Friday, 20th of July,
8:03. The alarm goes off.
I can’t get up. I can’t move my feet. I really want to make it to the QEII terminal. I really want to make it to Queen Victoria but I’m really not sure I can.
You know that feeling, after a huge stressful event in your life, an exam, an interview, a dentist’s appointment (for some of us), when the adrenaline dramatically goes down and emotional and physical exhaustion takes its place? When there is still some stress residue at the back of your brain, but you feel drained and tired all the time?
My anxiety reached record highs in the last couple of weeks, it reached levels I couldn’t keep under control. I physically felt sick, sick to my stomach.
The drama of finding a place to move into tested every inch of me (blog coming soon). As soon as I moved in I relaxed. But couldn’t shake this blanket of sadness. That was to be expected. Closing the door on the last 6 months was not easy.
Last night I had to say goodbye to our beloved boss Dave (more on that soon). I know we’ll keep in touch but there is a real possibility I may never see him again. I may not be in Southampton or in this country when he comes back from Bangladesh, he may decide to stay there permanently… I may never see him again. What a terrifying thought.
‘Why didn’t he say hi??’ Whilst I was sitting at Tapas, waiting for Dave and the rest of the gang, I saw someone I knew passing by. They pretended they didn’t see me and I did the same. I don’t handle rejection well. I instantly felt sad. Sometimes I feel too much… I walked to the bar to get a drink, had a laugh with Angel, the barman (that’s what I call him after he made me a delicious Angel’s Touch) and then I looked around the table, the beautiful company I was in, my wonderful friends and colleagues and smiled. Maybe one person rejected you, but look how many others love you and cherish your friendship.
But I really want to make it to the ship visit. All the lovely people I met last time will be there, Danny, Liam, Jordan, Richard, Cat, Tansy and when will I ever be offered the chance again to get a free tour and three course meal on one of Cunard’s most luxurious ships?
I drag myself out of bed, had a quick shower and got ready. No casual clothes as per the dress code so I put on my blue floral dress and black heel sandals and make my way to the terminal.
The sun is shining and the harbour is buzzing with passengers getting out of the ship, naval staff getting on board, taxis, cars. I love it.
A million thoughts cross my mind on my way there. I’ve been struggling with confidence again lately and the sadness is overwhelming sometimes. I wonder whether anyone will remember me from last time, if they still like me, if they ever liked me?
I make it on time for a change! Everyone is there, having a cup of coffee. I grab one and I start chatting with two lovely ladies who work for the Mayflower.
And then I meet Christina. A Solent Cruise Management graduate who landed her dream job at Carnival. Another great Solent success story. I wonder if our ER people know about her... We chat about living abroad, her job, her dreams, her aspirations. She is gonna be one of our tour guides and she is a bit nervous. I’m somehow certain she’ll do great.
The tour is about to begin. Christina and her manager (why can’t I remember her name?) who looks very familiar were brilliant. Where do I know her from? Who does she remind me? Is it from my time at Carnival?
The main hall looks amazing, with the grand piano catching my eye immediately and where later it’ll be full of beautiful music by three exquisite violinists which I genuinely thought it was a recording. I could imagine myself in a vintage lace dress walking down the stairs, sitting across the violinists enjoying a glass of wine…
We then pop to the library, it has a very traditional, Harry Potter, almost magical feeling to it.
I vaguely remember the rest of the tour, especially towards the end, when hunger was getting real but some of my favourite parts I do remember and snapped:
One of the suites that was larger than my whole flat. As part of the package you get your own personal butler and champagne amongst other perks.
One of the standard rooms, very claustrophobic.
The gorgeous, elegant restaurant areas…
My favourite part of the ship: The Spa. Especially the hot stone chairs, I could stay on those for ever.
My second favourite part: The viewpoint on the upper deck. The views are breathtaking. Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you, go on
The theatre. Bright red and gold colours. Stunning.
The vintage dance/performance/ball room. Here I am again, in my vintage lace dress, jiving…
And as with every ship, the beautiful sea views. What is it that draws me to the sea? Is it because I was born on an island?
By the end of the tour we were all starving.
We met at the Britannia restaurant for our three course meal and unlimited wine.
I went for the Crayfish and Crab cocktail with avocado sauce for a starter, the roasted (to perfection) medium rare beef accompanied by glazed vegetables and finished off with white chocolate profiteroles served with pistachio and coffee ice cream.
All three courses were delicious, the wine and service were impeccable (the waiter refilled our wine glasses every time we were running low) and I had just the best company on my table. Tansy, Liam, Jordan, Gavin and… Leslie! That’s who she reminds me of, Leslie Knope!! She sounds like her, she even looks like her. Here she is at the background. Pat, Sarah? Doesn’t she look like her??
At some point during lunch, the lovely Danny, one of the main organisers of the Pride came over to chat about my responsibilities for the day. I’m incredibly grateful he trusted me with something so important and I hope I won’t disappoint him.
For those who don’t know Danny, he is not only kind and sweet, he also does most of the planning for the Pride alongside his main job. He goes home after work and spends hours organising THE whole thing. I truly admire him.
It’s now less than a month before the biggest, most colourful, cheering, love celebratory, open to everyone, party takes place in Southampton, the Southampton Pride 2018 (25th of August). And I can’t wait.
If anyone would like to volunteer, I’d with no second thought recommend it. You meet amazing people, who make you feel loved from the very first moment you meet them, it’s a fun day you’ll never forget and who knows, you may be on the next free meal Cunard offers for volunteers.
A huge, enormous thank you to Southampton Pride, Danny, the rest of the organisers and Cunard for supporting such a great initiative and of course for the free ship visits and delicious meals.
I wouldn’t probably afford to go on a cruise on either Ventura or Queen Elizabeth and even if I could, I’d opt for a month exploring Cuba and Costa Rica so for me to be given the opportunity to get a glimpse of how these gorgeous sea crafts operate and what they offer to their passengers as well as eating on board with such a wonderful bunch, it truly is a blessing.