Sunday 30 July 2017


This is a sort of complement to my trib to Samuel Smiles. The Beloved and I spent last week+ in Bath creating and adventuring with the Grandchilder.  Eee it were luvly! After a final trip with the Gkids to The Great Dell the Botanic Garden, and the playground in Royal Victoria Park, we headed off for the 0245hrs ferry. The playground was slammed with small-small children. One of the positive benefits of the ubiquitous smartphone is that children are now left more to their own devices on the slides and swings as The Mammy minds her Friendface on her own device.  The Great Dell aka the Orc Forest / The Last Battleground / Mohican Parkour was, for the entire 30 minutes we spent there, empty but for ourselves and GdauI's infinite imagination. Getting an illicit [it's the sugar it wires them up] smartie-chip cookie into the Gkids fed them far less of what matters than running and ducking in among the mighty trees of The Dell. If you make it up as you go along, then you own the day and its memory.

Leaving Bath at lunchtime was designed to give us two hours in Gardd Fotaneg Genedlaethol Cymru at Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire. But those two hours were frustratingly eaten up by stop-go-stop-go 'Motorway' driving between the Bristol and beyond Swansea and when we got to the turn-off it was 10 minutes to closing. We had planned to dine in the pretty village of Pembroke but the two hotels were full-booked and the chipper ceased trading (at 8pm!) as we approached the door. That left dining in Pembroke Dock, a much sadder and emptier village,  as the available option. We could have sat into an empty Indian restaurant that ominously wasn't even taking in any take-away trade but that was super-sad and not without its risk, perceived or real, of a dose of Campylobacter. We cruised up and down the limited grid of streets and found a loud, bright and cheery pizzeria Pizza Time on Meyrick Street [R pic] run by genuine Italians.  It was friendly and hot'n'wholesome and we sat in out of the Welsh drizzle on an overstuffed white sofa [my sort of place, indeed] to eat pepperoni pizza and veggie calzone. Yum! recommended.  Even with this consumption of time and calories we got to the ferry dock with about 5 hours in hand, which is ridiculous but got us pole position in the waiting area.

Being there first got us loaded right up against the bow doors and we headed up to the Club Lounge [L with complementary banana and tea and nobody to eat it] on [very top!] Deck 11 to get ourselves horizontal for  what was left of the night. We had intended to lash out cash for a cabin, because we're not students anymore, but when we booked there was no cabins available. I thought Club Lounge [at £18 a head! for 4 hours occupancy] meant Pullman seats, quiet and dark, but it rather meant "complementary" hot and cold drinks and snack food . . . and possibly a lower density of people to fight for horizontal space.  You have to eat a helluva lot of mini-croissants and micro-cupcakes to get £18 of 'value'.  There was a rather shameful run at the 'free' food counter by other passengers as they arrived most of which got cleaned away uneaten tsk!  But at least we could get a 'free' coffee as we approached Rosslare to set us up for the short run home.

When the girls were small was coincident with my travelling days as a Eurocrat and itinerant teacher. These trips inevitably meant a night and breakfast in a continental hotel and I used to bring home dinky little pots of jam for m'daughters. It was the only time they were going to get peach jam and there is something timeless about setting out a doll's tea-set with real jam. I'd also carry away the shampoo and shower-cap if they were nicely parcelled up.  On the ferry, this weekend,I should have known better but I lifted two little servings of honey in plastic tubs . . . old habits die hard.  While we were in Bath, Dau.II had treated herself and The Bloke to a two night mini-break in Belfast. She's making a habit of these jaunts, having 'done' Killarney last year. Last night we were comparing notes by Skype and she said she was about to scoop the complementary shower gel into her bag when she realised that The bloke was laughing at her. "Why would I want to acquire a micro-bottle of dodgy shampoo from Belfast when I have a large bottle of shampoo that suits my hair back home in Cork?"  Nevertheless, she brought away 2x shower-caps and 2x shampoo as ironic gifts for Dau.I and BFF, whom she was meeting in Dublin on the way home. On our way home, because we were literally the first car off the ferry, we pulled into the yard exactly 50 minutes after disembarkation. Win!

Final piece of paranoid-advice from Quora: "Never use a hotel kettle. Some really lazy, drunk people put them at the side of the bed if they need to pee during the night but can’t be bothered to get out of bed." There, that's ruined your day or at least your next stay at the Sherhilton.

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