This morning a strange thing happened. Coming from my cabin at 7.30 I found a large number of officers already up, all looking rather annoyed & rather foolish. Breakfast is at 8, an early hour, too early for many who had consequently complained about it, & yet here were some of the complaint makers actually up half an hour before time. The truth was not far to find. An average speed of sixteen knots causes an alteration in the ship’s time of 40 minutes per day. Coming out the 40 minutes were split into 4 lots, ten each, the clock was put forward 10 minutes every six hours. Not so on this ship. Here the clock is altered only at midnight when it is put back its full 40 minutes all in one go. All these officers had forgotten this detail & were now paying for their forgetfulness by having to wait half an hour for their breakfast. Some seemed really quite annoyed about it.
At the present moment the Saloon library is attracting my chief attention, they have got several good books, which I have wanted to read for some time. Yesterday I devoured a book on literary criticism by Conan Doyle, a novel of Merriman’s called “Burlash of the Guard” & half a volume of Bret Hartes Poems. Today I have just finished the “Witness for the Defence” by Mason & am now trying to raise sufficient courage to wade into “Anna Karenina” by Tolstoy. I have never yet read anything by this last gentleman & I want to see what he is like. As far as our voyage is concerned today has differed very little from yesterday, We had our usual morning parade & again the general found that it was such a long walk all round the quarters that he had no time to come & see my little crowd in the “after island”. We waited for some time & then got a message to dismiss.
Duty once over we gave up our time to pleasures. Golf, tennis & quoits were all going strong, thanks to the untiring energy of the ship’s quartermaster, who walks about all day armed with innumerable pieces of chalk: with these in an incredibly short space of time he can mark out anything from a tennis court to a golf links. We pitch about just a little at times, but not enough to disturb anyone, scarcely enough in fact to deflect the quoit. Last night for some unknown reason I did not sleep as well as I ought to have done & so have just put in another two hours in a corner of the smoking room. It is now almost time to go to dinner, after which event I shall go early to bed & hope for better luck tonight.
The feeding on this ship is certainly very good & what is almost as important, the waiting is perfect. There are not I believe quite as many stewards as the ship would carry in peace time, but there are enough to keep things from standing still. Sometime during tonight we shall in all probability, pass Malta, though we shall not put in there this time unless something untoward happens. As you can well imagine the good people who are going home on leave are by no means anxious to waste a day or even an hour en route, and we are making as fast & straight as we possibly can for our port. The latter half of the voyage is the more interesting in a way because one can see glimpses of land at intervals all the way: this end, that is to say from Alexandria to Malta there is absolutely nothing to break the monotony of the sea except an occasional school of porpoises. One thing I did hope to see in these waters & that was a flying fish or some kind of water animal that does not inhabit the English Channel: unfortunately, we have seen nothing of the sort either on this or the outward voyage. It is very obvious that one will have to make another voyage to the East after this war is over, there is so much we have left unseen in our short trip.