After a brief resumé of the history of that most illustrious company, Gillian goes on to describe what life on board was like in the 1960s and 1970s. so very different to what it is now. In those days the ship’s company provided most of the entertainment, in addition to their normal duties. Versatility was the key word, and her love of dancing, in particular, proved invaluable as she demonstrated her skills at the Can-Can, the Charleston, and Hawaiian dancing.
On a more serious note, Gillian was fascinated by the technical side of sailing, and gained her Certificate of Efficiency as a Lifeboatman, as well as her Steering Certificate, recounting these challenges by way of amusing anecdotes.
At the end of this section, she takes her readers on a tour of the more exotic and fascinating ports of call that she visited, again beautifully illustrated by her photographs, with snippets of interesting information added for good measure.
Gillian then goes on to relate her compelling, and at times traumatic, experiences as a member of the Diplomatic Service. Each of her postings presented their own particular problems and difficulties, and she found the ordeal of being expelled, along with her colleagues, from Guatemala in 1981 both extremely traumatic and distressing. Having had to return at short notice to the Foreign Office in London, she was just starting to recover from the effects of this nightmare when she was posted to Chile in time for the Falklands conflict, made all the more poignant and worrying for her as her beloved CANBERRA was playing a part in that dispute too.
In the final section of her book, despite the heartbreak of having to retire from the Diplomatic Service upon reaching the age of 60, Gillian sets out to prove that although one door closes, another one invariably opens, as she embarks on her third career as an author, and as a Registrar of Marriages in West Sussex. She loves this work and feels very privileged to be able to play a part in a new chapter of a couple’s life together.