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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!