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From sailing serenely on the Sirena – to a new book about Gin…

I tend not to post blogs saying that I am away from home in case nefarious people in the neighbourhood take it upon themselves to pay my home a visit. So, instead I will recount a splendid recent Trans-Atlantic cruise on board the Oceania’s ship Sirena. It is a lovely ship, with some 550 passengers on board. Mind you, naming a ship “Sirena” after a mythological Filipino creature resembling a particularly vicious mermaid seems a tad unusual! But it was beautifully appointed, the staff were fabulous and the food was excellent.

We were flown to Barcelona ( “we” being my wife and I) where we boarded the ship and sailed off to Malaga, Madeira, Bermuda and on to Miami. It made for a fortnight “living the life on the ocean waves” – and very pleasant it was too! I had to sing for my supper, so as to speak, in the sense that I had to give nine talks on board and obviously while we were in the mid-Atlantic that meant giving a talk every single day. I alternated with a speaker talking about the oceans, about weather patterns and about earthquakes and other natural disasters.

So, I gave the (mostly American) audience talks on the Tea Trade, on the randy Regent (i.e. Royal Shenanigans), on the 18th Century Grand Tour, on the sinking of the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet and on the story behind the Mutiny on the Bounty (“Will the real Captain Bligh please stand up?”). I also managed a talk on life in the Georgian era, based on the diaries of good old Richard Hall – he really has opened up an extraordinary number of doors for me, as of course the Journal of a Georgian Gentleman is still in print. I was going to say “available from all good bookshops” but actually that isn’t strictly speaking true, as it is available …. from me.

I also gave a talk on the Dark History of Gin – coinciding as it does with the publication this week of a book which, strange as it may seem, has exactly the same title! I wrote it for Pen & Sword a couple of years ago and then rather forgot about it. They wanted a book on gin as part of a series on “The Dark History of …” so I did it as part of a lock-down anti-boredom project. It always amazes me how long it then takes to reach the publication stage and then suddenly it is upon me and all hell breaks loose with interviews, guest blogs etc.

Anyway, it is “out there” now, just in time for Christmas.! Cheers!

Courtesy of Jez Timms,on Unsplash

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