Titanic book- Review of the Girl who came home

Whilst going round the titanic museum, in Belfast I was thinking it could be interesting to read a fictional Titanic book. In the Belfast museum and in Southampton and Cobh experience where I had been on preceding days I had heard many interesting true stories of people who by a twist a fate, either ended up being on the boat or off the boat. In the Cobh experience it also talked about the real people the fabrication of Jack and Rose’s story from Titanic film was based upon. Therefore I thought the event offered potential for creating fictional stories. Then in the gift shop there was a few options to choose from. I narrowed it down to 2 – can not remember what the other one was. The one I bought was The girl who came home by Hazel Gayner. The story was based, on the real story of an Irish village that had 14 people on the Titanic. The story centres on one of the survivors, who had been reluctantly travelling to US to live following Mother’s death. She was reluctant as it meant leaving behind her lover therefore she left hoping to return when she could. The way the story is told it, seems as following her rescue she ended up in the US and therefore it is alluded that she married American, therefore left guessing about her former lover. Do they ever get to reunite? My lips are sealed – but there is a fantastic twist at the end!
I read this book during cruise after just after leaving Ireland; therefore the setting added to the experience of the book particularly as I did go on the ship’s lifeboats as they were used at certain ports to shuttle passengers to the shore for excursions. Regardless off ideal setting I read it in snd having time to devour, I think this was a stellar book. If this is typical of Titanic books; I want to read another one!
Can anyone recommend similar books to read?



What want to do

Titanic museum

Belfast other attractions

Would I go back?

What want to do

The main thing we wanted to do in Belfast was Titanic museum.


Upon disembarking from cruise ship we were told could walk to Titanic Museum 50minutes. To get to the museum walked through centre therefore coming back from centre for embarking later in day was even quicker. Therefore pleased walked rather than taking shuttle bus cruise offers for 16euros.

The Titanic Museum did not disappoint, there were three / four floors of exhibits taking you right through the story including film of when the Titanic wreck was found at the bottom of the ocean.

Belfast other attractions

Walked around cathedral quarter where there was a photo exhibition and some street art. Stumbled upon a community project aiming to improve Belfast. Took part in survey about Belfast where used strand of wool to weave around answers to questions on wall.

Also upon my boyfriend’s request visted both Belfast university; the second was archtichecwlly impressive but a long trek to get to. I deserved my hop house 13 refreshment at Robinson pub.

Would I go back?

Possibly city had pleasant feel, but seen parts wanted to see.

Cost of cruising


Is it expensive?

What was included



Travel between destinations

What was not included


Is it expensive?

Basic price: less £900 – £1000 for 12 days, for cabin without windows exact price depends upon how big cabin is. I think this is a good price considering includes accommodation, food and transport between destinations, read on for my breakdown of how I have reached the conclusion that the cost is reasonable.

What is included

  • Accommodation

I think that £500 per week was fairly reasonable just considering accommodation. Considering night before sailed, stayed in Southampton Ibis budget for £90 so 6 nights at that would be more and cabin had much more of a wow factor.

Of course if you have self catering accommodation or Airbnb you may get accommodation costs down to maybe £200 – £300 for a week. But to get down further than that maybe a hostel; but even that would probably be £100 for a week? Then cheaper than that would be camping. It depends what is important to you. For me, I want some comfort and I’m lucky to be able to pay for some. The level of comfort want is a bed not a camping mat and at that at least a double, even if sleeping alone as I have a king sized bed at home so on holiday want bed space too. Also a cruise is not basic accommodation because it includes gym, swimming pools and hot tubs which would all put accommodation costs up.

  • Food

Then even if got accommodation for £200 there would still be food. On cruise could have three meals a day included plus snacks like hot dogs, ice cream, cakes, sandwiches, popcorn at movie under stars and order for free from room service cookies, a few hot meals. Again if completely self catering could get costs right down but, if eating out then for a week that is easily a couple of hundred pounds. Plus this was not basic food it was high quality.

  • Travel between destinations

To get from Southampton to Guernsey would have to fly.

If were going to Ireland would fly. If went Ryanair and got good deal, may get for less £100 return.

To go up to Scotland from Sheffield where live. If booked months in advance may be lucky to get for £30 each way up to Glasgow or Edinburgh, so £60 return. Then to get further north in Scotland to Invergorden. To get to Orkney would be train, then train then ferry. So much more, expensive and more hassle carting luggage.

For Paris would mean a train from Sheffield to London for £60 return if booked weeks in advance and got a good deal. Or maybe less if slummed it on bus to London, which takes longer so I’m unlikely to do both ways. Then connect with Eurostar; sometimes £29 each way fares advertised but more likely to be £70-£90 each way.

What was not included.

At end pay tip for each day which for us was €14.50 per day. Apparently you can say that you want to hand tips out yourself. However you probably then would only pay those had direct contact with, whereas I’m sure there are many behind scenes that work equally hard. For example I saw in early morning how throughly decks cleaned. I think the thing is to be aware of top charge when booking and know going to pay. In end the tips added £150 each to cost therefore still think as above £1050 for 12 days was reasonable.

If any transport needed on shore. The cruise has a choice of excursions for everyday but cost for them seemed to be premium. We did bond of the excursions and instead either walked, used public transport for less or cruise shuttles for less than £20 per port day. One day in Cobh chose to pay for railtours tour that offered in port, which was half the probe of the excursions offered by cruise. See individual posts for each port as to transport we used each day.

You do have to be careful when looking at cruise itinerary for the detail of which port is actually used for each place. The only example on our cruise which was not possible independently was Paris. On the cruise’s itinerary it says Paris but accurate only included is to take you to Le Havve which is 3 hour drive from Paris. Realistically on the cruise, have to pay for their excursion to Paris which is over $299 usd because if tried to make own way and did not get back in time, would miss ship. We chose not to go to Paris just based on for 6 hours on bus you would only get a few hours in Paris. If I actually wanted to go to Paris would be easy to take Eurostar.


These were expensive on board!

$6-10 for cocktail

$6 for 330mml bottle of beer

Minimum $32 dollars for bottle of wine

$2 dollars for 2 litre bottle of water

However can drink tap water. When go to the dinning rooms they immediately fill glass with water and are very efficient at constantly topping water up. We mainly drank tap water with meals then had a beer or two after dinner. Apart from on 2nd night I learnt of a promotion where hit a baileys and a coloured glass to keep for $3 dollars so I did that 4times. Think over here baileys in bars would cost similar and the glasses were useful on board for keeping jewellery and have got to add to my collection at home displayed on dinning room dresser.


WiFi not free and in some places if have data roaming turned off can not use own data and when out at sea then sometimes no phone signal at all. To get to ship WiFi was $9.99 everyday which I think is extortion.


In room had shampoo, shower gel and body lotion.

When got to cruise terminal where departed from there, were a selection of magazines to choose from for free and I Weekend newspaper. We had already bought I Day before but I picked up home and garden as thought I could read and take home for my Mum who loves house magazines, Marie Claire and Times travel magazine.

On first day given free tote bag.

Chocolate on pillows each evening.

Gym, swim and hot tubs, which would otherwise push accommodation cost up or would need to pay extra for such activities.

Art to look at so that is free activity to while away time, if you enjoy that. Of course lots of art galleries around world are also free. Also art auction on two sea days; I went to one which was fun.

Going to art auction preview earned us free art print each. Going to art auction and staying to to end gained me free art print; just one as went on own and as given in envelope, did not realise it was one of ones already had.

Various entertainment during day. I did afternoon quiz a few times and part of a Zumba sessions. There was also meet ups for singles, LGBT 🏳️‍🌈 meet ups. Actuvues like board game sessions, throwing bean bags, ping pong 🏓 and others.

Library on board if don’t bring own books or run out. Each day I. Library was free sudoku and one other activity sheet of something like quiz or word search.

On first day when exploring stumbled across spa and got a tour. Sure tour was mainly about trying to encourage you to buy treatments. But, did get to lay on heated bed in steam room for minute or two – should have tried to draw out by chatting to guide more lie there. Then at end got shoulder massaged for few minutes including partially with a hot stone. Again massage was mainly opportunity to try and sell to you. The treatments were mainly over $100 dollars. $39 dollars for a blow dry.

I got a voucher in room for $50 dollars to use on a treatment. Not sure why think they send if had an anniversary not sure if got it because someone saw my 6month anniversary note to my boyfriend in cabin. So definitely if celebrating on board worth advertising that. They probably hope you put the voucher towards a treatment. However, I found a hair treatment for $49. They put on some keratin conditioners to moisturise hair which cost $49. It did make a difference to hair for few days. My hair was first washed, so did have experience of being in hairdressers. After my hair was dried a bit but full blow dry would have cost €39. Also even though treatment fee had to buy service cost on full value so they was about $7 so thought that was reasonable for what I had.

I also won a $50 spa voucher at art auction which I was very excited about, until went to book something and found only on signature services and they were all over $100 dollar apart from men’s shave and head massage which boyfriend refused to do. Ended up leaving voucher in cabin at end.

Got two free necklace. One got for attending a shopping event on first sea day and given voucher at end for necklace. They try to upsell you a more expensive necklace and earring set but I genuinely did like the version with smaller stone better. It is silver chain and could either choose blue or purple stone. On last day got a voucher delivered to cabin for a necklace. Could choose an anchor or ship wheel; I went for anchor and wire it for over week after cruise as a momento. Again could upgrade to expensive version at a cost,



What I wanted to do in Dublin

Transport into Dublin

What I did in Dublin

Would I go back to Dublin?

What I wanted to do in Dublin

Did not have specific plans. Thought maybe Guinness brewery tour although thought it may be expensive.

Transport into Dublin

As taxi into Centre of Dublin was 20euros and only two of us, opted to pay cruise company for shuttle bus which was 16euro return each.

What I did in Dublin

Another sunny day which spent dipping in and out of places.

Brief visit to Natural history museum (free) Interesting to see some of the skeletons for example elephant without trunk as no bone in that and polar bear looked so skinny. But felt bit macabre to stay long.

National gallery for bit of art (free). Some of the galleries were closed due to change over of exhibitions. What we saw was generally not my preferred type of art; classical, dark, paintings in gold frames. Best was landscapes by Nathanial Hone collection.

Picnic lunch in grounds of Trinity college. Followed by look at some art there (free). When told upon entry, not to touch the artwork, I felt patronised but, then whilst looking to work out, how a pair of denim shorts had been made hard (I think painted inside with plaster of Paris, I placed my hand on the bar they were on. The bar was like what you may chain bicycles to, but I did realise suddenly it may part of the piece. Sure enough, the lady who had let us in came down to tell me off.

Went in Seamus Heaney exhibition (free) as I remembered studying him at school. Sure enough, his poem Digging which is the one, I remember most was the first poem seen. I particularly liked the display for rain stick as they had a rainstick next to it which, could tip as read poem (See instragram Wonderwall360 for a picture). At the end fittingly there was reference to the last text that Heaney had sent his wife ‘Don’t be afraid. As someone had painted, this on side of a wall in Dublin then this had been recreated in exhibition; there was a blackboard with Don’t be afraid in big illuminated letters. As you could write on the walk, I decided to add some Oasis lyrics:

Under Don’t I wrote ‘Look Back in anger’.

Next to Be I wrote ‘Here Now’

Under Afraid to go after the whole Starement ‘Don’t be afraid’ …. ‘If the morning when it Dawns’ Then I signed it Wonderwall360 (See instragram for pictures).

My boyfriend insisted on taking me to the General post office, but he did not real explain it’s significance in Irish rebellion properly he just kept saying ‘last stand’ occurred there and I did not really understand what meant. We went in building but, it was £14 Euros to see the exhibition to find out more; I declined his offer to pay. I’m glad he saved his money for the ice cream he bought me later at Ginos. Apparently Ginos freshly churn it, each day. I had creme brûlée and lemoncello sorbet in a tub with meringue topping.

Would I go back to Dublin?

There was nothing wrong with Dublin but do not feel in a rush to return. That may just be because, previous day in Cobh was so thrilling. If went back would consider Guinness brewery tour as closest got was drinking a Hop House 13 larger in Dublin which is brewed in the Guinness brewery. I would also consider looking in the General post office.

What happened that Night book review

I picked this book, up from a charity shop and decided, I would take it on my British Isle cruise as the blurb mentioned Dublin, which was one of the port’s we were to visit. It turned out to be very apt; not just for the Dublin angle but, also because it centred around jewalary. Each chapter of the book, has one sentence in italics about fine jewallary or previous stones. Jewallaey is apt to read and think about on holiday. I have jewellery, I have bought on holiday or been given from other people’s holidays (some of which I was wearing on the cruise; including the red earrings I bought in Cobh (€5 made by local lady). I visted the onboard jewellery shop and even tried on a yellow solitarie diamond; alas at 20thousand dollars it was slightly out of my price range. It was exhilarating to try on and helped to understand the characters in the book who were selling and buying such jewellery that the complex and satisfying plot centred around.

*WARNING some minor plot points revealed* but many of complex plot layers not mentioned.

The prologue of the book was set in what was termed ‘now’ and ended with a character being plunged into darkness. The first chapter was then set in what was termed ‘then’, which was in eighties Dublin. Lola in her early 20s meets a man she likes, called Philip who’s family owned a jewellery brand. Lola is surprised, by what she saw as a pre mature proposal, which takes place in Phillip’s jewellery shop. She says no which prompts him to react badly. Consequently when she discover’s she is pregnant, she does not tell him about the baby. The book, takes through life of baby Bey, with several plot layers into Bey’s adulthood. I enjoyed reading it all, towards the end when reached the now, I was eager to find out ‘what happened that night’.

Ending Discuussion *Major SPOILER ALERT *

When I got to the end, I was a little confused, that there was not a reveal of what happened when lights went out, so it felt anti climatic. Then I realised that, was the bit where her Father’s put his hand on her shoulder. Basically, what happened when the lights went out, was not as dramatic as I had anticipated. The ending / prologue creating suspense and in a way it is clever that the suspense was not delivered upon. Plus get what looks to be a happy ending.

The other major drama, is Bey’s abduction however that is tempered by knowing from the prologue that Bey survives. I’m not sure whether news of her abductors death was a red herring or just because the author wanted a satisfactory conclusion to that story. Although I did wonder with him dying a month after her abduction whether, Richard killed him. I know given Bey did not reveal much, about attack it is unlikely. However, it was Christmas Day so, there can not have been many cars on the road… if Richard with power or money had somehow identified man from his car being out that night…I continued wondering about this in the days after completing; the sign of a good book!



What I wanted to do


What I did

What I would go back to do

What I wanted to do

Going to Geurnsey, I liked the idea of seeing where the Geurnsey potato pie book was set (the film was filmed in Cornwall). In the cruise excursion guide there was mention of a museum giving a glimpse into the occupation and Little Chapel.

I wanted to have ice cream 🍦 made Geurnsey cow 🐮 milk 🥛.

Coming into Geurnsey, I rembered about lighthouses and thought it would be nice to see lighthouses.


Our cruise ship anchored off the coast, we were then trabsferred to St Peter’s port on smaller boats. Arriving in St Peter’s port the main attractions listed on the excursion list seemed to be within 20-30min walk of the port. One that was not was Little Chapel, apparently you can get a number 71 bus there and it takes about 20minutes.

What I did

Military museum

I did not identify the correct museum to go to. We went to the military museum. It was a little haphazardly organised. Lots of military medals, which I did not feel like had to look at in detail. In between there was just odd nugget about occupation; letters, Nazi currrncy and stamps for example. Felt like expensive museum for £7. There was about as much information in gift shop as in museum itself. In gift shops were books including one by Molly who had been a child on island at time of occupation and I got to say hello to her in the shop.

Cxxx Gardens

Saw a plaque to say, Beatles had played there.

Museum was £7 euros so opted, not to pay for another museum.

The lower gardens was very pretty.

Victorian Shop

Went to it, but closed. Not amazing from outside.

Ice Cream 🍦 🐮 / castle

It was surprisingly hard to find Geurnsey ice cream on Geurnsey. Finally found it walking down promenade to castle in last hour. With consequence ice cream delayed getting to castle so only got to see from a distance.

What I would go back to do

* Spoiler alert I would go back*

If went back would like to:

    See Little Chapel sewing it from outside looks pretty and colourful.
  • Go to islands of Sark and
  • Go in occupation museum.
  • See a lighthouse

Circumnavigating British Isles

I have been on a Princess cruise, starting at Southampton going anti clockwise round the British Isle stopping at South and North Ireland then up to Scotland, down to France back to Southampton. I will therefore be sharing experiences of cruising and places visited on here and pictures on Instagram Wonderwall360; over the next couple of weeks.

Places Visited


Southern Ireland

Cobh near Cork and Blarney Stone


Northern Ireland



Greenock (port for Glasgow)

Orkney isles

Invegordon in Highlands


Le Harve

Amsterdam tips

  • To get into city from airport best to get train to Centraal tram stop then tram lines are right outside station.
  • If it is dry easy to walk round city and it is a great city for wandering. Many attractions are within 20 – 30 minutes from Centraal station. The other cluster is around Rijksmuseum. There is Van Gogh Museum, Diamond museum, Heneiken experience, Hard Rock Cafe within 5 minutes from Rijksmuseum and Albert Cuyp market  within 10min from Rijksmuseum. It takes about an hour or so to walk fromCentraal St to Rijksmuseum and on a dry day,  it is pleasant walking so you do not necessarily need to be constantly hopping and off trams. When I was there March 2016 it cost 2 Euros to travel on trams for the next hour of 7.50 Euros for 24hours both could be bought on the tram. When you get the ticket you need to validate it by putting in machine on tram to get time stsmped on. On the tram displays show what the next stops are.
  • The other option for getting around is hop and hop off tours. I do not see why would need more than 24hours. I did full canal circuit in an afternoon for 2 hours. Then after a hot chocolate break another journey of about 20minutes on boat. Then half boat circuit. Then next day rest of bus circuit with another couple of hours to do more if had, of wanted.
  • For chance to see herons within city, search for fish stall on Albert Cuyp museum. About 6 in evening when fish that were being thrown away was put out there was about 4 herons there.
  • Definitely buy Anne Frank tickets in advance, after 3pm in the afternoon you can buy on the door but I saw queue at 3pm and think you would have been there hours and presumably if really busy you would not get in.
  • For end of days recommend Heineken brewery tour which culminates in drinks on roof terrace. Or drinks in bar T Lookout tower there is a ticket that includes admission to Heineken tour and Lookout tour and canal shuttle between two. There is also Ice bar which, I did not try.

Diamonds, herons and swinging.

Amsterdam Highlights

Sign spotted on the street near Albert Coup market.

Nearby around about the fish stall.  of Albert Coup, herons can be spotted on the street.

As for sex, I visited the red light district museum for an insight into the area.

I managed to try on various diamond rings as part of a tour of the Gassen diamond factory. An exelirating experince to be up close with thousands of euros worth of diamonds.

Also saw some filming, although do not know what of.

I covevered the usual sites of canals, tulips at flower market which was smaller than expected, canal bridges with bikes lent against and the one windmill in Amsterdam. I saw three of the I Amsterdam signs and a sparkly I Amsterdam bench.

Bookcase to where Anne Frank hid

I sampled the cheese in shops and  visted the Heineken experience. In fact the Heineken experince was several experiences in one; a lesson in how to drink Heineken, shooting a rugby goal on virtual screen, practice pouring a pint and culminating with Heineken on their roof top terrace.

Finally the swinging; one of the newest Amsterdam attractions called the lookout. A lift complete with light show takes you to the inside deck which is floor to ceiling glass. There are comfy seats to sit and admire the view, and a bar. Unfortunately although bar sells tea and coffee, it does not sell hot chocolate.

Up a flight of stairs takes you to the sky deck. Then there are swings which are Europes highest.