Got up nice and early so I could finish the cleaning – first the bathroom then the kitchen. It took me a few tries to get the clothes-line to collapse – turned out to be really easy once you lift the catch that holds it up. I even called over the fence to Lyn, who said she’d come over in a few minutes and have a look but by then I’d figured it out.
Yesterday Lyn had mentioned that she and Philip were taking a coach into Wales with a ‘social group’ of friends today and had asked if I’d like to come. I would have loved to – I’ve been watching a series on canal travel by Prunella Scales (Sybil Fawlty) and her husband and they’ve been going all over England and other places on canal boats – the one I watched just yesterday was set in Wales and featured the Llangollen canal which crosses a river via an aqueduct. That’s exactly where the coach trip is going to go, and I would have loved to join them – maybe next time!
I gave all of the food out of the fridge to Lyn and Philip, took out the garbage and recycling, and was on my way to the train station before 11:00. The train was right on time – the first one was very new and clean, and almost empty. The second one, when I changed in Bristol, wasn’t. Well – it was clean enough, but not that new, and so crowded I had to stand up next to my bike almost the entire way to Portsmouth. It was also sweltering hot, unless someone kept pushing the button to open the door into the carriage, which had air conditioning – then it diminished from sweltering to merely very hot.
Just before we left Bristol, when there were already three bikes crammed into the small space allocated, 3 or 4 more cyclists rushed up and asked if there was room – unfortunately no way. I’m glad I as one of the first ones there – I think the latecomers did manage to squish on somewhere further down, although I don’t think there was another proper ‘bike carriage’.
I arrived in Portsmouth in plenty of time so rode around the centre a bit and had a bite to eat on a bench in front of a fountain. The ride to the ferry wasn’t very far and I then had a bit of a wait. I checked at the desk, and they said I could probably go thru the initial security around 8:00.
I thought I’d maybe have a coffee on the upper level while I waited so walked my bike across the entire terminal to the elevator at the other end. Just as I pressed the button to call the elevator I heard a voice calling ‘Miss! Miss!’ So I turned to see a ferry worker behind a counter gesturing to me. He asked where I was going with the bike and I told him to get a coffee while I waited, to which he answered ‘you can’t take a bike up there – you shouldn’t even have it in the terminal’. I said ‘What? Really? It’s not like a train station? You can take them everywhere there’. He said that no – it wasn’t like a train station (with no hint of humour, I might add). I asked where I could put the bike and he said there’s a bike rack back out the front door and to the left (where you can’t see them). I asked if it was safe there and he said that it’s pretty safe – things do get nicked from time-to-time, but there’s a security guard that does his rounds so the risk isn’t too great. The security guard was crossing the floor of the terminal at the time and as I was walking the bike back to go outside he intercepted me and told me I could actually take it out the side door and lock it to a cement structure right in front of the waiting room window where I could see it from. I thought that was a much better solution so that’s what I did – luckily my lock is quite long and just fit around the cement thing.
Just after 8:00 I headed to the first security booth, on the very far side of the lineup area. I went to the front of the line, along with the other bikes and we didn’t have to wait too long for the booth attendant to get us going. We showed out passports and boarding passes and were given stickers with our names on to attach to our bikes.
We rode to the next waiting area and were there for quite a while. By the time they opened the next security gate there were nine of us altogether, including a father, son, and daughter – she’s only nine but is pretty serious about cycling. This is their third trip – the first two had been to the Netherlands. Another fellow, Cary, is by himself – he planned the trip with a friend but the friend fell and broke his wrist a week ago so he’s doing the trip alone.
We were directed around the corner and each of had to take one of our bags off our bikes and go into a security room. The bags were put thru an xray machine, just like at an airport – and since I’d brought my camera case in that went thru as well.
We were all cleared quickly and then rode onto the ferry, where we had a nice side room for the bikes, with rope to use to tie them securely to rails. Since the area seemed pretty safe, and everyone else was leaving most of their bags I only took my camera, my jacket and blanket – in a green plastic bag – up with me. At the door to get to the stairs we encountered another security person, who looked inside my camera case and the other bag – by far the most security I’ve ever been thru at a ferry.
Two decks up I checked out what’s showing at the two on-board cinemas – thought it might be nice to see Ocean’s 8 at 11:00 – then went to the area where the overnight lounge chairs are (that they make you reserve and pay for). The chairs are worse than airplane chairs and are very closely packed – think I’ll pass again and do like I did on the journey over.
I next went another two decks up and headed to the bar to get some red wine and parked myself in a nice large leather chair next to the sofa I planned to sleep on later. I hadn’t been there long when an older lady (Pauline) asked if she could sit on the sofa, and we started chatting. A few minutes later her daughter (Lorraine) joined us and we all had a great time talking. I quickly decided that I could watch the movie some other time and stayed to talk with the ladies.
After awhile one of the other cyclists, Cary, was walking by so I waved to him and he sat down as well. The four of us talked and talked – they’re all so interesting and well-travelled and we covered many topics of mutual interest. Both of the ladies have been recently widowed and are on their way to Normandy to tidy up and arrange to sell the house that Lorraine and her husband owned. We were the last ones left in the bar when we finally called it quits sometime after 1:00.
Cary chose a sofa about 20 feet away and I got out my blanket and tried to get some sleep – I wasn’t very successful. It was quite cold, even with my jacket and the blanket, and they didn’t dim a single light. Also, my mind was full of ABBA music, and much as I enjoy their music, at this time it wasn’t helping me sleep.