Kim arrived on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning at 9.30 the second member of the support team appeared. He was to be the driver of Jane’s adapted Peugeot. I had given him some training a couple of weeks earlier and he seemed to up to the task. In reality I had never had any doubt that former Group Captain Nick Brewer would manage to get Jane, her electric wheelchair and Kim to the Queen Elizabeth II terminal in Southampton Docks. Sadly Nick was not in uniform.
Gary arrived with his massive taxi and loading commenced and by 10.15am we were on our way. The QEII terminal has seen better days. The last time we had used it was in November 2008 when QE2 was making her final voyage to her resting place in Dubai, where she remains.
For some reason everything seemed to be running late. The baggage handlers had not all showed up (it was a Sunday) and the new technology for checking us in needed some tweaking, but we managed to position ourselves in the right place so that we could be checked in early.
An American lady standing nearby, started chatting, and told me she was a frequent cruiser and lived in the Bay area of San Francisco. I told her that I had a godson who is a District Attorney in that same Bay area, Simon O’Connell. She immediately googled him. I explained the story of our good friends, the O’Connells, emigrating when Simon and Daniel were young boys. The family holidays together. She kept coming back to me and it was eventually established that she and her husband live in Danville which happens to be the very same township where Simon and also our very good friend, Simon’s mother, Maggie O’Connell live.
To cap the coincidences, some 30 minutes after these conversations with the mystery lady, we had been checked in and moved to a large seating area on the upper level. As we walked through the door, the very first person we saw was ‘meeter and greeter’ Susan Malizia who is Maggie O’Connells sister! Amazing, particularly as we had no idea that Susan worked for the company concerned. It was great, because Susan made sure we were in prime position to get through security first and straight onto the ship without queuing!