What is it about cruises that have traditionally always brought out the anti-bourgeois, anti fuddy-duddy, anti middle-aged American bias in me? Could it be (surprise) that i've never actually been on one? Not that I tend to let lack of experience get in the way of a good prejudice, as anyone who knows me could tell you (but won't-see first post re babysitting and my conditional supply thereof...). But i am about to change all this and next Sunday shall see me trampling brutally over my siblings and my mother (my own mother!-is there no end to my depravity?) in my efforts to be first up the gangway on the Voyager of the Seas in Barcelona. Mum will be 80 and we are taking her on a cruise. As virgin cruisers of my genetic lineage, we are programmed to milk the 7 days on the Mediterranean for all its worth (Mum isn't-freebie greed in our family passes down generally through the male line). Free 24 hour buffet? Really? Do they understand that on Day 7, my buffet plate will have to be surgically chiselled from my puffy white hand? Are they prepared for this? (Memo to self, put litre bottle of Gaviscon in suitcase now).
There are of course many many other treats on the ship-gym, golf course, pools, rock climbing range, archery etc. but these all pale in comparison with the shrine to the Gods that is the 24 hour buffet. We are currently pledging ourselves to rise serenely every morning at no later than 8 am, break our fast on some fruit and then walk the 23 miles round the ship as a healthy start to the day, before ascending with equanimity to the buffet where we shall stroll calmly past the almond croissants and sausages to the museli and yoghurts. We have admonished ourselves in advance and have told each other that lunch is a mere 3 hours away: it's breakfast time, there's no need to be afraid..
On day 2 we are going on a 1,000 metre hike up Vesuvius, then down into Pompeii. I booked this for myself and my 2 sisters in a spirit of gung ho-ness, which will probably last for about the first 300 metres, then i shall have to face their hate filled eyes boring into my aching back for the next 700. There can, of course, be no museli that morning-we shall have to stock up or we could simply fade out of existence in the next 7 hours and shall be mere wraith like presences whom the guide cannot locate before returning to the ship. He/She would lose their job-they wouldn't be able to pay the mortgage, their children would be left begging in the streets of Manila or Krakow, they'd turn to drugs and prostitution to dull the pain and end up in some flophouse, a needle in one hand and a condom in the other. I simply cannot let this happen. Even if i end up waddling off of that ship and have to book an extra plane seat home for my bum, it will have been worth it-I will have MADE A DIFFERENCE. And surely, isn't that all any of us can ask for in this life?
As i write this, i have some belly pork in the oven. (God i hope my WeightWatchers leader never stumbles across this blog). I have spiked it with about 2 cloves of garlic and stuffed lots of fresh herbs into the cuts. Mr. Bells in the market today finally got in sumac. I've always wanted to try this Lebannese spice mix-it has the wonderful tartness of pomegranite pulp and to be honest, i wasn't quite sure what to do with it today-so i rubbed some on anyway and i'll find out. When the pork is nearly fully cooked, i will sit it on a bed of chopped fennel bulb, peppers, courgettes, shallots,and more garlic! I might throw in a couple of spuds so i'm not prowling the kitchen in a few hours looking for a carb fix. At the weekend i always cook big meals if i can (tomorrow is roast chicken like pretty much every Sunday) and then plate them up for the beginning of next week. At the risk of sounding smug (oh go ahead girl) it's great to come home on a Monday or Tuesday etc. to good food already on a dinner plate that you just bung in the microwave. I plate it up so it doesn't look like left overs by the way. Saturday is market day for me. The English Market has convinced me that Cork is a great place to live as a food obsessed single woman with time on her hands and minimal love life. I have my favourite stalls and mix organic with cheapo as i see fit.
Oh, i can smell the pork-time to do the rest.
So, altogether now: Port Out, Starboard Home, Posh with a capital P....