Plymouth (September 2008)
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Having worked hard during the week, I knew I'd finish all the urgent things I needed to finish by midday, so asked my boss if I could have the afternoon off. He agreed, but had forgotten that I was on holiday on Monday and Tuesday. I thought I'd booked the car from 2PM onwards, so called up National Car Rental during the morning, and FastTrackBoy answered the phone (at least it wasn't Assisstant FastTrackBoy). After what seemed like ages, he told me that I'd already booked it from midday onwards. Unlike last weekend, I hoped that I wouldn't be downgraded to a saloon, and that I would get a car with an empty ashtray and that somebody hadn't been smoking in previously.
Yesterday, I realised that I hadn't got any way of cooking things when we're camping, having given up trying to find gas cylinders for the gas cooker I've had for about 25 years, so had to go into Millets to buy a new camping cooker. It was also about time I bought a new sleeping bag (the one I'd bought in Austria in 1991 was on its last legs), and a pump so that I didn't wake everybody up using a pony cylinder to pump up the air bed when we get back from the pub. Not wanting to pay to park, I thought I'd try to park in Tesco car park - surely it couldn't be as difficult as two weeks ago with Zoe. It took at least five minutes to find a parking space, so I won't be doing that again! As I was walking into Slough, Sarah called (I was beginning to get worried about her, since I hadn't heard from her since Wednesday), and we chatted as I walked to Millets. As I got there, I saw a sign that said "Tents from £6.99". I mentioned this to Sarah, and she said that she wanted a tent, and asked me to buy her one. The bloke in the shop (Lee) was very helpful. The cheapest tent was a "paint your own" tent, which didn't have any paint with it, so he gave me 15% off. Sounds good to me! I bought all the other stuff I wanted, and then walked back to the car (calling Max on the way).
Back at home, I loaded most of my diving and camping kit into the car, and then had a cuppa while updating my blog. I'd decided that it was too wet and windy to camp, so had called Danny, who said we could stay at Bovvie. Rodney was concerned that he shouldn't dive with inflamed tonsils, but decided to come down anyway. I drove to Slough Scuba to get my cylinders filled. I had to empty the cylinders on the way, because I'd tried leaving them in the car emptying, but they set the alarm off. I still had Nitrox27 in my twin-set, but wanted air, because we intended to dive to 50m. Gary filled my cylinders, and made me tea.
While my cylinders were being filled, I went to the cash machine, and got out 50 quid. At the cash machine, I saw an advert for the National Lottery, so popped into Budgens to buy a Euro Millions ticket. I was surprised to find that it doesn't sell them, but I bought two Mars® bars instead. Back at Slough Scuba, Gary offered biscuits around, and then helped me carry my cylinders to the car. I then called Rodney - he hadn't heard from the diving doctor, but decided to come anyway.
As I was driving towards Reading, my phone rang - it was Danny. I didn't answer it, because I was driving, but I was worried that he might be cancelling the diving. I got to Rodney's gaff, and Danny had sent a text message telling us what room we'd be staying in. Job done. We loaded Rodney's dive kit into the car, and I went to the shop opposite, and bought four cans of Stella, and a Euro Millions lottery ticket. We then set off to drive to Plymouth. [To be continued.....]
We set off along the M4, but TomTom soon had different ideas, as there had been an accident further along the M4. Initially, it changed our ETA to 22:45, but I asked Rodney to get it to give us the quickest route (which it should do automatically), and it told us to turn off at the next junction. Fortunately, it gave us a little bit of warning, so I didn't have to swerve across two lanes of a motorway. TomTom then took us across country for a while. Feeling hungry, I stopped at some "local services", and ordered a burger. It wasn't the best burger ever, but I was hungry, so anything tasted good. We continued our journey, and arrived at Bovie before 10PM. As we rounded the corner at Bovie, we saw a massive ship all lit up like a Christmas tree. We had no idea what it was, but it definitely wanted its presence known!
Rather than gimmering around tomorrow, I decided to park in our usual kitting up spot, instead of next to the bunkrooms. As we got about a third of the way down the slope, a wave broke over the harbour wall, and almost touched the car! I stopped, reversed back up the slope, and parked by the bunkrooms. Things didn't look promising on the diving front! We got a few things out of the car, and cracked open the Stellas. It had been a fairly long day, so it wasn't long before we called it a night.
I woke up fairly early and, leaving Rodney sleeping, made myself a cuppa. There was nobody else about, so I started putting my kit together while drinking my tea. Danny and Dave turned up, looked at the sea, and then went to launch the boat. There was still nobody to chat to, so I continued putting my kit together. My kit was ready, and next to the harbour, and there was still nobody else around. I made myself another cuppa, and starting writing my trip report. I saw Danny arrive, so, hoping he wouldn't ask me to tie any knots, I went to offer my assistance. After a few minutes, he decided that it was too rough, so gave me the keys to the shop, and went off to moor at Mount Batten. I gave the keys to Nick, who opened up.
Dave arrived a few minutes later, and suggested that I move my kit back up to the car, because the waves might wash it away. I started walking over, and Dave shouted to suggest that I reverse the car. Without Dindin to reverse for me, I thought this was a bad idea. Dave kindly reversed down in his motor, and said that we should wait until a wave has passed, and then jump out to get the kit. He got bored of waiting, so we went to get the kit anyway. A wave broke over the top - Dave managed to shelter behind the car, but I wasn't fast enough. Fortunately, I'd put on my Postie coat, so didn't get too wet.
We took my kit out of Dave's car, and I packed it into the hire car. A few minutes after this, Rodney appeared. I told him that my kit had already been ready to put on the boat, but he didn't believe me. Fortunately, I'd taken a picture, because I knew that nobody would believe me if I didn't have photographic proof. Unfortunately, I must have changed the settings on my camera on Wednesday, because I couldn't zoom into the pictures that I took.
After a few cuppas, Dave said that we were unlikely to dive today, so Rodney and I went off to gimmer around (although Dave did ask us not to start drinking until 4PM, just in case the weather got better). The first thing we did was go to Morrison's to buy a frying pan, because I'd forgotten to bring one with me. We called Zoe and James to see what they were up to. Zoe didn't answer, but James said to call Mel to find out what the plan is. We did this, but she didn't answer either.
We parked at the car park by Table Table (what a stupid name for a pub), and walked across the swing-bridge to go to the Mayflower Museum. I'd wanted to go to this for a while, and Rodney was up for it too. It wasn't that expensive, and we learnt a lot about the Founding Fathers, and Plymouth history. We were then feeling quite hungry, so went for a bite to eat at Table Table. After confusion with the parking ticket, I eventually managed to order our food. The service and food was pretty good, and the waitress totty was pretty tasty too! Mel and Zoe hadn't called back, so Rodney and I went to the Plymouth Aquarium. It was pretty good going with Rodney, because he was pretty good at pointing out the interesting stuff. There were lots of children, and I was surprisingly tolerant. I even moved out of a kid's way, so that he could see better. A few minutes later, he saw something he liked, and turned round to me, and said, "Look, Daddy!". I soon pointed him in the direction of his daddy, just in case he got any ideas of talking to me again!
Towards the end, there was a ride that we paid a few quid to go on. I sat down, and got a bit wet. I hoped that water was part of the ride, and that I hadn't sat in something nasty. Fortunately, it was the former! When we paid to go in, we got some vouchers to spend because we'd paid using Gift Aid. We went to the café to spend these vouchers on tea and food. It was almost time to go, but not before we had a presentation from one of the totty who work there. No wonder the turtle kept knocking into things - he's almost blind!
In the shop, we decided to buy something for Scary's new baby. We found a lot of toys that weren't suitable for kids under 36 months, but found one that looked similar to the others, but it didn't say anything about age. Not knowing anything about children, I asked some parents what they thought, and said that it looked OK. We bought this for the baby, and a turtle kit for Emma.
Next, it was time to buy some food to barbeque in the evening. Rodney had mocked me for bring the BBQ because he thought it was going to rain all weekend, but had come around to my way of thinking. There wasn't a fridge in Morrison's, so we left buying the lager until later. Scary called me while we were queuing, which was strange because we'd just found another present for his baby. I was going to be diving on Monday and Tuesday, but Rodney had to get back on Sunday (he'd forgotten about this until we got half-way down yesterday). We therefore found out from Danny what time we'd finish tomorrow, and then bought a cheapo advance train ticket.
On the way back to Bovie, Rodney went to Sommerfield to buy some Stella, and that was us sorted for the evening. We lit the barbeque, and left it to get going. Before starting on the Stella, I fixed the holes in my tent's groundsheet that James had found last year, and then tried to take some pictures of the lit-up German Navy ship. Without a tripod, this was proving difficult. I tried leaving the camera on self-timer so that I didn't shake it when pressing the button, but the wind blew it over when I left it on the wall. Oh well, I got a few shots.
By this time, the barbeque was ready to cook on, so we slapped on the burgers and sausages, and opened the Stella. Rodney started drinking a can of gin and tonic, which seemed really strange (especially considering he doesn't like gin and tonic!), but soon went onto Stella. Nick joined us for a bit, but decided against having a beer. We only had 3 cans each before feeling tired, and calling it a night.
I woke up fairly early again, and made myself a cuppa, leaving Rodney sleeping. My kit was still set-up from yesterday, so I just drank my tea, and continued writing my trip report. I then started cooking the eggs on my new gas burner and new frying pan. Danny and Dave turned up soon afterwards. There had been a breakdown in communication, because they thought that Nick and Max weren't arriving until tomorrow, but they were actually on their way, and wanted to dive today. This meant we dived later than intended, which gave us even more tea-drinking time. Dave had been going to dive with me on Monday and Tuesday, but told me today that he hadn't dived for a few weeks, and didn't fancy 65m. Nick and Max arrived, and I was surprised when they said they were happy to dive as a three. Nick was quite hungry, so I cooked him an egg sandwich to keep him going until lunch.
It was still very choppy today, but it was OK to dive. The visibility on the Persier wasn't particularly brilliant, but we've dived in worse. Rodney wasn't doing accelerate deco or deep stops, so I offered to use the SMB, so that he didn't have to do deep stops. Once Rodney had cleared his deco, and was just doing an extra few minutes, I gave the SMB to him and surfaced. I don't like doing this, but was busting for a jimmy, and really didn't think I'd last that long. Instead of wearing my usual undersuit, I was wearing my light-grey leak-finding clothes, and found a slight leak on the front, and another on the auto-dump. Rodney reckoned that the one on the auto-dump isn't worth complaining about, and I have to say that he might have a point!
Back on shore, Max said that she didn't want to dive to 65m if the visibility was going to be the same as we'd had at 35m, but Nick was still considering it. I was definitely up for it, but didn't want to be too pushy. In the end, Nick decided against diving, so we just ate diver burgers, drank tea, and then drove home.
On the way home, TomTom never wanted to update the travel information. I dropped Rodney off in Reading without hitting any traffic, but as soon as I got back onto the M4, the traffic was stationary. I was annoyed by this, but the blockage wasn't too far ahead, so I wasn't stuck for too long. Not wanting to have to fill up the car tomorrow morning, I filled up at the Tesco garage before going home. There were still two cans left over from last night, so I supped one of those before going to bed.
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Created on: 06 Sep 2008. Modified on: 25 Sep 2008.
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