I am persuaded to wear a little black number.

April 7, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Rachel Hazell | Leave a comment

27th January

Risked snoring, so awake at four thirty… At seven thirty John, from Corinthian II collects us for breakfast. Utter luxury; fruit, yogurt, hash browns, sausages, salmon, croissant. Then shower in a gorgeous cabin, with time to savour it during Rick’s talk. John keen to get us ashore in advance of the pax, so Helen and I take first staff boat. Busy shop. Biggest single transaction of the whole season; a group of Russians, who refuse the free bag I proffer. Hectic. Helen is in hyper mode since she had ‘rested’ all yesterday. I’m dull, concentrating. Much hassle due to pax not being informed that we can’t accept AMEX. Before Corinthian’s visit is over, Ushuaia cheekily steams into the back bay, ahead of schedule. All I desire is a Green and Black’s Hot Chocolate – Rick prepares the perfect mug-full. Finish franking and restocking, add cc slips. Helen has seen a sheathbill chick, down by the boatshed, very sweet. Lie down cosy for an hour instead of lunch. Ushuaia staff enter the building at two; leap up and into battle. One of the staff is Anna Sutcliffe, whom Tony Soper had given me an envelope for. She’s lovely, we enjoy meeting, and part with assurances to do so again. She has a house on an island, the perfect location for a bookbinding course with islomaniacs… Also chat to Chris Edwards and hear about his rare Polar library and bookbinding in Aberdeen. Had to run a fetch sandwich half way through visit. A revolting smell around the porch cannot be identified – sheathbills had pecked in to an addled penguin egg, just under the grid – very stinky. When they all leave we restock AGAIN, and frank, and cash up. Three work e-mails concerning future booky opportunities – odd to think ahead, away from here. Just considering eating unsociably early when Hanse Explorer radios; they’ll be mooring here tonight and would we like to join them for dinner? We’re curious, and accept. It is implied that we could ‘dress for dinner’ and I am somehow persuaded to wear little black number, rumpled at the bottom of box since October. And lipstick. Rick wears his crumpled best. Helen inserts earrings and tugs on a slinky top. All into boat suits, waiting for the zodiac. Rick pretends Helen had shut his finger in the door. Not funny. Collected by Ukrainian bosun and mate. Amusing to disrobe on the marina deck. Met by Martin the Captain. There are photomontage panels all along the corridors, and lots of art. Swift tour, passing by the galley where the chef advises on top dish choice, and the cleanest sparkliest engine room I have ever seen. Hanse Explorer is owned by a German ship magnate, a training vessel kitted out for twelve special guests. The sitting room has soft lighting, canapés and discreet service. We sip wine and then move through to the dining room, where the table is adorned with marine pebbles and coral. Extravagant four course dinner. Chicken, soup, duck and Antarctic yogurt pannacotta. I am seated next to an Australian woman who was meant to be on another ship, but, due to strike at BA airport, arriving in Ushuaia in tears, her taxi dropped her off on the quay next to Hanse Explorer, who scooped her up and will sort out the insurance later. She’s relieved to speak English and share her sea-sickness experience and worries with us girls. Rick does a condensed version of his talk, which Martin translates. Mini cake stands of chocolate squares and biscuits are produced, along with teas and coffees. All tired, we leave at ten thirty, in anticipation of their seven thirty (SIX thirty our time) landing tomorrow. Rick happy to sleep next door. Fold up cocktail dress and place it back in the box under bunk. I stole a peach.


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