Having read it all, I was driven rummaging in the loft to see if I could find my Log Book from the trip. Sure enough, there is was in a small box labelled “Norman’s odds and sods”. It seems you were more diligent in filling in your log than me, but I’ve got a few extra bits – so here we go!
We were not all lucky enough to get time looking around Southampton – I didn’t leave Weymouth until 10.30 and then had to hang around waiting for the the old tub to round the Needles at 3-5 knots.
If my memory serves me right, the first meal on board was fish and chips – not an ideal meal for novice sailors who were about to sail into a storm! The other thing I recall was the horrible stink there always seemed to be whilst waiting in the queue to be served.
My log says “At six o’clock tea was served. Whilst we were eating, we cast off and set sail. For many, including me, that tea did not stay down long. Lights went off at 10 and nearly everybody spent a night of sleeping on and off.”
The next day I felt much better, seemingly on a diet of plain biscuits bought at the snack bar. I recorded that one of our party (only referred to as she) was taken to the ships hospital the previous day having coughed up blood but was ok now and had been released later after having been forced to eat. At least she didn’t have to pay for her biscuits! Ian Wilshire (know the name but can’t put a face to it) was also taken into the hospital with a migraine.
Thursday was described as an enjoyable day. Perhaps that was in comparison with hanging about in the rain, throwing up and being taken to hospital!! Like you, I noted that the Bay of Biscay had been the calmest part of the cruise so far. Today was also the first mention of my daily duty, assisting the Padre at the morning service. Jock Woods was from Osmington I think, a very pleasant man and a bit of a laugh. I was the entire congregation that day!
Friday’s notes contain the brave statement that “I seem to have found my sea legs.” I’d clearly done a bit of arm twisting too because I’d persuaded Chris Nethercott, Janet Pedder and Arthur Preece to come along to the morning service and Jock had recruited three of the cabin passengers. Thinking about it now, who in their right mind would pay good money to go on a cruise with hundreds of spotty adolescents?
I see that I went to a “rave” in the evening. (I didn’t realise that I’d ever been to a rave in my life until now.) I also said that I’d never enjoyed myself more since we’d been on board. Such a shame I can’t remember it at all.
On Saturday we arrived in Tangier at 11.30 am. I have an abiding memory of being welcomed by a “native” band of musicians making a terrible din. One of their instruments consisted of two strips of rusty metal, each of which had three or four shallow depressions in it. The two strips were separated from one another by several springs and looked like a primitive form of sandwich toaster. In the hands of a skilled operator, it sounded like one of the least musical sounds I have ever heard!
I described the Casba as a district of smelly, dark (in both senses of the word) and narrow streets. Our guide was Charlie – I think they must have all been called Charlie because I remember him calling “Charlie 7, follow Charlie 7.” I remember that there were dancers in the restaurant where we had our mint tea. I’ve described them as native dancers in my log but I seem to recall that they were scantily clad women. Perhaps I didn’t feel that I should write that in my “official” log book!
I wrote that the mint tea was very good and I remember trying to make some from garden mint when we got home. It was definately not a success.
On the quay, I also remember bartering over a watch which I had no intention of buying. As I walked away the stallholder shouted after me “you go back to ship, you crazy”. I don’t think he was happy with my best offer!
I can’t better your description of the great storm of Sunday and Monday.
Whoops! I was checking for an email I was expecting from work and suddenly realised that my part-finished e-mail to you had escaped over the ether.
I can’t better your description of the storm of Sunday and Monday. I think it was best summed up as memorable but far from enjoyable.
On Monday morning when I awoke, the ship was in as much turmoil as it had been the day before. Most of us had had very little sleep and the smell and sound of people throwing up, and the noise of the ship being pounded by the sea, characterised the night. The morning service had a record attendance for a weekday – amazing how the realisation of our mortality can remind us of the need to converse with the Maker!
Jock Woods told me there was no need for me to kneel during the service and we dowsed the “altar” cloth liberally with water to try to keep it, and what was on it, more firmly on the table. Any thought of lighting candles was abandoned.
As things seemed to be a little more calm I decided to kneel. Within seconds a wave caught us broadside. Jock grabbed hold of the table to steady himself as I slid gracefully, still on my knees, across the polished wooden floor and collided with the panelled side wall of the salon.
Tuesday morning started with a special treat – an extra half hour lie-in. We were issued with our Portuguese escudos in preparation for our arrival in Madeira. One escudo was worth 3d and I spent 300. That seems like quite a lot to me – £3/15/0 – considering my first apprentice pay packet a couple of years later was just over £5 a week.
We docked at three and went ashore at four in our groups, taking a taxi into the town centre for just 1/- each. When we got back to the ship, I bought a sewing box over the side for my mother, which I think she has still got.
In the evening we went ashore again, this time with Chalky White, and (naughty,naughty) sampled Madeira wine.
Woken up early the next morning at 6.15, breakfast at 6.30, tidied up the dormitory and away by 7.30. I can’t imagine how a whole dormitory of kids got washed, dressed, breakfasted and away in just over an hour. But perhaps we weren’t so thorough in those days?
I noted the fantastic hills which covered the island, the second highest sea cliff in the world and lots of bananas and sugar cane. Seems I wasn’t terribly impressed with the driving, which I described as lethal, and with our having to all get out of the coach at one point as the underneath of it was touching the ground!
Back on ship, I noted that we sailed (late again in usual BI style) at 12.10. Big excitement in the early evening when a UFO was spotted off the port bow (left at the front – see I remember these things!). The flashing red, green and white light remained unidentified but could it have been the ghost of another BI cruise ship corkscrewing in a storm?
Thursday at sea was a lazy day. It was hot and sunny and, for a change, the sea was like a millpond. Lots of people were sunbathing.
My exploits for the fancy dress party didn’t even get a mention in my log but I remember it well along with the awful smell of my jacket, which was actually an old shirt painted in multi-colours with any old odds and ends of paint I could find in the garage at home. I was also carrying a cardboard transistor radio – another item banned on the ship supposedly because it could interfere with the ship’s (advanced?) navigation systems!
That reminds me of another little episode sometime during the cruise. I was with a few others up on deck, leaning over the ship’s railings and looking down over the side, when someone noticed a bit of insulated wire wrapped around one of the rails and leading down to a porthole. Intrigued by its purpose, the wire was given a bit of a tug and pulled up by a foot or two. Next thing we knew the porthole flew open and a head emerged shouting abuse at us for nearly pulling his transistor radio out and into the sea. Clearly this member of the crew was unaware of the rules and of the impact that his use of the radio could have on the safety of the ship! He also seemed to lack a sense of humour.
Next stop was Lisbon – my favourite of the three ports but probably for all the wrong reasons. Out in the morning for the guided coach tour and back for dinner. After dinner we were let loose again and went into Lisbon by tram. We (I’m not sure who “we” included but I think there may have been some girls with us too) spent the entire afternoon in the three main shopping streets. These were the Rua Albusta, Lisbon’s equivalent to Bond Street, the Rua Aura and the most important of all, the Rua Garrat, which contained Lisbon’s most reasonable store, the Grandella.
Lisbon was tops for me because of the Grandella. For 1/- you got a ham sandwich that was anything up to and inch thick and with at least three slices of ham as a filling. Best grub I’d had since we embarked at Southampton!
Up again at 7 the next morning and off in our groups for shopping around Black Horse Square and back to the Grandella for more ham sandwiches. We got back to the ship at 11.45 for dinner but “Hitler”, one of the Masters at Arms, would not let us back on board until 12.35. Chalky got back one hour late at 12.45 having told us to be there by 11.45!
Back to Black Horse Square again in the afternoon and another visit to the Grandella where a policeman was on duty to protect the girls from being harassed by the local blokes.
We visited a record shop where Steve bought an EP by the Troggs. I wonder if he still has it and whether it included “Love is all around”? We also went to a music shop, Steve’s influence again I think, where Steve saw some guitars selling for £30 which would have cost around £200 over here.
Back to the ship for tea and a dance later where Steve’s new record was played.
My log ends as we set off for Falmouth the following day with a note that we were in rough seas again and that the whole day was boring. Clearly I was missing the Grandella and the ham sandwiches…………..
Then aged 15 and three-quarters