Message In A Bottle

A short but true story by my father George Beare.

IRELAND

Graham O’Sullivan, accompanied by his collie dog, was having his weekly walk on Derrynane strand, on the south west coast in County Kerry. As is the habit of such pets that relish their freedom, they wander ahead checking for the recent presence of like-minded, sniffing and staring and following the line of accumulated weed deposited at high tide on the seashore. Amongst the natural maritime debris wrenched from the ocean floor there is always the bottles, the bits of rope, weathered boards, the ubiquitous plastic objects and such stuff, dropped from boats or swept down rivers and forced ashore by the Gulf Stream.

This canine friend has a retrieving instinct and presents his master with the occasional discovery. Today was no exception as he chose a plastic bottle and duly placed it at his master’s feet. It was sealed but clearly visible inside was a typewritten note that roused the natural curiosity of the beachcomber.

 

THE SHIP

On the evening of 16th April 2005, the biggest liner ever built and owned by the Cunard Company slipped her moorings in Southampton docks with over 2000 passengers on board including myself, my wife and my two brothers. The Queen Mary 2 was bound for New York and due in port six days later. Average speed 25 knots on the non-stop voyage. Each night before retiring I took a brief visit to the rail on deck seven and dropped overboard a bottle containing a message. If by some absolute fluke the plastic capsule survived the terrors of the Atlantic Ocean and landed on some distant shore possibly a thousand or more miles away maybe, just maybe I would hear of its arrival. One has a tinge of guilt over littering but I don’t feel like a criminal. Moments later when it must have been well astern I re-entered to join the other happy chattering passengers who were unaware of my escapade on deck. Neither did I receive an unfriendly tap on the shoulder despite the C.C.T.V.

The ship relentlessly ploughed onwards at a steady pace until the captain informed us a passenger was reported missing. A ships officer contacted the missing mans family in Germany and a farewell message was located in his desk. The mighty liner put about and retraced its course in search but to no avail. The old sailor had chosen his final voyage. We then increased speed and docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan precisely on the scheduled arrival time. When our three-day stay in the Big Apple was over having seen many of the renowned sights we returned home by jet-plane and soon after settled into the daily routine of life.

BANDON

16-10-05

Four score and one hundred days later on a Sunday afternoon the phone rang. It was none other than the aforementioned Mr. O’Sullivan, a perfect gentleman, who was ringing to excitedly notify me of his sensational discovery. Though I had not divulged my phone number in the bottle message he none the less felt an immense desire to communicate the good tidings and instantly located the relevant source of rapid contact. We discussed the gratification of travel and I recounted a brief summary of the westbound voyage of QM2. Graham is a Cork man who now resides in Kerry. I know I hoped for this news but one still is amazed and believes it is well worth recording this narrative. The quirks of life and odd nature of humans will always occur and hopefully bring pleasure and wonder!

Thank you Graham and I hope you will continue patrolling and just possibly luck will be repeated. The prospects of locating one must be extremely remote but to find two should merit a monument!?

George Beare

 

I hope you enjoyed this story. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact me.

Elaine.

Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare

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“The Climb Of My Life”

I was making good progress in Toastmasters.  Speech 3 in the CC manual is entitled “Get To The Point”.

Objectives:

  • Select a speech topic and determine its general and specific purpose
  • Organize the speech in a manner that best achieves those purposes.
  • Ensure the beginning, body and conclusion reinforce the purposes.
  • Project sincerity and conviction and control any nervousness you may feel.
  • Strive not to use notes.

I had speech 3 scheduled for 27 July 2012, and preparing it brought back some happy memories of the holiday of a lifetime.  This was a holiday in Hawaii, in January 2001, just over 3 weeks in Oahu, definitely a holiday of a lifetime.  My speech focused on one particular outing, climbing to the top of Diamond Head.  This is the speech I delivered: –

“The Climb Of My Life”

Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and welcome guests.

My speech today in on the importance of never giving up, and the rewards that come from perseverance! 

Towards the end of 1999 I received the news that my job in First Active, a local bank, was coming to an end.  Due to cutbacks across the nation our unit was closing and we were being made redundant.  May 2000 arrived, the office closed and we received our redundancy pay.  You might think this was an occasion to sink me to the depths of despair but rest assured the feeling was easily balanced by the receipt of just over six grand.  It was time to decide what to do with my future and more importantly how to spend this windfall.

So I thought awhile and decided on my course of action.  I would get a job for six months then take a “sun holiday”.  No Benidorm or Santa Ponza for me I stressed.  It had to be the real deal, the once in a lifetime holiday!  I had a friend at the time living in Hawaii who was always inviting me to stay so what better time to take up her offer.  I duly found a job with a six month contract and completed that.  With my ticket booked and paid for, I began the countdown to 5th January 2001. 

Finally the big day came.  I boarded the flight in Cork for the first leg to Heathrow London.  Then it was on to LA.  I dozed on the flight waking up to see a vast expanse of ice and snow below me.  Had the pilot taken a wrong turn? 

Had I boarded the wrong flight?  Was this journey over before it even began?  Relief set in as I checked the route on my monitor and discovered that the plane flew over Greenland, then down through Canada, before landing in LAX.  After a few hours wait I boarded the flight to my final destination, Honolulu, Hawaii.  Just over five hours later I stepped out of the airport to the balmy heat of Hawaii.  This was truly going to be a magical holiday.

My friend collected me from the airport and we drove back to her place, a bungalow overlooking Pearl Harbour.  How great was that!  We chatted about the different sights to visit and I decided that come Tuesday I was going to climb Diamond Head.  This once active volcano had long been extinct and was now a popular tourist attraction. 

Tuesday dawned with clear blue skies as far as one could see.  I hopped on the bus which took me to just outside the base of the volcano, paid my entry fee and began the climb.  The path meandered back and forth climbing upwards.  What began as a stroll enjoying the sun soon became an endurance test.  The sun got hotter reaching midday as I panted and toiled my way slowly step by step.  The mid-way point arrived none too soon and I collapsed gratefully onto a waiting ledge.  Gulping down my water as I gasped for breath, with tears in my eyes and a vice like grip painfully clutching my heart I began to wonder…” would I be the first person to be airlifted off this mountain?”  “Should I give up now, admit defeat and just go home?”  On hindsight, which is a great thing, I should never have started the climb in the middle of the day!!  However, my racing pulse and beating heart gradually returned to normal and I decided to continue.  Cancel the chopper; I am not quitting now!

I set off again with purpose in my stride.  Passing people on their way down who had saluted me on the upward journey I strode on relentlessly.  I was going to complete this epic journey!  And so, after climbing almost a mile of an uneven rocky path, then 271 steps through tunnels and a dark spiral staircase and finally crawling through unlit bunkers, I finally reached my goal.  Through the agony came the sweet ecstasy.  I had succeeded!  I had reached the summit, and felt as if I had climbed Mount Everest!  The relief, the sweat and tears were all worth it, as there before me was a vista worthy of any postcard.  I gazed in rapture at the scene presented to me.  360 degrees of splendour laid out in all its glory; from Waikiki Beach with the Pink Hotel and its more modern neighbours on up the coast past Pearl Harbour in one direction, the extinct base of this once mighty volcano in another and the sparkling aquamarine sea stretching off endlessly in the distance. 

The descent was like treading on clouds, wings seemed to carry me weightless down the trail.  I was jubilant, buoyed by exhilaration, knowing I had conquered this mountain.  So in conclusion friends I can confidently say, I did not quit.  I did not surrender or take the easy way out.  I doggedly endured and can without hesitation say that this success was indeed “the climb of my life”.

Well, I hope you enjoyed speech 3.  I am looking forward to sharing more speeches with you. If you have any questions about my speeches or Toastmasters please feel free to reach out to me at any stage.

When In Rome

Roma, bella Roma. I have been lucky enough to have visited Rome, Italy, five times…so far! There are the usual sights to see, the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Colosseum, the Vatican, St. Peters – the list is endless. However, I also have my favourite haunts I return to time after time, and would like to share some of these with you.

If you are in the mood for a steak then I recommend the Trattoria / Ristorante della Torre on Largo di Torre Argentina. A perfect accompaniment to the steak is the rosemary potatoes and of course a good wine. The restaurant is located just off the Corso Vittoria Emanuele II, across from the square that hosts four Republican Roman temples, and the remains of Pompey’s Theatre. By the way you will more likely than not also see a lot of cats around these ruins.

I have two favourite shops I like to visit in Rome and always end up buying new items.  The first shop is the Trevi Gallary on Via delle Muratte, literally two minutes from the Trevi Fountain. You can purchase some exquisite pieces of Murano Glass here, which are carefully packed for you. The only difficulty is knowing when to stop! My collection grows with every visit I make. The second shop brings out a similar shopping impulse in me. It is named La La, somewhat appropriate as you will go lala for the beautiful jewellery at amazingly low prices.  La La is located on Via del Gambero 22, just off Via del Corso.

I found that the Via del Corso is one of the best streets for shopping, however don’t be afraid to browse through any stalls that you come across – you can find some great bargains there.  If you are up early enough on a Sunday morning head to the Porta Portese, a famous flea market and well worth a visit for the huge range of items on sale.

Another food you have to try in Rome is gelato, especially strawberry flavour.  There is a small gelaterie just up from the Spanish Steps who serve the gelato made with real strawberries – absolutely scrumptious. Another dish to try is Tirimisu, heavenly tasting and very filling. And of course when in Rome try the wine – Pinot Grigio is made in Italy and is quite delicious with a meal.

There are many beautiful fountains around Rome; one area in particular to visit is the Piazza Navona. If you have the time also visit the Villa Borghese.  It is free to stroll around the gardens and a very peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Rome.

Happy shopping and touring and buon appetito.

Ciao for now,

Elaine