Today is the day we start back for London. I say “start back” because the journey runs over 2 days. The ferry sails from Jersey at 9 pm and reaches Portsmouth at 6:30 am the following morning, Thursday.
We do not know whether transport to the terminal has been arranged for us and our luggage. The hotel clerk is going to phone the travel company to find out but can do this only at 9 am when their office opens. We do not want to waste our last day here but we don’t want to have to cart our luggage around with us, either. We have been told that there is no left luggage service at the terminal.
In the meantime we will have breakfast and then chill out in our room until we hear about transport.
Today is also Tigger’s birthday. We awoke to rain on the window and blustery winds but now the sun has broken through. If we can get the transport sorted out, we could spend a pleasant day in town before going aboard the ferry.
At 9:45, we heard that transport had indeed been organized for us, though no time had been set. The hotel clerk phoned the taxi company and asked them to come straightaway. We were a little surprised at the vehicle they sent – a 40-seater bus – but there was at least plenty of room in it for us and our luggage.
The driver was willing to take us wherever we wanted to go but also said he thought there was a left luggage service at the terminal, provided by company called Ace, so we thought we might as well go there to start with.
He was right: Ace could look after our bags until 5 pm when they closed. While we were at the terminal, we upgraded our ferry tickets to a cabin. As the crossing is overnight it makes sense to try to get some sleep.
Having concluded our business at the terminal, we walked back into town and took a last look around. We went into the de Gruchy department store and found that they have a very nice cafe restaurant in the acade area. It has tables outside the cafe but under the glass roof of the arcade so you be “outside inside”, so to speak.
We had coffee and chatted and felt so comfortable there that we decided to stay for lunch. This was very good and not all that expensive so we felt it was being a good birthday so far!
We went for another ramble around town, taking our last photos, and ended up once more in the Market. By about 3 pm we were ready for further refreshment and so we went to the market cafe and had a “Jersey Cream Tea”.
We chatted with Natalie, who runs the cafe, and learned from her that the market is, sadly, in decline. Jersey people like having a market but unfortunately do their shopping at the supermarket instead.
We also asked if she spoke the patois or had ever thought of learning it. Her answer was no, as she knew no one who spoke it and felt it more useful to learn modern languages such as French and Spanish that are spoken by tourists.
As Ace closes at 5 pm, we had to return to the terminal before then to reclaim our baggage. This unfortunately means spending 4 hours there until the departure of our ferry. There is a cafe at the terminal but that closes a 5 pm too. How helpful is that?
At 5 pm everything closed except the Condor Ferries enquiries desk. We passed the time as best we could, reading, chatting or occasionally walking about.
The ferry docked at about 7:30 and after some time a single foot passenger emerged. When car drivers were requested to return to their vehicles we moved closer to the departure gate. By about 8:40, 20 minutes before we were due to sail, we had still not been called so I went to enquire. I was told we would be called “soon”.
It must have been no earlier than 8:45 when we were finally allowed through the gate but then had to put all our gear through the X-ray machine before being taken out to a van. This took us a certain distance then sat and waited for a signal to proceed.
Once aboard we went to Reception to claim our cabin, We have an outside cabin which has 4 berths. The top ones can be folded up to make more space. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cabin has en suite facilities. How chic is that?
My bunk is long enough even for my long legs.
We went to the brasserie (which they pronounce ‘brazzerie’, for some strange reason) for tea and then sat in the Quiet Lounge for a while, watching the stars and the lights on the other islands.
As a result of the high winds we have been experiencing over the last couple of days, the sea is a little choppy but nothing to worry about. In fact, it is rather pleasant as the movement of the ship reminds us that we really are at sea, sailing through the darkness towards an invisible goal, leaving behind us a land that was completely unknown to us until 4 days ago but from which we are carrying away living memories.
We hope to return to these islands again in a couple of years, perhaps to Guernsey on that occasion, though that remains to be seen.