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United Kingdom

Southampton, England - Sunday, 14 April 2019

Disembark

semi-overcast 10 °C
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Queens Suite - Deck 9 - Cabin 9047

Bye bye Queen Mary 2 - hello Southampton!

We set the alarm for 5.30 am as early breakfast started at 6.30 this morning. The forecast was for zero degrees at dawn, rising to just 9. But what a surprise! Blue sky and sunshine - it's chilly but nevertheless it looks like it's going to be a lovely day. At least it's not raining.

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Our big bags were taken away last night so all we have to do now is take our carry on off the ship, find our bags in a huge warehouse and then get a taxi to Southampton airport, where we will pick up our hire car and head off to Cornwall. Have to purchase sim cards for our phones too.

Most of the passengers are disembarking today. Only 150 are staying on and heading to New York.

We said goodbye to Joel our butler, and Dennis our room boy, and went to the Queen's Grill meeting place. Almost immediately we were told to go to Deck 3 and disembark. It was as simple as that! Chris and Robin followed us but sadly, we didn't get to say goodbye to Yemi and Fiona.

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We arrived in a huge warehouse, full of bags, but all lined up in their colour coded sections. It was brilliant. So well organised. Admittedly, we had priority disembarkation because we were staying in a Queen's Grill room so we didn't have too big a crowd to deal with, but the disembarkation was so swift and smooth, and before we knew it, we were in a taxi heading for Southampton Airport to collect our hire car.

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The taxi was a flat rate of £25. There was hardly any traffic and we arrived at the airport at 8.35 am. We can't collect the car until 10am but we have to get UK sim cards for our phones before we do anything.

Three weeks sailing on the Queen Mary has been a wonderful experience. Total luxury. And it has been a very nice and relaxed way to get from Dubai to the UK without jet lag. However, if you were visiting the ports along the way for the first time, there really isn't enough time ashore to see the place properly. You need a couple of days in these cities to visit all the attractions.

We met some Aussies from Brisbane who were on the QM2 and their taxi used a meter and their fare was only £16! Ripped off and Phil kept insisting the driver use the meter, but he wouldn't.

We really needed a car that had a GPS system because we don't have a UK sim card in our phones yet, so we were upgraded to a brand new, red Citroen, which is automatic - thank heavens. It's enough to try and work the GPS in the car without having to worry about changing gears!

So, we settle into the car, bags in, ready to go - where's the starter button? We have keyless entry and start cars at home but we just couldn't find the start button. Eventually we had to solicit ths help of a Polish man cleaning the cars. The starter button is in the centre and at the top of the dash board. Never thought to look there! How do you work the GPS? First, let's change it from French to English. That's a good start.

This is a brand new car and has only done 90 miles but there is no instruction book on how to work all the gadgets. So as usual, Phil drives along in a trance, doesn't register when the GPS gives him instructions, so for three hours I get, "What did she say?" Aaaaargh!

We stopped a couple of times along the way and at one servo we were lucky enough to find the Lebara sim cards we wanted for our phones AND a young man who was techno savvy, who put them in our phones for us and activated them. Our lucky day! Now we are back in the world of mobile phones and feel connected to the world again!

It is very bleak, overcast and blowing a gale and is freezing cold. Somehow we missed the big main motorway to Cornwall but drove along a lesser road which was much prettier and went through several villages. The countryside around Dorchester is stunning. So pretty.

We arrived at Bowood Park Golf Club about 2 pm, settled in to our room, overlooking the golf course. We were having dinner at Andrew and Jean Button's home that evening and Andrew suggested he come over and pick us up and drive us to his home. Thank goodness he did because we never would have found our way back to the hotel along those narrow Cornish lanes with no lighting and no names.

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Andrew and Jean live in a 16th century farmhouse and grow potatoes and blueberries on a very large scale. Their property is huge with outbuildings everywhere.

Their home is warm and inviting and Jean is just the greatest cook. There goes the diet again! We had roast beef and yorkshire pudding with all the trimings and summer pussing, oranges in liquour and huge profiteroles. It was delicious. There was an open fire burning in the room and it was wonderful to sit there and reminise about their visit to Australia and catch up on all the family news.

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They drove us back to the hotel and we settled into a new bed and after a very long day, I am wondering how I am going to be able to sleep without the sea air and the gentle movement of the QM2. But I did!

Posted by gaddingabout 09:31 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Camelford, Cornwall - Tuesday, 16 April 2019

semi-overcast 12 °C
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Bowood Park Hotel, Camelford - Room No 121

What a difference a day makes! Slightly overcast, no rain and not a breath of wind. 5 to 12 degrees.

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We wake to the news that Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire last night and has incured a huge amount of damage. How terribly sad. It is a magnificent building.

Room 121 is on the second floor, quite spacious with a very large bathroom (with a bath), overlooking the golf course and across the hills, but there is no elevator. We haven't carried our big bags up the stairs but just took what we would need for five days. Phil (in his wisdom) has decided to ask reception if they have a room on the ground floor that is available. Yes, they do, so he takes it. Eeeek! It is around the back of the hotel (!), next to the pro shop (golfers making a noise early in the morning), it has no bath and a pokey little bathroom and shower, no heated towel racks, not much hanging space but has a bedroom and a lounge room, and it's on ground level. Not happy Jan!! So the day didn't start well.

Jean and Andrew have gone to a funeral today in Bristol so we are on our own. After a very lazy start, we decided to drive to Port Isaac (Doc Martin territory), then to Rock to catch the ferry to Padstow to see Rick Stein's restaurant and the Chough Bakery that was featured in a "fix my business" television program, then onto Truro to Marks and Spencer to buy some trousers for Phil.

It is important to remember that these towns, except for Truro, are tiny, the streets are narrow and there is nowhere to park. So when you arrive on the outskirts of the town, there is a reason why the sign says "Park Here and Ride into Town", because there is no parking in the town. The roads are narrow and there are tourists everywhere, wandering all over the road. But of course, being married to an Australian who knows everything, he decides to drive into town. It was a nightmare. People everywhere, narrow streets, cars almost scraping each other and guess what, nowhere to park! So we didn't even get out of the car!

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The one highlight was that we saw Ian McNeice (Burt Large in Doc Martin) getting into his car, so we stopped and yelled out hello and took his photo.

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Next stop was Rock where Andrew had suggested that we might like to catch the ferry to Padstow to see Rick Stein's restaurant and the Chough Bakery. Phil thought Andrew meant a car ferry - no - a people ferry and of course, there was no room left in the car park for the ferry, so on we drove to Padstow.

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Same thing there - "Park Here and Ride into Town". But no, we decided to drive into the port, which was a hundred times worse than Port Isaac. People disembarking off the ferry and were just wandering all over the streets and the footpaths. It was very difficult to drive through the town. I did at least get a photo of the Chough Bakery and there was a huge queue outside, waiting to be served. As my husband doesn't do queues, we drove on to Truro.

Truro is quite a big town and we found Marks and Spencer quite easily and wonderful news - it had its own parking station.

We headed for the menswear section only to find that they don't carry "Big Mens" clothing in the smaller shops. (I'm sure I said let's wait until we get to London and try there). They can order trousers in but without trying them on, that wouldn't be very successful.

So we found the M&S Cafe, had a bite to eat and then headed home.

We deviated into Wadebridge to take a photo of The Old Bridge which is said to have been built from the proceeds of wool sales in the area.

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So, all in all, not a very wonderful day. Though the sun is shining, there is no wind and it was about 17 degrees in Truro.

We had a G&T and then decided to drive the short way to Camelford to have dinner. We were planning to have fish and chips but when we got there, it was just a take away place so we wandered down the street, taking photos. It is really a very nice village/town. We came to a pub called The Mason's Arms that looked nice so we went inside and decided to stay and have dinner. It has an old fire place with the Mason insignia carved into the stone.
We started chatting to another patron, Suzie White, who was here for a few days from Devon, attending a horse camp and dressage competition. She was very nice to talk with and then Cate the owner joined in, with her children and we chatted on and on for ages. It was nice to meet some locals and they use Button meat. Small world!

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This is Cate, her son, and Suzie White.

Alan, Cate's husband, gave us a few tastes of the local cider. Very nice. We will go back before we leave Cornwall and give the kids some gold kangaroos.

The GPS took us the long way home, along narrow Cornish lanes, but we arrived safely. Time for bed.

Posted by gaddingabout 14:37 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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