Flawless bus journey down to Southampton on the Eavesway bus - with driver prattling on just like he did in my book about washing his bus. But by 1.30pm we were on our lovely ship feeling very much at home and heading for the Glasshouse. Have to christen the arrival with some lovely Canadian Peller Estates Icewine. 'Surprised it took you so long' came a flurry of texts from 'friends'.
Chocolates and little philosophies appeared on my pillow every night - including this one - which I used for the opening quote of my book because it was so apt - spooky!
Slept like a captain's log the first night and got up for lunch the next day. We always sleep soooo well on board. So much so that we slept through a freak force 11 gale the night before Cephalonia. I just thought I was in a giant cradle.
The sun never went out on the cruise during the day - just as it behaved in my book. We had a couple of sea days so lunched in our lovely Glass House with wines chosen by Olly Smith and a delish menu.
I had the Woodland Mushroom Risotto with Camembert - which is gorgeous.
I had a visit to the spa to get a hot stones neck and shoulder massage as my neck was so crunchy it would have been told to shush in libraries. I had a rather handsome South African man de-knotting me. Sigh... Right - less of that and back to the cruise. Our first stop was Malaga - very very sunny Malaga, where we got off, walked around, my son bought some of his usual tourist rubbish and we sat by the cathedral under a fan that blew out a mist of cool water, and watched the world go by.
Next stop was Cephalonia. I'd booked a trip to the beach and the lads were moaning that it would be boring. Skip forward three hours and I couldn't get them out of the sea. Yep, sun, sea, sand and sunbeds and it was idyllic just riding the waves like human surfboards.
Steve Larkins. Sue Holderness, 'Marlene' from Only Fools and Horses did some fabulous talks - one really surprised me. It was about the Harrison Watch which Delboy's 'father in law' found and which changed their fortunes. Sounds fascinating - not - I know - but trust me it was brilliant. One of the highlights - very clever and jaw-droppingly inspiring.
Dubrovnik was the next stop - beautiful sunny gorgeous Dubrovnik which was ice-cream heaven for my son.
And for all those people who asked - the water spout which appears in the book which I described as looking like Bruce Forsyth is here :)
We walked for ages in Venice, drank Peroni (well I did, the kids didn't) ate pasta and ice-cream, Tez bought souvenirs, I bought handbags, George ate more ice-cream.
We were knackered - blissfully so. Here I am smoking a bread-stick (obviously too much of that Peroni)
Then it was the time of lovely Corfu. I LOVE Corfu and we were looking forward to seeing our old friends of Restaurant Rex - the restaurant the girls go to in the book. The food is fabulous - the pasta and beef and Greek salads to die for. We sat there dining Al Fresco and walking the world go by for nearly 2 hours - bliss.
The sea days were lovely and restful after a run of ports. The kids splashed in the pool, I read books and after boiling for a
The breeze was a gentle hot ruffle and was as gorgeous as Daniel Craig himself.
Geoff is a professional Tenor so we unplugged our ears and listened to a 'proper'serenade.
We managed a fabulous night away from the restaurant to take in Verona, the Italian restaurant on deck 15 where the steaks are served on molten hot lava stones which act as both plate and grill.
And there was even a passenger choir which was so lovely to both hear and see.
Vigo - our last stop - was great for handbags and purses and watches and the sun didn't stop burning for us until the late afternoon of the last day. That last sea day was marvellous for me as I drew open the curtains in the morning and saw a whale. I ran outside on the balcony and just watched it rising and blowing out a jet of water. I was shouting 'Look a whale' and it was shouting the same back to me - so it was time to go home and hit the yogurts.
To all those people who have written to me asking if my book really is a true portrait of a cruise - yep it is. Go book one, and then tell me I'm lying. I bet you wouldn't be able to :)