Published in the WOW! supplement of the Evening Echo 20/06/2007
I could have sworn the light was green.
Whether it was the way the sunlight was glinting off the traffic-lights, or just an odd reflection on the lens of my sunglasses, I took off while the light was still red. The garda on the motorbike who was approaching from the other direction was not amused.
I pulled the car over and got out. Naturally I was very apologetic for my error. I explained that I’d been convinced the green arrow was illuminated, and that it was one of those freakish tricks of the light that happen occasionally.
Stony faced, the garda asked to see my license. As I fished around in the glove compartment for it I saw him give our car the once over. It was packed to the rafters with stuff. Three little faces peered out from among our mountain of belongings, wondering what the Garda was talking to their Daddy about.
We were passing through Waterford, on the way to Rosslare to catch the ferry to Cherbourg on the first leg of our camping trip to France and Spain. This wasn’t a particularly auspicious start, and we were already behind schedule.
The garda scanned my license with a critical eye. It still had our old Douglas address on it. We moved more than four years ago now, but somehow changing the address on your license is one of those things you just never get around to doing. That worked in my favour now.
The garda must have been stationed in Douglas at some point, or had some other Douglas connections, because he told me to watch the lights a bit more closely in future, and said that as I lived in Douglas I could go on my way. I couldn’t believe my luck.
Crisis averted, we set off again, and made the ferry terminal with minutes to spare. After a short wait we rolled aboard. Travelling by ferry was nothing new to the girls – we do it relatively frequently when we visit my family in Wales. What was different about this time was that we’d be sleeping on board.
When we got to to our cabin I was pleasantly surprised. I’d been expecting a cramped, uncomfortable box. Instead there were four reasonably sized bunks, with more than enough space for all of us to move around comfortably. There was a functional en-suite with toilet, washbasin and shower, and, best of all, there was a window letting in plenty of light. The décor was a bit dated, but it was spotlessly clean, and more than adequate for our needs.
Facilities on the boat itself were limited – we’d opted to travel with Celtic Link, which is primarily freight company, but that also takes passengers. The usual children’s play area and shops were absent, but the lounge was comfortable, and we had plenty of colouring books and activities with us to keep the munchkins occupied. As a backup I’d also brought along a selection of children’s DVDs to play on the laptop.
All of our meals were included in the price of the ferry too – dinner on the evening of departure, and breakfast and lunch the following day. The food, like the cabin, was much better than I expected it to be, and there was plenty of it. There was also free tea, coffee and water available for the duration of the voyage, and a bar selling drinks at normal prices, as opposed to the inflated rates you’d expect to pay on a ferry.
The verdict from the children was unanimous: this was “the best ferry ever”. Based on our crossing I’d have say that I’m inclined to agree with them.
Technorati Tags: Ferry travel, children, parenting