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Monday, 30 April 2012

A life on the ocean wave...

Due to the forecast of continued bad weather we decided to return to the UK early, get some jobs done and catch up with family. Set off bright and early towards Santander with an overnight stop at http://www.spain.info/en/antes_del_viaje/alojamientos/camping/palencia/monte_royal.html
We arrived here early afternoon and enjoyed an excellent fresh coffee in the quaint old restaurant on site. People were eating a relaxed lunch and chatting away over a table full of various bottles as we soaked up the atmosphere.  The huge log fire was roaring and among the interesting decor was a cheeky stuffed hare standing erect on the dusty mantelpiece (never seen one wearing an ammunition belt, jaunty leather hat and a gun before). We were directed to park up among the pine trees and shown our way around the electric hook-up.


To say the facilities were primitive is being kind but for one night who cares that toilet seats, toilet roll and soap were not provided as the setting was lovely. Mr H and I deployed our excellent on board facilities, enjoying a full roast pork dinner whilst viewing the snow-capped mountains in the distance.



We were close to a reservoir at high altitude so that night was a cold one.  Emergency fleece blankets, chocolate and a good film passed the night away nicely. We were away smartish the next day and I spent most of the journey taking photos of the scenery in between the showers.






We got stuck behind a wide load on the way to Santander, an impressive boat complete with wide load convoy vehicles and flashing lights, bet they can't find a pitch big enough for that baby!



So far so good, but on our arrival at the ferry port in Santander we were told that due to bad weather the ferry would be delayed for 14 hours but we could spend the night on board ready to leave early the next morning. Credit to Mr H for manoeuvring the bus into the tightest,  strangely-angled spot in the bowels of the boat. I'm sure they do it for a laugh to see if you cock up! So we unpacked in our shoebox-sized steerage class cell consoling ourselves that we would soon be back in Blighty. Following a walk into town and eating a different lunch to the ones we ordered, we chilled out onboard the best we could. This lulled us into a false sense of security as we slept well despite being in an inside cabin. Looking forward to finally getting underway we agreed to start the day with a hearty breakfast as we sailed out of the port. With hindsight, all the clues were there for what was to come but here goes with an attempt to capture the torture of the next 24 hours.

As we queued for our breakfast the boat began to rise and dip enough for the French chefs to frantically secure various pots and pans in between serving up. By the time we had negotiated the moving boat carrying trays laden with all the required cutlery and condiments our 15 quid coronary on a plate breakfast was stone cold. As I attempted to eat my breakfast things began to move and crash about us. The staff tried to catch the flying trays, cutlery and plates as we bobbed along. My plate slid across the table and knocked my drink into the path of a passing waiter. He didnt flinch when scooping the debris up and was away to the next clear-up job. At this point Mr H turned the same colour as the grey sky, abandoned his food and headed for the toilets, I was not far behind and just made it in time. Now we all know that vomiting is very unpleasant but I had forgotten just how exhausting it is. First you have to know where the toilets are. I didnt, so thank the lord my reflexes enabled me to lock down my lips as my breakfast hit them with the force of a hosepipe! I could hear the crashing of crockery and every item in duty free hitting the floor as I emptied my stomach! We managed to find each other and stagger to our cabin before collapsing onto the bottom bunk together (the top bunk was unusable as you would fall out). So for the next 24 hours the ferry lurched between being airborne and hitting the waves again. At one point I counted 7 seconds between lurching upwards into the air and falling back hitting the sea with a thud. Mr H ventured out twice that day to get sea sickness tablets bless him but we just couldnt keep them down. Sips of water was our only relief. Trying to shower vomit from my hair was like being on a roller coaster, thank god there wasn't a photo of this event to be purchased on our departure. Perfect storm and Titanic rolled into one! I was informed that the whole content of the kitchens and duty free had hit the decks and we lost a piece of decking rail resulting in the lock down of all outside areas while crossing the Bay of Biscay. Do it again?... I would rather stick pins in my eyes or work fulltime at Sportsdirect.

What a relief to arrive in Plymouth on ground that has stopped moving despite the pouring rain and commuter traffic. We both looked and felt like death but oh so glad to be free of the ferry and back on the road again. Mr H negotiated the 9.00am traffic driving on the left for the first time in seven months on unknown roads with mirrors that were knocked off-kilter getting off the ferry. My hero :) Rain, Radio 2 playing and fellow road users letting us into the right lane let us know we were finally back home, even though we're just visiting!!

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