Goodbye to the ocean

Day: Friday 31st May 2013

 

Ships position: 41 degrees 42.44′ N, 065 degrees 52.28′ W

Ships time: 14.30

GMT: 18.30

Weather: sunny with a light breeze. Sea very calm

 

So! Final day onboard the Queen Mary 2. It feels like its been forever to get to this point but also that its gone really quickly. All the days on the ship seem to have merged into one, so much so that if I was on here for any longer I think I would lose sense of day and time entirely. It’s weird enough as it is trying to remember the ships time versus the land time in the UK and the states. Last night we had to set our clocks back an hour and we have to do that again tomorrow morning when we dock into Brooklyn docks in New York at about 6.30am.

 

Our last day onboard didn’t really consist of much more than doing laundry, eating, packing and sitting on deck reading and doing sudoku in the sunshine. I guess ultimately I was waiting excitedly for 4pm as mum had booked us in for a 80 minute stone massage….

 

As I’m sure it sounds, it was pretty incredible!! A great way to finish off the cruise.

 

It had been such a beautiful day and so I took a final opportunity to wonder around the ships decks at sunset. I am ridiculously excited to get into New York tomorrow morning. We have a pretty awesome road trip ahead of us that will get us into Chicago in just over a week.

 

To be honest I’m pretty excited about seeing some land. Don’t get me wrong, the ocean is awesome, and the experience is once in a lifetime stuff. I love water, sea, ocean etc in general, and so I have been somewhat in my element. I think just the anticipation of what’s next has overwhelmed me at this point. Tomorrow = New York City!

 

Space & Time

Day: Thursday 30th May 2013

 

Ships position: 44 degrees 28.81’N, 055 degrees 30.24′ W

Ships time: 12.50

GMT: 15.50

Weather: gentle breeze, foggy, 12 degrees C

 

After breakfast this morning, me and mum made our way up to a point on the ship where you can overlook the bridge. No cameras allowed here, so no photos I’m afraid. There are huge windows directly behind the rather large bridge area overlooking all the computers and instruments and of course the crew inside. It also offers a spectacular view out of the front of the ship.

The officers operate on watches, with one senior officer and one 3rd officer on each of the three watches. There is a12-4 o’clock watch, a 4-8 o’clock watch and an 8-12 o’clock watch. 6 of the senior style officers take one of these time slots (in pairs) and obviously twice a day. It was really interesting looking at all of the radars and computer screens and seeing all the lights flashing and what not. They didn’t appear to be doing much (the officers not the computers I hasten to add) it seems as if the whole ship is on autopilot. It never seizes to amaze me how much we rely on computers and technology to guide us through life and in this case guide a 151,400 tonne ship through the Atlantic.

 

A few facts about the Queen Mary 2:

 

First voyage: 12th January 2004

Length: 1132 ft (345 m)

Width: 131 ft (39.9 m)

Draft: 32 ft (9.75 m)

Height: 236 ft (71.9 m)

Guest accommodation: 1309

Guest capacity: 2618

Guest decks: 13

Ships crew: 1240

 

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After almost an hour of staring at the bridge activity, entranced; I then wondered off in a dream like state to the library. You almost have to fight to get a good spot in the library on a seat right at the front of the ship overlooking the ocean ahead. The library is obviously in its peak hour but luckily for me I manage to grab a seat right in the middle and at the front of the ship! I grab a book to read and begin. Its a fiction novel, and I find after about 2 pages I am deeply involved in this romantic thriller. I forget this is why I don’t read that much anymore. Or haven’t done in a while. I become so antisocial it’s unreal. I can’t really function doing much else until I’ve finished the book. I get so lost in someone else’s world, albeit fiction or not, that I am fairly certain I must be a nightmare to be around in these times. In fact, an ex-boyfriend once sighed with relief when I finished the twilight series as it meant that he had ‘gotten me back’. Quite comical really. Anyhow, I am writing this blog a day late because of this fact. I also read ridiculously fast. I finished the book at 7am this friday morning (today) after starting it yesterday afternoon. And don’t think that’s all I did in this time!

 

Admittedly I did miss the galley tour (kitchens) that mum went along to. But I didn’t miss a short documentary in the planetarium on whether life exists outside of our solar system. It’s seems ridiculous that there is a planetarium onboard this ship. But there we were staring up at a huge concave screen being taken on a 3D journey through space and time and our known universe. Narrated by Harrison ford; I wouldn’t say it was particularly educational for me (I’ve watched documentaries on this before) but it was very visually exciting. It was one of those 3D things you watch where you actually feel like you are moving along with the images you are seeing.

 

I do love watching stuff like this, but I can’t help getting that almost nauseating feeling in the pit of my stomach after a while; as what documentaries like this do to me is remind me how incredibly minuscule we are in the awesome humongous known universe that we are part of. It also makes you start up the question of why we are here, is it purely biological and scientific or is there a more philosophical, godly essence to our overall creation…?

 

I guess this is more of a conversational topic. And not one I am quite prepared to go off on one about now. Maybe later. Either way, I 100% believe that there is other life out there in our known universe. Which, like I mentioned, after a while of getting really involved in thinking about this, makes me feel a little ill at the vast amount of things we just don’t know.

 

To bring it back to the ocean though, I’m sure most of you know this, but we know far more about space than we do about our oceans. Which is pretty crazy if you really think about it.

 

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Anyway after this lovely documentary, some more reading and then showering we disappeared off down to dinner in our finest. Tonight is a masquerade ball. Earlier on we had dropped by today’s sales on the shopping level. Mum managed to get a mask (I already had one I bought in Leighton buzzard with Sam before the secret garden party last year) and I bought a scarf, bag and some jewellery. Everything was $10. It would have been rude not to….

 

Tonight there was a chefs parade at dinner. This meant the seemingly endless amount if chefs come out of the galley to parade to rhythmic applause from all the guests all around the restaurant. A few speeches and photos later we polished off our yummy dinner and then went off to the theatre. We watched a performance by the Cunard singers and dancers. It took us on a journey of world dance essentially. They are pretty blooming spectacular these guys. Absolutely stunning dancing, and just stunning in general.

 

Then donning our masks we entered into the masquerade ball which was taking place in the queens room (basically the ball room of the ship) here we mainly watched and admired the dresses and masks of the participants and sipped our (now drink of choice!) mojitos. I did get up to waltz with a few gentlemen, which in a masks is strangely liberating. You literally don’t care who is watching. In fact you quite enjoy it!

 

I bumped into Florence and also the other German friends I’d made, they all looked beautiful. After chatting with them for a while. We retired for the evening. Mainly so I could continue my book to be honest. But I was also pretty shattered.

 

The weather had deteriorated somewhat throughout the day. There is a intense amount of fog outside our balcony. The area we are passing through at the moment, beneath Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, is notorious for its fog. Fortunately this had no affect on the movement of the ship. As always it sits solidly in the ocean barely moving. Every now and then you can feel the motion of the ocean (haha) but I guess after 6 days we’ve also got quite used to any movement anyway. And as with most foggy situations in the ocean, the sea was hardly moving. Quite eerie really…

 

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Cruising

Wednesday 29th may 2013   So with my little essay regarding decision making I neglected to tell you about my day at sea yesterday (Wednesday)….   Woke up and watched a movie called the marriage vow. Or something like that. It starred robin Williams and Mandy Moore. Of all the weird combinations. Pretty funny rom […]

Decisions

Day 5: Wednesday 29th may 2013

Ships position: 46 degrees 09.62′ N  045 degrees 10.72′ W

Ships time: 11.26

GMT: 14.26

Weather: moderate sea. 12 degrees

We need to provide the right information, in the right format at the right time to the right people to make the right decisions.

The above was actually said to me in one of the lectures I’ve been to over the last couple of days. And was more to do with the ocean environment and how we can look after it. But it did get me thinking about the decisions we make, and why we make them. What qualifies a good decision and what qualifies a bad one? I guess it’s a little bit like beauty… It’s in the eye of the beholder…

I met a guy called Francis (for the sake of anonymity) at the pilgrim pub in north Marston just before I left. I would say he was probably in his 40’s. I was simply popping in to drop off a refrigerator for my brother Chris who was working there at the time. But as Chris can usually do, he persuaded me to stay for a quick beverage, and so I sat at the bar waiting for him to finish up whatever he was doing so he could help me take the fridge out of the car.

Francis was by himself at the bar, and after introducing us to one another Chris disappeared off to do some jobs I would imagine. Our conversation started as pretty colloquial. Chat about the weather, chat about the pub and pubs in general. Then came in the question about what I am doing with my life, like ‘so what do you do Becky?”. This in itself is a pretty obscure question. I ‘do’ an awful lot of things. What specifically does this stranger want to know? Funny how a torrent of colloquial chit chat over the years has meant that actually, I know that this question is not an interest in trying to find out what i do in general, and that its actually asking what I do as a profession, as a career, as a job.

Just like most things with me I feel that sudden realisation that in order to explain to this perfect stranger that I have no job and that I am going travelling for a bit, I am going to have to give him rather a background story. Mainly to justify to myself (again) and not to him (necessarily) that there is a perfectly good reason as to why I am not employed, just bought a house, and leaving the country…

So it began. I am constantly in wonder at my ability to share with complete strangers elements of my life. So I started to explain about my last job, how it was nothing to do with my degree in theatre and dance, but was an incredible experience but after 2 and a half years of it I was at a point in my life where with no massive responsibilities (bar my house) and with no current ties to a relationship I felt that now was the time that I could go and do some things in life that I had always wanted to do. I explained about my desire to ultimately begin my own charity, how I wanted to get involved in various charitable experiences in order to better prepare me for that vision. I explained about my family, my brothers, my parents, living in the country, not living in London. It went on for a while. No surprises there. At the point where I got talking about my family, I did that thing I always do which is with great pride go through each member of my family and explain what they do and who they are as people. Francis did the usual mock gasp at the fact I was the only girl of 5 siblings. After analysing my brothers and parents and in general how great they are and how awesome my family is, he asked me a question no one had asked me before. ‘ so what do you think your family would say about you? How would they describe you?’ I told him that was a very interesting question. I paused and wondered what they do actually say about me. What does my personality project. I then came back to him with the response that they would all probably say something different based on experiences we have shared together over our childhood and adulthood so far. I explained that no matter what they said it would probably be true, so I wouldn’t mind.

I was far too concerned with the thought of what they thought about me that I didn’t really stop to think about the psychology of what Francis was asking me. He responded to me that what I said was false. He explained that whatever my brothers/family or even friends said about me was their truth. Not my own.  Again, I paused. Then I was like ‘touché’ that is true too. He went on to say that all that matters is my truth. That there are too many personalities, opinions, dynamics and contexts in play to really look into what other people’s truths are of myself as a character and that my own truth is all I need to know.

I wondered at this point how our conversation had become so deep. Then I remembered my own truth about who I am and smiled. I like these kinds of conversations. There the ones that stick with you for a while.

Anyway. Furthering on from this we started talking about decisions. My decisions to go abroad, to get into the charity sector, to work with people. He began to explain to me a little about his life story. I asked him what he did…. He explained he worked in IT. He had one child, a boy who was 12 years old, with his wife. He explained that they had waited 10 years to be able to have a child. Again, after this whole conversation I looked back and am in awe of the relative ease for even Francis to describe to me some of the most intimate struggles of his life.

He was mainly telling me this story from his life because he was trying to get the point across that we never know what is coming next. He didn’t know it would take that amount of time before they had a child when they got married. I didn’t know 6 years ago at the beginning of my last relationship that I would now be sitting half way across the Atlantic watching seminars on the ocean.

At this point I referred to the movie ‘sliding doors’. If you haven’t see it; I recommend. The films plot idea is a pretty decent conversation starting topic. In essence; a brief synopsis is that the main character (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) runs down to the London Underground to catch a train. The film shows one scene where she just makes it onto the tube, and then another scene where she bumps into someone on the way down the stairs and she literally just misses the train. The film then spins off into two stories about her life when she caught the train and her life where she didn’t. The one where she did get the train meant that she arrived home from work early to find her husband in bed with another woman; the one where she missed the train meant she still arrived at home but that woman had gone. Without ruining the film you can see how split decisions and random occurrences can alter each and every one of our own fates.

I am not entirely sure there is a massive point to this apparent essay. Only that because life throws a billion choices at us each and everyday, perhaps it’s time to start thinking a lot more about the decisions we make. What will become the new method for myself to make good qualified decisions on things in life where I have a direct handle in the outcome?

I certainly know that I could be better at making decisions, and that some of the decisions I have made of late are not even slightly justifiable to my own truth. But with no way of turning back the clock I have to submit myself to the fact that those decisions have moulded me into the character I am today; I have learned from those experiences to better my judgment the next time around.

To finish this little essay off…. A little while ago I posted the below on Facebook. I thought it was particularly funny and a pretty poignant look into my life at the time. Truth is it spins my life choices into something that they shouldn’t be reflected on as. It implies I have made bad decisions (which I guess I have) and that I am going to continue to, and that I am just content on bumming around the world and not making big big decisions about my life and settling down. I would say now that how i feel is the complete opposite. The settling down, marriage and kids etc will all come in good time. I am content with the position I am in, where I am going and am consciously going to be making better decisions from is point onwards.