And so we bade a fond farewell to the rapidly diminishing granite blocks of St Malo.
The ferry was full of Brits and French was slowly replaced by English as the language most oft overheard. We are surrounded by a lot more misery – whether this is from the end of holiday blues or just natural inclination is debatable. Last night in the brasserie, seated behind Mirinda were two English couples who were miserable for their entire meal. They talked, they ate, they drank but never once did they crack a smile or laugh. In direct contrast, a table away sat a French family (mum, dad, daughter) who cheerfully enjoyed themselves.
After waking, packing and breakfast we went for a short walk before climbing aboard a taxi for the short trip to the ferry terminal. Interestingly there was no security or x-ray check, no metal detectors and, except for a cursory glance at our passports by a single French girl in a Brittany Ferries uniform, no-one stood in our way of importing any number of vicious weapons or drugs into Britain. I assume this will happen in Portsmouth, since the Brits are so concerned with terrorist attacks at the moment. Hopefully we won’t get hijacked by some lunatic who tries to sail us straight into a lighthouse in some slow show of defiance for England’s continued presence in Iraq.
We sat in the bar and I wound my watch back to 10am with a celebratory John Smiths which tasted of the gas they use to make it all frothy. That means it didn’t taste very nice but it’s beer and English beer which explains why the French are unable (or unwilling) to tap it properly. French beer is all very well but it IS lager and not my personal choice.
We then retired to our £2 extra reclining salon chairs on deck 8, as the sun in the bar was beginning to fry Mirinda’s arm. I was sent to find a diet Coke, returning a week later with a warm bottle. “I can’t drink warm Coke!” she exclaimed immediately prior to untwisting the top and taking a large swig.
We then settled down, she to a magazine me with Travel in the Ancient World (comparing water crossings with the Greek and Roman experiences). Then from somewhere vaguely behind us came a chirping.
What is it with people who need every hour announced? They have these annoying digital watches that go beep-beep, beep-beep every hour just loud enough to penetrate whatever mental state you’ve managed to attain. Is it a harkening back to ancient times when the bored guard on night duty (and I assume the only one with a watch) would yell out the time every hour. How annoying would THAT have been if you lived opposite the ramparts. Or is it a need to witness every hour as it slips inexorably past. Whatever it is, most of these watch bearers NEVER look at their watches after the tone, none of them have appointments and they all lie back with a “I’ve got that hour counted” smugness which I find beyond comprehension.
Perhaps it’s like trainspotting, accounting for each and every train number. It could be a technological thing. Either “Hey, look what I can do!” or, more likely “I have no idea how to make this stop doing this every hour“. The worst thing is in a theatre. There is guaranteed to be a few in the audience and they are NEVER synchronised, so a simple beep-beep, beep-beep becomes a recurring symphony of various tones that begin 5 minutes before and extend to 5 past every hour.
Halfway across the channel we took a walk around the ship and had some lunch. There was a very smelly man queuing at the food – I’m sure he’s clean but his clothes could have done with a scrub about three years ago. He was about 50 with a wife, or so she seemed, so why do his clothes smell? I had the misfortune of running into him again while off buying my giant Maltesers. I made a big show of holding my nose and avoiding a good vomit but it had no effect on his iron hide and dead nasal passages.
The ship docked half an hour earlier than scheduled and we were waiting at the taxi rank just after 6. No x-ray, no metal detectors, just a cursory glance at passports…again. Of course Mirinda, being an alien, had to fill in a form. Interesting how she had to do this but had no problem with the £3m worth of cocaine in my bag. I guess it’s just red tape: dotting the teas, crossing their eyes.
I forgot to mention that Mirinda watched the ship docking procedure, including the little guy with the moving ramp and it was this that has inspired her to keep a journal. This lasted about 10 minutes.
Our taxi arrived spot on time, (same dapper driver) which meant we had a 20 minute wait, watching a new batch of merry holiday makers, making ready to depart on holiday. The trip home was smooth and only took half an hour. We were home just after 7.
It’s great to go away but getting home is always wonderful. Popped into Sainsburys for supplies – had cold chicken and salad for tea and watched English language TV. Rang mum and dad at 11, read all my emails, bed about 12:30. Wanting to take advantage of no dogs to wake me early!
All in all, this has been a most wonderful holiday and one I will remember with a great deal of fondness.