… is probably that!
Having been feeling a little better (both physically and mentally) this last week or so I decided today to pousser le bateau dehors as they might say around here, And I’ve had a day out.
What I was looking forward to was a good day out, and how I wish that it was. However my knee gave out again on the way out and luckily there was a handle to grab hold of.
On the way back I wasn’t so lucky. BOTH knees gave out and I couldn’t pick myself up at all no matter how hard I tried. It took two people to pick me up and sit me in a seat.
The walk back from the port took me almost an hour, taking baby steps and stopping frequently when my knees (and hips because they are now aching badly) gave out and clinging to everything to which I could cling. And I can’t climb steps with either leg now except if I’m grasping hold of something to pull me up.
Consequently I don’t think that I’ll be going far from now on.
Anyway, leaving aside the “feeling sorry for myself”” stage, let us begin. And I’ll “start at the very beginning – a very good place to start” as the old song goes.
So having gone to bed at some reasonably early time last night I was up and about at 07:00 when the alarm went off and the first thing that I did was to go and have a shower and a clean-up ready for the off.
Last night I’d packed my bag so I didn’t have too much to do and so at about 08:05 this morning I left the house, forgetting the secret supply of cash stashed away in Caliburn. And I was to regret that later.
There were quite a few people on the move today so I joined the crowd heading down the hill towards the town and then at the Rampe du Monte à Regret, like the KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE we each went our separate ways because there was a lot going on today.
And it was going down the ramp to the bottom that my right leg gave way but luckily I fell into the wall without hitting the ground. However it hurt like hell and I had to wait several minutes until I felt safe enough to move.
“This is a good start to the day” I thought to myself.
The wall across to the port and down the side of the quayside was agonising and I hoped that it would ease off. And there I pumped into my friend the captain of Normandy Trader and his family. I mentioned a while ago that there was no freight delivery while the Festival was on last week so he and his family had taken a holiday over here.
We joined the immense queue at the Ferry Terminal where we had to wait for what seemed like hours and then finally we could pick up our tickets.
Once in possession of our tickets we passed through passport control and a customs inspection and then had to wait for what seemed like yet more hours.
At passport control the guy there went to stamp my passport but I told him that I had a carte de séjour so he checked it and waved me through.
Finally Victor Hugo came around the corner from the inner harbour once the gates were opened and we could all pile on board.
Yes, that’s right. I’m off to St Helier. Living here all these years and never been once. Only three more sailings to go this year after this one but I can’t make any of them for a variety of reasons and who knows what next year might bring? So it’s now or never.
Not to mention the fact that I’ve been having all these reminders about my Arctic adventures just recently so I’ve really been hearing the call of the ocean and missing the touch of the salt spray on my lips.
We all had to sit inside and buckle up while the captain manoeuvred. Victor Hugo is a high-speed craft and walking about on board is not for the faint-hearted so it’s discouraged.
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall several weeks ago that we saw Victor Hugo loitering around for quite some time off the end of the headland pointing towards Jersey. She did it again this morning. The cynic inside me suggested that now that they have rowed her out of the harbour they need to wind up the elastic band.
Once we were ready we shot off towards Jersey. I was given permission to go up to the upper deck and go outside. I was told that I had to remain seated and there was a large rubber collision buoy tied by the rails which made a comfortable seat.
And that reminds me. You might have to wait a while for the photos because there’s not much short of 100 that I took today and they all need editing.
It seemed to take quite a while to arrive at St Helier (not incidentally, pronounced as “Hell ‘ere”) and regrettably my seat was on the wrong side of the boat to photograph our arrival. But when the crewmen began to prepare for docking and were otherwise engaged I nipped over to the other side of the boar for a few photos.
There was another passenger on board who had difficulty walking so we helped each other to immigration. It seems to be miles to the terminal where immigration was quite painless.
From there it’s quite a long walk into the town and I wasn’t up to much of it but there’s a pop-up café that serves vegan food on the quayside where the pleasure boats tie up so I made for there. No snacks though – it was all main meals so I had a coffee and ate my crackers. I always buy packets of those and these are my emergency supplies when I’m travelling.
With no cash on me I headed to the bank where I drew out some money. Regrettably though the notes were endorsed “Bank of Jersey” so I’m going to be pretty limited as to where I can spend them.
The town centre of St Helier is actually quite nice. I did a recce of interesting sites and came across a healthfood shop that had inter alia “Old-time” vegan sausages. 16 of them went into my backpack and they’ll be in the freezer when I return home.
There were also some packs of hot-cross buns in one of the supermarkets there so I bought a pack of those for lunch.
An extremely long walk took me back into the town centre via the ferry terminal (I must learn to read the stuff that’s given to me) and outside the bus station waited for the “Vintage Bus” that was going to take me on my “Vintage Tour” of the eastern end of the island.
And you’ve no idea how disappointed I was when a single-decker Bristol LH turned up. And what does that make me when I was actually 21 years old when the “Vintage Bus” was built? That is really what I call “depressing”. and even more so when I found out that the bus was actually first registered as new when I was 23.
It was a beautiful drive out to St Catherine’s Pier at the extreme north-east of the island where we stopped for a look around. This pier and its installations were part of what the British Government hoped would be a good port for the Royal Navy but it took so long to build that steam had given way to coal and warships had evolved so much that there wasn’t enough draught in the harbour for the new generation of warships so it was abandoned.
We headed back down south along the coast and stopped for another break at Gorey, a beautiful little place where there’s a magnificent view of Mount Orgueil Castle
Back in town I bought an energy drink and went to sit down to eat some of my hot cross buns and have a drink. Following which I went off for a wander around the old harbour looking at what was happening there.
Before going back to the boat I went to one of the supermarkets. On my travels I’d seen some tins of real baked beans. British baked beans taste like no others in the World and having had a diet of European and North American ones for years and now that I have some real sausages, I put four tins of beans in my backpack as well. And if I could have carried them I would have had four more.
The walk back to the ferry terminal was agony. I was aching just about everywhere so it was a long, slow walk. And it was a good job that I decided to leave myself plenty of time because by now quite a wind was blowing and the sea was roughing up.
We left 20 minutes early straight into the wind. They let me upstairs and outside quite early on so I sat on the buoy and filmed our departure, and then took plenty of photos on the way back. I was joined by a young boy at some point who was quite interested in the geography and history of the area so we had quite a chat.
Standing up to go back inside as we pulled into port, this was where I had my fall and that was that, right in front of the President of the company that is now operating the line. A couple of crew members came, picked me up and sat me in a seat while we tied up.
Climbing the 30 steps up to the passport control was agonising, really agonising. Luckily it was the same passport control officer on duty so I gave him my carte de séjour along with my passport and that kept him happy.
As for the walk back here, I don’t really want to talk about it. I don’t think that I’ve ever been in so much difficulty. Climbing the stairs was even worse. Back here I collapsed into my chair and that was that until bedtime.
During the night though I’d travelled miles and it took me a while to transcribe all of the notes. I started off skiing. Things were just totally confusing. I had a bag of chips and some coffee etc. You had to enter this house by the 1st floor window. That was how the ski slope started. You had to climb up there and then ski down and keep on doing that all the time. I was in this queue with my bag of chips and my coffee but there were no ladders going up to the 1st floor windows. You had to lift yourself up with your arms onto a kind of ledge, push yourself up and in. I couldn’t do that, not in my state of health and with my chips and coffee etc. In the end the woman behind me gave me a leg up. Everyone was moaning because they all thought that I was pushing in the queue. By the time that I was up there on top everyone had gone there from behind. I sat down with my ships and coffee. a woman came clambering in through the window. We made some kind of witty remark about what i’d been up to in that queue. I mentioned that my coffee was going cold. She said that there was another coffee. Someone climbed in through the window behind her so she asked him if he had a coffee for me, but he didn’t. Then I couldn’t find my chips (“maybe I’d had them” I mused later). I could find loads of newspaper but the actual piece of newspaper with the chips wrapped in, I couldn’t find that at all. My idea to sit down and have a quiet 15 minutes to eat my chips and drink my coffee looked as if is was totally wasted
There was a drugs gang based in Nantwich that had been supplying drugs throughout Europe. This was at the time that the political changes were taking place in the late 80s and early 90s. There were all these upheavals happening and they were taking advantage of it to flood the world with the drugs from the Congo. Eventually they were caught. They were in Court and the judge was describing them as totally vile and evil human beings who’d brought death and misery to millions”. It looked very much to me as if he was leading up to a penalty of life imprisonment.
Later on I’d been round to someone’s house as a teenager. We’d been hanging out together. His mother didn’t look very happy at all. I had the impression that she’d been having arguments with the in-laws. Someone had died and the in-laws were bringing themselves much further forward in their lives and making it a misery for everyone else as they did things their way. I think that this woman had had some flak. She asked us if we’d like a coffee. We replied “yes” so she disappeared. We carried on doing some stuff and then decided that we’d go and play Scalextric upstairs in the bedroom so he’d go and tell his mother. I thought “yes, we’ll have these coffees as well because it’s been taking ages”. He went into the kitchen and there was his mother sitting on a chair really red-faced looking as if she’d been crying. I went over and was about to ask her what was the matter when I noticed a gesture from this boy to say nothing so I said nothing. He simply explained to his mother what we were doing. We went upstairs to his room. The 1st thing was to find my headphones that someone else had picked up and was wearing instead of theirs. I had to sort my headphones out and generally organise myself for this game of Scalextric but it was this guy’s mother who was worrying me.
And then I had to go to work so I decided that I’d take the Melody again. It was rather later than usual so I set off. I noticed that I didn’t have very much fuel so I went towards Stoke on Trent and turned off down a side road that went down a steep hill and back up the other side into a town where I could fuel up. I was actually pedalling it at this point. I came to the town and stopped at a road junction. Some woman who ran a corner shop said that someone was asking after me which I thought was strange because who knows that I’m coming this way and how would she know me anyway?. I asked what time and she replied “about 06:53”. I went and found a petrol station and fuelled up. Someone was there with an enormous cat in a cage. They’d taken the trap off the cage so you could see inside it. Everyone wanted to stroke it but the owner was very possessive of it and wouldn’t allow people to stroke it. We all said that it was a really wonderful cat. That cheered him up a little.
That dream where I was on my bike, I ended up with a young Chinese girl. I’d been in Crewe and was trying to find a bus back home. I couldn’t work out where the bus stop was and I couldn’t out the bus times so I just waited. I saw a bus arrive that was going back to my house so I shouted at it. he pulled up about 100 yards down the road. I had to run. It was really crowded but I fought my way on. The Chinese girl was on there. We started to chat and ended up having quite a flirt about. It was quite obvious that we were a couple. She complained that I hadn’t had a shower which was quite right. Anyway she’d had a lot of financial problems spending largely on her credit card. She’d had to sell her house and use the equity to pay off her credit card. I talked to her about that but she didn’t seem in the least embarrassed or anything. In the end it was quite later, almost 02:00 when we pulled up in the town where we had to alight. She went skipping off to the tram and I had al ths stuff to carry. I dropped half of it so I picked it up and we went outside. She was telling me about a shop there that had a couple of kittens. Then we set off to walk the rest of the way home
And finally I was back on that tram, with an English girl this time. She had to reassemble her glasses again because they came apart and she put them in her glasses case. We boarded the tram but there were only 4 or 5 of us on there and she wouldn’t come and sit by me or sit on my knee or something. We began to talk to the driver who was a professional boxer. He was to have a fight on the Monday night and if he were to win it he might even go through the entire season undefeated. This tram rattled in towards the city centre to pick up everyone else and the alarm went off.
It’s no wonder that I was exhausted after all of that. But I’m more interested in seeing how I feel tomorrow.
Right now though I’m off to bed and there will be no alarm in the morning. I’ll sleep until I wake, and then I’ll come back at some point during the day tomorrow to tell you all of my story.
“I am hurt but I am not slain, I’ll lay me down and bleed a while, and then I’ll rise and fight again” as said Sir Andrew Barton, according to one of the Child Ballads.
The photos will follow later.