Hello again! Let’s go girls, we’re heading off for real again in just a little while, the Queen Victoria ocean liner trip across the Atlantic . . . happy trails to you and us! MUSICA! (They played this and all the wonderful songs of this era in the Commodore room last night!) Life is good.🎉 🎵 Let’s go dancing . . . 🕺💃
And so, very very comforted, our departure begins . . .
. . . Driving along, seeing this sign, knowing that’s the port we depart from, I am filled with excitement . . . my cup runneth over. 🤗
Joe takes the rented car back, the porters come and take away most of our luggage and deliver it in our room . . . I sit patiently with our carry-ons, admiring the boarding outfits of the other passengers, until Joe returns, and then it really is time . . . we check in, get our ID cards, and run to our room where we just throw everything in. The day is too nice to hang out there, we can unpack later . . . but first . . .
We wander and explore . . . and take pictures from ship to shore on a positively glorious day . . . How do you not cry? Just to think of it!
ALL three of the people over there on those turquoise-terry-covered, round lounges are out-cold asleep!!! We were getting the gist . . . this ship departed two months ago from Southampton (most of the people on board have British accents), they’ve stopped at ports all over ~ on their way home now, up from South America, they are officially experienced “old salts,” and no beautiful port is going to be better than a cozy warm afternoon nap in the soft Florida sunshine (right at 70 degrees, with sea breeze).
And in our old salt ways, we know one thing we’ve waited for a long time, a first-thing’s-first, sit and drink a luv-lee Magner’s Pear Cider over ice before we make another move. We know there’s bon-voyage champagne in the stateroom, but this is what we really wanted to toast this trip with. Better than we remembered it. Yum yum yum!
Then we do the thing I can never get over, we take pictures of the HUGE rugs they have on the ship. Here’s one, but they are everywhere.
And comfy corners we would like to try out. This ship, the Queen Victoria, is much more like the QE2, which is our favorite of all ~ and this one is very much like it. Smaller, and really beautifully laid out. Only problem, so far it looks like it never sails into or out of New York. So more trips to Florida may be in order in the future. (We already have to come back, we barely scratched the surface of all there was to do on our path south.)
More sitting around . . .
More taking pictures. But we know it’s time . . . we have to go unpack ~ we have to go to dinner, and our bed is covered with suitcases!
In our room, on the TV screen, is our Itinerary, and the only thing missing is the date, March 23, and time of our arrival in Southampton . . .
Georgie on Twitter found the Webcams for our departures . . . and put up a screen shot of the live video of us leaving Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades. It’s all so amazing, what we can do and see via the Internet!
I’m unpacking, going in and out the door to the deck to take pics, and here’s one of our escort boats, that brings us in and out of the harbors . . .
Back out on deck . . . we see only Majestic and Queenly.
There is couple, if you look closely, dancing in the dark . . . listening to the music wafting from inside . . .
A deep breath of salt air before bed, smooshed into cocoon of feathers and down . . .
Next morning, Petey and I slept until 7 am (unheard of), up in time to catch the sun coming up outside our stateroom balcony door . . . you can see we are all moved in . . . kitchen on the left (fridge around the counter there), living room on the right, bedroom in the back, bath and closet beyond that, then the door to the l o o o o n g hallway to all the ship’s delights. Hello!
Yes, wonderful things! Yawn 😵, make tea . . . so glad I wasn’t born before tea . . . I brought our cups. Little bits of home to ward off homesickness. Not feeling homesick a bit yet. Duncan, Jack’s new best friend, is texting photos of Jack every day and so I am happy. He looks good. Rolling on his back to be petted.
Out onto the balcony, birds crying, water whooshing, OMG. That’s all I could say, OMG in all directions. Go get book, bring tea, get diary . . . get in chair, do not move.
Soaking up the Vitamin D . . . almost shocking in it’s unrealness considering that home is being buried in snow even as we speak. But everyone should know, there is hope, under that white sky, lies a toasty warm sun that you will all see very soon. 🌞
Second day, we docked in Port Canaveral . . . and off we went to Cocoa Village, driving past the Disney Dream liner (note mouseka-ears on funnels), to a shop . . .
suggested to me by our Girlfriend Diane (Byrum) 😘 . . . in the nick of time I may say, because I didn’t have time to do this before we left, and I really never feel quite right unless I have a little project to take with me. ‘Twas a wonderful store, thank you Diane, had it ALL, and more. I was completely confused by all the delicious choices.
So I got yarn and very weird needles (they convinced me this was the way to go, mainly because they didn’t carry what I am used to, the long, individual wooden needles I learned to knit on a hundred and fifty years ago ~ this is likely another baby step in joining the 21st century), and unless a miracle occurs and I suddenly know how to read patterns, this will be a gorgeous wool scarf/shawl. (What happens when the stitches go onto that skinny wire, does everything stay the same size, this is a bit scary!) Oh thee of little faith.
And right next to the yarn store . . . Oh yeah, THIS! Hello!
Which was a perfect place for Joe to hang out while I made yarn purchase . . . and then I joined him and found these! “Made in England” it says on the clip-on backs. Only $10 and they cried out, please take me home.🇬🇧 And so we are.
Walked down the block to Cafe Margaux for a delicious French lunch.
Then back to the ship where we met a kind victim who answered the call, “Please could you take our picture?” Gotta have at least one with us both in it! We’re standing on the glassed-in gangplank to the ship. Ahoy there you two very happy people.
We had an excellent vantage point for life-boat counting. Look at these wonderful things. I always thought lifeboats were like row boats, open air, two wooden paddles, no engine, eight miserable huddling survivors looking fearfully at the sea, shark reflections in their eyes, wet hair glued to heads, begging for a piece of hardtack, a drip of water for parched lips. (Too many movies.) But no, these boats are heated and they have radio contact with the world. Plus, they make the perfect emergency hiding place for you stowaways, just in cases the captain shows up to try and find out why we order so many English Breakfasts every morning, ship’s almost out of bangers and beans. 😘
Here are some of you cutie-pie stowaways who met us at our book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Charleston last night! Was that fun or what? 🎉 Nicest most wonderful Girlfriends in the world! And the boyfriends were VERY fun too . . . asking questions and everything! Even the people who work for the store said you were wonderful. They loved you! Because they have excellent taste.
And here I am, returning to the ship, giddy with the spirit of our wonderful friends, carrying my luv-lee bon voyage gifts from darling Girlfriends. I’ve been opening packages this morning. It’s like my birthday in this room, ribbons and tissue and cards and tea and books and all sorts of wonderfulness.💞 Goes excellently with the morning clatter of room-service breakfast dishes. my darling friends, for all your good wishes. 💝 I’m so happy to have you along, you make everything better.
So, last but unfortunately not least, I have not-so-good news: I should probably have told you this first, but it’s hard enough to do it at ALL, so here I finally am. See our darling Spring cup ⤴ there? All light and airy and sweet and approved “as is” a few weeks ago? Well, the next step was for the final samples to be made (of all the cups) for my approval . . . which they did, but they didn’t make it to the island in time, so we had them sent to Joe’s brother’s house in Florida so I could approve them before we left . . . the package arrived while we were there, phew, I was so relieved and excited to open the package to see the finished cups ~ I was beginning to worry I’d miss the package and be unable to get them to you guys on time.
But, when I opened the package, the Spring cup looked like this ~ the outlines were harsh, the flowers were dark, the lambs were dark, it was too black . . . it wasn’t soft and sweet and watercolory like the approved one above. And the others were the same. In my heart, despite the timing issue, there was no way I could say yes to this, no way I could make this the cup that you would have to receive. I tried desperately to rationalize, but: Could. Not. Do. It.
It wasn’t just the Spring Cup. The Mother’s Day flowers were almost black, Jack had no eyes, and the English Countryside was beyond a stormy day, it was one dark day in the middle of the night . . . SO, I said to our wonderful English manufacturer, “I understand the time problem, but we are going to have to fix this.”
Because they need to look like this . . . And they were very nice about it, but it’s a setback, and now we’re being told they won’t ship until April 20. Which means, after getting through customs, we probably won’t get them to the Studio until May 1, and that’s if everything goes right from this point on. So, if this is a nonstarter for you, if you can’t wait for them, we understand completely, please contact Sheri@susanbranch.com, and she will fix you up with a refund before we get any further . . . I’m so sorry. (If she doesn’t get right back to you, it may mean there are many refunds wanted … so don’t worry, I promise, she will reply to you asap.) Sometimes things happen, especially when you don’t want them to. We’ve been very lucky so far, it’s gone swimmingly, and will do so again one day, I trust. But right now, there’s trouble in River City ~ we’ll do our best to make everything as right as we can. Now go read the top part of this post again, start the musica again, skip the cup part, and start here, it’s much more cheerful that way. Happy ending and all.
We leave Charleston at 1:30 today. turning to the open sea ~ as soon as we leave shore, I will likely lose contact ~ which is why I’m here this morning, to say Bon Voyage Girlfriends! If you leave a comment later, it might not go up (via moderation) until I get contact again. I promise I will do everything I can to fill you in periodically, but if you followed me last time, you know “at sea” makes connection difficult. IF you don’t hear from me, it will be because I’m cut off! We land in Bermuda in a couple of says . . . but that’s not America, so I just don’t know what service I will have. But keep the faith, I shall return! In the meantime, I’ll be taking pictures and watching you stuff yourselves with ocean liner food . . . we’ll send you for a massage, and to get your nails done, and take you for tea, and dancing in the Queen’s Room.
Anna Susanna Dana Branchburger the third. XOXO