The last few hours

We're less than 24 hours from home, and so 'tis time for a few final thoughts on this cruising adventure.

Firstly, I'll be a good professional (for once) and do the work bit. 

The final lecture, the R in my MURDER acronym has been delivered.  It stood for ridiculousness, and contained some of the strange and bizarre experiences that can befall a TV reporter and author.  And there are plenty of them, believe me.

The idea was to cheer us up as the end of the hols neared.  And it seemed to work.  As so often, the favourite story "What to do when you really need a dead otter" made an appearance, and was much enjoyed.  It's one I never tire of telling, which is just as well.

A confession here - when first I was asked to do this trip, I was fearful I wouldn't have enough material to fill almost six hours.  But I'm feeling chuffed I managed to string together a series of reasonably coherent and entertaining talks, whilst also occasionally fighting the clammy grip of seasickness.

And naturally, when do I seem to find my sea legs?  On the last couple of days of the 17, of course.

The people on the cruise are largely older, and it's been touching to see how many couples have grown old together.  They've looked after each other for years and go on doing so, even in the silvering times of life.  They bicker, of course, but you can see the love and respect, and it's warming and heartening.

I don't think I've put on too much weight, though it's been a struggle to keep the discipline.  Last night there was a food exhibition, wonderful displays of so many types of meal and produce, and particularly puddings.  We were allowed only to look and photograph for half an hour, and then it was straight into it. 

And it was wonderful.  Especially the chocolate fountain, which tempted me greatly to perform a graceless Augustus Gloop dive into its sweet flow.

The gym will, however, have to be a priority visit upon my return to Blighty.

I've been privileged to meet and work with some great entertainers, from comedians to singers and magicians.  It's been great to hear their stories and get an insight into their experience of the entertainment profession.

And what a bizarre business it is.  Being paid for bobbing around at sea for 17 days, talking about my world of writing and TV.  No wonder such strange careers aren't advertised.

I'm ready for home now, and looking forward to seeing Exeter and all again soon.  I shall ignore the messages from friends which tell me pub profits in the city are down 20% since my departure.

Fear not, I'm heading home and keen to indulge in some of the fine local ales we're so lucky to have in Devon.

Oh yes, and see my family and friends, too...

With that thought, this is seafaring Simon, signing off the final despatch of his first cruise.