A Life on the Ocean Wave – Introduction

15 Jul

Many moons ago (actually, here: I told you how, in March 1968, I was able to spend 16 days visiting destinations in the Mediterranean Sea with some school friends and loads of others from schools in our Local Education Authority area.

While a former troopship converted (minimally) to what was, in effect, a floating Boarding School may not have been in the same league as a luxury Cruise Liner, it was certainly a good start.

Following that, however, my ocean-going travels have been limited to a 1979 trip to Hamburg with my mates and then girlfriend, followed in 1992 (after said girlfriend and I had married and produced 2 children) to visit the original Legoland in Denmark. Both of these trips were fixed in our memories by involving return journeys through Force 9 gales and Faith did not feel well during either of them!

Actually, the Hamburg to Harwich crossing was so bad that the only way she could get by was by sitting out on deck through most of the night with me singing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” to her as a distraction. That really taxed my knowledge of the animal kingdom to its limits ……”on that farm he had a three-toed sloth”, ….. “on that farm he had a Grevy’s Zebra” !

I was not affected, having found a very effective remedy for seasickness in a Hamburg supermarket – miniature bottles of Apple Schnapps! Every time I felt the tiniest bit queasy I took a big swig from one of them and it worked wonders.

I did have the opportunity in July 2005 to accompany Faith on a cruise around the Baltic Sea, starting in Northern Germany, to celebrate one of her “round number” birthdays – I won’t say which one!

To have gone with her would have meant giving up a comparatively long and fairly lucrative contract so I reluctantly carried on working to pay for it all and my place was taken by my younger daughter, Carla.

I did, however, still have the honour of driving them to Heathrow Airport for their early morning flight to Berlin and despite having to negotiate the A1, M25 and M4 successfully in both directions was at my desk for work at 9 a.m., just about at the time that those terrorist nut jobs set off their home-made rucksack bombs on the London Underground – it was 7th July 2005.

Even though they would still have missed the chaos, I was rather glad that they had accepted my “taxi” offer instead of going by train as had originally been planned.

And now, 10 years on and with another significant birthday looming for her, my lovely and youthful wife and I are going to try it again – cruising that is, NOT getting blown up on the underground!

As is my usual practice, I do not plan to tell prospective burglars when the house will be empty and so will be writing these pieces before during and after the actual holiday then publishing them when we get back.

As this piece is being typed with still just over a week to go I can still use the future tense and tell you that we will be setting out on 4th July for Cambridge from where we will travel by coach to Southampton and the P&O Liner “Azura” for 7 days exploring the Norwegian fjords.

There are many differences in the preparations to be made compared to our normal overseas holidays which tend to involve Air Travel. The most significant of these is the amount of luggage we can take, which with those flying trips is normally limited to one 20 Kilogram suitcase each.

On this trip the coach has a limit of 3 such suitcases each and if we were making our own way there the only restriction would be, quite literally, the amount that we could squeeze into our cabin and still move about! Mind you, I still think that 60Kg each is well excessive and will try to keep mine down to roughly the same as I’d take for a week in the Canaries – although this could be difficult as I have to take a suit for the two formal nights and that and the associated shirts and shoes will push the weight up a bit.

The suit in question is not a “Dinner Suit” as such and is my best one – the one that I wore for daughter Carla’s wedding last year. I did not seriously consider my other suit, which is used for job interviews and has an aura of fear and trepidation about it that might have depressed my fellow travellers!

I bought a proper dress shirt and a bow tie to wear with it and when I tried it all on I have to say I looked GORGEOUS! I’m afraid that when I saw my reflection in the full length mirror in the bedroom I could not resist humming aloud the James Bond theme!

Faith does, of course, look equally amazing in her outfits for these formal evenings but I am glad that it’s not required every evening. If you recall the quote from my “Father of the Bride” speech a few posts ago, all that’s necessary for the weather to get unreasonably hot and stifling is for me to have to wear a suit!

Anyway, that’s the scene set for the next few articles which I shall probably now continue as something to do on that long coach trip down to Southampton Docks. I warn you that there will probably be quite a lot of flashbacks to my last experience!




Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Holidays, Schooldays, Travel related


2 responses to “A Life on the Ocean Wave – Introduction

  1. Vincent

    July 16, 2015 at 4:39 am

    She didn’t last very long, the SS Nevasa. Apparently, she was formerly known as HMT Nevasa, having been built – as you say – as a British troopship. She was constructed on the River Clyde, Scotland in 1955 and launched on 30 November 1955, was the first troopship built since the end of the Second World War and the largest troopship at that time to be built in the United Kingdom.

    I gather the vessel was owned by the British India Steam Navigation Company and was 20,527 tons. New features of the ship included stabilisers to reduce rolling in rough seas.

    It seems the SS Nevasa had the capacity to accommodate 500 officers and their families and 1,000 NCOs and men on the troop deck. The ship transported many regiments to the Middle East and Far East including the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) who left Southampton on 7 April 1962 and arrived at Penang on 28 April 1962 via Port Said and including stops at Malta and Aden.

    However, the ending of National Service and the British Government’s decision in 1962 to reduce the use of ships for movement of troops and increase usage of aircraft led to the SS Nevasa being withdrawn from service.

    The ship was then laid up in the River Fal from October 1962 to 1965 when it finally became an educational cruise ship. The conversion of the ship cost £500,000 and took place in Falmouth, Cornwall. But sadly, the oil crisis in 1973/74 and its effect on running costs led to the ship’s final cruise in December 1974.

    I understand the SS Nevasa’s final journey was from Malta to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in June 1975, where it was sent for breaking up. The record shows that on the ship’s final voyage were 69 crew and no passengers.

    I hear the ship’s route for the 3 week journey from Malta was via Dakar, Cape Town, crossing the Indian Ocean to the Sunda Strait between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra to its final destination: the Port of Kaohsiung, in south-west Taiwan, on the northern South China Sea.

    Thus she was only in service for twenty years – and in mothballs for three of those…

  2. Alfie

    July 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks for that. I certainly didn’t get the impression that Nevasa was actually 2 years younger than me – it seemed MUCH older!
    We were definitely in the “other ranks” dormitory accommodation down near the waterline while Messrs Keeble and Chenery, who were in nominal charge of us, were up in the former Officers cabins and had to drag themselves away from the bar at night to call the final register before our “lights out”. The smell of booze helped to knock us out!


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