Jason came to David and I at one point and said that the crew were putting on a bit of a show tomorrow night and did we have any talents to share so we said a hasty no.
Soon after this we went to bed to find that yet again we’d missed out on having our bed turned down or getting chocolates. Never mind, by now we were feeling the results of our gastronomic excesses and really could live without them.
I’d thought about the crew show overnight and decided that honestly I could do a bellydance. I’d carefully tested my mind for nerves and felt none so was happy to volunteer and did so to Jason before breakfast.
We began today by cruising downstream to Murray Bridge, the southern-most point of our trip and were given a map of the town and told about points of interest that we may like to see. It was still overcast and a few people took umbrellas ashore but didn’t need them. Just as well as the few older people we had aboard were very dependent on walking aids so they couldn’t have scurried back if they’d needed to.
We happily teamed up with Donna and set off for the Round House which was only a few metres away from where we’d berthed.
Inside was a quilting display and there truly were some magnificent and beautiful works in this historic house. The original house had been built by the labourers who’d been hauled off of bridge construction to make this for the boss – why am I not surprised? I took 7 photos of the extra special quilts but will only squeeze a couple in here I truly have been much too wordy/pagey already.
From here we walked into the town to find the chocolate shop and were offered a little taste of a couple of options. It would have been Chocolate Heaven for the fans but truly it wasn’t my taste. I bought some chocolate coated fudge in the hope that the fudge would be yummy and David bought some Turkish delight and some liquorice.
Everything in here was choc coated, (other than the serving lady!) even jelly snake and banana lollies! Then it did start to drizzle very lightly as we walked to the old train station but there was nothing of interest and Donna had gone her own way by now so we walked to the big bridge over the river. Exercise had been a rare thing this past week so after a short distance of walking I decided I’d rather run. David followed behind as the footpath section was very narrow indeed and we ran all the way across to the other side, well over a kilometre by the time the bridge had spanned what was at times swamp land. We had a breather here and a drink of water and then turned to come back. I suggested another run but David was not going to play so I ran a distance then waited for him, ran more and waited, so that I crossed the bridge in about 4 hits of run/wait. Then we decided to get back on the Princess even though we did have a bit of time still.
12.30 was lunch and all had to be aboard by noon for us to depart. During lunch we mentioned to our tablemates that we’d missed out on chocolates 2 nights in a row now and when Jason passed by Donna told him. He said “Oh no!” and was soon back and gave us 6 of them to make up for it, telling us that he would sort out the girls. We told him firmly we didn’t want anyone to get in trouble and it didn’t matter!
The boat was incredibly quiet with the reduced passenger and crew numbers. We’d often walk around and see nobody at all. After lunch we decided to play a board game – one I’d invented and made myself years ago and taken with us for the trip. Because it was so quiet we decided to play in the bar rather than the aft lounge and found Donna in there. She said she was happy to play as well so we ordered drinks because Ben was the barman. I’d actually learned to wait for him to be on duty as the other fellow was so light-handed with the alcohol in the cocktails that they weren’t worth drinking!
And we’d sprung Donna. Every time we saw her after 11am each day she was always clutching her souvenir mug and we had presumed she was drinking coffee or tea. Not so!!! A peek inside revealed Baileys with ice. Canny girl 🙂 It began to be a competition as to who would spend the most at the bar, her or us two!
Well, we were the only ones in the bar so we asked Ben if he would like to join us in our board game and he said yes. It’s a whacky game and we were all in whacky moods so we had a great time, sometimes in stitches of laughter. Ben only had to go twice during the entire game to serve someone at the bar and it was always timed just after he’d had his turn so couldn’t have worked better.
Soon it was time to go and get ready for my bellydance and for some unknown reason the nerves hit. I have no idea why as I was not worried about getting it wrong or anything; though I would have felt more comfortable if the audience was to be the people we’d spent 4 days with rather than these new folk who seemed so quiet and reserved by comparison.
I was dressed in my fancy outfit, heaps of eyeliner, and wearing sparkles on my face when we went to the bar for a drink and one of the new couples were chatting to us. They’d dressed nicely for dinner and the lady really was looking sideways at me. I found it really amusing and didn’t enlighten her as to why I was so strangely dressed. Naughty May!
Before dinner a few of the crew were setting the mood for the Aussie Show to come and dramatised the Jolly Swagman. This involved Ben in fancy dress and towards the end of the song he had 2 jugs of water tipped over him. What he hadn’t known was that they used ice water!!! Usually they use room temperature. Poor Ben!!! And I couldn’t believe that they would tip this on the dance floor, but they did!
When it came to dinner time I felt so nervous and I couldn’t even eat a mouthful, in fact the smell of the meaty meals around me made me feel quite sick so I spent most of the time out on the deck.
I was so touched by Jason who made time to come out and talk to me! Firstly he said I didn’t have to do it at all but I knew I had to for my own sake and then he told me how nervous he had first been when he’d got this job. He really was beautifully kind.
My nerves built and built until I’d even got the dry mouth feeling that you get seconds before you throw up and by now even David was saying I didn’t have to do it. In fact we came back into the dining room to tell Jason but he was busy with the Murray River Cup, a massive board game style horse race using humans as playing pieces. The passengers all came alive, got some enthusiasm about them and were laughing and relaxed and suddenly everything was fine and I knew I could dance for them. Such a relief!
The crew show was really wonderful and incredibly professional. Everyone was a star, I won’t pick out anyone in particular as they were all great. Lots of laughs anyway. I was to be the second act thankfully – perfect spot so that I wasn’t first but could get it over so I could enjoy the rest of the show a free woman LOL When Jason caught my eye I stood, completely calmly, and as soon as the music played it was not only remote control (I know that Shakira number very well) but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. David said that staff came scurrying from everywhere to watch. I guess they’d heard the unfamiliar music and raced out to see what was going on. The audience were lovely and very appreciative too.
Donna told me afterwards she’d given me a standing ovation and it made me laugh as I realised that I’d bolted and sat down the moment I finished. It never occurred to me to bow. Oh well, for the first time in my life I’d been on a stage alone and performed something! And it went really well.
Our favourite waitress/cabin girl came past and I chose the opportunity to get a photo of her with David. Her name was Joan and she was totally gorgeous, character and looks! She was apologising profusely and said it was her fault we hadn’t had our chocolates and we assured her it was OK and that Jason had given us some to make up for it.
I also decided to grab the chance of the Five Friends being together to get a photo of us all. And Ben the Barman hopped in and did rabbit ears for Donna and I without us knowing it ROFL
And then off we went to bed to find…
Three chocolates on each pillow. We did laugh!
Well we really didn’t want this day to come. Our last full day on the boat but I wouldn’t be telling the full story if I didn’t say that the 3 day cruise was not as good as the 4. The food had gone downhill significantly – certainly nothing to complain about, but a far cry from the very high standards of the days before. And the entertainment felt sparse and ‘cheap’ in many ways too. Yes I know, I was part of it LOL I don’t want to complain as the whole cruise was a fabulous and wonderful experience which we would do again at a moment’s notice but if we couldn’t do a full week it would be a no-brainer that we’d choose the 4 day part! And if we were to do a week again we’d have the weekend part first.
Back to the main topic, after we’d awoken and had a cuppa David and I went for a walk in the bush where we’d moored. It was nice and peaceful out there until we heard a noise behind us and along came the biggest roo I’ve ever been close to!
I got my camera out in a hurry and do have a photo but by the time you zoom in to show him clearly you don’t have enough surrounding photo to really tell his size. Well, maybe it’s not so bad…
Once back on the boat and showered, the announcement for breakfast started and we wondered what the chef’s special for today would be. We’d had pancakes with maple syrup on 2 occasions, sweet French toast once and savoury French toast once and were all eager to see what we’d get for a Sunday. “And the chef’s special is…. Porridge!” It was audible, the entire boat repeated incredulously “Porridge???” But there was still the rest of the buffet to enjoy, so we did!
9 am brought a guided nature walk with the First Officer which was very interesting and he told us about salt bush which you can eat the leaves of and we had a taste. And then at 10 am we cast off to go upstream again. Getting ahead of myself but we were very surprised this day to cruise right on past Mannum. We really reached the point where we didn’t know what was upstream and what was down. Even Heather and Ray, the locals, lost track!
After this we went back to our room to find that we’d been given chocolates as well as biscuits by the maid! And they were in all 3 cups (we had 3 cups because there was sleeping room for 3 in our room – the double plus a single).
At 11 am was a Murray River Area Food and Wine Tasting in the dining room and, having nothing better to do, we went along. David tasted the wine and I tasted the food – perfect arrangement 🙂 There were cheeses and crackers, dried fruits and olives, dips and spreads which were all very nice. There was also a notepad to tell the chef which things you liked so that he could order them in for the gift shop. I took that opportunity as the only chance I would probably get to say thank you for the care they’d taken of me so wrote a note of thanks in it.
Lunch was cold chicken and some salads on a small table in the middle of the dance floor and I can’t remember there being a dessert though I’m sure there would have been. It wasn’t quite the Sunday Roast or spread anyway.
The afternoon brought a talk by the new captain about the river but we’d already heard the one at the beginning of our trip so went and played a game in the aft lounge instead.
The following activity was a small boat trip from another company that took us out in 2 lots for an ‘up close look at nature’. The most interesting part of this was that he explained to us about the Murray River Flag and that there is an Upper Murray and a Lower Murray flag. And the most entertaining part was when the 1st Mate’s hat blew off and we had to go back for it 😉 It was very cold on this boat, despite the fact that I’d taken a jumper and when we got off David and I looked at each other and said in unison “Well, that was a waste of time wasn’t it?”
The other bit of excitement we’d have seen from the Princess anyway and that was somebody’s lovely boat that had sunk! They had apparently been told repeatedly not to tie it so tightly to the shore but they did and when the water level went down the boat got on an angle so that water went in the back and weighed it down so the back 3/4s of it was under water!
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