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Cruising in Countrywear.....?
Wishing to avoid the tedium, indignity and restrictions of flying, my wife and I have been on a cruising holiday. We selected a cruise departing from a British port which took my wife and I from Southampton to the western Mediterranean and thence, via Gibraltar, back to Southampton. The weather was superb, the ship, although a trifle gigantic for my taste, was excellent, and the food, staff and facilities outstanding. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but, as is apparently inevitable on such cruises, we were somewhat overwhelmed by the apparent need to eat four square meals a day.
I myself, though no paragon of virtue, (although blessed with an athletes figure, now in some decline; an unfortunate tendency toward stockiness apparent in my latter years), had eagerly anticipated nubile, bikini-clad nymphs and the odd tall, bronzed Adonis gracing the multiple sun-decks of this leviathan. Sadly both nymphs and Adonii were few and far between; and I'm afraid we British have really let ourselves go! Indeed Dickens might have described a few of our fellow passengers as 'corpulent'. I was also uneasy about the proliferation of vast, lurid tattoos and worse, multiple piercings. It's probably me just being an old reactionary failing to adapt to an ever-changing world, but I have to ask myself why a significant minority of our society see fit to indulge in body art? To me, it's just another form of vandalism, contributing nothing, and indeed detracting from, the human condition.
But I digress. I was going to draw my thoughts toward clothing, and which items of country clothing my wife and I took with us. Not many, I have to admit; but with the cruise emanating from Southampton in late September, the weather might well be inclement and indeed the 'Med' can be equally changeable and not as warm as one might expect. As it turned out we left Southampton in glorious sunshine in the late afternoon and later, as the evening shadows stretched across the Solent, a nippy breeze, strengthened by the ships passage, made us both glad of our Barbour Down Wax Gilets which allowed us to enjoy the transition from Solent to the English Channel in comfort.
Indeed, for the next couple of days, out on the open deck, the gilets saw much service as a strong Atlantic breeze made sun-bathing a chilly affair unless one could find a lounger in the lee of some kind of windbreak. But thereafter, until our return to Southampton, the gilets were returned to the wardrobe, although I did use mine in an early morning Gibraltar, where it felt entirely at appropriate.
A lightweight jumper was also a plus, and my wife looked lovely and rather nautical in her Barbour Ladies V Neck Striped Sweater. I had chosen a Barbour Men's Sports Polo Shirt in pale blue and two others in pale green and pink which served me well throughout the cruise.
That was about it for cruising countrywear, but I did make frequent use of my trusty Barbour Taras Bag which was light and capacious enough to hold camera, binoculars, snacks and all the other bits of paraphernalia a tourist carries around. Michael Palin used to use the same bag in his worldwide peregrinations, and I can see why.
Reverting slightly to my initial theme; cruising does sometimes requires one to dress formally for dinner, and we had come prepared for these occasions when formal dress was de rigueur. I needed a second white dress shirt, as my only suitable shirt would not serve all four dates. We took ourselves off to the ship's well-stocked clothing store, and there found a suitable dress shirt which I bought. While perusing the racks and shelves of this 'unisex' store I chanced upon an item of ladies lingerie with which I was unfamiliar. 'Spanx' was the name under which the garment went and they purported to be "body shapers". Essentially they were highly elastic pants of various sizes and configurations, designed to compress and thus hide those areas of the posterior and thigh where excess bodily tissues was felt to be unsightly.
I am fortunate indeed that my wife requires no such aid, but having seen, as described above, some of the sights displayed among a few of my fellow passengers, I have to say that 'Spanx' simply won't cut it! Indeed I'm thinking of marketing a competitive product, currently beyond the range of the Spanx product which I propose to call "A Damn Good Thrashing"!
What do you think? Do you think I could be on to something.........? :-)