Posts Tagged ‘Clogau’

So, the long awaited day had arrived: that day was, by the way, March the 4th 2014. The day when Debbie agreed to me becoming her Husband. Ten years in the waiting, neither of us really knew how we wanted the day to be but we did know that we didn’t want it to be a church wedding. Equally, we didn’t want it to be a big ‘let’s shout it out’ wedding. It would be a quiet affair and the quieter the better.

Before the day……..

Now, earlier last year when browsing through the cruise brochures, as was our want, we spotted a cruise that would take us from Auckland in New Zealand via Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth & Bali to Singapore. The significant aspect of this was Adelaide, where Debbie’s eldest boy, Matt, had spent some time at university but, more importantly, had entered a big race, sponsored by the Alphutte Restaurant, beat the Aussies and won it. Debbie so desperately wanted to see the trophy with her boys name on it. Obviously, the whole trip had its attractions not least of which was the chance to see, stroke, even hold, a Koala. So that was it, our minds made up, we booked the cruise, with a three night stay in Singapore afterwards and the countdown begun.

Some while later, and we’re talking months here, we both, simultaneously posed the idea of getting married at sea and the Australia cruise would be the ideal time to do it. That was it: minds made up we put the wheels in motion with P&O and that was that. All we had to do, was join the ship, await the allotted day and, knowing that P&O would ensure all happened as it should, dress up smart and turn up and get married. Obviously, it wasn’t that straight forward. Debbie would need a dress but we felt that there was no hurry and we could get one in January.

January came and come the middle of the month, we were starting to worry that Debbie would not find a dress. She knew she’d seen an Alice Temperley number she liked so off to Bicester Village we travelled and lo and behold, there was that very number in the shop, and, it was the right size. Yay I said, buy it and lets go to the pub for a drink to celebrate. Nay she said, lets look at the other shops to see if there is anything better. Nay I said, buy it and lets go to the pub for a drink to celebrate. Nay she said, in a tone that suggested that she was right and I was oh so very, very wrong. OK I said, let’s look at ALL the other shops, then, lets go back to Alice Temperley and buy it and then go to the pub to celebrate. I was walking on thin ice I know but, I got away with it.

Bet you can’t predict what’s coming next 🙂

I won’t go into the number of shops we visited, check out Bicester Village website to get an idea, but it was a lot, and it was cold and it was rainy and I was a broken man. But, I knew I was right and this knowledge kept me going. Eventually, having looked at just about every handbag in every shop but no dresses we went back to Alice Temperley and bought the dress. We then went back to the pub to celebrate, except the pub was closed so we went straight home for a cup of tea instead. But not to worry, we (she) had the dress and all was well. All we had to do now was wait for the 19th February when we would fly out to Auckland to join P&Os Arcadia.

Then, sitting at home on the evening of the 6th February, the delightful Mrs Me (future) suddenly announced that she didn’t feel the dress was right after all . She had to have another one. The Alice Temperley  was to become the evening dress (did I mention that Mrs Me (future) had already bought an evening dress?). So, trawling over the internet she found a shop in Newbury (Mrs Jones Bridal Boutique) that had a dress that she felt was just right. A couple of phone calls later, and she was booked in for a Saturday try out, subsequently followed by three amendment fittings and the dress was ready by the 15th February. I don’t know how much it cost, I do know how much the Alice Temperley cost but not the new number. I do however know that the cardboard box it came in cost £50.

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Come the 19th February, we flew out to Auckland, via Hong Kong, picking up many comments about the pretty box Mrs Me (future) was carrying. It’s my wedding dress she announced; it (the box) cost £50 I announced. Take that she said as she clipped my ear over and over again. At last however, we reached the ship and the confines of our cabin on the Arcadia and we settled in and having found the champagne that P&O had left for us, we spent the first evening on our balcony, chilling.

The next day, we met with our Wedding Co-ordinator, Ellie, from hereon to be known as Miss Ellie who ran us through the process and confirmed of course that we were who we said we were and took the particulars of our Best Man. Jack was our Best Man, we met him the day before he joined the Arcadia in Southampton for the whole world cruise (we were just doing a leg of it) and as such he was our [kind of] advance scout. Little did we realise just how devoted to his new role he was. “Jack?” asked Miss Ellie. Yes, do you know him, we asked. Oh yes, he was a witness at another wedding three weeks ago. It turned out that a couple on his dining table were getting married at sea as well and when Jack told them about us and his role as Best Man, they asked him if he would be their witness: a kind of practice run. That’ll be him I confirmed and that was that. All we needed was another Witness, Miss Ellie would do this if we found nobody so we were just about ready. All we needed to do now was to arrange with the Ships’s Photographer to ‘do our pictures’ and a session in the Spa on the morning of the wedding.

So, who would be our second witness?

For our evening meals, we had opted for a table of six, that way you get to meet four new friends. As it turned out, two of our unknown friends had switched to the early sitting, so we just had the two remaining. Tim and Jill, as was their names, turned out to be a fantastic couple who did in fact have very similar personal stories as ourselves (no need to go into the detail) and they both in fact came from the Southampton area; given that Jack was from Portsmouth as was I, everything seemed so just right. And in due course, we asked if they would join us on our special day and for one of them, Jill, to be our second witness. Thankfully they agreed: in fact, Jill was more excited about the day than Debbie.

The Big Day has arrived.

The clock showed 08:30, I was on the balcony having my early coffee, watching the sea go by, wondering how the day would go. Would Mrs Me (future) cope with the pressure; would the dress be ok (believe it or not, I hadn’t seen it yet); would she get the words wrong; how would she cope with her lizard legs; would her hair be ok; would they (the Spa) do her makeup the way she wanted it These were all concerns I had. As for me, all I had to do was have a hair cut and a shave put on my best dinner suit and go to the bar 30 minutes before the allotted hour. At this point, there was a knock on the door. It was our Champagne Breakfast. This is a good start I thought, breakfast delivered to our room with a nicely chilled bottle of bubbly, to accompany a bottle from Mrs Me’s kind friends where she works. As we settled down to eat the door knocked again, it was another bottle of champagne from my lovely Sister. Obviously, we couldn’t drink it all but we could at least make a start. Today, I thought, was going to be a good day.

Having breakfasted, Debbie had to go to her 09:30 appointment at the Spa. Mine however wasn’t until 11:00 so I settled back down on the balcony and had another welcoming glass of champagne before I too headed off to the Spa. On my way, I popped into the on-board jeweller and bought her a Clogau bracelet to go with her Clogau Necklace earrings that we bought earlier and gave it to her as a sort of pre-wedding present (must have been the champagne). Then, it was my turn for the pre-wedding treatment.

I was greeted by the lovely Tania who explained that she would be giving me a nice haircut, nice shave, a facial plus hand, arm shoulder and scalp massage. The one thing she didn’t tell me was that she was also going to put cucumber like things on my eyes and a face mask. Fortunately, there are no pictures of this event but I have to admit, I did feel a new man and so chilled and relaxed (or was that the champagne?). I was now ready for the main event. All I had to do was change out of my shorts, sandals and t-shirts and squeeze myself into my suit and head on up to the Crows Nest to meet Jack, Tim and Jill and to be subsequently met by Miss Ellie.

While we were waiting, Tim and then Jack obtained large whiskeys for me to settle my nerves.

Jack Me & Tim

Once at the Crows Nest, my first task was to ask Jill if she would be able to go down to our cabin to make sure Debbie was ok and walk up to the Crows Nest with her. Well, I didn’t have to ask her twice, a big kiss and a big hug, and she was gone. At least I knew that Debbie would have some company and moral support for the long walk from Deck 7 towards the rear to Deck 10 at the front. This left just Jack, Tim and me to relax for half an hour, with another whiskey, when right on cue, Miss Ellie arrived with my Button Hole and reminded me how the ceremony and day would unfold and reassured me that I had nothing to worry about. Worry? Me? I don’t think so, I’m more worried for my future Mrs Me.

The Time Has Arrived

Just before two o’clock Captain Aseem Hashmi, MNM (merchant Navy Medal), who was to conduct the ceremony arrived and asked me if I was still ok and told there was still time to duck out if I wanted to, just as I was about to answer, he said, too late, she’s here. You may turn and view your bride. I did turn and saw my future Mrs Me looking more beautiful than I ever remembered or could imagine and to see her standing there in her last minute choice of wedding dress literally took my breath away. Was it really true that this vision really wanted to marry this fat old git? Apparently it was. It was at that moment that I lost all my composure, turned all wimpy and became an absolute blubber guts. For all my concern about her coping with the whole affair, it was me that folded. But, I did manage to compose myself and the Captain proceeded with “Are you Kevin Stirzaker….” – I looked at him and asked “Am I what?” – “No” he said, ‘Are you Kevin Stirzaker?” – “Oh I see” I said, followed with “Yes I am” and then the ceremony continued. I just couldn’t stop looking at Debbie though; I couldn’t get over just how stunning she looked. She had indeed scrubbed up really well. 🙂

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After being pronounced Husband & Wife, and the subsequent kissing and shaking of hands and cuddles it was time to sign the register before heading off for a series of photo shoots around the ship, starting with the Bridge.  Adrian, the Ships Photographer took us around the ship making us feel like royalty as we moved from location to location to have those special photo’s to be taken. I have to say, he made us feel really special throughout the day. The plan was to get a couple of sunset photo’s from the very top on Deck 12 but the cloud cover prevented this but for all that, the day was a fantastic day and one I, and my Wife 🙂 would remember for ever.

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Throughout the whole shoot and the rest of the day in the restaurants, we were drinking champagne and the occasional whiskey to fill any gaps, so that by the end we were both feeling a little tired, as can be clearly seen in this last photo.

Oh no, what have I done?

The rest of the day became a blur, possibly due to whiskey and champagne and so with that, it was time for bed, once more on a different day to the day we actually got up. Ho Hum.

Night Night all.

Obviously, the title isn’t true. One of the attractions of cruising, apart of course from the variety of places one can visit in just one trip, is meting up with friends you haven’t yet met, and let’s be honest the worlds is full of such people but cruising seems to be able to bring such friendships to the fore. But, every once in a while something happens to make you think:

If it weren’t for passengers, Cruising would be brilliant

This morning in Melbourne was just one of those occasions, though the feeling passed by as soon as it came. But what caused such a feeling?

The cause was MyKi, Melbourne’s equivalent to Oyster!

To get into town from the where the boat was parked, we really did need to get a bus and/or tram. To do this we would have to obtain a MyKi card. This would cost $6 for the card(!) and $8 for a days worth of travel. The only place we could get a MyKi card was in the cruise terminal (unless you were prepared to walk all the way into town) and apparently, they only took cash. At this point, it’s worth pointing out that immediately after we had parked our boat, a Holland America boat came in and parked next to us. Each of the two ships held around 2500 passengers. Both ships were scheduled to be in Melbourne from 08:00 to 17:00 (ish). So everybody naturally wanted to get off early to get the most of their time in port. Can you imagine what it’s like when two ships disgorge their passengers together? That’s when I decided:

If it weren’t for passengers, Cruising would be brilliant

Obviously, not all 5000 passengers turned up at once, many went on excursions, many stayed on board and the rest staggered their departure time but nevertheless, queues were an inevitable outcome. After what seemed to me to an outrageously long time, we finally reached the pay desk; were asked if we wanted to pay by cash or card(!); elected for cash and obtained our cards, which, we were told, were valid for 4-years. So, if anybody wants a MyKi for getting round Melbourne any time in the between now and 2018, we have two J

Looking back, it wasn’t really that bad, if it took 20 minutes, it wasn’t really that big a deal.

Partly because of the passengers, Cruising is brilliant.

In due course, our ‘packed to the gunnels’ bus delivered us into town close to the river and train station. As we alighted we were met by a number of red topped tourist advisers who took time to explain on a map where we were and asked if the was anything we anted to see in particular. I think to myself, ‘I’ll get him here’ and asked where the nearest camera shop was. Straight away, he marked it on the map, explained how the Mall was close by and also where we would be able to get the tram back to the ship. He also mentioned that if we got lost or needed more information to look out for other groups of advisers in red tops and hats that are stationed around the town at major intersections. Now that, London, is how to look after your tourists/visitors.

As instructed, we made away along Collins Street and then up Elizabeth Street and sure enough we came across the camera shops and $300 later, I left with a shiny new wide-angle lens. Naturally, having spent so much money on myself, this was a green light to the future Mrs Me to spend at least twice that on shiny sparkly things, but first, she wanted a pair of Ugg Gloves – why not, it was after all [well] below 80°

For the records, the Ugg Gloves were followed by one Australian Opal ring, one Clogau Necklace and one pair of Clogau earrings. No doubt the remaining bracelet will join the collection in due course. She did however treat me to a pair of Calvin Klein socks!

Anyway, back to my lens buying experience. Having sourced the lens and left the shop we continued back towards the river, or that’s what we would have been doing had we left by the same door as the one we entered, which we now know we didn’t. Doh. Eventually, we realized something was amiss; the sun being in the wrong place was the clue. We looked at our map and worked out that we were at the intersection of Collins Street and Queens Street: we therefore continued down Collins Street to the next junction, which was also an intersection with Collins Street and Queens Street. This confirmed it; we were lost, disorientated and confused. Now, I don’t mind admitting that sometimes, I can be a little bit clever. I worked out that the river to be down rather than up the hill so we continued down Collins Street J, until we saw going back up. I gave in. I did what us blokes hate to do. I asked for help. I asked for help from what turned out to be a very helpful traffic warden who said we should cross over, continue down the next left, cut through an arcade, turn right and we would be there.

While in the arcade of course, Mrs Me naturally smelled out a shop with things we needed, like a sterling silver coaster with a koala on it, a glass koala, a postcard with a koala and a pewter koala. Finally, we got out of the arcade and reached the riverside where we now needed a drink in what looked like quite a nice little Italian bar (those that know Mrs Me won’t be too surprised at that). Where we finally persuaded a little Italian Waiter to make a table for two on the Veranda. Our quiet little drink turned into wine, water, pizza and fries. And, very nice it all was. As with all good things, we finished our repast and made our way to the tram stop, stopping the check with people in the red tops and hats that we were going the right. At the tram stop, was a tram travel assistant who kept us up to date with the progress of the tram. As the arrival time drew near, it was clear that passengers from both ships were heading back at the same time. Boarding the tram was a bit like boarding the Northern or Circle Line in the rush hour and we were all on it to the end of the line. This did of course mean that we all arrived at security at the same time. This was however where Mrs Me’s cunning plan fired into action and stopped at the Australian Opal store to purchase said Australian Opal Ring. By which time the crowd was but a few stragglers. And so, on to the ship, up to the cabin, pour a drink and relax before dinner where we announced to our table friends that we were to be married by the Captain and asked if they would be happy to be our witness. Their excitement for us was apparent and jumped at the chance. So much so that they started to work out what they would have wear (more on that after the big day). Dinner itself was itself its normal satisfactory affair before Mrs Me and I retired for a quiet drink in the Crows Nest before retiring.

It was in the Crows Nest that we Met Jack (our future best man and nearly 80 years young) and his sister, Joy (86 years young). They both asked us to join them for a drink to celebrate our forthcoming marriage, as Joy was to be leaving the ship two days before hand. Well, one drink led to another and before we knew it, it was 1 o’clock in the morning and both Jack & Joy were just a little bit tipsy. So we found ourselves escorting two wobbly octogenarians back to their cabin so as to make sure they were both ok.

Then, it was time for bed for ourselves. Next Stop, Adelaide…..