect it from the heat, making it very bright.  It was just how I had imagined a greek island to be, like something out of Arabian Knights.  We spent most of our time shopping and I managed to spend about 3 pounds.  The shop keepers were more pleasant than those in Gibraltar and seemed upset if you didn't like their goods.  The streets were all cobbled and winding, leading up to a beautiful church at the top of the main street.  The inside was really spectacular, making it a pleasure to worship.  We walked down the cobbled hill to the bottom, which was tiring, although I don't think I would have enjoyed coming down by mule!  In the evening, there was dancing which I left early because I was tired.

Navigational Log:
0100-0400 Middle Watch
0330 Gears tested.  0410 Pilot on bridge.  0420 Stations.    

0400-0800 Morning Watch
0424 Singled up to 2 lines and 1 spring fore and aft.  0433 Stand by below, all ready below.  Tug fast forward.  0437 Let go fore and after.  0442 Vessel turning to port.  0447 Vessel completed turn and proceeded out to sea.  Let go tug.  0448 Pilot leaves vessel.  0445 Rung full away.  0500 Vessel clear of breakwater and setting a northerly course for Santorin.  0650 Sunrise.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Ninth Day

Yes, I'm publishing this on the 10th, a day late; I'm busy and exceptionally tired in real life too!  My mum always said to go through everything I write and remove all "verys" and I see what she means: there are 7 "verys" in this entry.  Two important facts: (a) I mention modern-day toilets so I guess my digestive system has always been a vacation issue, and (b) this was my first experience of driving on mountain roads and I only talk about the driver's horn and not that I was terrified...TERRIFIED!  I'm touched that the Greek men gave us sultanas and now wonder if this had some special meaning. Did I tell you that Heraklion is on the Greek island of Crete? 

Heraklion, Crete

Personal Log: Ninth Day

For the first time, we got 10 marks for our dormitory!  We were woken up at 0700 and disembarked at 0900 hours.  I needed a travel sickness pill which worked very well.  We first went to Knossos (which is one of the seven wonders of the world) and, with the help of a very pleasant guide, found it very interesting.  Following this, we were taken to the museum at Heraklion, which was enjoyable, what we saw of it!  We rushed in and rushed out again!  The Greek roads are very bumpy; I noticed.  We stopped at St. Titus' Chapel at Gortyne and the Roman Odean too, along the road, and look at the Dorian Laws carved on the wall.  We had dinner on the beach then went to Phaestus.  It was very peaceful here and had a beautiful view.  I wasn't very impressed with the modern-day toilets.  The journey back was all along mountain roads and the driver used his horn alot!  Having got back to Heraklion, we went to the tourist shops which were still open although it was quite late.  I bought a ring, a pendants and a very pretty, cheap bracelet.  When we got back to the ship (having lost Fiona on the way!) some Greek men gave us all a packet of Greek sultanas as a souvenir of our visit.  In the evening we went to a sing-sing then retired to bed.

Navigational Log:

0100-0400 Middle Watch
0300 Vessel passing C. Stavros to starboard. 

0400-0800 Morning Watch
0530 Vessel sighted Heraklion.  Vessel to hand steering.  Vessel to commander's orders.  0547 Stand by below, all ready below.  0554 Pilot on board.  0555 Stations for and aft.  0606 Tug fast forward.  0613 Vessel approaching berth, starboard side.  0621 Line ashore fore and aft.  0632 Lines and one spring fast fore and aft.  0636 Rung off main engines. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Eighth Day

Not much to note except that I mention a boy by name: Chris Tucker.  Who?!  The African-American actor wasn't even born until the following year.  I didn't know any boys when I joined the ship.  We barely mixed outside our school circle during the day so I must've met him at one of the dances though I was so shy then, I can't imagine myself starting a conversation with anyone, let alone a boy.  I am now convinced the deck games were designed to wear us out completely so we didn't have the energy to misbehave!

Gibraltar - Heraklion

Personal Log: Eighth Day

I woke up this morning feeling very tired, more tired than I have been so far.  The sea was very choppy and rocked the boat violently.  First, we had private study during which I had to go on deck because I felt so sick.  Then we had a life boat drill.  This was what I needed to wake me.  We looked like drunks.  An interesting talk on Santorin by Miss Salter followed an extremely long break, and I am looking forward to our visit there even more now.  We were given our Greek money during classrooms.  I chose to take 100 drachma.  Afterwards we had another lecture on Greek art.  Two girls from our dormitory went to the shops to stock up with drinks for our trip to Heraklion tomorrow.

The evening's entertainment consisted of a fancy dress parade.  Loads of people went in for it.  Fiona dressed up as Maggie May and Sue and Kim went as Bo Peep and Little Boy Blue.  A boy who went as The Legacy of Greek Art won and Chris Tucker who went as Miss "Uganda" came second.  Although no one in our dorm won a prize, they got a bar of chocolate.  For the first time, I went to bed early, so I didn't miss the 30 mins put forward.

Navigational Log:
0400-0800 Morning Watch
0630 Vessel position checked by celestial observations.  0704 Sunrise.  Navigation lights off.  Look outs dismissed.

1200-1600 Afternoon Watch
1000 Emergency stations practice.  1020 Manual steering gear checked from aft. 

1600-2000 Dog Watches
1735 Sunset. 

2000-2359 First Watch
Vessel sighted C. Apolitares, Northwest Crete.

Monday, May 7, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Seventh Day

Monday 7 May 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Seventh Day

I took few photos and those I took were awful, not just because I was inexperienced but because my camera was an el cheapo piece of crap.  Not surprising I couldn't buy more film.  How could my mother afford pocket money when she could barely afford the cruise? -- a single mum of three kids before that was common.  I'm eternally grateful for the importance she gave travel and education.  I didn't know, as we passed the coastline of north Africa, what a big part it would play in my future.  Nor did I know, as we passed Valletta, the capital of Malta, that my paternal grandfather was buried there.  He died in rough seas in 1932 while trying to rescue his best friend; both drowned.  The Royal Marines buried him with full honors.  Many years later, my sister and I visited his grave to pay our respects.  On a lighter note, I now wonder if all the deck games were actually a ruse to ensure we were perpetually tired!

Gibraltar - Heraklion

Personal Log: Seventh Day

The weather today was beautiful but not as nice as yesterday.  Firstly we went to lessons where I practically got my scrapbook up to date.  Following this was private study during which I wrote some postcards.  I am finding myself with less and less English money to use on board.  After break we had a lecture on Athens in the assembly hall.  I don't seem to be capable of staying awake during lectures because I am always so tired!  After lunch, lessons started late because we were passing the islands of Gozo on one side and Malta on the other.  I didn't take any photographs because I didn't have much film left and due to my shortage of money, I couldn't afford to buy another one.  When the commentry finished we all went back to the classroom for the next lesson.  Deck games followed this and we played deck cricket which turned out to be quite enjoyable.  We played an inter-dorm game of hockey which we won and for the evening entertainment we had an inter-dorm horse race in which we came fourth.  I was very tired I went to bed, even though I retired early.

Navigational Log:
0100 Vessel passing Tunis to starboard.  0200 Rounding Cape Bon altered course 115 deg. for Malta.

0400-0800 Morning Watch
0700 Sunrise.  Navigation lights off.

1200-1600 Afternoon Watch
1315 Vessel to commanders order -- hand steering.  1400 Vessel passing Gozo to port.  1415 Vessel slowing down to pass through the Comino channal.  1420 Vessel clear of channal, increase to normal service speed.  1500 Vessel passing Valletta to starboard.  1515 Set course 091 deg. for Heraklion.

1600-2000 Dog Watches
1735 Sunset.  Navigation lights on.  Lookouts posted.  1800 Vessel position checked by celestial observations.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Sixth Day

All my young life, wherever in the world I was, I had to find the Catholic church; couldn't get away from it even shipboard!  Hey, what would've happened if the sea had been rough and we'd been unable "to keep the service under control"?  Pirate fight?  Shiver me timbers!  Re. tanning, when the sun appears, English folk whip off their clothes like strippers and splay out in their skivvies.  "Mad dogs and Englishmen..." as Noel Coward so succinctly put it.  I distinctly recall Miss Rowe making us retire early and the subsequent resentment.  Response?  Pillow fight!  Not written up in my trusty log, of course.  At first I didn't join in but it was irresistible.  Teenage schoolgirls in nighties and PJs.  Oh, nothing feminine or sexy about it; Alison whacked me so hard about the head, she knocked me off my feet.  Of course, word got out and we were duly reprimanded.  Quite tame when I think of the trouble I got into later in life!    

Gibraltar - Heraklion

Personal Log: Sixth Day

Today, a Sunday, I had to get up and be dressed, ready for church, by 7:30.  An assembly service was held on the deck.  The sea was very calm which, I think, helped to keep the service under control.  We passed the Algerian coast and took photographs. 

After this hurried start we had no lessons until 11:30.  I have never had lessons on a Sunday before either.  The first period we had classrooms during which we received our rules for Heraklion.  We had the best weather, today, that we have had all journey so far.  The sun was shining and their was hardly a cloud in the sky.  I spent most of the lunch-break sun bathing and attempting to get a tan to show my friends when I return home.  After lunch we had deck games in which we played an enjoyable game of deck hockey and after this we had a talk on Greek art which would have been more interesting had I not heard it all before!

Although Alison's and my project is coming on all right, I don't think we will get a prize  There was a dance in the evening but we were made to go to bed early cos the clocks were put on 30 minutes.

Navigational Log:
0001-0400 Middle Watch
0330 Vessel passing Algiers to starboard

0400-0800 Morning Watch
0705 Sunrise

1200-1600 Afternoon Watch
1322 Cape Bougaroni passed to starboard

1600-2000 Dog Watches
1730 Cape de Garde passed to starboard.  Sunset.  Navigation lights on.  Look outs posted.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Fifth Day

First notable thing: the honeymoon period is over.  I no longer like the food, I complain about lessons, and don't even attempt P.E.  The loudspeaker bell annoys me, I don't enjoy the film, I just want to go to the dance.  And lo!  A stereotypical teenager appears before your eyes!  I have time to shower and wash my hair for the evening (we had to dress formally for dinner, like on TITANIC) yet no time for the scrapbook.  I still have it - "scrap" is right.  Our reluctance to start it is compounded by our obvious lack of effort in its execution.  I don't know if we handed it in for marking but if so, I'm sure the remarks read, "Badly written, poorly constructed, and disgracefully presented.  Utter rubbish."  I attach below a photo of the ship so you can see how amazing it is that I, a mere 14 year-old, am guiding this vessel across the Mediterranean single-handed.

Gibraltar - Heraklion

Personal Log: Fifth Day

I don't think I have ever got up so early on a Saturday, and I know that I have never had lessons on a Saturday.  This morning, Alison and I started the scrapbook that we thought we would never start.

In the afternoon we had inter-dormitory deckgames competitions.  Being lazy, I didn't volunteer for anything, and surprisingly, I didn't get dragged into anything.  Considering I wasn't actually in any activity, I think I managed to keep myself fairly well occupied.  I went from game to game just watching and cheering.

Earlier on, we had a lecture on the Minoen Civilization which I found rather boring, being tired anyway.

Having some time to spare I had a shower and hairwash so that I could look pleasant at the dance later on.  I saw a bit of 'The Aristocats' firstly then went on to the dance.  I have decided that either I have changed or the quality of the meals is decreasing and I find the loudspeaker bell extremely annoying.

Navigational Log:
0001-0400 Middle Watch
0100 Gears tested with controls.  0140 Pilot on board.  Station called fore and aft.  01:50 Singled up to 2 lines and 1 spring fore and aft.  01:54 vessel turning short found to port.  0300 Rounding Europa point and setting an easterly course for Heraklion.

0400-0800 Morning Watch
07:32 Sunrise

0800-1200 Forenoon Watch
Cape Sabinal passed to Port

1200-1600 Afternoon Watch
Vessel passing Pelaoa point to port

1600-2000 Dog Watches
18:08 Sunset.  Vessel position checked by celestial observation.

Friday, May 4, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Fourth Day

Hurrah!  Day 4, we arrive somewhere!  My memory of this day is quite clear yet the log is surprisingly bland.  This is called "lying by omission."  I've left out that on the main street, my group of five uniformed schoolgirls was stopped by a group of young Gibraltarian men who engaged us, teased us and reminded us of why we were on this cruise in the first place, i.e. multicultural exchange, a.k.a. meeting boys.  We'd been warned to steer clear of playful apes; no one mentioned playful boys.  A curly-headed heart-throb in tight jeans and granddad t-shirt tried to give me the cross from around his neck in exchange I remembered number, address, a kiss?  No, he wanted a badge from my grey school blazer.  Why didn't I give it to him?  I could've displayed his cross later like a badge of honor.  What a pipsqueak I was then.  We got told off later for flirting.  Miss Rowe, our prehistoric headmistress (40), had seen us, said we were naughty.  She was not a nice person.  She was once disrespectful to my mother; I loathed her.  When I think about those from my past I'd like to forgive, her face often appears.  Hm, I guess I haven't forgiven her yet.  According to the Navigational Log, I brought the ship into harbor without incident.


Personal Log: Fourth Day

The first lesson this morning, we went up to the bridge.  I found this very interesting and took several photographs.  The wind was gale force 3 and made life very difficult!  We then proceeded to the assembly hall for an extremely enjoyable talk by Miss Salter on the geography of the Mediterranean.  Today we went ashore to Gibraltar.  We were late disembarking because Miss Rowe forgot her camera.  We managed to get a taxi, after some trouble bartering with other drivers, with a driver who was terribly sweet.  He took us to the caves, the apes dens, the Moorish castle, the Catelene fishing village, the huge water catchments and finally, the main street.  It had a very pleasant shopping centre and I had great fun bartering with shopkeepers.  They got very annoying when they kept trying to impress us and show us more goods that we were not interested in.  The leather was very cheap.  In the evening, after having re-embarked there was a dance with a good group called "The Moking Birds."  All in all, it was an enjoyable day.

Navigational Log:
0400-0800 Morning Watch
7:42 Sunrise.  Navigation lights off.  Look outs dismissed.

0800-1200 Forenoon Watch
0900 vessel passing c. Trafalgar; 10:00 vessel passing through Gibraltar Straights; 11:15 vessel approaching Gibraltar.  Vessel to commanders orders and vessel to hand steering.

1200-1600 Afternoon Watch
12:12 Stand by below.  12:18 Stations fore and aft.  Pilot on board.  12:30 Tugs fast fore and aft.  Vessel approaching berth starboard side.  12:40 Lines ashore fore and aft.  12:42 lines and one spring fast for and aft.  12:50 Run off main engines.  Let go tugs.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Third Day

Obviously the academic powers-that-be on board expected us to do school work as usual, (pleased to see I enjoyed the lectures) and deck games were a regular event (not sure about them.)  There was a fun fair?  On an educational cruise?  What?!  I picture big wheels, roller coasters, dodgem cars mais ce n'est pas possible!  No Royal Caribbean Cruise line here; this was an ex-cargo ship from the British India Steam Navigation Co. (B.I.) and inside it looked like, well, a school: dormitories, cafeteria, libraries, classrooms, common rooms and decks for friggin' games.  If I find cruise pals on FB, I'll ask.  I recollect warm cocoa and biscuits being served for 'supper' before the 9:30 curfew.  Actually, I seem altogether quite upbeat on the whole food and beverage operation!  Please note that, according to the Navigational Log, I was steering the ship myself.

Bound from Southampton to Gibraltar

Personal Log: Third Day

Today we were given our money to sort out for our trip to Gibraltar tomorrow.  Our first period was in "Swift."  The weather was getting better when we went to Private Study.  Afterwards we filed into the assembly for a lecture on Gibraltar, which was well illustrated with slides.  Dinner again was of high standard.  Then we went to "Swift" again for classrooms.  During deck games (we were playing skittles), land was sighted (Portugal).  Deck games broke up gradually as people went to the windows to see the land.

We finished lessons early so we had plenty of time to write up log books and finish half written letters.  Most of us took a long time getting ready for the fun fair that was held in the evening.  It turned out to be quite enjoyable and I was happily tired when I fell asleep.

Navigational Log:
0001-0400 Middle Watch
Rounded Cape Villane at 200 on the way to Berlenga Island (1600)

0800-1200 Forenoon Watch
We will reach Mondega.

1200-1600 Afternoon Watch
A fishing boat passed us at 14:45.  We passed the coastline of Portugal.  Vessel passing Berlenga Island to starboard.

1600-2000 Dog Watches
We will pass the Tagus Estuary off Lisbon at 1900 hrs.  Passing Cape Roca to port 18:42.  Sunset.  Navigation lights on.

2000-2359 First Watch
At midnight we will be nearing Cape St. Vincent and setting course for Gibraltar.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

S.S. Uganda Cruise Personal Log: Second Day

Wednesday 2 May 2012

S.S. UGANDA Cruise Personal Log, Second Day

Riveting stuff this.  Please note the Navigational Log.  No idea where the details came from; no recollection of these facts.  I omitted to write that, in the course of this day, the weather got so bad, most of us were as sick as dogs.  They encouraged (forced) us to play deck sports to ease the nausea.  The games were regularly interrupted as kids ran to vomit over the side.  Some made it; some didn't.  Swab the decks, me hearties!  Evidently there was a nightly dance, vital to this 14 year-old as County High was all-girl and this was my first co-ed adventure.  I think I actually mention a boy later in the log.  Spelling, punctuation and strange, formal style is as originally written. 

Bound from Southampton to Gibraltar

Personal Log: Second Day

After having washed and dressed we went to breakfast and on our return we tidied our domitories for their first check.

Our first period took us to the assembly hall for a talk on the ship and its history.  Another practice for emergencies followed this, and at this time, the wind was blowing quite strongly and the sea was choppy.  For deck games we played deck hockey which I found more fun than ordinary hockey.

Before lunch we had classroom periods in which we were given our log books.  We were given a very brief lecture on the history of Europe and after this, we went to our last lesson of the day in the classrooms where we brought our logbooks up to date. 

In the evening I went to the dance for the second time because the film already had huge queues and I didn't think I could get in.

Navigational Log:
0400-0800 Morning Watch
Entering Bay of Biscay -- weather calm and smooth

0800-1200 Forenoon Watch
Still on our journey through Bay of Biscay

1200-1600 Afternoon Watch
We sailed over the Continental Shelf which took us from 600 ft to 1,500 ft at 1400 hours.

2000-2359 First Watch
Nearing the end of the Bay of Biscay

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

S. S. Uganda Cruise Personal Log, First Day

I'm finally working through personal papers brought to the US after the 2007 sale of our family home.  I recently shared Mum's first letter to me when I was on a school cruise around the Mediterranean.  I've now found my log book which we were encouraged (forced) to complete during our time on board; and thank goodness we were encouraged (forced) to do this as the results of my early teenage ramblings make for entertaining reading.  I've left all spelling and punctuation as written.  Please note the strange formal style as if I am the captain of my own ship.  Indeed Captain James Tiberius Kirk comes to mind...

Log Book for Cruise # 255
Sailing from Southampton on October 26, 1971
Calling at: Gibraltar, Heraklion (Knossos), Santorini, Piraeus (Athens,) Itea (Delphi), and Venice.

Bernadette Nason, Age 14,
Winchester County High School for Girls, Party Letter D

Bound from Southampton to Gibraltar

Personal Log: First Day

Having been shown onto the ship, we climbed down what seemed hundreds of stairs carrying a heavy suitcase and we were shown our dormitories.  They were not as large as I had expected them to be but they were soon found to be quite cosy.

Soon afterwards we were sent to muster stations and shown how to put on a lifebelt which was not very interesting although obviously necessary.

We were told the meals would be "ghastly" but under the circumstances, I thought they were very good.

After muster stations we had an introductory talk given by our "headmaster" -- Mr. Harris.

1200 - 1600 Afternoon Watch: we saw an aeroplane that was built to carry a nuclear bomb.

We then proceeded to tea which, again, was quite satisfying, and after which, we prepared for the dance later.  We went to bed at 9:30 but I didn't sleep until much later.