Day 2, Killybegs, County Donegal.

Donegal is in Eire, although it actually runs up the left-hand side of Northern Ireland. Killybegs is a tiny little fishing village whose population is slightly less than the number of passengers on Oriana. And remember, you have to add 800 crew to that, as well. Killybegs means ‘little cells’ and is thought to have been coined in respect of the monks who lived here, although there are ruins and burial mounds going back to the Neolithic.  The cliffs are the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe, at around 600m above the Atlantic. We were the biggest cruise ship ever to dock in this natural deepwater harbour, but they are hoping we will be the first of many. They put on Irish dancing displays, and pipers on the quayside to send us on our way (oddly, by repeated renditions of Scotland the Brave…). The people were very friendly and welcoming and gave us a 10% discount in their shops, which was a nice touch. There is only one shopping street. In fact, I think I got the whole place into my photo.  The weather forecast was supposed to be dreadful, but I managed to catch the sun, so they got that rather wrong. My nose is officially the wrong colour when you can trace where my sunglasses sat.  The moral of the story apparently is that even Sky News gives a more accurate weather forecast than P&O.

Back on board, they had a special offer on full body massages (a pound a minute plus a free facial), so it would have been rude not to, although Shona did such a good job on my back yesterday, that parts of me were still a bit sore. Note to self: Massages two days running are not a good idea, especially not if done really rather well on both occasions.

Very freaked out by something in the news today, and there was a lot of horrible stuff to choose from. Severed heads on factory gates in Lyon, tourists being mowed down by gunfire while sunbathing in Tunisia, Greece continues to rail against the increasingly likely prospect of Grexit, and the shocking news that it took 89 years for Elizabeth II to visit a Nazi concentration camp. But the one that upset me personally the most was one that may not have even made it onto your news bulletin. It concerned the crash of a small seaplane in Ketchikan in Alaska. I think nine people died – almost all cruise ship passengers off the Holland America Westerdam. I’ve done that trip. You’ve seen the photo of me, out on the lake, standing on the plane float, clinging to the wing strut. That was the company I flew with. It may even have been my plane – I think they had two – and/or my pilot – I think there were two, and I think I met them both.  I am quite shaken by this, I have to tell you. Whatever else I have done this evening, my mind keeps going back to Ketchikan and the sadness is much deeper and pervasive than I would have expected.

On the up side, the US Supreme Court has stated that same sex marriage is legal and constitutional in all 50 states.  And just before Pride weekend, which was a nice touch.

Tonight we begin our crossing towards Iceland, which makes things a little more interesting as regards ship movement, although nothing dramatic – just enough to separate the landlubbers from the sailors – and the clocks go back an hour. Whether these things will improve my sleep pattern or make things worse, I have no idea. Will have to wait and see.

I now believe there may be as many as five other people on board who are under 60, including two seemingly very young married couples.


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