Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

24 February 2012

Our 1960 Journey to A New Life in New Zealand. 13.

This is a diary from 1960. The actual entries are in typewriter font. Added comments are in red. 
The photographs are from that date, some in colour (expensive in those days).

7th February

Still steaming into a heavy sea. The sun seems to have taken a holiday. Last night we went in for the fancy dress competition. Pat was Lysistrata and I poked my finger through a piece of cardboard and went as The Finger that Plugged the Hole in the Dyke. I was surprised to find that I had won the special first prize. It is a bridge set in a calf leather case, a very acceptable memento of our trip.

[My entry was disingenuous; the surprise was not that great; I deliberately picked a ‘fancy dress’ that would be understood by both the British passengers and the Dutch. On the strip of corrugated cardboard I had written the title in both languages, the Dutch being ‘Pieter van Dyke’s finger’ (I didn’t know ‘finger’ in Dutch!]

8th February

We spent the day sunbathing. In the evening there was a farewell dinner for all those people getting off at Australia and NZ. The captain gave a long speech in Dutch with a short translation. Then some unauthorized persons insisted on responding while our dinners got cold! The sweet course was served by the stewards in darkness. They paraded down the stairs with little toadstool lights on their trays then stood around the centre table and at a given signal they started to serve us. It was quite impressive to see the little toadstools all over the dining room.

[At which point it is appropriate to record ‘our’ waiter/steward, who looked after Ian, Ken, Pat and me throughout the voyage. His name was Walter Iten and he was Swiss. We developed a good relationship with him especially after we went into the big storm in the Gulf of Lions when steaming from Gibraltar to Genoa. At its height, when we four arrived into an empty dining saloon for lunch, there were not only no other passengers but also no other stewards, except for Walter who managed to serve all of our courses like an acrobat. The tablecloths were soaked in water so that no matter how canted the tables became in the rolling ship, the crockery and cutlery stayed in place. I also remember Ken describing the J v O as a ‘tender’ ship - she, he said, would have rolled in dry dock].


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By Don Donovan