Notes from Puzzle Palace

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Honfleur (again) and London

17 June
Sea Day

Usually sea days are quiet affairs.  Today was anything but.  First we had a ladies lunch at noon, then I had a massage, followed by a few games with George and then dinner in Polo.

Not much to write about though.  Just another, albeit busy, sea day. 

18 June

Honfleur, France

We opted to take a wander around the town.  Today we went to a wonderful little museum for the musician Erik Satie.  He was one of George’s favorite composers so off we went.  Inside we were given a headphone and  recorder and told to enter when the light turned green.  

When you first walk in, the metronome starts ticking away.  As you walk around the rooms and land in different places, the music changes.  At some points you can listen to recordings of his memories or conversations between people about him.  

In one room there was a player piano which played 4 different pieces.  We sat down for a while and listened.  I only remember Piccadilly. The other 3 were pieces I hadn’t heard before. As we went downstairs, we saw one last room which had the funniest machine inside.  It was a carousel type thing that had seats and bicycle peddles on it. As you peddle around the track, the central umbrella opens up with a number of instruments inside.  One was an accordion that opened not to bellows, but the pages of a book.  Another was a harp with barbed wire for strings.  I loved this place and would say it is well worth the 3 Euro entry fee.  

From here we walked down the street to see the local Saturday market.  There was a stall with some amazing looking olives and of course I couldn’t pass those up.  As we walked on, we saw one puzzle stand, but either we had everything he was selling, or there just wasn’t anything for us.  The majority of the stalls were clothes or jewelry.  We got a great kick out of the outdoor stand selling mattresses on an installment plan.  

We decided we’d had enough and went for lunch.  I had a marvelous foie gras and George had a delicious looking seafood salad.  After lunch we headed back to the ship for an afternoon nap and a late dinner.

19 June

Tilbury, UK

This has got to be the worst port we have been in yet.  The river stinks and is just filthy.  We are docked an hour from central London so unless you are on a tour, willing to take a taxi, or daring enough to take the train into town, you are stuck in the boonies.  Our puzzle friends, Steve and Ali who came to pick us up at the ship, said they had never been out this way before.  They were surprised we weren’t docked somewhere else, but I guess this goes back to our ship having to beg for ports.  Probably the same reason we are here before Amsterdam, then going back but not getting in until noon.  Take what you can get. 

Thankfully we have friends here who were kind enough to drive here to pick us up. When Steve and Ali arrived, it was hugs all around and we hopped into the truck and took off for Camden Lock.  When we got there, the first thing we did was take a walk to a castle!  Ok.  It was baby castle, but a castle all the same.  And thus started two days filled with non-stop laughter and much puzzling.

We dropped our bags at the hotel (right across the road from the locks) and headed over to Village Games to purchase a few puzzles.  Village Games was started sometime in the 80’s and has been in the same corner shop all of those years.  It was a Mecca for puzzlers worldwide.  I have been privileged enough to be able to come once before. Well today I had the great pleasure of being here on it’s final day of business.  It’s the end of an era folks.  Of course we combed through the puzzles and books that the owner had in the store and walked away with a copy of everything we didn’t already have. 

I picked out two puzzle rings and put them on my fingers so I wouldn’t forget to take them with me.  I didn’t forget, I walked out of the shop!  Don’t worry folks, I’m not a thief.  When I realized I hadn’t paid for them, I ran right back to pay.  Bless her, Barbara wouldn’t take payment from me.  What a lovely lady. It will be a shame to go into London now and not be able to return to this wonderful shop. 

From here we went upstairs to a pub to have a few pints and some fish and chips.  But before the food came, Steve brought Franz and I over to a Japanese shop that sells secret opening boxes.  They have many in stock but since I really don’t know what we have at home, I passed on making any purchases at this time.  Steve commented that it is now the largest puzzle selling place in London.  

We were joined by a few local London puzzlers and our friends Dick Hess from the states and Franz de Vreugd from the Netherlands. I managed to finally play with and solve a puzzle I missed when it came out so that was a treat. 

Big Steve also handed me an Osanori puzzle that I had dismissed because it looked cheap to me. I tried for a very long time and was unable to solve it.  I’ve decided to purchase a few of these now for the museum.  After an hour or so, the music inside was just too loud for us old folk so we all retired to the lobby of the Holiday Inn next door.  We sat around drank a few more pints, and puzzled for a few more hours until people had to peel off and head home. 

Ali, Steve, George and I went to a Brazilian restaurant for some dinner and a few more drinks.  All in all it was a very nice evening.  When we got back to the hotel, George and I went up to bed.  Although I could have spent a few more hours with the guys drinking and laughing, I did promise George I would always go to bed with him.  

To be honest, I was so tired I fell asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

20 June

London, England

We got up at around 6:30 to a bed that was moving. No, I didn’t have a hangover, it’s just that we’ve been on the ship for so long, we could still feel the movement. I finally submitted the applications to get into Canada and we were both able to get on the internet at the same time!  This was a real treat for us.  

We met the guys for breakfast at 9 and by 10 we were heading out to visit with another friend Peter Hajek.  His lovely wife went out and got cake and coffee for us while we sat around chatting and looking at puzzles.  Wow!  This is a real treat for us.  We don’t often get to see other people's collections and when we do it’s like being able to build up a shopping list you didn’t know you would want. 

After we told Peter the story of our recent residential purchase, we were given a number of puzzles to look at for ideas.  We then went up to his puzzle room!  WOW! This is a great room.  I simply loved his display cases.  They are around chest high and go up to the ceiling.  They also are only one puzzle deep so there is no clutter.  I’d love to show photos, but I promised Peter I would not.  Suffice it to say, it was very impressive.  

We saw a ladder/chair that I absolutely loved. I need to find some of these for the museum.

After an hour or so of puzzling, we broke for lunch.  Fish and Chips!  What huge portions they have here.  I’m glad I said George and I would share. I couldn’t even finish 1/3 of a portion.  Sadly all aboard was at 4 pm so we had to leave to make sure we would get to the ship on time.  

We took the highway from London to Tilbury at a rather slow pace.  There is to be a train strike beginning tomorrow so many people were getting out of town.  At least that’s what the guys thought.  We got close to the docks and made a quick stop for me to get some milk and a few Bounty bars for George.  I leave you here with a few sights that interested me over these 2 days.

When we arrived at the terminal, we all gave hugs again and had one last laugh when Big Steve grabbed my ass before waving goodbye and heading to the ship.  

This evening we had dinner with a lovely group to celebrate a birthday.  We have all become friends through sharing tables at dinner and were able to get the captains table for the 10 of us.  Margret and Kevin brought some brandy snaps to share as none of us had tasted them before and the chef made some cream stuffing for them and did it right there at the table.  I brought a bottle of Benedictine and all had a toast with the cake that came for the birthday boy.  

All in all, I’d say our stop in London was a roaring success.  Until next time, Happy Puzzling and Smooth Sailing.


  1. I was the one who stopped you and George in Porto to say how much I’ve enjoyed your pictures and blog. It’s been fun to partake, and even more so since we’ve caught Covid on board and have been in quarantine since last Saturday. I eagerly await each of your posts to see what we have missed. Thank you again.