We left the house at about 4:15 and went to wait for the 471. I call this the Bus That Never Comes and today it lived up to its reputation. In the end we took the N38 to Holborn and changed.
At Waterloo we looked around for breakfast but every kiosk was still closed. There was not such much as a cup of coffee to be had.
We boarded the 5:20 for Portsmouth. We were in the last carriage seated near a chap who turned out to be an off-duty police officer on his way home after a shift. When the ticket inspector arrived, one passenger had no ticket nor the means to buy one. The police officer intervened in support of the inspector and when the train reached a station, the passenger was conveniently expelled from the train.
A short later, an announcement requested the police officer’s attendance in the next carriage when another dispute had arisen. It seems that a police officer is never really off-duty.
It was quite chilly when we set out and I had made the right decision in wearing my winter coat. As the train ran through the countryside. everything was white under a heavy frost. The moon appeared as a brooding dark orange sliver near the horizon, lightening as it rose higher and the sky brightened. at last the sun rose like a glowing red ball.
The train stops many times en route and we do not reach Portsmouth until 7:40. There is no buffet nor even a trolley service. We will have to wait until we reach the ferry port before we can think of breakfast.
Arriving at Portsmouth we made our way quickly to the station and the taxi stand. At this time of day there were few people about and we got a taxi straightaway, an 8-seater, no less. It was the same picture at the ferry terminal with no more than about a dozen people waiting to embark.
We breakfasted – finally – at the only refreshment place open, which only sandwiches, pasties and the like though these could be heated. We promised ourselves to make up for it at lunch.
Aboard the ferry we pampered ourselves by buying tickets to the quiet lounge which is situated at the front the vessel so you can see where you are going.
It was a beautiful sunny day and the sea was calm and sparkly. Tigger’s compass misbehaved, no doubt because of the surrounding metalwork, so we amused ourselves checking the ferry’s course changes against the changing angle of shadows cast on the carpet whose regular pattern made this easy.
I bought tea from the cafe bar and received 2 Guernsey pound notes in my change. I don’t remember how long it is since I have seen pound notes in circulation.
At 11:39, my phone chimed: a text message had been received. I was surprised we even had a signal out here. It said “Virgin Mobile welcomes you to France.” Makes sense, just about…
Lunch was announced at midday. We had pea soup with a bread roll, the best part of the meal as it turned out, and the vegetarian special of the day, pasta with vegetables and covered with cheese. I would call it about average and rather expensive for what it was but, then, on a ship in the middle of the sea, you don’t have much choice and they don’t need to try too hard.
By 3:15 more land was visible in the haze: small islands with lighthouses and larger masses looming further away and we were soon manouvering to enter the port at Guernsey.
Here we had to wait while passengers for the island disembarked and those travelling from Guernsey embarked.
When the restaurant opened for the evening meal, we asked what they could do for us and settled on a cheese and mushroom omelette with peas and chips. This was much better than lunch and we enjoyed it more.
During the next leg of the journey the light declined and this, together with the haze made it difficult to see anything clearly. We no longer had our “sun compass” to measure changes in the direction followed by our ship.
Eventually, as twilight deepened, we made out land and realized we were arriving at Jersey. Night had fallen completely by the time the ship rounded the south-west corner of the island and made its way along the south coast to St Helier. I would have liked to take photos but the light level was too low for hand-held shots (as you can see from this example).
To embark and disembark, foot passengers are ferried between the ship and the terminal by minibus. At the terminal we had to wait for our heavier items of baggage which we had given in charge to the baggage handlers. Reunite with our bags, we emerged from the deserted customs shed into the public area.
As we stood planning our next move, we were approached by a man who asked whether we were going to the Beachcomber Hotel. We said we were, whereupon he seized our luggage and led the way to a minibus. In this he transported us to the hotel. Handy, we thought.
“How much do we owe you,” asked Tigger upon arrival.
“Nothing to pay,” was the emphatic reply.
“Bonus!” said Tigger.
So here we are, drinking tea in our hotel room in Grouville, Jersey, after a day at sea but otherwise none the worse for wear.