Booze cruise mystery solved

AS Rod Stewart once said “We are sailing.”

James Marston

AS Rod Stewart once said “We are sailing.”

And today, dear readers, instead of my small salon with sea views (distant) in the Edwardian town of Felixstowe, I am writing my weekly column from the back - or should I say aft - of a cruise ship in the middle of the Adriatic. At least I think that's where we are, to be honest I'm relying on other people as the scenery has no distinguishing features whatsoever.

To our right, or should I say starboard, are sea views (huge) and it's much the same portside.

You see, I'm taking a glorious mini cruise on the MS Balmoral with Ipswich firm Fred. Olsen.

I've indulged myself in the buffet at breakfast, even been swimming and managed to avoid the early morning walk and exercise to music with the ship's fitness instructor Matt on deck seven amidships.

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This evening I am looking forward to a black tie dinner with new found friends and fellow cruise enthusiasts Sue and Alan and Stan and Irene and some time with a lady called Julie who's going to sing show tunes and a bit of opera in what is called the Neptune Lounge.

It's all very exciting.

Now as I sip a post buffet luncheon cocktail of the day with a tequila base I'm reading the Daily Times, the ship's daily newspaper, trying to decide what to do next.

I thought I might share with you some of the options.

- A port talk and slide show on Palermo with a lady called Jayne - I suppose I ought to.

- A spot of music in the Lido lounge - a classical guitarist - tempting

- A talk on the growing problem of fluid retention and swollen ankles - I'm not old enough for that thank you very much.

- Darts - with the cruise staff - not too appealing.

- Bingo - Oh God no.

I suspect I shall opt for the afternoon quiz in the Observatory lounge or maybe deck quoits, whatever they are.

Naturally, as a hard hitting journo with a background in news, my burning curiosity has already led to an interesting discovery.

Have you ever wondered where they keep all the booze on these huge ships?

Well, as a subject close to my heart, I was determined to find out.

Deep in the bowels of the ship, below the passengers' cabins and somewhere, I assume, above the septic tanks, there are the stores.

They are huge and cold and not somewhere you'd want to get lost in.

And as I found out, one of them contains bottles and bottles of wine, champagne, spirits and mixers - enough, in fact, to sink a battleship.

Apparently gin is the most popular spirit - no surprise there then.

Anyway I must close now as it's time for the dog eat dog world of the first come first served afternoon tea buffet and missing that would never do.

THERE'S much excitement at the Evening Star this week as we celebrate not only winning a coveted newspaper of the year award but also the Ipswich and Suffolk Press Ball.

Naturally, I shall be there among the guests in double end evening tie and my best shoes.

It's always a rather glamorous evening and my plain-speaking-photographer-friend Lucy and I never miss one.

I'll be letting you know how we get on.

HAVING just sailed way from the Venetian city of Venice I have today determined to return.

It is an utterly fascinating place.

I mooched around St Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace before finding a café to write postcards and soak up the atmos. I was, I confess, enchanted.

Full of history and art and water as well as tourists I suspect it's nice in the winter.

Have you ever been? When is the best time to go?

OF course I've been away but did you see the flypast over the skies of Suffolk as they mark the Queen's official birthday.

Apparently more than 50 aircraft, including things like Spitfires, made an amazing spectacle as they assembled in the skies over Southwold and then passed over Ipswich around five minutes later.

It's the sort of thing that makes you proud to be British isn't it?

I HEAR on the journalism grape vine that my media colleague Mark Murphy of BBC Radio Suffolk fame isn't too pleased at being mistaken for me on more than one occasion - I have heard he has even mentioned it over the airwaves.

Of course I am a celebutante of the Felixstowe peninsula with a large and growing fan base so it's no real surprise but I suspect, deep down, he's jealous. It's to be expected.

I am much younger and far, far, far, more handsome than he and, if I'm honest, I am the one that should be miffed.

Indeed I think he's got a little bit of a cheek.