A summer spent in southern Spain, and cruising around the Med and northern Europe is a very good way of spending ones post retirement years. However, sometimes the pressures of producing lectures and shows to an audience acceptable high standard can be a little daunting (you’re only as good as your last show!), and a little tiring. Whilst most people would envy the lifestyle (and I do not wish it away in any way), a succession of cruises can lead to a feeling of not ‘where are we’ but ‘what I am doing today’….but long may it continue, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania still seem to find the odd place where I have not been and, of course, meeting new people is always a pleasure…well almost always!

But the recent cruise of the wonderful Seven Seas Explorer (from Athens to Venice), brought home an important reflection. There are seasons! And it was when we arrived in Croatia the mixture of burning sunshine in Split, followed by a day of rain in Zadar brought home the fact that October was passing and November was very close…and these are the Balkans with their attendant weather issues. And so leaving Koper in Slovenia for a drive to the capital city of Ljubljana, again in pouring rain, it became even clearer that the season had changed. The 75 mile drive is pleasant on a nice day and still interesting on a wet one. But the colours of the trees as they turned on their autumnal hues were a sight to behold. Slovenia is 75% wooded, and with its lakes and rivers and its hamlets, towns and cities echoing its history of occupation by Venice and Austria in a charming architectural style reminiscent of a more Alpine location, it made one think that even the lure of New England could be seriously challenged here at this time of the year.

The people in Ljubljana are known by their neighbours as ‘the frog people’, because of their rain-filled existence. Yes it rains a lot here evidenced by the dense green foliage and flora. A three hour ‘free-time’ stay in the city was unanimously curtailed to two by the travellers on bus 19 who could not envisage stopping that long having seen the main sights of the river, its bridges, the castle on the hill and the cathedral.

I headed straight for the closest and snuggest looking bar that was serving something hot. I was not disappointed. The Café Antigua was serving beer and a piping hot potato goulash with smoked Slovenian sausage. A football match was replaying on the TV and I wasted a very pleasant hour. The Cathedral offered brief sanctuary from the rain and the half covered market was a damp fascination. Not surprisingly we were all present and correct for the return journey after a day of contrasts…notably between sunny Spain and soggy Slovenia!

The cruise had been a great success and the following morning we sailed into Venice for a dawn view of this amazing waterfront….I flew away to the UK to reminisce on a cruise that had given me a night in Athens, a few days through the Greek Islands, and a return to the Dalmatian coast of what was once Yugoslavia. 6 lectures, 2 shows and a hundred conversations in the 9 days and I felt my duty was done. With pleasure.

And now, after a few days to recoup in Rochester it’s off again on Monday, back to Venice, to join the Oceania Marina for a two month assignment through to Valparaiso…35 lectures and a good few shows…and no doubt (spoiler alert) the job of covering people in gunk as we cross the equator…yes it’s me King Neptune again!