So, as I said, on Wednesday we spun over to Harwich to drop Keith and Marlene at the port where they were due to embark on Jewel of the Seas for their cruise through the Baltic Sea to Russia and back. They’d have been happy to go by train but Carol was keen to visit a first cousin once removed so we forced them to endure a cross country 2½ hour trip in our car. It’s gotta beat lugging four pieces of luggage though London.
We saw Jewel of the Seas long before we saw any of Harwich. The land around Harwich is pretty darn flat and this vessel towered above it. It wouldn’t look out of place orbiting Jupiter. It’s huge! It has (it says here) 12 passenger decks for 2501 passengers (and 1?) served by 859 crew. It looks like several decent sized hotels bolted together and sat in a hull. We managed to drop Keith and Marlene off with little in the way of ceremony – there was no waiting – and left them to embark and search for their cabin. This is where a satnav system could truly come in handy – key in the postcode of your suite/cabin, select shortest route, and off you go.
Off we went to investigate Harwich, once we’d found it hiding behind the Jewel of the Seas. ‘T was an interesting little town in a threadbare sort of way. It looked a little worn at the edges. Come to that, it looked a little worn in the middle, too. I did, however, sample the finest jellied eels that I can remember tasting; they were quite superb. We also got an education about “leading lights”. There are two lighthouses: the higher and lower lighthouses. As an approaching ship, the idea was to position your vessel in such a way that the higher lighthouse’s light could be seen directly above the lower lighthouse’s light. This alignment led you into the harbour channel. Simple but effective, I would imagine. Not as much fun as a satnav, though.
Harwich also makes a big deal about being the original home of Christopher Jones, master of the Mayflower of pilgrims fame. We found his house on the Harwich heritage trail but it didn’t make an enticing picture.
Having killed enough time being thoroughly educated – I also learned that a pint and a half of Hoegaarden could set one back £7.90 – £7.90 for Chrissakes! – we went to visit Carol’s cousin on Shotley peninsula, the opposite side of the harbour. When Jewel of the Seas began sounding off, we all repaired to where we could watch the ship leave and wave goodbye to our friends. As we waited I practiced panning with TheBeast (handheld, IS mode 2) and managed to grab a reasonable shot of a black-headed gull which was cruising by the harbour wall in the early evening sun. They have such beautiful white eye-liner, black-headed gulls.
Eventually the floating moon of Jupiter approached and Carol grabbed a shot of it dwarfing Harwich. We waved. There’s no way Keith and Marlene could have seen us waving but we did it anyway. Well, you have to, don’t you?
Bon voyage Keith and Marlene!