Queen Elizabeth 2 & Queen Mary 2
The two impressive Cunarders, QE2 and QM2 were back together in their home port on the 10th September 2008.  Mary arrived first for 6.30am, irritatingly docking starboard at Mayflower.  Lizzie brought up the rear for 7am.  While Mary was all lit, Lizzie's funnel was off.  The weather was unpredictable.  Sunny intervals it said and they were right.  Occasionally there would be a glimpse of that yellow round thing in the sky through the thick clouds and rain.  Last time these two were here the weather was crap.  I had another chance to visit Lizzie courtesy of my then boyfriend, Patrick Patton, so headed over on the ferry an hour earlier than last time and got very wet thanks to the rain.
I got to go on the bow!!!!  It's actually smaller than it looks from her profile or above on the observation deck.  Very clever design to create that illusion.  It was great being out there and it least it stayed dry. I was in my element and felt lucky to have done what most ordinary people never do.
Afterwards we went for a coffee in the mess.  This is where the crew eat and despite being basic in walls and flooring, it's a really nice area.  A couple of the crew were leaving after many years, changing career completely.  The crew coffee is nicer than the passengers have but then it's probably instant!
We went for a wander and after the shock last time of the ghost ship, I actually ended up liking the peace as we walked around.  On the deck they had removed broken sunloungers and bits of plastic were strewn across it.
The corridor below is between the Lido and Queens Room and the doors are usually closed.  The waiters congregate here before emerging to serve at afternoon tea.
Captain McNaught was back in charge for the final cruises and had ordered the crew door on Five Deck to be closed.  To get out we had to go down to Six Deck then up to the other side of the door on Five.  Since it's not every day I get below Five Deck, I took a quick photo.  The old sunloungers were also piled up ready to be taken off but I didn't get a chance got a photo.
I just made the 3.30pm ferry after another wonderful day and after meeting my dad back in Hythe, we headed to the marina to see them off.  They were both down for 5pm but we knew there would be no passing shots this time with Mary having to turn.  Lady Madeleine had been lurking, going up and down as she went back in the direction of the kennels as Shieldhall passed. The sun was out mostly by now but the wind still had a chill and the marina was fairly packed.  Lady Madeleine re-emerged along with Surrey, and attached to Lizzie's stern.  She cast off eleven minutes late and as she was pulled out, Mary began to move towards the turning circle at the other end.  Lizzie gave three long blasts as she moved forward.
Lizzie rather annoyingly blasted off again as she passed Netley.  You could certainly tell Captain McNaught was back because Perkins didn't do anywhere near as much in comparison, even when I've cruised.
We heard the dulcet tones of Lizzie's deep, booming whistle again as she neared Calshot.  Meanwhile, Mary did her stuff after emerging but it was a weird sound.  Not the usual two-tone.  It also proved that, even in the wind, we could hear her so Cunard using that as an excuse for it not happening in June in response to Lizzie when the Queen was aboard was a load of rubbish.  It was more windy yesterday than it had been then.
The paddle steamer Waverley was returning to 104 and looked better with the sun beating down on her.  Mary was still making her way out so this would be an interesting size comparison.
Meanwhile three more boats arrived for the annual boat show, which was opening on the 12th.  Waverley slowed to an almost dead stop as Mary neared.  Mary blasted three times and Waverley sounded her steam whistle in response.  Waverley picked up speed again and went by the giant.
So that's those two for a month.  They would be reunited on the 10th October for the tandem to New York and back, their goodbye to each other on the 22nd October.

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© Patricia Dempsey 10th September 2008
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