Saturday, 24 April 2010

More Bugs, Ships and St George

And a bit of a worrying day yesterday as one of my daughters in law caught the sickness bug and we thought she might go into early labour. I can’t imagine much worse than having a sickness bug whilst heavily pregnant, poor girl.

It gave me a bit of a kick up the backside though – I realised I need to have my bag packed ready for when she does go into labour. They’re a two hour drive away – that’s if we’re lucky and the M25 isn’t doing its impression of a car park.

I watched the second debate. Enough said.

The Coffin Dancer was brilliant – finished it last night so maybe now I can get some sleep. I was wondering what to read next and think I may have to do some catching up with the magazines that are stuffed into my bucket.

Would you like to see my bucket?

Pretty isn’t it. It's very heavy and the rings are made of brass. It was salvaged from the Kronprins Frederik, a Danish ship that caught fire whilst moored at Parkeston Quay in April 1953. She subsequently capsized.

She was written off by the insurers, but the owners DFDS (now known as Scandinavian Seaways) refused to give up on her and they bought her back from the insurer, salvaged her and she was towed to Helsingor, restored and put back into operation just over a year later.

After the fire in 1953 she continued to serve on the north sea routes and for a while up to Iceland and the Faroe Islands before being put up for sale in the 1970s.

She was bought by the Arab Navigation Company in 1974 and renamed MV Patra. Shipping companies rename ships all the time. It is quite common practice, but it is a superstition among sailors that it is unlucky to rename a ship unless you leave the original name somewhere about the ship’s person.

In December 1974, the Patra set off from Jeddah with almost 500 passengers and crew aboard. Many were pilgrims returning from Mecca or Medina, some were Egyptian workers returning home.

A fire broke out in the engine room followed by a series of explosions. The order was given to jump overboard and the crew had to chase some of the passengers with axes to force them to leave their belongings behind.

It must have been awful. The Patra sank, still in flames, a few hours later. 102 lives were lost.

You wonder how many of the ships out there have interesting pasts and previous identities and where are some of the old ones now? Are they still going or have they ended up being broken up on a distant beach.

For those of you viewing in black and white, the ship was grey and white and the funnel red and black. Today the colours are white and blue.

And if you remember 1980s shipboard soap Triangle (who could ever forget poor Kate O’Mara shivering – er I mean sunbathing topless on the chilly deck) – that was filmed originally on a Tor Line ship, but Tor Line was taken over by DFDS and the ship became part of the DFDS fleet.

I was just going to show you my bucket and I went off on a bit of a tangent there didn’t I?

I saw a St George’s Day parade – it consisted of a Scottish band in full regalia with bagpipes – they did look and sound rather magnificent I have to say, but . . . Hm.

In other news I have a My Weekly pocket novel out now “The Call of Home”.

Warming up isn’t it? I did eleven thousand steps on Friday according to my pedometer – must have been all that pacing up and down worrying about early babies! It did include a walk up a very steep hill – yes we do have one in Essex. I tell you if it was any steeper you’d need crampons and pulleys.

If you’re still here, I hope you have a happy weekend.


  1. I hope your DIL is OK, I like your bucket, and round these regions DFDS is still known as DFDS. We often see one of their buses ferrying (so to speak) people from Newcastle centre to the ferry port in North Shields.

  2. I love your bucket and the story behind it. I also have a pile of magazines waiting to be read - they are in a stack by my bed which regularly gets kicked over by the cats.

  3. Thanks B, it's my son suffering now! Same here - DFDS is still DFDS! The Frederik ran from Newcastle to Esbjerg in 65/66.

    I'm about to move my mags from bucket to bedside, Helen!

  4. I love your bucket. My pile of magazines is in a basket way too small for the task. If I ever mange to empty it, my plump cat squeezes in there instead and has to be dug out.

    I hope the sickness bugs vanish soon.

  5. Nice bucket!

    My neighbour was telling me the other week that a ship was wrecked at Melvich in the 1800s and the villagers formed a company to salvage it. It turned out that the vessel had been built from the remains of one of Nelson's fleet and there are still houses in Melvich with enormously thick lintel beams, salvaged from the ship, which once sailed with Nelson.

  6. Thank you, Joanna - it's amazing the tiny places cats like to squish themselves into isn't it - unless it's a carrying box of course!

    That's very interesting Caroline. I used to have a boss who lived in an old farmhouse and he said some of his beams were from an old ship. Fascinating. If only they could talk.

  7. It's a lovely bucket, and so interesting that you also know its history. Hope all goes well with the new baby. x

  8. I love your bucket! I think I need something similiar for my magazines.

    Hope the sickness bug goes soon - nasty thing infecting a heavily pregnant woman. How very dare it. I hope she's feeling better today.

    Julie xx

  9. Thanks Joanne :-)

    My thoughts exactly Julie - how very dare it!

    Thank you, Ee Leen.

  10. I love the bucket, too! All mine go in one of those hessian shoppers from Tesco. Not quite so much style, so to speak!

  11. Great bucket - and a very neat tbr pile of magazines.

    Hope your DIL and son recover soon.


  12. PS can't wait to read your MW pocket novel.


  13. That's a good idea, hydra - the hessian shopper! I've had the traditional types of magazine racks and they're never big enough, but one of those bags would be excellent.

    Thank you Suzanne - the bucket isn't normally as tidy as that, but I'd just hoovered it out and sorted the magazines :-)

  14. Teresa, I have so many magazines and books waiting tobe read stacked byt my bedside I am thinking of letting them have the bed and me squatting down there. Marian H

  15. I'm glad the pedometer I forced you to get is getting lots of use. :o)

  16. Don't give up your bed, Marian!

    I wear it every day, Diane and often push myself to walk a bit further than I normally would just to rack up a few more steps. Thank you!

  17. My family lived in Parkeston(mother) and Harwich/Dovercourt(Father). My father was a sailor on the Harwich to Hook run during the 1950's. I heard of this tragic event many times, as I was a Dovercourt lass.

  18. Small world, Glynis! My dad was Harwich to Zebrugge. They still run ferries to the Hook from here.