And that was pretty much your world for three days. It sounds a bit claustrophobic but in fact I was able to settle in to the lifestyle relatively quickly. You learnt to slow down and not try to do everything at once. It was best when the sun was out and the wind not so strong as you could settle up on the sun deck for several hours, grabbing the odd club soda from the upstairs bar. I sat in the sun lounge occasionally, mainly for lunches, but there was a tendency amongst the saints that they would settle themselves up there early in the day and pretty much stay till dinner time. They would use the time to chat; when I got to know some of them I might stop by for a few minutes and catch up, but they are such a tight knit community that there were stories and inferences that they would discuss that had no meaning to me. The older ones would reminisce at length, and you could see the younger family members would sit alongside and pitch in from time to time. They were basically in training to become long tale tellers themselves when the older generation passed on. There was a lot of card games and dominoes up here; it was like a working men’s club. If all the activity got too much I would head on down to the main lounge. This was often quieter. But I saw people who also wanted to escape the sun lounge chit chat and sometimes would spend an hour or two playing board games from the extensive collection in one of the built in cupboards. I remember a four hour game of Monopoly that whiled away a long afternoon.
At lunch time I would wonder whether I should head down to the formal dining room and take another three courses. More often than not I would go up to the Sun Lounge and just partake in the buffet salad. In theory this was more healthy but the number of options available meant that you still came out with a stacked plate. I’d either take it in the lounge or if the weather was nice enough, go through the little assault course of heading out through one of the heavy doors and passed the swimming pool to the sun deck, all while protecting a plate of salad from being blown away and not spilling your fruit juice… or losing your hat.