It fell from the sky

April 2, 2008 -

John Heald

As you may remember from a previous blog, just before I joined the Carnival Freedom for the Bloggers cruise I had lost two mobile telephones in just a few weeks, the last one I am positive I left on the desk while checking into the hotel. I had never gotten around to replacing the phone which is probably being used as we speak by an employee of the Intercontinental Hotel to call his mum in Haiti.

Anyway, today I decided I needed to replace the phone. I had already spoken to someone at Vodaphone’s customer service center in Bombay and canceled the Sim Card thingy and as the replacement had arrived while I was away I decided to buy a phone.

Now, as many of you know by now I am utterly useless at shopping and things that involve buttons and knobs and today I had both to contend with. So, after a nutritious breakfast of toast……….I really fancied an egg with it but as Heidi was away I had no idea how to get the egg out of its shell and turn into a fried one. If only someone would breed a chicken that lays fried eggs………..anyway after breakfast off I went ……….shopping.

The first thing about shopping in the U.K. as opposed to shopping in the U.S.A. is parking. In the States it’s free most of the time and if you shop at a mall you get free parking. In the U.K. parking is rather different. First of all it’s never free and in most town centers by the time you have paid for the parking you have no money left to go shopping. Today for example I paid for two hours parking which cost me $8…………..$8………for that I expect someone to park it for me and get a bag of lobsters for lunch.

The ticket has to be displayed on your windshield and it has a time stamped on it and God help you if you go over one minute of that time as there …….lurking in the shadows are the dreaded parking police. In the old days these friendly folks were called Traffic Wardens and were usually retired people who if you went over the allotted time would if you arrived as they were writing the ticket would be understanding and probably let you off with a smile and even a cuddle. Those days are gone as now the Traffic Wardens have been replaced by a new breed of people who are paid on commission, so the more tickets they issue the more money they earn. They have stern uniforms and if you are one minute late it is easier to split an atom blindfolded than to get one of these masochists to let you off. I saw one today issuing a ticket.

Not only do they write the ticket up but I watched her remove a camera from her bat belt (which they also have a Night Stick and a Laser Gun hanging from) and take a photo of the registration plate………..I asked her if she wanted me to take one of her and the car but humour was wasted on her….anyway…….she didn’t speak English. I know they have a job to do but ………well……….it’s just that I have seen how it is across the pond. Then, there are the car parks themselves. New or old the designers seem to forget that the average British person is no longer driving a Mini or a MG Midget. The spaces are designed for these cars and to park a big SUV like mine is impossible.

If I do manage to fit it in a space I can’t get out……….well I could try but I would have to leave various body parts in the car and that hurts. So, I have to use two spaces and I am sure it won’t be long before the Parking Police fine me for that, clamp my wheel and use their Taser gun on me when I return. I am going to show you some photos of me and the car now……..and will explain why in a minute.

Anyway, back to the shopping. Usually I have Heidi with me which is good for many reasons. The main one is that she carries a purse the size of an elephant’s scrotum and therefore I can put my Raspberry, my wallet and car keys in her McGyver bag………I used to love that show. Anyway, as Heidi is in Holland until tomorrow I am forced to carry everything which usually has me panicking I am going to lose something………..I remember one time I lost my car keys while shopping at Aventura Mall…….I was so mad and upset and was just in the middle of speaking to Hertz when I realised I had Valet Parked the car and they had the keys……….I had suffered a brain fart.

So, I arrived at the phone shop and was served by someone a young girl who looked like she was 12 years old. I explained that I had lost my phone and that I needed a replacement. She asked me if I wanted a contract………no I said I have one……..she looked upset at that answer and she was probably on the same commission as her sister who worked for the Parking Police.

She asked me what I wanted………a phone I said…….and then off she went showing me phones that play videos, phones that have 5 camera pixies living in it….she showed me something called an Eye Phone that had no buttons and apparently was a sensitive phone………did it have feelings? She showed me phones that store 1 billion songs and phones that make Cappuccino…………I just wanted a phone…….you know……….one that you press a few buttons and you can hear someone speak to you on the other end.

There were so many to choose from and I could see Miss Nokia getting impatient at my indecision…….she was probably worried she would miss The Telly Tubbies. Eventually I bought a shiny Samsung and because I was not buying a contract as well it cost me the same as a Seven-day cruise……….at least this brought a smile to young Miss Nokia who now had probably earned enough commission to buy a Hannah Montana T-shirt.

So, I now have a new phone and when Heidi returns she will show me how to use it and where the SIM Card thingy goes. I would have asked young Miss Nokia but my parking time was up and I didn’t want to have to pay a fine and risk being given the good news with Batgirls Nightstick.

OK, back to the car later.

Here is the news.

I just finished reading all the comments and I am overjoyed that yesterday 7000 off you read the blog thingy and 58 wrote comments. As I promised, after my European trip, which starts on Friday, finishes I will return to answering all the comments as usual. I am so very thankful that you all seem to be reading them.

Yesterday Carnival decided to continue on some of our ships the new dress code policy. This means that on non Elegant nights we will allow Cruise Casual clothing to be worn. This policy will no doubt be looked upon favorably by many where as some may be uncertain. Remember, we are going to allow smart dress jeans on non-Elegant night but beach wear including deck shorts and tank tops will not be allowed……..it is of course up to us onboard to enforce these rules something we need to do better at…….and we will.

On Elegant night you now have the choice to wear more formal attire or not. I just saw this for myself on the Carnival Freedom and on the seven day cruises I would say 80% still wore elegant attire………..the rest wore dress pants and open neck shirts and the ladies more elegant casual clothing.

I am sure you will all have your own thoughts on this as do I. The most important fact for me is one I have mentioned before……….it does not matter what the family are wearing at the table next to me…….as long as they don’t steal my Prime Rib from my plate or smell of rotten fish……….it won’t spoil my enjoyment of the great food and fantastic service our dining rooms offer.

I wanted to reply to this one comment as it concerned me.

“I have been hearing about this blog and had to take a look at it myself. My child is from U of K and was on the spring break cruise. I would like to know if the entire group was rude and disruptive the entire time. This is not the kind of behavior we would like to see posted on the internet. It sounds like their manners were left at home. Do you have anything positive to report from the group at all? Parents don’t have any idea how their children (young adults) behave when they’re on their own. I would like you feedback. I can tell you-you’ve gotten back at them. Everyone from their parents to college adminstration has heard about this and even Rick Pitino (poor guy).”

Hello Uofk Mom Thank you for writing. The University of Kentucky is I know a proud seed of learning full of wonderful students. During the cruise in question there was a large group of students sailing with us to celebrate Spring Break. I have to tell you that I met many of them and the majority were fun loving, polite and students the University would have been proud of as should the parents. However, there were some……the minority……..who were not. I won’t go into the specifics again but our security reports contained many incidents of drunken and obnoxious behaviour. This culminated in the last night’s antics with a large group gathering in the lobby using foul language and threatening behavior toward our staff because we could not receive a basketball game on TV. Again, this was a minority but enough to upset many people including as you will have read from previous blogs, students from the University who felt in necessary to apologize on their behalf.

Of course Kentucky’s University is not alone in such behavior and I know as a Mum of one of the students you will also be upset to hear this. However, let’s finish with a positive……….the majority were wonderful young people, full of the joys of life who celebrated in a respectful manner………….you can be proud of them.

Thank you for your concern and I send my kindest regards to you, your family and everyone at the University Of Kentucky.

I see many of you enjoyed Bubba Roberts guest blog from Alaska yesterday so here then is part two from the smothered, covered and chunked Waffle House eating brilliant CD.

Day 2 of Alaska Fam Trip, March 30, 2008

Well after finally getting on a flight to Seattle, I was not able to make my connection to Anchorage, so I had to go and see the customer service folks at Alaska Airlines and they hooked me up with a hotel, meal vouchers, and set me up on a flight for the next day. They had me already booked for a 7 am flight the next day, but as I had been up for almost 24 hours I asked if possible, to be on a later flight as there was no rush to get there for the morning. They were very accommodating. Short shuttle ride to the hotel, and passed out for the night.

The next morning I was back at the airport ready to take on the day. Things went well. The Seattle Airport is huge! It looks like a shopping mall at times with all the restaurants and stores they have inside. Flight was on time, I was in the last row, by the bathroom, so I got to meet everyone’s butt cheek on their way to and fro. The flight from Seattle was about 3 ½ hours, but it flew by with PSP and Poker Game. I do love the play cards. People always ask crew what we do when we are on vacation….my answer…VEGAS!

Finally arrived around 3pm Anchorage time. Anchorage is sometimes referred to as the “Air Crossroads of the World.” Anchorage’s Ted Stevens International Airport sees hundreds of flights a day and has become a major gateway for incoming tourists headed to many of Alaska’s destinations and a stopover or re-fueling point for international flights. There were more FedEx planes than you can shake a stick at.

Went down to the baggage claim where I found that my bag beat me to Anchorage by about 20 hours. I laughed. “Next time I will just get in the bag,” I said. Don’t think the baggage service lady found it funny.

Went out the door to catch a taxi and was smacked in the face with this burst of cold air. The temperature was about 37 degrees Fahrenheit. A Florida boy like me almost never sees those kinds of temperatures. On the flight in I could see snow on the ground, but there was hardly any on the drive from the airport to the hotel. Saying that though about the cold air, there something magical about the air in Alaska. When you breathe in, you want to take such deep breaths because it makes you feel sooo good inside. It’s one of my favorite parts of being up here.

Anchorage offers many of the same features as major cities in the lower 48 such as museums, theater, libraries, symphony orchestra, opera, and dance. Anchorage has more than 200 churches and over 80 schools including the University of Alaska and the Alaska Pacific University. The population of Anchorage is just over 260,000, which is almost half of ALL of the people who live in Alaska. I like the downtown area of Anchorage. It’s really easy to get around.

Thanks Bubba and we look forward to part three tomorrow.

Talking of tomorrow I leave home at 8 am to collect Heidi from her whirlwind trip to Holland. She has had a great time with Mum and tomorrow we pack for our trip to Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Holland and Russia. It’s still cold there with temperatures of 38 degrees F or 6 C.

Tomorrow also marks the return of my suitcase………..allegedly and Heidi will then have a lot of laundry to do…………I decided to be sympathetic today and realizing what she will have to go through I bought her a gas mask.

Now, back to the car. Here is a photo of my Range Rover which I bought last year………….I really wanted an Aston Martin but I just didn’t have enough money saved up……….I was only £90,000 short. Now it looks like the Range Rover will have to go. It costs £80 ($160) to fill it up with gas and now as I mentioned last week the British Government run by Gordon Mussolini has said that I have to pay twice the amount vs. someone who drives one of those Prius things that runs on soya milk…………..still……….at least the Polar Bears will be happy I am no longer murdering them.

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So, I am making the most of my time in the Range Rover and on my way to the shops today I had it cleaned…….a proper hand washed deep clean. The sun shone of the gleaming metallic paint and I felt proud that even if just for a while longer she was mine.

Now, have a look at these photos.

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When I returned from shopping it appeared Murphy continued my run of luck and turned himself into a Seagull who had just eaten a can of Prunes………if only Sammy the Seagulls Aim had been three feet to the left ……….then he would have hit Batgirl the Parking Police Officer……………bugger!

Goodnight

Your Friends

John and Heidi

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.