Back in the U.S.S.A.

After the fireworks we took a day off in our last B&B. This one was clean, tastefully decorated, located in a very scenic spot, but lacked breakfast. The hostess told us that there had been complaints, and the kitchen was upstairs, and so on, but the fact remains, it ain’t a B&B, it’s a B.


Why are you staying indoors, when …..


the view from the verandah, with chairs, is so nice? That’s Vancouver across the way.

The next day we headed south again to catch the ferry back to Anacortes. It was a beautiful day, marred only by the long wait to pass US immigration on the dock. At least they didn’t ask for our Social Security numbers and voting records. That’s months away.


The Elwha arrives.


Farewell to Canada.


Lots of water and sky.

When we got to Anacortes it was time to put the foot down and get to Vancouver WA, just north of Portland, for the night. Then it was on to Ashland OR for one night and tickets to The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Trendspotting. Avid readers will recall our trip to the Globe Theater in London and Twelfth Night (link). It looks as if a trend is emerging – turning Shakespeare comedies into singspiel. This production of Merry Wives contained musical numbers drawn from the pop world plus cross dressing, and large portions of ham. The crowning ‘achievement’ was casting a small woman as Falstaff. The key here is “small”, not “woman.” It just doesn’t cut it when Falstaff is not, as the line goes, “two yards about” (72 inch waistline). She was bulked up, and had good (i.e. bad) hair and beard, and she played him as Bobcat Goldthwaite might have done, but just didn’t have the height or width needed to dominate. Oh well. Worth trying.

Much of the pop music meant nothing to us, although the younger audience members caught the references. All of us got the big first half close, with Mistresses Ford and Page singing Blondie’s “One Way or Another” as they planned revenge on Falstaff:

One way or another I’m gonna find ya
I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha … etc.

That was definitely a hit. So, watch for this kind of treatment in the next Shakespeare comedy you attend.


Slender being a perfect fool with Ann Page. Costumes were excellent.


Professional singers. The regular cast members were good too.

On Wednesday morning we headed south to visit Quincy and Sarah in Brisbane (SF Peninsula). Our last photo taken in anger was of Mount Shasta.


There’s a little bit of smoke/fumes on the north side, visible in binoculars. Beware, northerners.

We had a very nice visit to Quincy and Sarah’s new house, a bay cruise in their sailboat (the Mostly Harmless), and an ‘interesting’ dinner on our last night. Sarah and I ordered lamb kebabs: she got lamb and I got free-range mutton. Tasty but tough: un-swallowable.

On Friday, July 7th, we drove down the 101 and arrived home at last. Aside from a bit of mold in the bathrooms and the odd cobweb, everything was just as we left it. The automated drip irrigation system did not explode while we were gone. Our neighbors the Bakers gave us all the mail and we settled in to read, do laundry, and check out the starter battery on the Prius (late word – it’s dead; new parts ordered). We look forward to several days of inactivity.



Due to the high cost and low, sometimes non-existent performance of the on-board internet, all QM2 blogs are delayed.

Wednesday, June 7th. D-day was yesterday. Today we set sail for America.

This morning we decided not to have a pub breakfast. There was a creperie across the street.


Nutella on the left, a breakfast crepe (scrambled eggs and bacon inside) on the right. Alice got sugar overload from the Nutella and I could not finish this enormous filled crepe. Too much good.

We checked out, wheeled our luggage 3 blocks to the pickup point, spent 3 hours on the bus and arrived at Southampton Docks.


45 minutes after that we were in our cabin. We were upgraded twice, for no obvious reason, beginning with the second-cheapest inside cabin and ending up with an outside cabin with a window! The cabin is remarkably large too. Photos tomorrow.


Replacement propeller blades, known as the Captain’s Cufflinks, adorn the forward observation deck.


A chill wind did not keep us from the deck chairs. We were about to leave, but another ship got the drop on us. It blew its horn as it cleared our dock and the QM2 replied with the most enormous, blatty horn ever. It was the kind of horn that opened the gates to Mordor.

After the mandatory safety drill we barely had time to dress for dinner. Informal on the first night – jacket required but not a tie.


Part of the Peasants’ (that’s us)  Dining Room. The style of the ship leans towards Art Deco and is heavily influenced by the first Queen Mary.


Yes, it’s Food Photo Time! From the upper left, clockwise: Bay shrimp and grapefruit salad with Marie Rose (1000 island it seems) sauce; Leg of lamb with Savoy cabbage and roasted potatoes; Chocolate Marquise (a heavy mousse) with bitter orange coulis; Honey, Coconut and Ginger Ice Cream.

If the first meal is an indication, we are in for some good dinners. This one was excellent.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

We rather abused Bea’s hospitality by eating and running this morning. The ferry required our presence no later than 11:45 and it was three hours away. To be safe from construction traffic jams, we left at 7:30.

Good thing we didn’t try to cut it too close. When we stopped for diesel, Alice’s debit card wouldn’t work. Since some other people were having trouble with their cards, we were just mildly irritated. After searching unsuccessfully for a non-automatic station, we decided to use a 50 Euro note and pressed on. All that cost us only a half hour so we came to Dover a half hour ahead of schedule.


That’s us in line on the left. The remaining empty lines were filled quickly. The Calais ferry port is busy even with tunnel competition. A ferry leaves every 15-20 minutes.


As we left Calais we could see a lineup of ferries approaching, just like the jets at LAX. In spite of the wind and the rain, the channel was almost flat. We had a comfortable crossing.


Approaching Dover we got a break in the clouds for the White Cliffs.


Driving out of the harbor we managed to take a wrong turn and ended up next to cows before turning around. The drive to Guildford was otherwise easy and very pretty. The difference between here and northern Europe is the roads here go up and down more and, of course, you’re on the wrong side of the road. No incidents so far.

We found our hotel and the room is the smallest we’ve seen in some time. The traffic is heavy so we decided to walk back into town (15 minutes) to find a mobile phone, a Boots for hair care products, and an ATM. The first two we found. We had a lesson in using mobiles from the staff and called Jon Calhoun just to make sure it worked. It turned out there was a trick to deciphering the phone number (replace the country code with a zero in this case) and all ended well. In the Boots we found what we wanted. The ATM, however, was not good. Alice’s bank has sabotaged her again. Every time at any ATM in town the transaction was rejected for “insufficient funds.” Come Monday there is going to be a very irate communication with the bank.


We had dinner in a restaurant Positano in a little Tudor building (Watch Your Head!) across the street from the Guildhall (above). The current hall dates from 1589, a year when Elizabeth I visited, and the clock from 1683. The name Guildford goes back to the 500s or so when the Saxon name (forgot it, sorry) meant ~Golden Bridge.


Lots of Tudor buildings in Guildford High Street

The building Wi-Fi is out so for the second day in a row, no posting or reading emails.