A History Of Ocean Liners In 50 Objects

For somebody that worked with most of the world’s cruise companies for eight years I have strangely never been on a cruise.

I have however been on many ships and a few liners though though my work, usually for meetings or a grand tour.

I was lucky enough to have lunch in the first class restaurant on the QE2 and to be invited on the press tour of the brand new QM2 before her maiden voyage in 2003.

A Suite On Cunard's QM2
A Suite On QM2

I also saw the original Queen Mary moored in Long Beach near LA – now a hotel since retiring from service with Cunard in 1967, and played blackjack in the casino of the SS Norway (ex-SS France), another fine liner that was sadly scrapped over a decade ago.

A good friend of mine from Devon as just had a fascinating book published telling the the majestic history of the ultimate sea going vessel, the ocean liner.

Mark Berry has a lifelong passion for the Rolls Royces of the seas. The iconic style of vessel conjures images of a bygone age, the Titanic, White Star Lines & Cunard, and opulent transatlantic crossings with fine dining and formal dress.

Don’t let the fact that most of us could only ever afford steerage class put you off! This is a great read for anybody that loves nostalgia. I will let Mark explain……

A History Of Ocean Liners In 50 Objects - a book by Mark Berry

The Book Blurb

Liners represented the ambitions of their nations in peace and war; their design, interiors and fittings incorporated the finest contemporary technological and artistic features.

In peacetime they carried celebrities, vacationers and emigrants; while in war they carried thousands of troops – and then war brides seeking new lives.

A History of Ocean Liners in 50 Objects takes in evolving technology, supreme luxury and fine cuisine, as well as hardship and the burning hope for a better life.

There is peril, disaster and death, international pride and competition, glory and war.

The objects tell a fascinating story, showing how the functional sea voyage has evolved from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to the huge cruise industry we have today.

About the Author

Mark Berry grew up with stories of the sea.

His father was a marine engineer and would come home on leave with tales of places like Aden, Hong Kong and San Francisco, all hugely exotic sounding to a boy growing up in 1960s Britain.

After reading about the tragedies of Titanic and Lusitania, an interest in liners followed – and so started a lifetime of collecting books, ephemera and items from all kinds of ships.

Now retired after thirty-eight years in the property industry, it seemed only natural for Mark to share some of the items in his collection.

Mark and his wife Val have two grown-up sons and live in rural Devon with their cats and chickens.

When they can, they enjoy escaping to sea on a cruise liner or, even better, an ocean liner.

The Book

The History of Ocean Liners in 50 Objects is published by The History Press and is available from online outlets such as Hive & Amazon as an eBook or paperback.

The Queen Mary Ship
Picture of the Original Queen Mary
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Picture of the Queen Mary (shot on the QM2)

Book Review – The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Everything that is to be said about the Holocaust has been written already, right?

Well not quite actually.

This astonishing book tells the true story of Slovakian Jew Lale, a confident would be entrepreneur prior to the War, who is sent to the horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau along with hundreds of thousands of fellow Jews, as well as multitudes of romanies, all destined it seemed to perish at the hands of the cruellest of captors.

Entrance to Auschwitz

Imprisoned in the spring of 1942, Lale resolves to survive by using his wit, determination, cunning and extraordinary language skills.

He manages to secure the ‘privileged’ role of camp tattooist, whose job it was to permanently mark every prisoner with four crudely scratched numbers which became their sole identity in the eyes of the SS.


Entrance to Auschwitz

What Lale had not reckoned with was falling in love with a girl who bore his mark. This only heightened his determination that he and fellow Slovak Gita would have a future together.

Told through Lale’s eyes, this is a story that cannot be put down. A story of cruelty, degradation, sorrow, death and hardship, but also a story of human spirit, ingenuity, selflessness, incredible will power and true love.

The writing puts you right there alongside Lale and his fellow prisoners as the appalling conditions, sadistic captors and knife-edge existence are brought to life in vivid detail.

Highly recommended.

Book Review – The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

The book is extraordinary, powerful, thought-provoking and deeply disturbing. I really loved it.

I was initially drawn to the book due to the Aleppo setting, the ancient Syrian settlement being my favourite city that I have ever visited.

Aleppo Citadel, Syria
Aleppo Citadel

It follows Nuri & Afra, a couple fleeing their war torn country to undertake an arduous journey to Western Europe.

Very cleverly the book concurrently follows two streams of their quest that are intertwined alongside each other – the tortuous, dehumanising, soul-destroying migration over land and sea, together with their less dramatic but no less traumatic existence in a shabby English seaside bed & breakfast as they seek asylum and the right to start a new life in the U.K.

Aleppo Souk, Syria
Thriving Aleppo Souk
Damaged Aleppo Souk, Syria
Damaged Aleppo Souk

Christy is the daughter of Cypriot refugees and somebody who worked as a volunteer in an Athenian refugee centre. She compassionately draws on her experiences and the incredible stories she has been told to create the central characters, the people they meet and the dangers and hardships they face.

Most of all it is a story of hope in adversity, of life altering situations and of amazing courage and the belief that despair can once again turn into happiness and companionship.

I urge you to read the book and also catch a film called ‘For Sama’ to begin to understand what millions of innocent people have faced and why they continue to risk everything for a second chance.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is available from Amazon and all the usual retailers.