All posts by A country girl at home

I'm a 46 yr old mother of 4 who wants to share so much with the world but doesn't know where to begin.

Good morning from Woolwich

Yesterday was a tiring day. We got up at 440 to get everything ready to self-disembark Queen Mary 2, waited almost an hour from when they told us to be in the queens room before we were told to get in the already formed queue that was midship, dragged our suitcases another 20 minutes through that queue and then walked our luggage off the ship. 

Taxi line was slow going, as the taxi supply had already been exhausted, and new taxis were coming in at a trickle. Luckily, we managed into a van taxi, as 4 suitcases, 2 backpacks and 2 people may have had some issues in the smaller sedans. The taxi driver nearly hit a woman who was crossed the road in a no pedestrian zone and was quite mad for a good part of the 5 minute drive. 

Got to Southampton central and went to collect My already purchased train tickets, but the machine would not recognize the card i had purchased the tickets on…after 3 failed attempts, i went to a different machine and had no issues with that one. It was cool on platform 1 as we waited for the train, but for the most part, people were pleasant. 

On the train…it was difficult to manage the baggage, I finally ended up moving one into a seat with the other on the floor below it, and our backpacks on top. That way we were able to have footroom and we weren’t blocking the snack/drink trolley. (Also, E can’t actually lift any of the suitcases substantially, so I had to help her get them on the train, into place, out of place and the gentleman in front of us helped her lift them off the train…she can pull them fine but lifting is difficult)

Once off the train at Waterloo…I made a spectacle of myself trying to get through the gate, I scanned my ticket to the machine at the wrong side of the wide gate, and the narrow gate I managed closed on and would not let go of my second suitcase. Then E’s Ticket refused to read. So I used her one day pass to get her through. (It was only good for yesterday and we were too tired to use it anyway).

Taxi driver, Tracy,  was pleasant on way to Woolwich, quite chatty…even showed us where she was married along the way.  Saw a lot of pretty areas as we drove and enjoyed the drive immensely. 

Arrived at the concierge to our property, where we were to meet Holly. Waited almost half an hour for her, even though I’d done everything to keep her apprised of our whereabouts. I’d told her when we were 40 minutes away, and we arrived 41 minutes later. People in theconcierge office were pleasant, and the couch was an inviting change while we waited. 

Got to apartment, had to pull luggage through large areas of pea gravel, had to carry suitcases up 8 small sets (8-10 steps) of stairs. Holly wondered why I didn’t make E carry hers up. Got shown around apartment, and wished a good visit before Holly left us. 

I unpacked us, and E helped me put away the piles of her stuff,  we are only using about 2 suitcases of the 4 worth of stuff at this  point, but the rooms are well appointed and have plenty of room for things to be comfortable. 

We were going to walk to KFC, but ended up finding the tesco express, grabbed a handful of groceries, and walked back to the flat (all without GPS).  

Made dinner, while E played on the Xbox. Had a pleasant evening, and ended up turning in somewhat early because I was exhausted (E wasn’t tired, and wasn’t impressed that I made her go to bed at 10) 

She read a while while I slept, but woke me an hour or 2 later when she heard a crash downstairs (I think she was hearing noises from outdoors, as we had all windows open). I slept hard and am waiting now for her to wake so that we can explore. 

We have a delivery coming between 1:30 and 2:30…logistics for that have been a chore! Hope you have a great day!


Tuesday morning

So, I managed to go back to sleep after my 4 am awake time this morning, and slept until 650, breakfast arrived at 655. 

I’ve yet to do laundry, as the facilities have been tied up since 730, when they opened. E and I ate breakfast, got dressed, and walked around deck for a while this morning, to allow Joey time to make up our stateroom. (I’d already made our beds but the fresh Ice is of utmost importance to me).

While walking around on deck, we decided to go see the anchor, as E noticed it on the model of the ship near the queens room yesterday when we went for afternoon tea. While there, we found a little butterfly who was getting battered by the wind and rain. She is currently in our stateroom and will be released when able. 

Last nights dinner, wasn’t our favorite. Menu selections didn’t fit our tastes, so we chose something we could tolerate, and ate bare minimum. (I think E was most disappointed by the idea that they had gnocchi on the menu but had a blue cheese sauce on it, she despises blue cheese…it’s a shame that such meals can’t have an alternate sauce available, the same as the salads do).

Today is a far wetter day, E and I both are enjoying that fact. We probably will explore off and on all day. 

Catch you tomorrow!

4:30 am

It is Monday Morning, my fourth wakeup on board, and it appears that 430 is my body’s natural wakeup time whilst aboard. 

I tend to be ready to sleep by 1130 and every morning, like clockwork, I am wide awake at 430 am. It doesn’t matter if the curtain is open or drawn, or whether I slept soundly or tossed and turned,  I wake promptly the same time.

I stare out at the sky and get up and wash my face, brush my teeth and hair, and do my toileting. I stand on the balcony for a few and enjoy the cool air, and lie back in the bed and just enjoy the solitude of the hushed breath of a 12 yr old sleeping soundly a few feet away. Maybe flip the tv on and switch it to 45 to see the current weather conditions….but it always goes right back off, there will be time for noise when E is awake, and trust me when I say that once she is awake, my entire day fills with noise.

Everyone we talked to slept a good portion of the day yesterday, including us. We had breakfast and I put the privacy sign out and went to sleep while she was playing on her Xbox, and when I awoke, she was sound asleep as well. Everyone at our table told similar tales of 2 to 3 hour naps, and so did the 2 friends I’ve made onboard prior to the  sail, Pixie and Wendy.

We managed to get to the Golden Lion pub yesterday for lunch. It was pleasant and the food was some of the best I’ve had on the cruise so far…and I’ve enjoyed the bulk of the food we’ve had, so that’s saying something.

Emma got a lovely baked Cumberland sausage with an onion gravy, set in a bed of bubble and squeak (cabbage and mashed potatoes)  I got fish and chips…the chops there were a far lovelier cut of potato than the fries served elsewhere on board, I loved them. 

We attempted to go swimming twice yesterday, but didn’t manage to quite make it. E did not wish to go the first time due to a live band playing in the area, said it was too loud for her taste. We attempted again after dinner, and there was a group of maybe 7-8 very unruly kids, with no parent seeming to take notice, so she chose again not to swim.

At 7 today our morning starts, we have breakfast brought to the room in the morning, it is our nightly routine to fill the card out together. I will start a load of laundry somewhere around 730, and it will be done by 9. We may try again to swim while it is in the dryer. 

May try the pub again for lunch, and we’ve arranged to meet for afternoon tea with the 2 girls mentioned before at 330. It’s another non-formal night for dinner, and  past that, it’s anyone’s guess what E will want to do today. 

I’m hoping tomorrow morning to make use of my early morning and see if she wants to get up with me to walk the ship for an hour or so to get photos, prior to the public areas being so crowded. 

Looking forward to London!

Early Sunday Morning

The time on my phone currently says it is 451 am, it’s been bright daylight here for more than an hour, and I’ve struggled to try to sleep at all over the course of the night, the cabin air is too dry and is messing with my sinuses, and it’s far too cold outside to leave the door open for very long. It’s 41 degrees but the natural wind mixed with more breeze caused by the ships movement  makes it feel far cooler out there. 

We have ridden fairly close to the coast until now, but last night around 9, we pulled away and started to cut towards the UK somewhere around 9 last night, from my understanding, just a bit north of the titánics final resting place. 

I’ve been limited a bit more than anticipated on my activities thus far, as E does not like the crowds, I’m not allowed to leave her in the room unattended, and she is adamant that she does not wish to attend the children’s programming on board. Yesterday we reached a breaking point in that impasse, as we needed to be out of the room for the steward to tidy up, and she wasn’t interested in any of the options for lunch. I reached my limit after attempting 4 different options, 2 of them twice, and she would not be pleased. (The meal options in the main dining room were not anything I would have liked either, in her defense, and there was no seating in the pub, barring being seated with a woman who had taken the entire table up with her fish and chips). 

Cross words were said and a threat of an entire day with the children’s program came out. many tears were shed and a nap (but still no lunch) was taken by both of us when we returned to our room. 

Today we will be going earlier to the pub to wait for the 11:30 lunch time. Today we will be exploring more than just the shops and the outer decks. I think the breaking point needed to be there. 

Last nights dinner was pleasant, Nothing extraordinary or special, just a chatty meal with E and me, and our 8 older, British table mates. Margaret hopes we will set E next to her husband, Joe…as she is determined that he can get E to actually talk (though Ted asked her quite a few questions 2 nights ago, and Arthur was quite chatty with her last night) it was our second formal night, and everyone looked lovely. 

We saw a small pod of dolphins spy hopping as we got ready for dinner last night, they were only there for a brief moment before we were so far past them that we could not see them anymore. E has been looking for them and whales since we set out, so we were pleased to see them.

I’m hungry and breakfast isn’t for another 2 hours. E is still asleep, and I’m unable to even try. I’m glad to see a clear morning this morning as the fog was thicker than I’ve seen in quite some time last night, for most of the night. 

Here is hoping for a pleasant day, with many adventures. We seem to be on the cusp of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, per the map. I will check in more later. 

(I do need to say that though I write of our butting heads, it was a short lived episode, and it rarely happens with us, I believe tempers were a bit shorter for many reasons, and neither of us was more at fault than the other).

It is Saturday morning

The third day or our transatlantic journey.

The weather has been kind, and the people have been mostly kind thus far.

Day one-  We did not care to spend too much time out of our room, we were fatigued from the journey here and mostly we just wanted to be able to settle into our room and make it as comfortable as possible. We did go out for half an hour for the meet and greet at sail away, got to meet My one online friend, Pixie, and her friend Tim, but other than that, we really weren’t up for the social scene all that much. We ordered room service for dinner and watched television until late. Mostly…we relaxed. 

Day 2, we walked quite a bit around the ship, and explored. Dressed up for our first formal night, and met our table mates at dinner, all 8 of which were married British couples all in their late 60’s to maybe their early 90’s. All very pleasant. Most very chatty, and one who persistently asked E her whole life story as if he was interviewing her for a book. (He and his wife also offered to take her to the show that evening, not understanding that it wasn’t me that didn’t care to attend, but her).

There are so many details I’m not writing, like the fact we’ve used our in room kettle probably 40 times thus far and how much the wind howled last night because of a warped ceiling slat that caused a gap, we ended up closing the balcony most of the way because of the noise, and  today we have scratchy throats because of the dry heat. (No cough, no fever)

So far, we’ve not slept much later than 430 in the morning, which should help make the transition to England easier I would guess. 

No idea what we’re doing today, however it’s another formal night,  so dresses are hanging out and we will be ready for that when the time comes. 

Here’s to a lovely day!

It’s getting close!

Less than 2 months before we embark on our huge adventure!

Lots has been going on, but not a lot I have felt like writing about.

I joined a group on facebook to do with Cunard (seems to be their fan club). I have found it to be very useful, especially when asking advice on things like what to see while in London, for example.

They are not, however, friendly should you mention things like being unhappy about a price drop and hoping Cunard will make the difference up. I got an entirely different view of people when I ventured into these waters. These people would attack you with nothing to go on, and would not let up. I ended up deleting those posts as even messages when i was expressing approval, I got attacked on.

When I paid for and booked my cruise this past January, I paid $525 more for both my daughters and my ticket than I would have paid, should I have paid this week instead. Also, balcony rooms were out of reach costwise for me when I originally booked. This week I could have had one for less than I paid for our original booking. I wrote Cunard, and called their customer service as well. (Word to the wise, always book with Cunard and not outside sources, even if you save 25-50 dollars with the outside sources, if you choose to go to a third party, you wind up needing that third party to help negotiate for you, and let me tell you, they really don’t care about your issues enough to try to fix them).

so…6 phone calls later (with at least 4 other people) I took (I say took like I was given a choice)what Cunard was willing to give me. (they called it a goodwill gesture, I disagree with their perception of what “goodwill” is). They upgraded my room to a balcony room, (technically still 200+ dollars extra in their pockets, but hey!)

I learned a few things during this whole ordeal:

  1. Wait until the 60 day window to book if you can at all, you will usually get better fares if they haven’t filled up.
  2. Book directly with Cunard, as they seem to have more *goodwill* towards those who do. I may have gotten money to spend on board or at least some options on how their goodwill paid out.
  3. Don’t talk to fans of someone about the negative aspects…or you will not be happy with the results.

Does this mean I won’t travel with Cunard again…No.

But I sure hope that the trip isn’t a disappointment after all this fuss.

That might make a difference.


Let’s talk luggage…

What names do you believe in when it comes to Luggage? What do you look for when you purchase? Are you a hard sided or a soft sided? Do you buy a single piece or a set as a general rule?

As I was deciding what luggage to buy this year for our excursion, I decided to go with a brand I knew to be affordable, which was American Tourister. We had bought 5 sets of their luggage previously at Walmart for about 98 dollars a set, around 2009-2010, for a trip to Hawaii. We’ve used those sets until the wheels were falling off. (My family takes more road trip than any most, trust me). I wanted pretty and new for E and I for this trip, so I bought her a purple set, and myself a blue set.

Shortly after purchasing the new sets though, I decided to explore the fact that American Tourister, who happens to be a Samsonite company, had a really good warranty on their luggage. The old sets were less than 10 years old, and while they’ve  seen a lot of miles, and we’ve thrown several pieces away simply because they’d seen their day, I made a call.

Edgar, the rep I talked to on the phone listened to my concerns with the luggage and decided that the issue I was having didn’t require me to bring the luggage in, but could be *evidenced* easily through photos and emails with details. He sent me an email with the appropriate information to follow up with. A day after getting the email, I responded with all the info requested and after reviewing all info, they replaced the remaining luggage with 3 new 4 piece sets of similar luggage. (2 black sets, and one purple).

I have enough new luggage for a while, as we’d bought 3 full sets previously, and got the 3 free sets too. I am pleased overall with this company’s commitment to their customers though. If you’re ever in the market for luggage, please don’t discount them just because they have decent prices on their luggage. Its good quality and will get you a long way down the road!

just my 2 cents worth for the day.