Plymouth (1st & 2nd August 2009)

Totty Trains
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Friday 31st July

The weather forecast last night said that it was going to start raining at about midday today, and carry on until midday tomorrow. I didn't really fancy camping in that weather, so I called Rich while I was cycling into work, and suggested staying at Bovi. Understandably, he didn't fancy that idea, so said he and Chris would drive down on Saturday morning. I called Dave, but they'd had a last-minute booking last night and every bed was taken. I therefore booked myself into Mountbatten. Just after I'd done that, Dave called back to say that somebody had cancelled. Oh well!

I left work early and walked to National Car Rental (via the grocery shop to buy a Scotch Egg, of course). As usual, it took FastTrackBoy ages to sort things out, but he got there eventually. Every time, he comments how neatly folded my driving license is, and then proceeds to refold it the wrong way! Anyway, I drove home, loaded up the car, and then started driving to Plymouth. I don't really like Chris Evans, but his Friday night Radio 2 program does play very good music, so I listened to that until 6PM, when I started listening to Radio 4. I stopped for a quick bite to eat at Delamere Services, and to "change drivers" at Collumpton. By this time, I was listening to my iPod, and listened to Hits of the 70s, The Best of Rolf Harris, and Cliff Richard.

Driving along the A38, TomTom said that I'd arrive at 21:08, and I was determined to arrive before 9PM, and gradually brought my arrival time forward. I arrived in Plymouth, and was told I'd arrive at 21:04. I was unlikely to arrive before 9PM, and reduced my chances even further by not paying attention to TomTom and managing to take a wrong turning, which added two minutes to my journey. It was tipping down with rain, and I was amused to hear Cliff Richard singing about a summer holiday! As I got closer to Mountbatten, TomTom got confused with the one-way system. When I went what it thought was the wrong way along the one-way system, it suddenly brought my arrival time forward by two minutes, and I arrived at 21:02. If only I hadn't taken that wrong turning.

I checked in OK, but wasn't impressed to find that they didn't start serving breakfast until 07:30. Rich and Chris were intending to arrive at about half-eight, and I couldn't have them driving from Bradford-on-Avon and arriving before me! However, I wanted to have my traditional fried egg, so wasn't sure what to do. I was also disappointed to find out that I needed a card to use the downstairs showers, so there'd be no blagging them on Saturday after diving. I dropped my bag off in my room, and went off for a pint in the Mountbatten pub to see if there was any totty. I'd paid 35 for a double bed, so might as well make use of it!

There didn't seem to be any single totty in the pub, but it did serve Stella 4, so I settled down to start writing my trip report. Since AvantGo stopped providing mobile content, I don't use my PDA as much as I used to, so didn't realise that the battery was low, so I didn't get very far with the trip report. There was some totty in the bar at Mountbatten, but I decided to stay in the pub. There was no wi-fi, so I had to use GPRS to surf t'internet while drinking my second Stella. I decided not to have breakfast at Mountbatten (it cost an extra five quid), and to risk my emergency Scotch Egg. The worrying thing was that we would be out on the boat all day, and I wouldn't be able to top up the emergency Scotch Egg with a fried egg in the diver burger. Back in my room, I put my PDA on to charge, set my alarm for 07:00, and was asleep before 23:00.

Saturday 1st August

I was amazed that I had a full eight hours' sleep, and I didn't wake up until my alarm went off at 07:00. I packed my things into my bag, left the room key with the security guard, and drove to Bovie. On the way there, the windscreen started steaming up. I'm used to having Rodders or Dindin to work out the heating controls, so got a bit confused for a while. In the end, the heating controls were of no use because it was fog/mist outside that was obscuring my view! There was only one other car parked at the harbour's edge, so I parked next to it, and carried my twin-set to get it filled, and then made myself a cuppa. Danny was bringing the red boat around, so Dave was there to sort out breakfast for the masses.

I walked back to my car to start sorting out some of my kit, and noticed that I'd had an "early morning toot toot" from Rich. They arrived with plenty of time (and certainly before I would have done if I'd had breakfast at Bovvie). My breakfast consisted of a Twix and two bread rolls. Certainly not the healthiest breakfast in the world! Two of Rich's mates were diving with us today, and they arrived not long after Rich and Chris. Soon afterwards, the Red Boat arrived. Wow! There was plenty of room. Even with all the kit on board, there was still plenty of room left. The cabin was big enough for all of us to easily get into if it was cold or wet. It had stopped raining, so there wasn't much need to go inside the cabin.

Danny's youngest son was helping out. I think that he would have been very helpful, but, unfortunately, it was very choppy, and he was feeling sea-sick, so he wasn't as helpful as he might have been. There was talk of diving at the Edistone, but we went to Hands Deep instead. I'm not a big fan of scenic dives, but Hands Deep never disappoints. The shot was in about 20m of water, and Danny had told us which was to go. I didn't pay much attention to his brief, intending to follow Rich and Chris. I tried putting air into my suit when we got to the bottom of the shot, and I felt water coming in. I tried again, and there was definitely water coming in. My dry-suit feed had come undone, and I couldn't get it back on. Fortunately, Rich managed it without any problems, and I inflated my suit before I got squeezed too much.

As usual, I've got no idea what we saw on the dive, but I remember it being a cracking dive. After a lot of confusion about how many minutes of decompression I had to do, and at what depth, we surfaced. Although it's always been fairly easy getting onto Blue Raider and the black boat, having a lift to get us into the red boat was brilliant. As instructed, I turned around, so that Danny could take my fins off, but didn't think to lift my feet so that he could take them off. What a fool! With everybody on board, we headed back to Bovvie. The plan had been to stay out all day, but Danny had taken the cups off yesterday to wash them, and forgotten to put them back on. I didn't fancy a whole day without tea, so was glad there was time to go back.

Our second dive was the JEL. Yet again, my plan was to follow Rich and Chris around. On the previous dive, I'd spent a lot of time in front, so promised myself I'd follow for this dive, and I did. After going the wrong way towards the stern, Rich navigated us to the stern, and back again. I like diving with Rich and Chris - like Dindin, they never try to get me to use the DSMB.

Back on dry land, we took our cylinders over to be filled, and went to put our tents up at the campsite (via Morrison's to get some food for tomorrow and a second emergency Scotch Egg). I'd mended the holes in my groundsheet last year, so hoped that my air-bed would stay dry. Once I'd put my tent up, there were three more things to do before we went to the pub - have a shower, blow up the air bed, and have a cuppa. I think you can guess which one had priority!

Some of the other guys on the boat were staying at the campsite, and had booked a table at the Foxhound. Talking about the Foxhound Inn, surely as an inn, it should have rooms to stay in. Anyway, we arrived at about 7PM, ordered some drinks, and sat down to read the menu. There were some deserts desserts listed on the board, but there were no specials. Rich asked about the specials, but Chris agreed that there weren't any. Chris went to order our food, but was told that we wouldn't get our food until quarter to nine. We didn't want to wait that long, so decided to get fish 'n' chips. Chris kindly went next door to order them, and, when we'd finished our drinks, we went to eat them propping up the wall in the car park.

As we were eating, my phone bleeped to tell me that somebody had left me a voicemail message. Not wanting to be anti-social, I didn't bother picking up the message. Once we'd eaten, we went inside for a few more drinks. We sat down on some more comfortable seats, and then noticed a specials boards with loads of meals on it. Oh dear! Chris called it a night after one more drink, but Rich kept me company for a third. Back at the campsite, I picked up my voicemail message. It was from Danny, saying that they'd come to join us for beer and food, but that they'd given up when they found out how long the wait for food was. They must have walked past the chip shop while we were inside. If only I'd picked up the voicemail messasge. Worried that my mobile battery wouldn't last the night, I turned it off before going to sleep.

Sunday 2nd August

I woke up lots of time during the night, but knew it wasn't time to get up because it was dark. When it was light, I had to turn my mobile back on, so that I could find out what time it is. After another 8 hours' sleep (although it wasn't a solid 8 hours), I got up, and put the kettle on. At least this morning, I was going to have a fried egg to make sure I didn't get bent. Perhaps I should actually have had two to make up for yesterday. We took the tents down (my groundsheet still leaked), packed things into the car, and then left to drive to Bovvie. Rich waited for me to leave - I knew he wasn't being polite, he just wanted to find out my short-cut. I drove along the main road, giggling to myself, thinking about suddenly turning left along the short-cut, taking the turn at a speed that I could take in my small hire car, but that Rich could never take in his Volvo. I didn't actually do this, but I did turn my headlights on, so that my little car didn't feel left out in the 24-hour headlight stakes. After a few minutes, I went around a corner, and saw a jeep towing a boat. I squeezed past, saying, "you'll never get a Volvo through there". I looked in my mirror, and was right. I waited for Rich to appear in my rear view mirror, and then continued driving. They certainly wouldn't have seen the funny side of being left half-way along a short-cut, with no idea where to go! There were lots of people at Bovvie already, so it was more difficult to park. Danny had told me that we'd be leaving at 09:00, but admitted once we'd arrived that it was actually 09:30. This gave me so much gimmering time, I almost had a kip in the car. The others started loading the boat up at about 09:00, and I wasn't even in my undersuit. I didn't realise that leaving early was an option, but was ready to leave at 09:15.

On the way out to the Persier, Danny announced that the urn had boiled. I took people's orders, and made the tea and coffee. Having downed my previous cup, I realised that I didn't actually want a drink myself, but still made other people their drinks. There was nobody to help Danny today, so he had to put my fins on himself. Rich and Chris had mentioned that we might see a Jon Dory. I had no idea what a Jon Dory is, so Chris described it. Just after a cloudy swim-through (it wasn't cloudy for Rich, but it was cloudy for Chris and me - I wonder why!), we saw a Jon Dory. A bit later, we saw a long fishing line. I ascended to avoid it, just as Rich lifted it up to have a closer look! He considered cutting it and moving it away, but decided we didn't have enough time. Back on the boat, we went into a bay to have lunch. The Morrison's chilli pasties did the job, and I actually had a cup of tea on this round!

Our second dive was a scenic dive on East Ruts. It was a cracking dive, but I didn't have that much time for a no-stop dive. Just as my VR3 went into decompression, I signalled to Rich and Chris that I would ascent, but they should carry on the dive. They agreed to this, and I got out my SMB. Just as I was about to deploy it, I saw somebody else having just deployed his SMB, so I ascended with him, leaving him to do his 3-minute Suunto safety stop while I got back on the boat. Top man!

Back on dry land, we dropped our kit off at the cars, and took our cylinders to be filled. I wanted an 80% nitrox fill as well, so had to wait a while for my cylinders to be filled. Still, that gave me time for more tea! I stopped for a sandwich and diesel at Exeter Services, and TomTom then directed me onto the A303 to avoid traffic on the M5. After a while, I pulled into a lay-by to call Sarah and have a jimmy. She didn't answer, so I just continued my journey home (via the Tesco petrol station so that I didn't have to fill up tomorrow morning).

Back at home, I realised that I'd left the cupboard-under-the-stairs light on. It could have been Bird when she collected her post, but I doubt it. I unloaded the car, watched this weekend's Click, watched the ten o'clock news, chatted to a POF bird on t'internet, and then went to bed (alone, unfortunately).

2009/08/04. Written on the King's Cross to Hull train.


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Created on: 31 Jul 2009. Modified on: 23 Aug 2009.
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