NEWS

 

February 2017

A belated Happy New Year to all of you and I hope it has got off to a good start. I had a wonderful Christmas with my family and the last one with Max as a single man! The 10th August is the big day and in the next few weeks I shall make sure I buy a new hat! Max and Justine are very excited and justifiably impatient as this is also their 10th year anniversary. Even though I am booked on Celebrity from June onwards they have very kindly given me the time off as the wedding wasn’t arranged until after I signed my contracts for the year.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Xmasexit, after all the weeks leading up to Christmas, all the wrapping, menu planning, cooking and bedroom shuffling that happens in every household the big day comes and is gone in a blink of an eye and I sat there kind of shell-shocked. We celebrate Christmas Day the day before as Max and Justine leave on the 25th at 11.00am so that they can get to London and spend time with her parents and it can leave me feeling flat. Mind you there wasn’t much time to sit feeling sorry for myself as the sea was calling.

On the 5th January I locked up Monro Towers and headed for Tilbury complete with 8 cases and numerous amounts of  hand luggage. The rule of any ship is that as long as the stuff fits in your cabin you can bring the kitchen sink…. no I didn’t although I do admit to a small portable fridge making its way into one of my holdalls. Well it would have been rude not to. The Magellan is an old ship and doesn’t have a lot of the amenities that other newer ships have and anyone that knows me knows that I cannot drink a warm coca cola. Last time I was on Magellan was for the Amazon last January and the reception was happy to keep my medications in the fridge for me but it is no fun waking up in the wee small hours and having to go up several floors to ask for your ‘fix’. Then there’s the fact that I don’t drink water and there is no bar open at that time to buy a soda so the easiest solution was to bring my own.


Unfortunately it doesn’t solve the heating issue… the issue being that there is none in the cabin. This ship was originally built for Caribbean cruising so there was no need to have heating fitted but it certainly is necessary for British winter sailings.

We were promised umpteen things in the November refit but the only visible notice is that the nightclub is now a British pub.  The launderette didn’t happen but they have offered passengers a free laundry service every two weeks.

On Thursday 5 January at 8.00pm we set sail out of Tilbury and with the winter weather already firmly entrenched we were all looking forward to some sunshine. Being that this was a world maiden voyage one expected a small fanfare as we set sail but I can only describe our departure as ‘limping’ out of port. If you blinked you would have missed the event. What a let down. When I left on Arcadia in 2012 we had streamers, a glass of champagne, a dockside orchestra playing ‘Sailing’ as we slipped our berth and as we inched down the English Channel we were treated to a wonderful display of fireworks. Bad show Cruise & Maritime.

We had the smoothest crossing of any cruise at this time of year and I spent the majority of the evening trying to unpack and find spaces for everything. The clocks had to be set back an hour because the next day we arrived at 2.00pm in Amsterdam because we were taking on 150 new Dutch passengers. I was looking forward to my visit, as I wanted to go back to Waterlooplein, a fabulous market I went to last year. By the time I walked through the corrugated iron hangar that acted as our terminal and got to the curbside where the taxis waited, my fingers were blue. I have never felt cold like it, my nose was burning as I inhaled and I felt a spinal spasm coming on and knew I had to get back on the ship quickly. Unfortunately I had to go through security and with the new intake of passengers it wasn’t a quick process. By the time I made it back to Magellan I was near to tears. I wouldn’t mind if I’d come unprepared but I had five layers on me including full thermal underwear. It just didn’t seem to help. On the ship I also had my hot water bottle and blanket out on deck. It doesn’t matter how cold I get I have to sit outside as I feel cooped up indoors.

We spent the next four days at sea before reaching Ponta Delgada and I thought we would hit warmer weather on day three but alas that was not the case and even the Azores wasn’t anything to get excited about. Having been so many times before I have done the main highlight of visiting the crater but the good news is I found a shop that sold fleece dressing gowns and I grabbed one to use in my cabin. I also spotted a bright pink rabbit onesie and the very next day the passengers on Dec 10 were treated to a viewing. Did I care that I looked like a plonker, not on your Nellie. I had deliberated for days on whether to bring mine but although not heavy they do take a lot of space up in the case but as soon as I left Tilbuty and realized the weather we were in for over the next week I regretted it.

Galley Fact: The Executive Chef heads a team comprising 2 Sous Chefs, I Tournament, 1 Savaier, 1 Gardemonger, 9 first cooks, 18 second cooks, 15 third cooks, 1 ice carver, 1 Pastry Chef and his 4vassistants, 1 Coffee man and a partridge in a pear tree!

Friday 13th started with the rains of the last few days clearing up and the sun coming out so at last the onesie came off. Amazingly through we haven’t had a ripple in the ocean since leaving Tilbury although some passengers are being treated for seasickness. One elderly lady came to me upset as she’d caught a chest infection after leaving England and went to the medical centre to get advice. She was offered an option of either a packet of antibiotics or a faster-working intravenous drip, which took about an hour. She chose the letter and has now been given a bill of £2,000. She is so upset as she isn’t sure whether her medical insurance company will pay it. I’ve tried to calm her down saying I’m sure they will but she is freaking as she doesn’t have the funds to pay it. I think it is a ridiculous amount and certainly the patient should have received the options together with the prices prior to treatment. I’ve since found out that at least 7 people have been given the drip!!!

Did You Know? Apparently an Australian billionaire has made the decision to fund the building of a new Titanic cruise ship, which will set out from England in 2018. I wonder how many takers there will be on its maiden voyage?

I actually went to bed at 9.00pm last night. No get up off the floor; it’s not just a vicious rumor, it really happened. The resident Ukraine duo Excelsior, which consists of an atrocious dyed blond woman singer and an electronic keyboard player who I presume is the husband, were enough to put anyone to sleep. Not only is she dreadful but also the noise levels were bouncing all over the deck. She’d sing a 50s show number then sit down while her side kick played a Neil Diamond number. The repertoire just didn’t gel and I’m afraid I could have thrown them both overboard.

Anyone that remembers my write up from the Amazon will remember that we had a very odd selection of people on the ship and I didn’t think it could be worse because the average age on a world cruise is 71 and most younger people can’t take 4 months leave from work. Well we have got rid of most of the drunks, notice the use of the world ‘most’ but at least we’ve eradicated the Irish singalongs on open deck every night. What we have got is a lot of very eccentric people who belong in lock-up.

Ester Williams, as we call her, has a rather unusually shaped body and wears incredibly low cut swinsuits (not a pretty sight) and every day she treats us to a new elaborate swim hat and a blast of B.O when she walks past. I think she’s Dutch and I only know that by the conversation she has with herself!

Last year on the Amazon we had a speaker called Param Sandhu whose specialty is talking about tigers. Well there are so many times you can go and hear talks about the same animals especially when the places they habitat are not on our cruise schedule. He has struggled with 24 sea days talks up to Acapulco when he goes home. He has been repeating pictures and commentary because he has nothing more to add. Today he satin the audience and showed 100 pictures without commentary, which took up 30 minutes. He was showing a colour slide and then the same picture in black/white. When that was done with he started showing pictures of birds but didn’t know their names and it was the audience who was helping him out with the information. It was a bloody disgrace and as good as his photographs are these last talks are an insult to my intelligence.  Would you believe he wanted to stay on until Sydney, which requires another 31 talks…. I don’t think so

There are a couple on here, who will remain nameless, who travel with C&M a lot and think that garners them special treatment. The other night the DJ came out on deck at 10.00pm to start the disco. Without a few bars of the song she stood up waving her arms about and screamed ‘Turn that bloody racket down”. The poor DJ complied by halving the volume. Off she went back again and shouted “I told you to turn that f***ing racket down, call the cruise director, I want to speak to him”. The music was then lower than background music and some then complained to her saying the event was advertised and it was for everyone. She stood up again saying “well I’ll p*** off and leave you all to it”. And off she stormed.  Her husband was left standing there, looked at everyone and shrugged his shoulders saying “and I’m married to her”.

Another guy on here is a Scouser and every other word is ‘pigging’. He is dating a very refined woman who was previously married to a chemist and left a wealthy widow. Chalk and cheese comes to mind. He gets upset at the staff saying they can’t speak English but they do, they just can’t understand his broad accent. There seems to be very low tolerance on the high seas.

One of the highlights of the sea days was an invite to the Bridge. Captain Filipe is Portuguese, a rare occurrence in a Greek company, and he is charming. I have had several coffees with him and have received an invite to the Bridge when we sail into Sydney Harbour and that is something I’m really looking forward to.

At last on Wednesday 18 January we docked in Bridgetown Barbados. Known for its beaches and cricket, Barbados is one of the most populated islands in the West Indies. Truly a gorgeous destination, where the British influence, evident through its place name and Anglican parish churches, blends with the African which is reflected in the music, food and fun-loving Bajan people.

Magellan pulled into Sugar Berth in the pouring rain. I couldn’t belie we’d done 10 days at sea to arrive to overcast skies and a lot of rain. The main thing is that the temperature was inching towards 27 degrees and you can’t scoff at that. We had clearance by 8.15am but I was in no hurry as not much opens before 9.30am and not long after I caught a taxi to my favourite crew haunt ‘The Boatyard’ and thought I’d be the first there but the dancers had beaten me to it. There was a crew drill scheduled for midday so all the other staff couldn’t get there until 1.00pm. We have had so many days at sea and they put a drill on the day everyone wants to get off and have some fun. Not only that they could have run it first thing but by doing it t midday it bites right into the day. No one thinks thee things over logically.

The main thing is we all made the most of it and had a whale of a time. I can’t remember when I laughed that much and it really is good for the soul. The Boatyard do a great deal for the crew. We pay $20.00 but get it all back as a credit on food and drink and it includes our transport back to the ship, which in our case was at 6.00pm.

Did You Know:

  • The name Barbados is derived from the Bearded Fig Trees once found in abundance round the island.
  • Barbados has only flown the British flag until achieving its independence in 1966.
  • Barbados is the 3rd largest Parliamentary democracy in the world.
  • When first settled by the British in 1625, Barbados was found to be almost totally covered in dense jungle, with a huge population of wild pigs.
  • Barbados exports $57 million of rum per year across the world.
  • Barbados is the 16th most densest populated country
  • Bridgetown was originally named Indian Bridge and changed its name to its current one after 1654

Magellan hosted a ‘Hot Hot Hot’ Deck Party that night but it had been a long day with the ship not sailing out until 6.00pm but at least we have a sea day tomorrow so I can recoup my batteries.

On Friday 20th we sailed into Curacao, a Dutch Caribbean island known for its beautiful beaches tucked into coves and its expansive coral reefs rich with mineral life. Its capital is Willemstad, a city split into two. Punda is were you find the famous Dutch Wharf and markets while the other half is Otrabanda, meaning other side’.

Magellan docked at Mega Pier at 8.00am, about a mile away from the main town. The terminal isn’t housed in a building but is more like an open-air tourist village with typical Caribbean shops combined with the music you would expect on the islands. With a 15 hour stay the world was most definitely my oyster. To kick things off I’d booked a Tuk Tuk to take me to the ‘other side’ to visit the floating markets along the Waaigat. Here Venezuelan merchants offer their goods for sale from the vessels that are moored in a straight line along the Sha Caprileskede. Fruit, vegetables and fish are displayed shaded by coloured canvas awnings. Together with the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge that links Punda and Otrabanda, the floating market is one of the best-known attractions on the island.

Next Plaza Rondo or Marshe Nobo (the new round market) in the centre of town close to the main Post Office. They both form the heart of traditional and modern day Curacao. It brought back great memories of the last time I was here and I would have stayed longer if not for the fact that I had another private tour booked with a pick-up at 1.30pm and what an afternoon it was. There was a small mix up with my taxi but in the end I was told to get in one and get them to take me to Eric’s ATV Adventures, which as it turned out was only a 15-minute journey away.

The actual owner, Eric came to welcome me and apologise for the mix up but it didn’t take long to get kitted out and at 2.00pm we were on our way. There were only two other girls on the tour and our lead guide and as the girls were sharing a quad only thee vehicles left the compound which was great as usually there is one or two who hold everyone up. We stared near to the Seaquarium at a leisurely pace through low traffic roads, through residential neighbourhoods giving us a sense of the real Curacao.

Our first photo stop for a dramatic view was on the eastern side of the island where you could just see its sister Bonaire and the mountains of Venezuela, which was truly spectacular. We continued onto to the Aloe Vera Plantation where we received a brief explanation about this unique farm and its products. This was our first break for refreshments and the bathrooms.

Adriana was the driver out of the two Columbian girls and was having problems with the throttle as her thumb hurt so much. I taught her how to use her thumb pad and that helped. Continuing off-road, toward to St Jarvis Bay, the terrain got rather rough now and then which I love. This is the habitat of sea turtles, which can usually be spotted coming up for air but today they could be nowhere to be seen. Nevertheless the wild north coast gave stunning sights of the waves crashing into the rocks.

Driving along the deserted beach at full throttle was awesome and I took the opportunity of zipping up and down while the girls were busy taking selfie shots but the real treasure of this 3 ½ hour tour was a visit to the Bat Cave that even most locals have never visited. We were bombing along over very rough ground in the middle of nowhere, where only the cacti were on display when Dave our guide suddenly pulled over and parked, pointing upwards. The cave lies above the ground on one of the highest plains of the island and I just looked up not knowing how the hell I was going to manage the climb. The girls ganged up on me shouting encouraging cheers while poor Dave pulled, pushed and heaved me up the steep incline. It probably took me ½ hour but of course the girls ganged just perfectly without any help at all… mind you they were more than 30 years younger than me!!!

The cave was very dark and low ceilinged with uneven ground so I had to be very careful where I walked. Dave took to clapping which disturbed the bats and they started flying out of various hiding holes and I have to admit to being pleased that I’d made the effort. That wasn’t the end though, Dave then climbed me up to the next plain for even more awe-inspiring views but it’s all very well climbing up but the problem was getting back down and that took me more than 20 minutes. Having finally made up and down without incident, my boot lost its footing on flat ground right at my bike and down I went…. What a plonker.

We finally got back to the office and before my ride ‘home’ the boss handed out CD’s with the various pictures he had taken of all of us throughout the day and hat’s more it was free, totally awesome day and if I thought that was good it was nothing on my transport the following day in Aruba.

Oranjestad is the capital and largest city of Aruba. It’s featured on the southern coast near the western end of the island. Some portions of the city are formed from a series of man-made expansions of land into the sea. Docking at the ort you are surrounded by traditional, tall, multi-coloured houses, which combine wooden doors and typical Dutch tiles with open-air patios. The charm of the city compliments the beauty of this Caribbean island where the Dutch and indigenous cultures have merged to give Aruba, its unique atmosphere.

We pulled into our berth at 7.00am to a beautiful warm and sunny day. I dashed straight down to Deck 3 as I was being picked up at 7.30am and wild horses weren’t going to stop me making it. I was lucky that there was only about 12 people ahead of me but that was because my tours weren’t meeting until 30 minutes past the hour while it was too early for the independents to get off and everything was still closed. I was picked up promptly by the man who would also be my tour guide for the day. His name was Rameses and he spoke very good English and explained we had two more pick-ups to make. The first was a Dutch couple who were holidaying on the island for a couple of weeks and the second stop saw a threesome join us happy campers and with that we were driven to the office to sign waiver forms, pay and receive instruction… on what you might well ask?

The instruction was slightly over-whelming and my test run was quite frightening, bit it boiled on to the fact that I couldn’t reach the brake easily as my legs were too short. On what the crowd asked?

The solution much to my embarrassment was a booster seat, clever really as it slipped right over the existing one with the result being it pushed my body forward but it still wasn’t quite enough but with an enormous cushion behind my back it solved my problems and I was raring to go… on what?

Each Harley Davidson Trike could take three people; the driver and two in the back and in all cases the men were driving which made me feel rather full of myself. This memorable three hour open road experience was the best choice ever and the blurb promised breathtaking beaches, historic sights and much much more.

Rameses chose me to follow first and off we went throttles roaring down the highway. What a buzz, I soon lost my nerves and relaxed into the ride enjoying the sun and breeze of my body. I was shocked that we weren’t required to wear crash helmets but delighted as it was really hot, that and the fact that I was using my go Pro on a head strap for the very first time. We rode for about 40 minutes eventually parking at the California Lighthouse in the extreme north of the island. It looked amazing in the growing light and because of the early hour we were the first tourists to arrive there.

En-route to our second stop the road was marked with white crosses, which I was later told were there to represent the 12 stations of the cross. At the top and in between lush vegetation and a plethora of cacti was Alto Vista Chapel
 
A small vendor working out of the back of his car was selling a variety of different coloured rosaries and single candles for anyone that wanted to light one in the church in memory of another person in their life. I thought it was a lovely touch. The scenery was much more rugged on our next drive as was the ground with our destination being Casibari. Scattered across the islands ‘outback’ of natural sites, structures remain that hint at the history of Aruba’s early economic and social development. There was one huge rock formation at Casibari that could be climbed and this elevation offered amazing views from its apex. Driving our Trikes into the parking area I suddenly spotted a bunch of passengers from the ship and I definitely made sure they spotted me and I honked the horn over the roar of the engine for people to make way. Juvenile yes but it would have been rude not to!!!!

I wandered the area taking photos but several ladies including me sat out of actually climbing the rock. I know the island isn’t terribly huge but we seem to have driven around for mile upon mile and the roads were perfectly flat with no sign of any potholes. Our last stop was Zeerovers, the fish market, which operated out of a sea-front restaurant. We were led to the back where a small pier had been built and the fish manager was working ½ on the premises and ½ in the sea. Barracuda by the dozen were laid out on the deck and huge storage freezers like mortuary containers held all manner of fish of the day.

Looking out to sea you could see s mall building on a piece of sand, it’s the smallest island I’ve ever seen. They are apparently party huts and locals boat their clients out there when it’s open. On one tiny islet stood one of Aruba’s iconic trees, the Divi Divi more locally known as a Watapana. They have gnarled trunks and trade wind bent and bowed branches, its most famous for its same direction bend that always points travelers back to the tourist region from the wild rugged outback.

Our journey back took us through the main high street and I blew the horn every time I spotted someone I knew and then some and everyone without exception waved back. I felt very cool and was sad when the journey was at an end. Unlike the quad biking I’d never done the Trikes before but I wouldn’t hesitate to grab another ride if I see it at another port stop.

It was such a shame we had to leave Aruba at 1.00pm, as I know from past experiences that it has so much to offer as well as lazy days on their beautiful beaches but we had no choice, as it was imperative we made out transit of the Panama Canal on time.

The Canal, which was completed in August 1914,is one of the most strategic artificial waterways in the world, the other being the Suez Canal. Ships sailing between the east and west coats of the United States, which otherwise would be obliged to round Cape Horn in South America, shorten their voyage by about 8,000 nautical miles by using the Canal. Savings up to 3.500 nautical miles are also made on voyages between one cast of North America and ports on the other side of South America. Ships sailing between Europe and East Asia or Australia can save as much as 2,000 nautical miles by using the Canal.

From its opening in 1979, the Panama Canal was controlled solely by the United States, which built it. However in 1979, control of the Canal passed to the Panama Canal Commission, a joint agency of the United States and the Republic of Panama, and complete control was passed at noon on 31 December 1999.

Each time the Canal has to fill a lock, it fills 52 million galleons in approx 15 minutes. The area of the Canal Zone is approx. 436 square miles. The length of the Canal, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, is 51 miles and is 10 miles wide. Each door of the lock weighs 750 tons. The maximum bottom width of the channel at Culebra Cut is 300 feet. There are 12 locks (in pairs) in the Canal. The locks operate by gravity flow of water from Gatum, Alejuela and Miraflores lakes, which are fed by the Chagres and other rivers. The locks are of uniform length, width and depth and were built in pairs to permit the simultaneous transit of vessels in either direction. Each lock gate has two leaves, 65 feet wide and 6.5 feet thick, set on hinges. The gates range in height from 46 to 82 feet; their movement is powered by electric motors recessed in the lock walls. They are operated from a control tower, which is located on the wall that separates each pair of locks and from which the flooding or emptying of the lock chambers is also controlled. The lock chambers are 1,000 feet long, 110 feet wide and 40 feet deep.

The San Juan Prospectus was the longest ship to transit the Canal: it was 751 feet in length with a 107-foot beam. The Hydrofoil Pegasus of the US Navy did the fastest transit of the Canal completing it in 2 hours and 41 minutes.

Magellan was nowhere near to beating the record, in fact because of several delays it took us nearly 12 hours and I have to say it is a pretty spectacular feat of engineering. With that behind us we have 5 days at sea now before we reach Acapulco on Friday 27 January. This is when I will have to upload the updates to Richard as we have a further 8 sea days after we leave Mexico and that would lake the

 

“One Voice’ The Matt Monro Story’ opens on 4th February at Richmond Theatre and this time round we’re updating the songs and script to include even more. Apart from working with me Matt had a photographic shoot booked in Birmingham with Jodi Cunningham, which had been arranged by Andi Churchill, his lighting and sound production manager.

The shoot took all day and what I loved about Jodi’s work was the fact she has a quirky side and her choice of locations were brilliant. Matt hasn’t had any new promotional shots done in years so it was important to capture him as he looks now. I always have a little laugh when I see the artiste’s photos on the theater board only to realize when they go on stage that the pictures are ten years old!

 


The other reason for the shoot was so we could pick an image for Matt’s new album, which is coming out to coincide with the tour. “A Father’s Legacy’ is the first album since “If He Could See Me Now” which was in 2007 and “Dancing With His Father’ in 2010.

Matt’s doing the album in the style of dad in terms of arrangements and although I don’t have the final running order I have managed to get the track listing.

Fourth Blue Monday
Didn’t We
For Once in My Life
Georgia on My Mind
Let Me Sing
One Morning in May
Gonna Build a Mountain
One Voice
You’ve Got Possibilities
So Little Time
This is the Life
Wonderful World
On Days Like These
You Made Me So Very Happy
Yesterday When I Was Young

The important news from Matt Jnr is the launch of his new website and facebook page. Find them here:-

http://www.mattmonrojnr.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/MonroJnr/

Matt has also featured in the Daily Express. An online version of the article can be found here:-

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/759822/matt-monro-jr-the-man-with-the-golden-voice-my-kind-of-girl-walk-away/amp

 

Several other pieces of news on the Matt Monro front:

Warners recently wrote to me to let me know that Ste Softly, Terry Wogan’s producer has compiled a new album keeping in mind the much-loved disc jockey’s favourite tracks and musical moments over the years. “Terry Wogan – A Celebration of Music” was released on 18th December in aid of Children in Need and includes dad’s track, “Portrait of My Love”.

I am a massive fan of Strictly Come Dancing so it was nice to see ‘Len Goodman’s Crooners & Swooners’ in the shop charts this week. Following on from the huge success of Ballroom Bonanza, Len returns with a brand new compilation in 2016, to feature his all-time favourite Crooners, Swooners and Big Band classics!

This hand-picked compilation of songs is set to make anyone’s heart strings tingle and get toes tapping with the inclusion of tracks from Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Bette Midler, Etta James and Barry Manilow, being sure to get more than a ‘seven!’.


Known to millions as the Head Judge of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, Len has sashayed his way to the top of the dance world. Beginning his dance life at the age of 21, he has gained years of vast knowledge and experience in Ballroom and Latin American dancing through teaching, competing and judging, making him a four-time British Champion.

Len’s passion for dance and the music associated with it has been demonstrated in programmes made for BBC4 including Len Goodman’s Dance Band Days, Len Goodman’s Big Band Bonanza, Dancing Cheek to Cheek with Lucy Worsley and Dancing in the Blitz with Jools Holland and Lucy Worsley. Len has also appeared on BBC Radio 2 presenting his favourite music including some of the music featured in Strictly, those that influenced his life and include a variety of styles from Jazz to American Songbook to Pop.

This 3 CD set, ranked No 20 in Amazon’s Bestseller’s list also includes dad’s rendition of Spanish Eyes, which makes a nice change and proves Mr Godwin has good taste when it comes to music!

Just so you know Jasmine records are issuing an erroneously titled "Complete Recordings 1955 - 1962" set by dad on 9th December. This in all likelihood steals all Richard Moore’s remasters, as this record company doesn’t have the rights to any of the original masters. Certainly they don’t have the masters from Decca, Love is the Same Anywhere or The Complete Singles Collection.

This is either a substandard release or they have taken our masters for their own gain. There is never any finesse or research taken. Thy have listed the Parade of the Pops LP tracks as BBC Transcriptions. Where they pulled that from I don’t know as they are EMI tracks recorded at Abbey Road and have nothing to do with the BBC apart from being the same name as the radio show.

Strange Lady took us years to get hold of and Richard lovingly worked on the disc to give it its best possible treatment. Jasmine can’t have got the masters anywhere else so I urge you not to buy this product. I’m so fed up with these fly-by-night companies coming out of the woodwork to make a buck off other people’s work.

My dear friend show business journalist and broadcaster John Hannam has a new book out, The John Hannam Interviews features the stories behind nearly 100 interviews with pop stars of the '50, '60 and '70s, and is now available online. The book’s Forward is written by Marty Wilde and the tome contains chapters on names like Matt Monro, Duane Eddy, Neil Sedaka, Justin Hayward, Cliff Richard, PJ Proby, Al Martino, Gerry Marsden, Bobby Vee and The Bevs.

It's available online. There are direct links to John’s website: www.johnhannam.com  Just click on the 'In Print' page Nights of Shanklin.
The price is £12 including post and pack.
Or you can get it via Amazon for £12 plus £2-80 postage and packing.
         

Matt Jnr is not the only Monro to have had a photo shoot recently. I love black/white photography so I took advantage of a special deal Celebrity Eclipse was promoting. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to travel to any other location but considering I don’t like any pictures of myself, the results weren’t too bad.

As well as needing new promotional pictures for the ships I work on I’ve been working on a new project for the last 18 months so I’m sure the images will come in handy. All being equal the book will be ready to go to print in April or May so I have it ready for the Celebrity cruise season.  The working title is ‘The Port Guide for Mere Mortals’ and includes a ‘Mobility Challenged’ section which is something sadly missing from other guides.

The first edition includes Norway and Europe and I’m relying on all of you to let me have any recommendations of shops, eateries, tours and the places that have impressed you Even if you have a valuable tip I want to hear it , you might know the best places for duty free and if anyone has issues with their mobility please share your stories with me. It could be that you need to tell me a place to avoid and that is equally important. This project is important so if you have any suggestions of things to include please email me at michele@mattmonro.com. Maybe you have a great title for the book then please don’t be shy, everything is valuable and you’ll be helping future travelers.

My dates for this year have been confirmed as follows.

Cruise Dates 2017
5 January – 5 May - Cruise & Maritime Magellan World Cruise
18 June -2 July - Celebrity Eclipse
2 July-16 July - Celebrity Eclipse
16 July            -30 July - Celebrity Eclipse
30 July            -13 August - Celebrity Eclipse
13 August-26 August            - Celebrity Eclipse
26 August-3 September - Celebrity Eclipse
3 September-17 September - Celebrity Eclipse
17 September-21 September - Celebrity Eclipse
28 September -8 October - Celebrity Eclipse
8 October-18 October - Celebrity Eclipse
18 October-28 October - Celebrity Eclipse

I’m looking forward to the World Cruise on Magellan as it will give me a chance to check out a few places I’ve not been before. My intention is to write a travel blog like I did in 2012 and upload some pictures and video footage onto my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/michelemonro every time I’m in a port with an Internet connection.

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This month we look in on the ever popular group The Searchers.

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. If you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!!

Here’s wishing each and every one of you a very happy Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017. Enjoy every minute of the festive season with your loved ones and I’ll see you all again in February.

Warmest to you and yours

Michele
x

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