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Scillies (3rd - 12th July) - Pictures to be added

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Getting There and Back

Hiring a car for a week and a half just to park it in Penzance for a week seemed silly when both Rodney and I were going, but when Rodney dropped out because of work, it seemed ever sillier. Rob had offered to take my kit to Penzance, but, last weekend, we realised that there wouldn't be enough room for me as well. Fortunately, last weekend, Chris offered to give me a lift from Bath to Penzance, so all I had to do was to get a train from Langley to Bradford-on-Avon. Getting back was going to be more complicated - I had wanted to get the sleeper back, but it only runs 6 days a week, and Saturday night is the 1 day that it doesn't run. I therefore had two options:

  1. Stay in Penzance and get the first train back in the morning.
  2. Get the overnight coach to Heathrow.

The latter seemed the better idea because I knew I'd have to go into work on the Sunday. Last night, Rodney had offered to drive to Penzance on the Friday, dive on the Saturday, and then drive me back on Sunday morning. I wasn't going to argue with this offer, but it seemed a bit silly from his point of view. He reckoned it made sense as long as he could get somebody from Reading to dive with him.

Friday 3rd July

Rob and Nic had been intending to collect my dive kit at about 11 o'clock, but Nic had pointed out that it wouldn't be that pleasant driving in the midday sun (after all, she's neither a dog or an Englishman!), so they said they'd collect it at about half-eight. My dive kit was already packed, and I'd piled all my clothes up last night, so I didn't have much packing to do. I got up at about seven o'clock and packed my clothes. I'd got out a shirt and nice trousers, but realised that they'd look silly with white trainers! I therefore packed a pair of shoes as well. I thought I'd got rid of my metrosexual side, but I've obviously still got it.

Nic called me ten minutes before they arrived, and I put the kettle on. They had time for a quick cuppa before we loaded my dive kit into the car. Gary at Slough Scuba had said he'd lend me a cylinder for Nic, so they popped into Slough Scuba on the way to Penzance. This worked out well for me, because I needed my twin-set filled. I had got it filled before leaving Bovvie last weekend, but whoever filled it didn't open the manifold, so it was only half full. Once they'd left, I had plenty of time to tidy up at home before catching the train to Bradford-on-Avon.

At about quarter-past-twelve, I realised that I didn't know what time train I had to catch. I looked at the e-mail from FGW, and found out that I had to catch the 13:22 from Langley. Ooops. I hadn't even finished packing, still had washing in the washing machine, and hadn't re-programmed my TV recording schedule. I just about managed to get everything done, except I got confused setting it to record Money Box and Click. I had intended to pay two cheques into the Nationwide and buy a screw-driver from Langley Hardware. I had time to pay the cheques in, but would have to borrow a screwdriver in the Scillies. As I was walking up the road, I realised that I'd left my recycling bin out, so would have to call Bird or Gimmer to ask them to put it back from me.

I made it to the train station just as the train was pulling into the station. There must have been an event on at Henley, because there was some top class totty on the train, who kept me amused by talking about breast size. I arrived at Reading station with seven minutes until the next train to Bath Spa left. Unfortunately, I had one of these stupid advance purchase tickets, so had to wait for the train after that one. If I'd looked at the train times properly, I would have caught the 13:52 instead of the 13:22. Time for a rant to Network Rail I think. Anyway, it gave me time to get some cash out of the cash machine, buy a samosa and a drink, and add some comments to my guestbook and the Langley Gasworks rant page.

The train left on time and, apart from two gimmers using their phones in the mobile free carriage (see Twat of the Day), it was a fairly uneventful journey. I arrived at Bath Spa on time, and felt a warm glow when I carried an old lady's suitcase down the stairs (everybody else was just pushing past her). I went to walk up to platform 2, and there was a bloke blocking the stairs saying that all trains were leaving from platform 1. I went back to platform 1, but things weren't going well. The London-bound train at platform 2 had broken down. An announcement said that people who wanted to travel to Reading and London should catch the next train to Bristol, so everybody on the broken down train got off, and platform 1 became even more crowed. Another announcement said that people who wanted to go to Chippenham should go to the office, but there was still no information about Bradford-on-Avon, so I decided to get the bus. This cost 3.50, but I'll be claiming that back from FGW, don't you worry!

Fortunately, Chris wasn't due back from work until about 5PM, so I didn't delay our departure at all. Yesterday, Rich had reckoned we'd arrive in Penzance at about 9PM, but after about 15 minutes, he realised that we'd left the food shopping at their place, so we had to go back. I don't remember anything particularly exciting happening on the way down, but we had a nice time chatting and putting the world to rights. We stopped at Exeter services for a bite to eat. When we got to the till at M&S, Chris and I started arguing about who should pay. I wanted to pay because they were kindly giving me a lift, and Chris eventually agreed. I looked at the cashier, and couldn't figure out why the stupid woman wasn't giving me any change from my tenner. The food cost about 13 quid. What a stupid old gimmer I am!

Rich had driven the first bit, so Chris drove the second. As we got closer to Penzance, Chris had the idea that Rich and I should have an "iPod off", so we both went through our iPod collections choosing songs. I certainly won as far as cheesy songs are concerned, but Rich had the edge on quality music. We had a few problems finding the YHA hostel, but we arrived, with my iPod playing YMCA. If it hadn't been for leaving the food behind, we would have arrived at exactly 9PM. Rob, Nic, and Zoe were already there. Thanks to Rich and Chris for giving me a lift down, and thanks to Rob and Nic for driving my kit down.

Rob and Nic had already checked in, but we had to pay our non-member supplement of 3. I was a member, but didn't have my membership card. As Rob pointed out, they wouldn't be able to find my membership details, but the woman checking us in proved him wrong, and interrogated the YHA database. Excellent. For the 4th time in my 20-year membership, I was staying at a Youth Hostel. It turned out that we weren't the only people to have got a bit lost - Rob and Nic had followed the walking directions, instead of the driving directions!

After checking in, we went to the local pub for a few drinks. The was no Wife Beater on offer. so, instead of Senorita Beater, I had a pint of Doombar. In a turnaround of events, Rob was drinking lager. Rich asked for Betty Swags for the second round, so I followed his example, and wasn't disappointed. I can't remember much about the evening, but Rich told us his master crate-packing plan, and we discussed Nic's need for twin-7s. She wasn't aware of this need, but we'd work on her during the holiday!

As we were finishing our drinks, somebody suddenly remembered that the YHA locks its doors at 22:30. The landlord heard our conversation, and said, "Yes, you'll be locked out now.". I immediately asked, "So can we be locked in here?". Unsurprisingly the answer was no, so we walked back to the Youth Hostel. Fortunately, it was only the reception that closed at half-ten - we could let ourselves in using our swipe-cards. As Rob had pointed out by text message, it was a very nice Youth Hostel, and I was impressed that they'd even made the beds for us. The toilets were nice and clean, but there were 6 of us, and only 4 toilets, so I had to wait. While I was waiting, I saw a bat-like thing sleeping. I took my camera out of its pouch to take a picture, but the Velcro must have disturbed the bat, because it flew away. Its radar was obviously confused, because it flew backwards and forwards along the corridor unable to find the window. I'd never seen a bat before, so was just amazed watching it. It eventually flew down another corridor, so hopefully found somewhere to sleep. Being last into the room, I got a top bunk, but managed to climb up the ladder OK. Thanks to Nic and Rob for making the beds.

Saturday 4th July

I didn't set an alarm, assuming that somebody else would have set one. Fortunately, two alarms woke us up at 7 o'clock, followed by Rich's Howard's Way theme tune (I assume there should be an apostrophe in Howard's Way, I hope I'm right). There was time for a shower (the showers were also really nice, except for the shower head not spraying very well). We headed off to the ferry port fairly promptly, to try to get there before the "pond life" arrived. I'm glad I wasn't driving because there was a lot of reversing needed. I helped Rich and Chris unload the contents of their car into the crate (with Rich being in charge of the packing, trying to ignore a bloke who tried to help him!). Rob and Nic turned up, closely followed by Zoe, followed by Nick and Max (who'd driven down from Bath in the morning). I was also introduced to Emily who would be diving with us. With the crate loaded and the cars parked, Max and Chris went to find out whether the plane would be leaving. The woman looked bemused, and informed them that wind didn't stop them flying. The others went off to have breakfast, and Rob, Nic, Emily, Rob and I went to get on the ferry. While we were waiting to get on, I called Gimmer to ask him to put my recycling bin away.

I found the café straight away, and sat down to reserve a table. There was lots of pokiness around, but I was hungry, so had little choice. Rob and Nic joined me, and then went to join the queue for breakfast (thanks to them for getting me breakfast). While they were queuing, I e-mailed and called Abel and Cole to check that I'd cancelled Monday's delivery [4/7/09 10:58 to be continued, I'll have a quick kip before we arrive at St. Mary's]. I found somewhere nice to kip. It seemed close to children, but they seemed well behaved. Just as I was about to sit down, one started running around shouting "she's been sick, she's been sick". I therefore found somewhere else to kip, woke up as we were coming into St. Mary's, and went to find Rob and Nic.

We met up with the others, but had to wait a while before our crate was unloaded, so that gave us time to have a locally produced ice-cream. The crate arrived and we chained the stuff into the St. Mary's to St. Martin's ferry - thanks to Rich for unloading the crate and Nick for loading the front of the boat. It didn't take us long to unload the kit onto the new quay, and we then walked up to the Dive Flat and put the kettle on. It seemed wrong to sit around doing nothing, so we went back down to the quay to check all our dive kit worked. Rich and I popped into the shop to get some ice-cream, but I was disappointed that it wasn't nice ice-cream, but never mind. After sheltering from a brief shower, we went down to the quay.

Once we got there, I realised that there wasn't actually anything I could do apart from setting it all up. It seemed stupid to kit it up and take it apart again, so I just left it kitted up, hoping it would be OK left on the pier. We went back via the baker's shop. The pasties were enormous, but, fortunately, Rob was up for going 50:50. Back at the flat, Nick and I had what ended up being an hilarious game of Top Trumps. It's difficult to explain why it was funny, but I haven't laughed this much since yesterday's journey down when I found out that Gordy's internal song is "Love is Like a Butterfly"!

We had a really nice stew for dinner - thanks to Chris and Rich for cooking. Some Pimms and wine was knocked back, but I was waiting until we went to the pub. In the end we didn't go to the pub, but Nic kept me company while I went for a quick walk. I wasn't desperate to go for a pint, but it seemed strange not to check out the Seven Stones.

Sunday 5th

Tim wanted us to leave the quay at 08:30, so I wanted to get up at 07:00. Unfortunately, Nick and Max had the same idea, and I was gagging for a jimmy. I went to use the other toilet, but was surprised to find only one piece of toilet paper left! Anyway, I found the eggs hidden at the back of the fridge, so I wasn't going to get bent! We all arrived on the quay in good time, but I didn't have that much to do, because I'd done my kit last night. This gave me time to relax before we had to carry our kit onto the boat. Tim gave the boat brief, and then said that we were 8 minutes away from the dive site. I therefore got kitted up straight away, and was ready first. Unfortunately, I had to wait a while for Zoe to kit up because she helped Nick kit up in his rebreather.

It was Zoe's first UK dive since this time last year, so I suggested that she led the dive so that she wouldn't have to tell me off for going too deep. The King Had Wallum was a cracking dive with a wreck, a swim-through, and lots of pretty stuff. We didn't stay that deep for that long, but it was long enough to have to do 2 deep stops. There wasn't that much pretty stuff close to the surface, but it was still a top dive.

For a day when the wind gave us little choice of where to go, we had two top dives (despite there being no wreck on the second dive). On the 2nd dive, Zoe went off on a mad depth mission. I didn't want to dive deeper than our first dive, so I spent most of the dive about 5 metres shallower than her. As usual, I have no idea what we saw, but I still enjoyed it.

After unloading the cylinders, we walked back to the flat. The others had either Pimm's or Gin, but there was no beer, so I drank tea and water. After dinner, I quite fancied a beer, so Rob and Rich joined me. There were three women sitting on their own, and a woman in red sitting on her own at the bar. I was tempted to try my chances, but decided that I'd rather chat to Rob and Rich. They only wanted one, but were happy to stay while I had a second.

Monday 6th July

We had a later start today (09:00), which gave us more tea-drinking time before we had to leave. I delayed making my fried egg until the others woke up (just in case I set the smoke alarm off), but made my sandwiches while I was waiting. It turned out that Zoe had kindly made me some while I was in the pub. Top lass. I fancied a bit of time to myself, so started off walking on my own towards the quay. It was Nic's 69th dive. I'd forgotten about the rule of 69th dives, but, fortunately, she hadn't. Rob kindly said it was OK to borrow Nic as long as I gave her back later.

I must stop starting to get kitted up first, because I'm not used to being ready first. I think I need to get back into my old ways. Anyway, it was a fun dive with Nic. Rob had told me last night that she was a bit of a depth demon, but she didn't go that deep with me today. We dived "The Chain Wreck". We found some of the chains, but didn't find the two Fife Wheels (unlike some previous divers, nobody started looking for the other three!). We saw quite a bit of life, but didn't find any treasure. When it was time to ascend, Nic got out her SMB, but expected me to blow air into it. It's been years since I'd inflated an SMB in this way, so I was a bit taken aback. Anyway, I took my main reg out of my mouth and inflated the SMB. I then put my reg back in my mouth and looked at Nic. I could see her, but no SMB! We therefore had to use mine, which took a bit of untangling. Proper advanced SMB avoidance technique on Nic's part!

With the twin-sets and rebreathers, there wasn't as much cylinder changing as previous years, which helped whoever goes down in the hold to pass up the cylinders. I'm glad I have a twin-set, because it hopefully means I don't have to go into the hold. We switched back to our original dive buddies for the second dive, so Zoe had to put up with me again. The current was quite strong, so I kept on having to hold onto things while Zoe took pictures of little things that I could hardly see.

Back at the dive flat, we spend a fair bit of time creating diver trumps. It took lots of arguing to narrow it down to 8 categories. How much arguing would there be when we got around to assigning scores for each person! After another top dinner (curry), I fancied a pint. Rich felt "honour bound" to keep me company, and Nick joined us too. This time, I only had the one pint, but we tried Tribune instead of Heligans. Rich didn't approve of the Tribune, and Nick didn't like the smell of the pub. I therefore suggested that we drink Heligans tomorrow and sit away from the toilets.

Tuesday 7th July

An even later start (leaving the quay at 09:15) meant even more time to drink tea and sit around. Unfortunately, Tim had a bad back, but he was still willing to take us diving. Rich was happy to spend all day in the pub, I was happy to drink tea all day, and everybody else was happy to go back to bed, but, instead, we went diving.

Our first dive was the Plympton and Hather. Tim gave his usual excellent brief, and I then asked Zoe what she wanted to do. "I don't care, you can lead this dive". If only I'd paid more attention to Tim's brief. Fortunately, Rich summarised it for me before he jumped in the water. At the bottom of the shot, I looked at my compass, and signalled to Zoe which way to go. She didn't look happy with my choice, so I rechecked my compass, and was convinced I was right. We followed Tim's brief, and ended up at the deep part (unfortunately we didn't quite go as far as the bow). For some reason, I looked at my contents gauge and saw I had only 110 bar left. I therefore reached behind me, and tried to open the manifold. My default reaction meant I closed it, but I eventually realised what I'd done wrong, and opened it, to hear the rushing of air between cylinders. I then thought it would be a good idea to turn on the 60% mix on my VR3. It's a good job I don't use one of those Suunto gas-switching computers.

Zoe took over once we got shallower and we went off to look at some pretty things while decompressing and she offered to use the SMB. While we were hanging around at 6m, I decided to switch to my deco' mix, but Zoe didn't understand my "you watch me switch" signal, but I just switched anyway. I didn't know that she hadn't done the gas-switching course. I really should pay more attention!

Our second dive was a last-minute change of dive site, we dived Easter Rock (10/10 to Max for guessing when Tim found it!). I took my camera housing, and it didn't leak, so I'll be taking pictures tomorrow. We saw some long-legged straggly thing, other divers, and lots of colourful things that I still don't know the names of. I really ought to sort out a Sea Search course with Becky. We had to surface after 30 minutes to avoid going into deco, even though I had stayed above Zoe for almost all of the dive. I'm glad that the conservatism on my VR3 will stop me getting bent, but it does limit my dive time a bit.

Rob and I walked back via the baker's shop to pick up a pastie and something vegetarian for Nic. I was sure there was something that I wanted from the shop, but I couldn't remember what it is. Thanks to Rob and Nic for cooking a white wine sauce thing (including separate meat and vegetarian versions). Emily came over for some wine and a chat. She sketched the Plympton and the Hather so that Rich can create a nice colourful version on his Apple laptop. After I'd done the washing up, I decided I fancied a pint. Rich no longer felt honour bound to join me, so I went on my own. This gave me time to make a few phone calls on the way to the pub.

At the pub, I ordered a Honey beer and sat near the bar, instead of near the toilet. There were the same two girls chatting and playing cards at the same seats at the bar as last night, the same couple eating at the table next to them, three new people eating dinner, and the landlady serving. The totty propping up the bar were with the couple eating, so I didn't bother chatting them up. I considered pulling the recently-divorced landlady, but decided to drink my beer and write up this trip report instead.

Back at the Dive Flat, everybody had gone to bed, and Chris had left me a note saying that they'd made me sandwiches. Top lass. Before going to bed, I put today's dinner in the freezer, and had a quick cuppa.

Wednesday 8th July

An earlier start this morning, and I heard the kettle being turned on while I was still in bed. It was Rich, who had to leave earlier than the rest of us because he was helping Tim recover the boat. The tomato sauce was a bit looser today, so I managed to get some out of the bottle to have on my daily egg sandwich. It was lovely and sunny while we were walking towards the boat, and it didn't seem as windy as previous days. This was Scillies as I remember it, although the slightly longer walk from the Dive Flat instead of Rock Cottage wasn't ideal.

As we got further out, it got a bit choppy, so I didn't start kitting up much before anybody else. Fortunately, I seem to be kitting up in a reasonable amount of time, so I didn't delay things too much. Our first dive was the Italia. The shot was in about 25m. I couldn't remember much about Tim's brief, but I remember him saying something about swimming down the middle, so off we went, with Zoe stopping to take pictures along the way. Waiting for Zoe gives me time to rest, but I'm beginning to appreciate what Dindin had to put up with when diving with me! As we were swimming deeper, I saw a diver with a twin-set with no bubbles. I started swimming towards him/her, but soon realised that he/she had stopped breathing while taking a picture.

I carried on swimming deeper, but lost sight of Zoe, so had to swim back past the boilers to find her. She swam into sight, so I carried on swimming. I lost her again, so swam back to find her where I'd last seen her, looking very annoyed. Ooops! We swam shallower, bumping into Rich, Chris, Rob, and Nick on our way. Once my computers cleared, I put up the SMB. I wanted to do a few extra minutes, but didn't want to annoy Zoe any more, so didn't insist on them. As it was, she carried on taking pictures for a few minutes before realising I had put the SMB up. Back on the boat, Zoe said that she'd waited for 5 minutes without seeing me. Ooops, she can't have seen me when I came back to find her the first time. No wonder she wasn't happy. I'll certainly have to behave better in the future.

We weren't going to dive again until 12:20, so had plenty of time to laze around. We moored up against the dive boat that Jeff and Bee were diving on, and had lunch. There were lots of sailing boats around, so we wondered whether they'd complain about all the riff-raff divers. Fortunately, they need divers to check their moorings, so they weren't going to say anything. Our second dive was Gugh Reef (pronounced goo). Making sure I was better behaved on this dive, I stayed close to Zoe, but this didn't extend to going as deep as she did. I took my camera on this dive, and took quite a few pictures of colourful squidgy things. They're very unlikely to be anywhere near as good as Rob's and Zoe's, and certainly won't be as good as Tim's, but I thought I'd give it a go. We saw Nic attaching an anchor to the shot line, and ascended up the shot line. Fortunately, Tim was happy with Nic's find.

If we went back to St. Martin's, we'd have to either use the dingy, or wait around for an hour, so we went to St. Mary's to get fuel. This gave me enough time to go to the Cashpoint® and buy some ice-cream. I don't know why my fear of heights has suddenly gone, but I'm glad that it has, because it was a long way up the ladder. I bumped into Rob who was walking back from the Chemist's shop. He didn't have enough cash, so was glad that I was going to the Cashpoint®. As we were walking along, a girl came up to us, and said to me "I thought you were a postman, but you're a diver". It was her day off today, so she'd also been diving. I do like how friendly people are in the Scillies.

Only Tim and Rich wanted ice creams, which made my round cheaper than I expected. It was almost even cheaper, because the Eastern European totty got confused with her English numbers, and asked for 4.80 instead of 8.40. Rich came up the ladder, and took down Tim's ice-cream for him. At least that meant that Rob and I didn't have to figure out how to carry two ice-creams each down the ladder!

As we were eating our ice-creams before climbing down the ladder, so top Sea Search totty arrived, and started talking to Tim. Rob didn't waste any time chatting to her either! Tim invited her to dive with us tomorrow. Excellent, I'll need to develop an interest in squidgy things tonight! Fortunately, she gave Tim some marine life identification booklets, so I looked through one of them while we were travelling back to St. Martin's. When we got back, we had to move our dive kit towards the back of the boat, because herds of pokey little kids were going to go snorkelling. Chris went back via the baker's shop to get some sausage rolls (I wasn't hungry enough for a pastie, but when Rich mentioned sausage rolls, I couldn't say "no"). As we were walking back, Rich suggested creating "Rust Search", so we spent quite a bit of the afternoon working on that project. Unlike Diver Trumps, this didn't cause any arguments at all.

After dinner (Rosotto Risotto - another new food that I'd never tried before),we caught a boat to watch the gig racing. Excellent, lots of fit women all in one place! The St. Martin's team didn't win, but never mind. When we got back to St. Martin's, we helped the girls women pull the gig out of the water and into the gig shed. The others stopped helping when the gig got close to the shed. I couldn't believe that they'd left me in a shed full of very fit women!

After tea and muffins, I tried to persuade Rich, Nick, and Rob to go to the pub. To be honest, I was feeling a bit too tired to go, but the lure of gig racing totty was a bit hard to resist! Nobody else fancied it and I couldn't be bothered to go on my own, so we all stayed at the flat (although I did pop out to call Bird quickly). This was turning out to be a very dry week for me (it wasn't being very dry for the others, with Pim's, gin and red wine going down fairly regularly).

Thursday 9th July 2009

Loads of tea drinking time this morning, followed by time spent waiting on the quay. These "late" mornings are the way forward. The tea drinking time gave me time to swat up on Sea Search stuff, and I was amused to find the acronym BAP used frequently. As Nick pointed out, I should tell the Sea Search totty that I like her BAPs! Anyway, we left the quay on time, and went to collect Angie from St. Mary's. As soon as she got on the boat, she was surrounded by people asking about squidgy stuff. I considered joining in the conversation, but realised that, despite my swatting up, I didn't understand what they were saying. I considered saying, "You like wildlife. Well, I'm hung like a donkey.", but decided against it.

Nic suggested swapping buddies, but somehow I ended up diving with Rob. He's a nice lad, just not totty! We got down the shot OK, but when we got to the bottom, the current took us in the wrong direction. After a few minutes of not finding the wreck, we swam against the current, and found Nick messing about with the shot. This amused me, because I thought that he hadn't found the wreck either, and the only piece of metal he could find to play with was the shot. I tried to take a picture of him, but my camera didn't want to play. I started trying to find out why, and looked up just in time to see the shot flying towards me (it was Tim pulling the shot, not Nick throwing it at me). I put my arm in front of my face, and just about got out of the way in time.

We then swam in the correct direction, and saw lots of squidgy stuff, found a cave, saw Nic and Zoe, and then surfaced. We had lots of time between dives. Max tried to help my cause with Sea Search Bird by offering my proof-reading skills for the next Sea Search publication (not that there were any problems with the one I read yesterday). Somehow we then got onto the colour scheme of my house, and she somehow decided she should come to my house to decide on the next colour scheme. I've used some dodgy lines in my time, but that takes the biscuit!

Like the first dive, the current was going to change very quickly, so we would get little notice for getting ready, so I started getting ready early-doors, so I wouldn't delay things. Nic wanted Rob back, so I dived with Zoe again. We were diving near the Gorregan. Tim dropped us off up-current of the shot, so I could just drop onto the shot-line straight away. Deciding if you can't beat them, join them, I went as deep as Zoe went, and started taking squidgy pictures. I saw the new Sea Search Bird, so paid even more interest to the squidgy stuff for a while. I saw Rich and Chris swimming out of a swim-through. I fancied going in, but since they'd already swum through it, it wasn't virgin territory, so I didn't bother.

We continued the dive, but I had to call it a day after 30 minutes because I hadn't stayed as shallow as I should have done. I went shallower, and waited for Zoe to catch up. She swam past me, but didn't see me signalling to go up. I therefore unclipped my SMB, unfolded it, and then pulled the inflate lever. Nothing happened. I checked the CO2 cylinder, and it had a hole in it, so I obviously hadn't replaced it after yesterday morning's dive. I folded the SMB up, and clipped it back onto my wing. Zoe was still in sight, so I caught her up, tapped her on her arm, and signalled that I wanted to go up. I don't think she believed that my SMB didn't work, but eventually agreed to use hers.

Back on the boat, we found that Rich, Chris, Rob and Nic had seen a seal in the swim-through. If only we had gone through it. Thanks to Chris for buying some wine gums yesterday, because the Sea Search totty liked them. We briefly stopped at St. Mary's, and then went back to St. Martin's. After unloading the cylinders, I went to the shop to collect the milk, and Chris went to the baker's shop to buy bread and sausage rolls for Rich and me. While in the shop, I bought some ice cream, and remembered what else I wanted to buy. Unfortunately, neither make of baby wipes was flushable, so I only bought the milk and ice-cream. I forgot to buy some wine gums, so we'll have to go without tomorrow.

Rob and Nic had bought ice creams from the tea shop, which looked much nicer than the Wall's ice-cream from the post office. We didn't have that long before we had to collect the fish 'n' chips, but had enough time for a shower, two cups of tea, half a sausage roll (there was only one left) and half of a muffin. Four of us also bought signed copies of Tim and Anna's book.

Max had booked fish 'n' chips on Tuesday, and collected eleven quid off everybody to pay for it. Max, Nick, Chris and I went to collect them. It was a longer walk that I expected, but I realised on the way that we were going to meet Sandie's in-laws. We had to wait for a while for the food, but the surroundings were nice, and we decided to eat there tomorrow night. The woman serving wasn't sure whether there were spaces, so asked us to call tomorrow. I was interested to see that the restaurant serves unpasteurised milk. When I first came to the Scillies, we used to collect unpasteurised milk from the farm, but it had to stop selling to us due to EU regulations. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the fish 'n' chips were cheaper than Max expected. We took the fish 'n' chips to the quay, where the others were waiting for us, to eat our dinner while overlooking the sea (and the giant crab graveyard).

After we finished eating (and the others had drunk all the wine), Rich and Rob joined me for a couple of pints at the Seven Stones. We had to wait for the barmaid to finish serving a "tosser of a customer" (her words, not mine) before Rob got served. We took some seats outside, and chatted about diving and photography. The boys were up for another drink, so I got the second round. I offered to buy the barmaid a drink, and she asked for 6.20. I thought that Sunday's round was 9.15, but didn't argue. Rob said that his round was also about 9, so the barmaid obviously fancied me (after all, she's a woman).

We got back just before 10 o'clock, and were surprised to find Nic and Zoe still awake. It seemed that they were waiting until 22:00 before going to bed, so didn't stay up too long. Nick, Max, Rich, and I stayed up a bit longer. I updated my website, while they continued working on Rust Search (with some Latin advice from me). Nick went onto Wikipedia to look something up, and then went onto the random page, and found one about Gropecunt Lane.

Friday 10th July

A slightly earlier morning meant that we had to get up at 06:30 instead of 07:00, and there was less tea-drinking time. I woke up to find that Zoe wasn't in bed. I went into the living room to see her sleeping on the sofa. Ooops! She reckoned that she'd woken me up a few times during the night to stop me snoring, but I don't remember being woken up. Still, as I realised later, it was her turn to sleep on the sofa!

It was another lovely morning, and we were all there on time (thanks again to Rich for helping Tim sort the boat out). I wasn't sure whether I'd dived the Trenamine before, but I'd been assured that it was a brilliant dive. Unfortunately, I didn't start kitting up before everybody else, so wasn't ready first this time. In fact, as usual, I was ready last. Since I'd forced Zoe to sleep on the sofa, the least I could do is ask her to decide on our maximum depth and stick to it. She said 40m, so that's what we did. We got to 40m fairly quickly, and a seal started playing with Zoe. She seemed quite happy with this, but said later that she was worried about it dragging her deeper. We saw lots of lovely squidgy stuff during the dive, but, without the new Sea Search totty on board, there was no need to pay too much attention to what we saw. As I swam towards the boat, Zoe swam off towards the rocks to play with the seals.

Nic stole Zoe for the second dive. Since I'd decided to sit out the second dive, Rob dived with Rich because Chris's neck seal had broken. This meant that Chris and I had to drop and recover the shot. Oh dear! I can't remember the name of the dive site, but it's the one with slave tokens on. Rob and Rich founded pieces of some slave tokens and some pieces of pottery.

After dropping Emily's stuff off at St. Agnes, we went back to St. Martin's. It was low water, so we had to unload the kit into the rowing boat and wade ashore. It was hard work towing Rob and Zoe while I waded ashore. It was the last day of diving for Rob, Nic, and me, so we packed up all our kit before walking back to the Dive Flat. Rob and Nic were staying for a week of sightseeing, and I had to go back to work.

Having started early, we had plenty of time to gimmer around before we went out for dinner at 8PM. Max and I went to the St. Martin's museum and the flower shop (I'd seen some gig racing totty working at the flower shop yesterday, so I wanted to have a look around!). I then walked back down to the quay to put my 2nd VR3 and my flip-flops into the crate, so I didn't have to take them back on the coach. I also booked my coach ticket back home. Rodney had kindly suggested giving me a lift back from Penzance, but had decided he would be too tired after his business trip to Amsterdam. I'd found out the non-0870 number using, but hadn't realised there'd be a 2 booking fee for booking my coach ticket over the phone. Still, at least I was getting home (although I had thought I'd be arriving at Heathrow at 06:30, but should actually be arriving at 05:30).

Zoe, Chris and I waited for Nick, with the advance party leaving with Tim to take the short-cut. Nick and I were up for trying to find the short-cut, but Zoe and Chris saw sense. We found a gate that looked as if it would be a short-cut, but it had a sign on it saying that there's no right of way. We decided not to risk going through there, so used the signposted route. We'd already ordered our food during the day, so that made things easier. It was a BYO restaurant. The others bought wine, but I decided to stick with water, expecting that we'd end up in the pub later.

The food was really nice, although the orange in the sweet 'n' sour sauce was strange. I don't know which of Sandie's in-laws served us, but I'm sure that they needed some new blood in the family! The weather wasn't as nice as the rest of the week, but it wasn't raining or blowing too much. Rich asked me whether we were going to the pub, but didn't sound as if he really wanted to, so I said I'd be happy with a cuppa instead. He said, "good, it's horrible outside". The others had more wine while Rich showed off Rust Search. Nick and I were the last ones to go to sleep, after looking at robotic vacuum cleaners on the t'internet.

Two quotes worth mentioning today:
Nic (after saying yes to tea after we got back from dinner): "It's too late for tea, I'd better have wine".
Zoe (after comparing the Rust Search flyer with the Sea Search flyer): "I prefer our one to the Sea Search one". As Nic pointed out, it didn't take her long to claim ownership!

Talking about quotes, Nick came out with a brilliant gag earlier in the week. While we were looking at some birds, trying to decide what kind they were, some people said they were cormorants, and some said they were shags.

Nic: Is a cormorant a shag?
Nick: It depends how desperate you are.

I didn't hear the gag at the time. Thanks for Nick for repeating it to me later.

Saturday 11th July

Having gone to bed just after midnight, I decided that waking up at 07:00 would be a good idea. I actually woke up during the night, and realised that NORKS would be an excellent acronym to use for Rust Search, but couldn't think of what the K could stand for. I went straight back to sleep and woke up a bit later, and suddenly realised that BREAST would make an ideal replacement.

I actually got woken up earlier that 07:00 by Zoe's phone bleeping, but got back to sleep again. I got up at 07:00, made myself breakfast and a cuppa, and started updating my website. Nick got up a while later, made me another cuppa, and we started discussing acronyms. We came up with JUGS and NORCS. NORCS was a bit of a cop-out, but it was better than nothing.

It didn't take me long to pack, and I left Erik in Rich's capable hands. Everybody came down to the quay to waive me off, with Nick and Max deciding at the last minute whether to come to St. Mary's, and Rob and Nic definitely coming to St. Mary's. Nick and Max decided not to, but Zoe came along instead. It was a fairly bumpy crossing, but Nic was OK because of the bands that Rob had bought her earlier on in the week. Nic and Zoe started playing with Rob's hair, which obviously didn't amuse him. It made me smile when he said, "They pretend to be normal by coming diving, but they're still just girls!".

Fortunately, the crate for luggage back to Penzance was already being loaded, so I left my large rucksack in there, and just carried my day bag with me. Zoe went off shopping, Rob and Nic went off shopping somewhere else, and I went to have a cuppa. I found a spare table, ordered a cuppa, and sat down to update my website. I looked up a bit later, and saw Jeff, Bee, Bee's daughter, and Jeff and Bee's mate sitting at a table. I must have walked past their table twice without noticing them. They were on their way out, so I said I'd see them on the Scillonian. I was pleased when the table that they vacated was filled with four top totty, but it was the old dears on the table next to me who wanted to chat about my PDA.

I then went back to the shop where I'd arranged to meet Rob, Nic, and Zoe, before remembering that I'd arranged to meet them at the "cheapest Chandler's shop in the world". On the way to the shop, I was amused by a sign for a taxi firm showing off because it has two taxis. Rob, Nic, and Zoe were in the shop, buying things for Rich and Nick. After a quick look around the RNLI shop, we went to get something to eat. The nice organic shop (which had "free" wi-fi) had no available tables, so we went to the café that I'd just come out of. Still, at least I knew we'd get totty waitresses and a decent cuppa. The totty from before had left, but the food was really good.

We then went to meet Olly and Megan who had arrived on the Scillonian III. They were waiting for the crate with their luggage in to be unloaded. We left Zoe with them, and went to the Scillies Museum. There was a lot of interesting information, but the main things that I remember are:

We were all feeling quite tired, so went to find somewhere to have tea (after going via a newsagent's shop where I bought a present for my mum). There was a table free in the organic shop, so we went there. We were sitting next to the deli counter and I couldn't resist buying some fudge to go with the tea that Rob had kindly bought. We went into a few shops on the way to the port. I stayed outside for the first two (although the second did have totty serving), but reckoned I'd find a present for Bird and Sarah in the third one. I couldn't find one for Bird, but did find one for Sarah. No wonder the totty cashier was knackered, she works in the Mermaid every evening and in the shop during the day. Still, at least I know where I'll be going if the Scillonian doesn't sail!

While waiting for Rob and Nic's boat back to St. Martin's to sail, we went into the wildlife exhibition. Nic spotted an interesting leaflet about keeping the British red ant alive (there are lots in St. Martin's, but only one colony in mainland Britain, and that only contains males) and I spotted an interesting Tree of Life. Unfortunately, the Tree of Life wasn't for sale in the shop, but can be ordered on t'internet. Back outside, I asked whether Rob and Nic wanted me to order them one. Nic said no on behalf of both of them, but Rob decided that he wanted one. Not long after that, their boat moored at the bottom of the stairs, and off they went. I didn't have to wait long for the queue to start moving, but, yet again, I managed to completely miss Bee, and she was standing next to me.

The bloke in front of me in the queue had a ticket for 6th July, but reckoned that it was an open return. I was not impressed when the woman in charge said they'd let him on anyway when he said that he had "an important cargo". On board, I found myself somewhere to kit. After taking 4 pictures of bad apostrophe usage, I shut my eyes, and woke up during the security brief. I then went for a walk around to find Jeff and Bee to apologise for seemingly being rude, but couldn't find them. There were a lot of people suffering during the voyage, but I found myself a table in the café, and continued updating my trip report. There was a pretty fit 50-year-old on the table opposite, but she was with her kids and her mother, so it seemed a bite rude to chat her up. [11/7/09 17:18 to be updated. I'm off to find Jeff and Bee, or some totty to chat up. Failing that, I'll have another kip. I certainly won't be coming back to the ship's café because it smells of fish.]

[11/7/09 18:17. There was no totty to chat up, apart from a few looking ill sitting outside. The café no longer smells of fish, so I've sat down at another table to update my Pembroke trip report. The captain has just announced that we're getting closer to Land's End, and things normally get choppy. The boat is already swinging more than almost any other boat I've been on! The drunks have now passed out in each other's arms (apart from the ones who put sick bags on their heads), but the fit 50-year-old is still around.

[11/7/09 18:34. Update. They're battening down the hatches. The guys in the café have been told to close, and have offered all the drunks the remaining pasties and sausage rolls for no charge. This certainly reminds me of the crossing in the Red Sea in February. The 50-year-old is eyeing me up, but is looking quite white.]

After a very choppy journey, we arrived at Penzance on time. I'd have to wait for the crates to be unloaded, but I fancied some fresh air, so walked towards the door. I looked out of the window, and noticed it was raining quite heavily. I therefore sat down, and got out my waterproof coat while I was waiting for the steps to be put into position. I'm sure it's not a good idea to open the door completely before the steps are anywhere near the boat. Not wanting my rucksack to be left in the rain, I walked outside after a few minutes. Since I'd put my bag in the crate 6 hours before the boat left St. Mary's, my rucksack was at the bottom of the third crate to be unpacked. I therefore stood in the pouring rain for ages, waiting for the blokes in yellow jackets to unpack the crates.

Once I'd got my rucksack, I had to walk from the ferry terminal to the bus station. This is at least a 10 minute walk, but it felt longer in the pouring rain. If I wasn't wet enough already, I certainly was wet when an idiot taxi driver drove straight through a large puddle, splashing water across the pavement. There were some people hanging around the bus station when I got there. Once of them looked at me, and said, "It's wet isn't it". I replied, "You're not wrong". A few moments later, she replied, "I am. Look at my feet. They're dry.". I didn't have the energy to deal with f*c*wits, so just walked off to find where the National Express coach left from. This involved walking past the stupid girl again, who swore at me when I ignored her.

I had about 20 minutes to wait until the coach arrived, so decided to change out of my soaking jeans into my dry shorts. I considered using the public toilets, but remembered what I saw in there a few years ago, so decided to get changed outside. The bus shelters weren't that sheltering, so I stayed next to the ticket office until about 5 minutes before the coach was due to leave. Somebody else arrived at about the same time, and lit up a few minutes later. Not being a very good shelter, it wasn't a no smoking area, so I didn't complain. Fortunately, the coach arrived just after he lit up. The driver wouldn't let me take my rucksack on board the coach, because it was going to be busy. He pulled away a few minutes later with 5 passengers on board!

With my dry shoes in my rucksack, I took off my wet shoes and socks, and settled down. I looked around the coach, and saw that other seats had proper seatbelts, instead of the silly lap-belt that I had. I moved to some other seats, but realised that they didn't recline as far. I tried quite a few other seats, but none reclined as much as my initial choice, so moved back there. I then fancied a jimmy, so went to use the toilet on board. I won't be doing that again! It would have made a nice comedy sketch - whenever the bus went around a corner, I was thrown from one side of the cubicle to another, randomly switching on fans and taps! Somehow I managed not to pee on the seat.

I then settled down in my seat again, and realised that the coach was going through Hayle. It was obviously stopping at lots of places on the way. Still, at least it gave me a chance to check out the dive shop there. As Rodney thought, it was no longer in business. The buggers still owe us money! We stopped at Redruth, Thurso, and some other obscure places, before I got to sleep. I woke up to find that we were in Plymouth. I certainly hadn't expected to end up somewhere that I knew! They changed drivers in Plymouth. The change-over was quite noisy, but at least the new drivers knew how to turn the heaters on!

I woke up a bit later to find us going along a foggy lane at what seemed to be far too fast for the conditions. We stopped at several other places, before arriving at Exeter, followed by a 30 minute break at Exeter Services. I hadn't eaten since midday, and it was now 01:15, so it was a welcome food stop. Unfortunately, a coach-load of pokey little kids arrived at the same time, so I didn't spend too long in the shop. I then got some sleep as the coach travelled along the M5, before it pulled into Bristol Airport. A while later, at about 3AM, it stopped in Bath - another place that I know well. I was amazed to see quite a few people getting on at this time. The coach then followed the usual route along the A4 through Chippenham, and got on the M4 at J17. I can't remember, but there's a fair chance that it went through Swindon as well, before stopping at Heathrow on time at 05:30.

I ran to catch the 140 bus, and asked the driver whether he went to the A4. He said he didn't, so I asked whether he went through the tunnels. He said that he did. What a gimmer, the tunnels go to the A4! I had about 20 minutes to wait until the #81 left. It was on-time, but I had to cope with a stupid woman smoking in the bus shelter. I soon ranted at her, don't you worry! I got home at about half-six, and was annoyed to find that my local newsagent wasn't open for me buy some milk. I got back home, moved all my post out of the way, took some milk and some curry out of the freezer, and then went to bed. I woke up again at about half-ten, and found that enough milk had defrosted for a cuppa.

Thanks to everybody for a brilliant trip. Pictures to follow.


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