So, the English leg of our Journey is now over and we are on the way to France. We’d like to say that the day has been stress free, but come on, its us. There have been a few issues, the biggest of which was Cyclemeter dying after about 20 miles. The phone did not charge properly on the previous night, and so when we set off, it only had about 20% battery life.
We could bore you all with tales of hilly roads which we really dislike, but we have been informed that its getting a bit boring. So, what else happened along the way? Well, when passing through the town of Alton we saw a steam train at the train station, and so of course, went to have a look.
The rest of the trip to Portsmouth was pretty uneventful until our arrival.
While we had a bit of spare time (not much mind you), we went in search of maps for the French leg of the trip. While walking through the city centre, we saw a queue of people with bikes and the Police were looking at them all. Naturally we went to investigate.
The Police were offering free bike security checks and registration. Much like a car has a unique registration plate and is linked to its owner, our bikes are now registered to us on a Police database. In essence, our bikes are protected by the Police!
It would seem that Portsmouth signs are really confusing and were put on earth to confuse simple minds like ours. After having to use maps on Nikki’s phone, we eventually found that we were headed in the wrong direction. We also had Nikki’s dad directing from France over the phone. This wasn’t good when we had to check in in just over 15 minutes time, but…
WE DID IT!!! We made it to the ferry on time! While in the queue, we got taking to other cyclists who we would be sharing the ferry with. There was a really friendly family with two daughters who were enjoying the easter break by cycling around northern france. Nikki particularly liked their bike, they had converted an adult bike and a child bike into a tandem… why didn’t we think of doing that!?
The other cyclist we met was Phil from Bristol who was cycling to Cherbourg. We have to say it was lovely meeting these people, as normally if we had been in a car we would have never have talked to anyone whereas instead we spent 2 hours in the bar talking with Phil (don’t worry, we haven’t broken our no spending rule, Phil kindly bought the drinks).
Now for the fun part!
It wasn’t exactly the smoothest crossing ever and Dan doesn’t have the best sea legs, so I think he was really struggling. The interior designer of the boat clearly didn’t have seasickness in mind when they designed this boat! The carpets in the corridors all had waves on them. This coupled with the rocking of the boat made for a very queasy tummy!!!! However we had more pressing problems , we did not have a cabin, but we had reclining chairs, which we both thought would be sufficient as a reclining chair is meant to do what it says and recline. How wrong we were! The chair reclined about a maximum of 10-15 degrees, and so it was near impossible to get a decent nights sleep on one. Add to that that they were next to the bar and the thought of getting any sleep went out of the window, or the porthole! So then the hunt began for a place to sleep! Thankfully kind Phil let us leave our bags in his cabin, so that took some of the pressure off. We contemplated corridors, bench chairs in the restaurant, and even under stairs on what looked like an engineering deck. After traversing the ship for at least an hour using the map in Nikki’s head, we finally found somewhere in the most unlikely place. It was squishy, it was quiet (for the time being), it was colourful, can you guess where we slept?
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that really is a children’s play area with a giant inflatable octopus! We started out sharing one pillow between us, however after a couple of hours, they turned the air conditioning on. Why would you do this in an abandoned children’s play area?!
So, once again, Nikki was on the hunt, but this time for a blanket. She came back with one blanket, and one inflatable pillow! I have to say, the pillow was the most useless invention ever! We had to now change our sleeping position. We were now sleeping top to tail and sharing the blanket. I have to say the blanket is the most ironic thing ever. Its covered with words describing a good nights sleep, but that is certainly a long way off what we were getting. What must we have looked like to passers by? Two grown ups (used in the loosest possible sense) in a children’s play area, covered in an electric blue blanket, cuddling each others legs!
*WARNING* – If you are easily shocked, stop reading now!
After much searching of the corridors we finally found a cabin that the participants had left. Sneaking in, we locked the door and claimed it as our own. I think that is the best half hours sleep we had all night. Of course we could have been caught at any moment for stealing a room. It would have been rude not to use all the amenities at our disposal, and so used their bathroom, and left them a little “present”. We’re not saying who left it!
Eventually we got thrown out of that room too (only because it was time to disembark), but not before Nikki became a pikey and stole all of the toiletries, sachets, biscuits, etc. Then on passing other cabins, she stole more! We now have a stock pile of 20 mini biscuits! As you can tell, it was an eventful journey if nothing else!
Lets hope after our night of scavenging, the 62 miles to Vitre won’t seem too bad! If you would like to help, please consider donating at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/r2rchallenge.
Nikki & Dan