Book Synopsis

Gillian Angrave’s dream of seeing the world has led to a lifetime of unforgettable, sometimes dangerous, but always exhilarating, experiences and encounters, both sailing the Seven Seas as an Assistant Purser with P & O from 1967 to 1974, and as Ambassador’s PA with the Diplomatic Service from 1976 to 2005, serving in the Philippines, Peru, Guatemala, Chile, Mexico and Hungary.

In “From Oceans to Embassies”, Gillian charts the course her life has taken with the help of more than 200 stunning photographs.

Gillian re-lives her most memorable, as well as most perilous, moments, that have taken place beyond our shores.
In the first part of Gillian’s book, she sets the scene as she writes about her background, school years and early working life.

Middle chapters are devoted to her 6 highly enjoyable and at times challenging years as an Assistant Purser on board P&O’s ss CANBERRA and ss ORIANA.

Gillian Angrave in Whites on board P&O Cruiseliner

Gillian Angrave playing golf in Mexico

From Oceans

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.

To Embassies

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.

Photo taken in the Philippines Gillian Angrave, From Oceans to Embassies

Photo taken in Mexico Gillian Angrave, From Oceans to Embassies

Photo of Hungary Gillian Angrave, From Oceans to Embassies

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Her travelling days are not over either, and she ends on an upbeat note as she looks forward to yet another cruise, as a passenger this time, believing in her mantra: “Live your life like a butterfly: take a rest sometimes, but always remember to fly”. The world is still her oyster!

Gillian’s book (price £20 plus P & P) can be obtained on this website or by contacting her on her email

Postage and packing to Europe is £10.00

Postage to the the States, Australia and New Zealand £16.00.

It is also available on Amazon and at Waterstones online.

BOOK COVER From Oceans to Embassies A Personal Memoir by Gillian Angrave



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