And I’m sorry to admit that I took one travel-sickness tablet on the first morning purely for the thought of standing in that tiny shower swaying with the slight movement of the tiny waves outside. Yeah I know – chicken!!!
But I get ahead of myself, we haven’t been to bed on the first night yet. The bed was very small compared to our lovely queen-sized one at home and, compared to the water filled balloon we usually sleep on, it was terribly hard! David says he was clinging to the edge all night trying not to fall out, and was blaming me for taking the whole bed. Well I’m here to tell you… I was clinging to the edge too!!!
The other things that didn’t aid sleep a whole lot was that there were two steps downwards out of our cabin, one on the inside of the room which of course meant there was a bit of a pit in front of the door and, understandably, a safety light to illuminate it. We’re used to a fairly dark room. The other thing was that, although the boat moored each night, there remained a diesel motor throbbing away to supply electricity for the boat and it was very near us. We really had very few grumbles about the boat, it was a wonderful experience that we would do again tomorrow given the chance but these were the very few things. We each got a little sleep and felt restful while we were awake so no complaints.
We woke and had a cuppa and the 2 biscuits each that were in the little packets next to our tea cups and then went up on the sun deck and ran laps for a while. At one point the cruise director, whom I shall call Jason from now on (not least because that was his name!), popped his head up – probably wondering what all that thundering on the roof was! But it was fun to be running again. We didn’t run in Adelaide because we had to walk so far each day and because of the heat but it was cooler here. For now. And I ran barefoot which was so blissful on the Astroturf as my blisters were on the tops or sides of my feet.
Then we went down and showered and dressed ready for breakfast. Breakky was announced as ready at 7am sharp followed by the words ‘And the chef’s special for today is… pancakes.’ YOU RIPPER!!! There was the standard buffet much as we’d had in Adelaide but there was fresh fruit and flavoured yogurts and, I may as well tell you now, that they alternated spaghetti with baked beans on alternate days. I was beside myself with excitement as I much prefer spaghetti. And getting variety was so good!
We could have sat anywhere for breakky but already loved our little group so we all sat at Table 2 and chatted away, getting to know one another better. In all our time on the boat it really struck me that everyone, crew and passengers, were really gorgeous people. In any crowd you’ll normally get one that’s obnoxious in some way but here that was not true – all lovely!
After breakfast had been eaten at our leisure we decided to go visit the wheelhouse. We’d been told by the captain to pop in any time we pleased, and we pleased 🙂 There were 6 of us that all arrived about the same time and the captain chatted easily with us all and made us laugh.
He told us that steering the boat was a task that required forethought and vigilance as it steered like a milk carton! Dead flat on the bottom it resembled one too! But this aided its stability, for which I was very grateful. Needless to say, when he offered anyone that wanted to have a go at steering David was the first there. Look at that happy grin!
And we churned along the river, peacefully, blissfully, no rush, no hassles and very little to do other than take in the scenery and the peace and the relaxing pace. It truly was blissful and heavenly. We saw the river, the countryside, birds of all descriptions but mostly ducks and sulphur crested cockatoos, trees – natives and weeping willows, other houseboats of all sizes either moored or sailing slowly by…
At 10.45 we went to the dining room for an ‘informative chat’ by the captain about ‘paddle steamers, pioneers and engineers that had tamed the river’. This was fun and interesting and put us in mind of the TV show years ago named ‘All The Rivers Run’.
Then before we knew it, it was lunch time. I really can’t remember what we had to eat each day, I did not record anything while we were onboard, but every meal was a treat and we were splitting at the seams when we finished every one. And as I’ve already said, my vegetarian options were really delicious – particularly when you consider they’d had to trouble with this just for me.
At 1:30 pm we tied up at the tiny river-front town (it truly wasn’t big enough for the title of town!) of Nildottie. We loved the docking procedures as BJ would hop into the smaller of the 2 tender boats and zoom off ahead, moor himself by the shore, and then be ashore to catch the ropes thrown to him by hunky Lyndon. David enjoyed the procedures, I enjoyed perving at Lyndon ROFL. And with nothing better to do than stand around peacefully watching others work it was idyllic.
Two coaches were waiting there for us, a large and a small and we hopped on the small one and got the front seats. Once everyone was aboard we headed off to Paisley.
We drove for about 45 mins and pulled up at a small family-owned business named Burk Salter Winery where we found this gorgeous vehicle out the front.
It was pretty warm this day so everyone stood in the shade to listen to the owner tell us about his lifestyle and business. It was very interesting, including that he grows rye (hope I’ve remembered the right grain) in amongst the vines because the birds won’t go anywhere near it so it helps protect his grapes from them. He also fires shots from time to time to scare them off and I won’t go into my opinions on that as I do know he has to protect his crops so he can feed his family. Then we went into their little cellar door where we had wine samples – well, the others did, I had water – and cheese and crackers which had been transported with us from the boat. Then back onto the coach to drive under, and then over, their new local bridge and on to see the Lock at Blanchetown. Normally the Murray Princess would have sailed to this point but the river was too low so we’d had to catch the coaches. The Lock was actually built to accommodate the size of the Princess which was interesting. The coach driver told us that Blanchetown was famous for another reason; that it had been the birthplace of the invention of the ride-on mower, as proved by this scene that we drove past! Obviously we all laughed and doubt the story now!
The Lock was as locks are. David got out to go and walk around it with most of the others but I stayed and chatted with a lady who had joined us on the back seat where we’d chosen to sit when someone else pipped us at getting the front seat. Then, once everyone was back on the coach, we drove back to the boat. This whole trip had taken about 3 hours and no doubt gave the poor crew a time of peace for a change.
Once everyone was aboard we headed upstream once more and thought about getting ready for the fancy dress night. Or, more truthfully, being ready for dinner in time that we could attend the Cocktail Hour at the bar before-hand. This time we were there early, champing at the bit for 1800 hours so I could have the daily cocktail at the happy-hour price.
Here’s my makeup for the night; false eyelashes, sparkles on my cheeks and on the extended eye-liner squirls – all great fun.
You don’t need to ask, I went as a belly-dancer. I’d made the outfit for the dance I did in Adelaide for David and had made him an Arab outfit as well so that we matched each other and looked as if we belonged together. Mine of course was always planned to serve both events.
We were the first fancy-dress-clad passengers in the bar so had the pleasure of watching everyone else turn
up in their outfits, it was great fun and everyone oohed and aahed and admired and/or laughed at each other’s costumes.
At this point I must mention the day’s cocktail which was named the Procrasstinating Pelican (well, they had it with 2 s’s in the middle so I guess that was its name!). I even took a photo of it too, which will have to go further down the page. And it is worthy of a photo as there is more to say about it 🙂 For the first thing to say about it – yummy scrummy slurp mmmm mmmmmm mmmmmmm mmmmmmm delicious. Isn’t it pretty? Thankfully, this was made for me by Ben or I wouldn’t have taken such a shine to them – more later. Soon enough Donna joined us in the bar and asked me about the Pelican-of-dubious-spelling and I raved enough that she bought one too. We were both hooked! And I do believe that this little non alcohol drinker had a second one towards the end of dinner 🙂 🙂 🙂 Donna did as well.
Even the staff were dressed for fancy dress in that they wore hats or ears or tails or something to accompany their normal dinner outfits. They were all great sports in so many ways!
Dinner was divine as always, though we laughed as each day went by that the dinner rolls seemed to get just slightly smaller each time. And then it was time for the fancy dress show. This was actually rather drawn out but I guess they were making the most of it as the evening’s entertainment. Each table was called up in turn and had to stand at the end of the dance floor and then each person had to dance/parade/something suited to their outfit to the front where the captain and Jason stood to do the judging. For each person Alex (the pianist) played a piece of music suited to them and he was excellent at this, then Jason and the captain chatted or made comments or jokes about each person in turn.
When it was my turn I dragged David as well as we were a duo and Alex played a suitable bellydance sounding tune. I did a few shimmies and things on request which seemed to go down well and David proclaimed me ‘Wife No. 1, Best One!’ which made everyone laugh.
Here’s Heather and Ray – a black and white minstrel and Mickey Mouse. Ray did put his ears on later but I didn’t get a photo. And I somehow missed taking a photo of Donna 🙁
I won’t talk about the outfits everyone else was wearing, I talk too much already! But David got too hot and made us all laugh by doing this to his head-dress.
After the prizes were awarded we had a bit of a quiz night which was fun and then it was time to head for our cabin and bed once again.
Every time we were berthed, no matter our location, there always seemed to be 2 ducks milling around in the water directly outside our cabin. Sometimes there were babies, sometimes just 2 ducks but it was beautiful and I so fell in love with them. There’s a real peace and gentleness about ducks. We always said good night or good morning to them on our way in and out of our cabin.
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