Monday, 8 April 2013

Holiday of my lifetime


Ordinarily at this time I would write something frivolous about my ongoing and ever-deepening crush on Josh Groban. However, I have to be in a positive frame of mind to do that. As I'm currently preparing for my beloved cat, Monty (full name Montague Tigg), to be taken for amputation on Friday, I'm feeling a bit disgruntled with the world and am inwardly railing at the injustice of it all. She doesn't deserve to lose a leg, but it is what is best for her.

I still want to keep up writing though, so I've decided to talk about my holiday. I earn about £20k a year, so fancy holidays aren't really within my budget (especially since my car insurance is £100 a month. As I only passed my test last August, the insurer is taking a chunk out of my hide :(). However, last July my grandmother booked a place for herself on a cruise and offered my sister the option to join her. Kate only needed to pay the extra cost for joining her instead of the full price. When my family found out I'd separated from my husband (6 weeks after the event - it wasn't a conversation I was eager to have) my Gran, bless her, invited me to join them. In keeping with her offer to Kate, I only needed to pay the extra for a third person.

Initially the cruise was in June, but since there weren't enough takers, we were transferred to a May trip so I have a 12 night cruise in the Baltic over my birthday for £360.

Isn't that amazing?

You know what else? Our ship is called the Marco Polo. This always makes me giggle partly due to this comic and partly because although I know there is a swimming pool based game called Marco Polo, I have no idea how you play.1

I will say this: I feel deeply sorry for my Gran. My sister is asthmatic and inherited my father's snoring. I was previously told I don't really snore, although I snuffle when I'm ill. However, more recently I've been informed that not only do I snore, but I really "go for it". This hasn't prevented my less than complimentary best friend from sharing a bed with me, but she snores too.2 I suspect my snoring is weight related, and if I can lose the stone and a half extra I am carrying that aren't strictly necessary, the snoring will also depart. However, as I sleep alone (except for Monty and the occasional trip with Gill) I don't really have much of an incentive.

My mum loaned me a sizable amount when she found out I'd broken with my ex and without it I have to say I couldn't have managed. I saved a chunk of it and was intending to spend it on this holiday, but instead, I'm cutting off Monty's leg. Because that's the kind of loving pet owner I am.3 The cruise includes all food and stuff, so apart from gratuities and maybe a cocktail on my birthday (or possibly a glass or two of prosecco - I've not decided which would feel more decadent) I don't have any additional costs unless I do excursions.

I have booked myself into three day trips in St Petersburg (The Hermitage, a bus tour of the city and a folkloric night4) which will be amazing, but other than that, I think I'm going to be happy staying on board. Let's face it - this is the only chance I'll get for a cruise, so spending time aboard isn't going to be a wasted holiday. I'll take my kindle and some sketchpads and see what I can do to keep myself occupied. The chances are I'll probably sleep a lot!

We leave on the 5th and St Petersburg is the 11th/12th. My birthday isn't until after that, so I'll have plenty of time to get my sea legs if I have any problems with sea sickness and I should thoroughly enjoy myself.

Back to the question of how I'm celebrating my birthday: I do like cocktails - they are the prettiest drinks imaginable. I sometimes wish I like a wider range of alcohol (as a general rule - to which I've already identified one exception - I'm OK with clear spirits but coloured ones are a no-go. I have the most spectacular whisky face you've ever seen) because then I could go to a bar and instruct the barman to make either the prettiest cocktail, or the most complicated one and I'd be sure I'd be able to drink it. However, I find only a martini can compete with the elegance I feel is inherent in drinking from a champagne flute, and these days a martini would probably have me on my ass. My days of being able to drink heavily are far behind me - I don't know when it happened precisely, but at some point my internal organs had a vote and decided they'd had enough. This is also why the cocktail/ prosecco is an either/ or scenario. I have strong doubts my dignity could survive imbibing both.

Earlier in the day, I have decided I will be making the most of whatever afternoon tea offerings there are. I shall eat as many varieties of cake as I feel I want and drink copious amounts of tea. My dinner shall be either lobster, prawns or steak, with a pudding of surpassing indulgence. And I'll consider a spa treatment or hair cut as a present to myself (I usually cut my hair around my birthday, so if it's not too expensive I should have the cash). It will be the first birthday that has been all about me for a long time and I intend to be as selfish as possible. It won't take much before the Catholic in me starts screaming guilty conscience, but I will resist as long as possible. After all, I've distanced myself as much as possible from the church, I should now be able to let go of the associated self inflicted pangs of unnecessary guilt, surely?

Re-reading those last two paragraphs, they sound utterly gluttonous. Damn Catholic indoctrination. I can't think of a day I would like more than waking late, breakfasting casually, swimming lazily, reading a book, sketching a bit and enjoying some sun (fingers crossed!) before dressing prettily for an afternoon tea and cake (possibly with a glass of prosecco), and then pampering in a spa before heading back to my cabin to dress for dinner and have an evening of good food, good company, posh drinks and entertainment. Well, I can't think of a day I'd like more with the resources at my disposal. :)

I'm very much looking forward to it.

Alicia

1 Yeah, I know, the internet is right *there* and I could easily find out. However, I do like having gaps in my knowledge - particularly when it's something everyone else knows. Oh, and yes, I know of Marco Polo also.  You do very right to mention it ;)
2 Whenever we go on holiday together we end up sleeping together. It's ridiculous. Even when we specifically try to book a twin room something happens and we wind up with a double. Amusingly, at one hotel she and her new husband were given a twin, despite informing the hotel it was their honeymoon at the time of booking.
3 For clarity, Monty has nerve damage in her front left paw. She ran away immediately after I moved house in September and when she was found in November with the injury I contacted the insurer. It turns out the insurance was no longer valid as it was a) in my husband's name and so had ceased when he left our previous home in June b) had been cancelled without our awareness the week after she ran away due to a misunderstanding on the insurer's part and c) even if everything had happened the way my ex and I thought it had it would still not be valid due to the address on the policy not being the address the cat was resident at when she ran away. The operation (although I hoped she might recover use of the leg, it's become essential) will cost £600, which is about the amount I'd saved, so fortunately I won't have trouble paying it. I just have to hope and pray there are no other emergencies looming.
4 I couldn't not do the folkloric night - the alternatives were opera or ballet, either of which I would have loved (can you imagine, opera in St Petersburg? Or the ballet! Oh, my, that would be a fantasy. All told, I think I'd prefer the opera, but it's moot anyway - even if I had the money they are both in venues with an unreasonable amount of stairs and Gran just wasn't sure she could do it) but the description of this show was fabulous. I haven't got it here, so I can't describe it to you, but you'll hear in detail later on, I'm sure.