Zoe's Porthkerris Trip
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I didn't realise until yesterday that Porthkerris is almost in Penzance. No wonder everybody else was taking Friday off work, and driving down during the day! Unfortunately, because my boss is on holiday, I don't have that luxury, but I did leave work a little bit early, because it was quiet. It didn't take me that long to load up the car, but my PDA refused to synchronise with my PC. I hate it when things don't work as easy as they should. I stopped off at Slough Scuba to borrow a torch charger, and get measured for a dry-suit. When Gary gave me his spare charger, I realised that I hadn't actually lost mine after all, I'd just got confused!
The traffic on the M4 didn't seem too bad, but the traffic reports said that it was slow between J18 and the M5, and then southbound on the M5. I decided to come off at J18, and drive through Bath. If I hadn't been in so much of a hurry, I would have stopped off for a quick cuppa as I drove past Mr. Elley's house. I was worried about not arriving before closing time, and even more worried about falling asleep because of the long journey. Fortunately, I had plenty of water, and some quality CDs to keep me going. I started off listening to Radio 2, but when Chris Evans's show started, I tried to tune into Radio 4. I pressed the wrong button, and ended up listening to Radio 1. I was shocked to realise that I recognised the song - I can't remember what it was, but I think it was an Ace of Base song. I only listened to Radio 1 for the one song, and then tried to tune into Radio 4. I had to go past Radio 2, and Chris Evans was playing Wam Bang Man. I haven't heard that song for ages, and spent the next hour listening to some quality cheesy songs. After that, I switched to my CD collection to keep me awake.
When I got as far as Collumpton, I needed to stop for a wee. I never leave my phone in the car, so went to get it off the dashboard, and put it into my pocket. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it. I knew it was in the car, because it had rung while I was driving. After looking for about 5 minutes, I still hadn't found it. I went to the car next to me, and asked the driver to call me. Just as I asked him, I realised that I'd stumbled upon an excellent chat-up line. I'll have to use that in the future!
I had a quick wee, and then started on my journey again. Just as I got to the roundabout, I realised that we hadn't changed drivers. Not wanting to risk anybody getting a bend, I drove back to the petrol station, and stopped. I got out of the car, walked around it, and then sat in the passenger's seat. I then got out of the car again, walked around it, and then sat back in the driver's seat. Hopefully that would be enough to make the weekend bend-free.
Apart from that, it was a fairly uneventful journey. The directions that I'd printed off from the web seemed OK, until I got close to the dive centre. I eventually got there, but then had to find where the others were camping. I had a choice between going straight on, or turning right. I went straight on, but there were no signs to the dive centre, and lots of signs for contractors. Nobody seemed to have a mobile signal, so I couldn't get through to ask for directions. After about 5 minutes, Sam called, and started giving me directions. I couldn't make any sense of them, but the road had got really narrow, so I turned around, and took the right turn. This didn't look any more promising - no signs to the dive centre, and lots of signs for contractors. After a few minutes, I saw some tents in a field, with a few cars, and some big 4x4 vehicle. I drove up to them, but there was nobody there, so drove back out of the field, and carried along the road a bit further. The road ended, and I started going off-road. This didn't look promising, so I turned around yet again, and tried my original choice of going straight on. About a minute past where I'd turned around the first time, I started seeing what Sam was describing. I eventually arrived at the campsite at 23:05. I've never arrived at a diving trip after 11PM before, but thanks to everybody for their directions.
When I arrived, I was up for a few bottles of beer, but everybody else was knackered, so went to sleep (except for Mel, who helped me inflate my air-bed). There was supposed to be a boys' tent, and a girls' tent, but Mel wasn't feeling too well, so brought her own tent. Olly and Rodney somehow managed to get into the girls' tent, leaving me on my own. That wasn't fair - the initial plan was for Olly and Rodney to sleep in my tent, and for me to sleep with Zoe and Nic. I much preferred that plan.
Thanks to Mr. Elley's kind loan of his camping stove, it didn't take us long to get breakfast going (thanks to Dindin for doing most of the cooking). I really wasn't impressed with the location - it was miles from the nearest pub, but we still had to drive to the dive-site. Granted it was only about a minute down the hill, but it was still a drive none-the-less.
Everything seemed quite up-to-scratch. We all signed the relevant forms, and Rodney had even remembered to bring his qualification book. Things were looking good. A few guys had to fill cylinders, and we were ready to go. Believe it, or not (probably not), I was the first one ready with my kit by the water's edge. When the skipper came in, I asked if he could put my key somewhere dry. He laughed, and said, "It's a rib, there is nowhere dry". Well, I've been on plenty of ribs with dry boxes, so I don't know where he got that idea. Anyway, he offered to put it in his dry bag.
Our first dive was the Volney, and I was diving with Dindin. Knowing that my dry-suit would leak, I was wearing my semi-dry this weekend. As we swam towards the shot, my "octopus" reg was breathing quite wet, so I switched onto my "main" reg instead. This seemed much better. On the dive, we found a starfish that had started the evolutionary process of turning into a sea urchin. We also played hide-and-seek, but Dindin wasn't very good at that game!
During lunch (tea, burger, and cheesy chips), I mentioned about the starfish. Until Zoe looked it up in her book, nobody believed me that the starfish, and the sea urchin are related. I'd forgotten that they're also related to the sea cucumber as well. I amazed myself with my knowledge of sea-life. While we were gimmering around between dives, Zoe started looking through my CD collection. Worryingly, she was really impressed, and wanted me to leave the car in the car park, so that we could play the music during our BBQ. While waiting around, we found out that somebody had lost a VR3. The woman in the shop didn't believe that a dive computer could cost about £700 when I told her how much a VR3 costs. We went to search the beech, but another shop bird had already found it. Being a gimmer, I forgot to tell Dindin this, and he carried on looking!
Our second dive was on San Marie Something. The skipper seemed like a good lad - giving me jip, as most people end up doing. I was diving with Mel (totty dive). Unfortunately, I didn't have any Maltesers to persuade her to flash her cleavage at me (where's her husband when you need him!). I've got to be honest, I can't remember what we saw during the dive, and I have a nasty feeling that I was quite well behaved. Strange things are afoot!
Back on dry land, I left my torch charging overnight before the guvnas went home. While I was there, VR3LosingBoy was there, collecting his VR3. I tried dropping hints that he should buy VR3FindingBird dinner, but he just ignored me. I then went for a shower. I was not impressed to find out that it cost a quid per shower, but the showers were actually quite nice. Some of the others went on a night dive, but Dindin, Mel, and I saw sense, and stayed dry. Doing a night dive didn't stop the others from having a few beers first though. Tut tut! Apart from Mel getting through a whole bottle of wine on her own, and VR3LosingBoy's mates having their own BBQ, I can't remember much about the evening, but Dindin did a top job on the cooking front. I can see why Sam goes out with him.
Having had a few beers, I wasn't going to drive my car up to the campsite, it made much more sense to leave it in the car park, and walk up. Dindin, Zoe, and Mel didn't share the same logic, and drove up to the field.
Before starting to cook, I walked down to the car park, to have a look at the sea. It looked quite flat, so I was happy. I saw Rodney's glasses in my car, so took them back up with me, and put them on the bonnet on Dindin's motor. A few minutes later, the wind gusted, and blew Rodney's glasses off the bonnet, breaking one of the arms again. Mr. Elley's stove was running low on gas, but still had enough left for breakfast. Because Rodney was sitting in Dindin's motor, fixing his glasses, I forgot about him when handing out the portions, and he ended up with 1½ pieces of that fried potato stuff. He wasn't having a good morning.
We went to collect our cylinders, and were not impressed to see CylinderFillingBoy smoking. After putting the twin-set next to my car, I went into the office to complain. Zoe had said that we could choose our depth on the first dive. Hoping for a bit of 50m action, Dindin and I dived together. In the end, we got to a maximum depth of 25. This is probably a good thing, because my torch was still charging in the office. We had a sea-cucumber jerk-off. Dindin won, but, being a gimmer, held it the wrong wa around, so got covered. I had to kick him several time to make sure that he didn't get any on me!
Back on dry land, we ordered lunch. Several portions of cheesy chips were dished out, but mine were nowhere to be seen. I went up to ask, and the bloke, and he'd forgotten. He apologised, and put some more chips on. More people turned up, and ordered food. A while later, I heard cheesy chips being given out, so ran towards the van, shouting "You're not giving my cheesy chips away again are you?". Yes, he was. I had to wait yet again for him to put more chips on. Fortunately, Nic had made Olly a very nice birthday cake, so I had some of that while I was waiting. I remembered to collect my torch battery from the office. Zoe asked whether charging it for too long would damage it. Silly girl! It knows it was plugged in by a Chartered Engineer, there was no chance it would get damaged!
I can't remember the name of the wreck that we dived for our second dive, but it was the wreck that I almost came a cropper on with Andy Foey (of Great Sea Cucumber Ejaculation Dive fame) in the late '90s. It was Sam's 69th dive, so, as tradition dictates, she had to dive with me. Sam feels quite sick on boats, so that meant that I had to kit up quickly. I actually did a pretty good job; I think I've eventually learned how to kit up properly. It was a brilliant dive, with boilers the size of Cat's tits. Zoe had said that Sam is good at finding little things (another reason for her to go out with Dindin), and she wasn't wrong. Sam pointed out more things than I could imagine existed. I used the SMB on the way back up. As we were hanging around at 6m, I heard a bang, and the SMB went lose. I'd obviously been hanging off the line that little bit too hard! I reeled in the SMB, and the clip has there, but no SMB. Not wanting to use my yellow SMB, I took my reserve little pink one (ooh-err), attached it to the reel, and pulled where it said, "Jerk here"!
Back on the boat, we saw an SMB wondering around on its own, but it turned out to be Rodney's. I started complaining that I'd used two CO2 cylinders on one dive, and Dindin asked me why I had two orange SMBs. Well, for this very eventuality! We never did find my SMB.
Back on dry land, we packed all our dive kit away, left our cylinders to be filled by SmokingCylinderFillingBoy, and then got ready to go out. As I walked towards the shower, I was asked to tell the guys in the office that the showers had stopped working, and that there were lots of naked, angry, soapy, people inside. The skipper just looked at me, and said, "It just had to be you to come to tell is that, didn't it?". Another bloke ran over there, hoping that he'd catch a glimpse of totty.
We then had to work out how to get to the pub. I found the pub's number using Google, and then called it (I can't remember whether it was the White Hart, or the Three Tuns), to find out when it stopped doing food, and what the number of a good taxi firm is. According to Zoe, taxis need to be booked early, so the taxi driver knows not to get drunk! The barmaid I spoke to offered to collect us for £10 per trip (it needed two trips). That sounded like a good deal -we'd figure out how to get back later.
Sam reckoned that there was a short cut from where our tents were to where the barmaid was going to collect us. I suddenly realised that she was right - the tents that I'd seen on Friday were our tents, and they were unoccupied, because everybody was on the beech getting drunk!
We only had to wait a few minutes for the barmaid to collect us. On the way there, I referred to Porthkerris dive centre as being the Fawlty Towers of dive centres. The barmaid then said that she knew the owners quite well! I didn't think that it mattered, because I didn't mean it in a nasty way, but it could have ended in tears! She also told us not to get cash in the local store, because it charged commission. I think that she was referring to the cashpoint, and not to cashback (at least I hope so, because Sam and I had got cashback there yesterday, before having joining Dindin and Rodney for a pint at the pub that we didn't eat in tonight).
Finding a table didn't look easy, but we found a small one, and hoped that we'd be able to scare some people off one of the larger tables. The next group arrived (I'd stolen totty for the advance party), but somebody was missing. I can't remember who was missing, but when Nic realised that he/she had gone to get cashback at the local store, she suddenly jumped up, and ran out of the pub. Top lass!
The food was good, but we ended up with main courses arriving before starters, and not getting most of the desserts. I can't remember much about what we discussed, but I do remember the depth of the Titanic being discussed. I had no idea, but Dimdin reckoned it was about 200m, and Rodders reckoned it was 800m.
When we were ready to leave, the barmaid was ready to drive us back, and we then discovered that the £10 was for a return journey, not just one way. She was still doing quite well out of it, because she was using her parents' car, and Nic gave her a £10 tip, after I'd already paid the bill!
Before going to sleep, I had a look on the 'net to find out how deep the Titanic actually was at. Wikipedia reckoned that it was at a depth of 3,821m! Ouch!
It had been really windy all night, and the wind hadn't died down at all by the time we woke up. I didn't rate our chances of being able to cook on camping stoves, so we just took the tents down. That was hard work in itself. I think that the only tent to be packed away properly was Zoe's, because Mel and Sam crawled along it, to keep it flat, while Zoe rolled it up.
We arrived at the dive centre, with only Zoe and Mel being up for a dive. The sea was as flat as a mill pond (we'd been camping on top of the hill, so caught the full force of the wind), but the food man wasn't there, and I didn't fancy diving on an empty stomach. Rodney decided to join the girls, so it was a boat-load of three! We got jip from the skipper, but I still didn't fancy it.
The food boy turned up late, and started cooking. After two cuppas, and breakfast burger, and a big dump, I was ready to dive. The reason that the food bloke turned up late was because he'd had too much Doonbar the night before. I was not impressed, I ended up missing out on a dive, because one of the employees had drunk too much the night before!
I offered Nic a lift back to Slough. I couldn't justify sharing the car hire costs with her, but I really didn't want to drive all that way on my own. Zoe had mentioned that she might go back via Plymouth, to avoid the traffic jams on the A30, but the travel reports said that the A30 was flowing freely. They still said that, as we got stuck in traffic jams in the roadworks!
Apart from the traffic jam, and stopping at a skanky service station just before the M5, we had a nice journey back. I realised that I'd hardly really spoken to Nic before, and the journey hardly seemed to take any time at all as we chatted all the way back to Slough. There were Minis all over the place (there had been some kind of Mini Adventure in Cornwall, so our scores on the Mini game were quite high.
The one thing that sticks in my mind about the things that we spoke about on the way back was the fact that even microwaveable plastic containers do put plastic in our food. Since I microwave food almost every day, this worried me slightly. To avoid the M5/M4 junction, we drove through Bath. As we were driving out of Bath, Dindin called us to invite us in for tea. Seemed like a good idea to me! I dropped Nic off at Slough station, drove back home, unloaded the car, and went to sleep. It had been a lovely, but tiring, weekend.
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Created on: 22 May 2007. Modified on: 03 Jun 2007.
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