Azura & Saga Ruby
I had arranged to meet Bill Forsstrom, a Facebook friend, on the 28th September 2010.  He had flown over from Cincinatti, spent a few days in London then came to Southampton for a couple of days before heading home on QM2 on the 1st October.  He wasn't that keen on seeing Azura, preferring the sweet little girl that was Saga Ruby.  General plans went awry with my mum still in hospital and the doctor in charge doing absolutely nothing to find the reason and letting her become dehydrated by refusing a drip even though she was practically unconcious most of the time, so I didn't know if I'd be able to make it at all.  As it was, I could go and we'd watch the sailings after a brief diversion to a solicitor the other end of town.  I was very pleased Bill didn't mind being dragged along once I'd arrived at Town Quay on the slightly repainted Hotspur because he kept me focused and it was the first time talking to people about it that day I hadn't got upset.
We got to Mayflower Park by taxi after a long walk after 4pm and it was a lovely warm day despite the forecast of rain and cold.  Azura was due to sail the usual 4.30pm with Rubes half an hour later.  Bill only had eyes for Rubes and it was strange for her to return after a summer season from Dover knowing Rosie was probably all scrap metal in the Chinese breakers.  SOLAS 2010 regulations has a LOT to answer for!  After all, it wasn't wood which damaged 100 cabins during the Star Princess fire but modern materials and stupid cabin aircon you can't turn off creating a gust if the balcony and cabin door are opened.  That's safety under SOLAS yet they claim wood's at fault.  I think the head of whoever dreamt this up needs testing.
By the time Azura gave three parps to indicate reversing almost fifteen minutes late, it had become cooler but was still at least dry!  Rubes began to single up bang on time and moved off a few minutes later.
For some reason she then began to return to the terminal.  When she stopped, I walked down to the end to see what was going on but there were no ambulances or gangways ready to be attached.  Not any little men waiting to catch a rope or two.  After a little while she slowly moved off again, backing up slightly, before not moving yet again and then carrying on as normal.
I hadn't noticed earlier about her registry changing from London to Valletta so that was a bit of a surprise.  I said goodbye to Bill then while he went to Asda, I caught a taxi from Town Quay to the hospital to see my mum and prepare for another battle to get her diagnosed and well so she can come home in spite of brick walls put up by the consultant.  The ships and meeting Bill today had been a delightful distraction and eased my stress levels so I was ready for anything.

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© Patricia Dempsey 28th September 2010
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