7 January: 2022: Travel Note

I left South Manchester at 11.15 yesterday and headed south in a snowstorm. There were no warning signs about the weather for the first hour or so but, as I approached Birmingham, there were regular warnings about snow in the West Midlands. Which was ironic, as there wasn’t any by now. Just rain.

At 13.15 I got to Leamington Spa, where I was to have lunch with an old friend and then a short siesta in her house.

Fortified by an excellent lunch of Kerala fish curry and the siesta, I set off for Portsmouth at 4, hoping to arrive more than 4 hours before the scheduled departure of 22.15, as my flexible ticket would allow me to book a replacement trip if I was denied boarding because of documents deficiency.

En passant, after the lunch we were given a card on which to rate the restaurant under 5 or 6 headings. All of these had already been ticked as excellent, which raised a smile. My guess was this card was not supposed to have been given to a new customer. So, we ignored it and just said we were very happy. 

I got to Portsmouth at 18.20 on the Galicia for Santander, so just outside 4 hours, But, happily, my documents were in order. Meaning I didn’t really need to have arrived that early and could have again tried my trick of passing through the check in at 20.40 just before the deadline – and asking to be put on the lowest deck, with the trucks. I suspect it’ll take me quite some time tomorrow morning to get off the boat, go through all the formalities, exit the port area and get on my way to Pontevedra. Said formalities will include having our temperatures taken on the car deck, we’ve been told.

I then spent an hour in the reception centre until some sort of message sent me back to the car. Where I waited for another 2 hours, before we finally boarded. During this time I received a message from Brittany Ferries apologising for delays and saying they were doing the best to get us on the ship. I guessed that the departure would be late.

Indeed,we left Portsmouth half an our or so behind schedule but by this time – 10.45 – I was already in my cabin, dozing.

Earlier today, the crossing was relatively smooth but things deteriorated midday and we were warned to be careful if we left our cabins. When I went for lunch at 13.30, not many folk had done this. Possibly because word had got round that the restaurants were closed for reasons of safety.

When the main restaurant did open I ate there, at the front of the ship. It was quite amusing seeing folk staggering around and chairs sliding from one side to the other, and back. There were some very large bow waves, accompanied by very loud noise but, glancing through the window at one point, I could’t see the deep billows ahead of us and thought for a second or two we’d suddenly passed into a tranquil patch of sea. Only to realise I really couldn’t see anything as the windows were covered by a rapidly descending mass of foam. Seven decks up.

Returning with caution to my cabin, I noted that a few of the shelves in the shop had deposited their wares on the floor.

On a previous trip, years ago, I bought – God knows why – a wrist strap with a button on the underside, the claim being that this, pressing on a nerve, somehow prevents sea sickness. It must have been cheap, as when packing to come on this trip, I saw that, in fact, I’d bought a second one. So, I now have one on each wrist. And haven’t suffered any seasickness, despite the pitching and rolling.

So, pick the meat out of that.

P. S. I would include a foto of the waves from my porthole but I’m pretty sure you’ve all seen a rough sea before. Plus there’s only a paltry 30 minutes free (very slow) wifi on Brittany Ferries boats these days, so time is short to post this, as I have messages to send. I’m acutely conscious that on the trip to the UK 6 weeks ago I racked up 50 euros of phone charges in a very short space of time, and wish to avoid a recurrence.

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