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Swanage - May 2009

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Olly had booked a weekend diving for him and Megan out of Swanage. Understandably, he told others about it, but had said it was up to us to make our own arrangements if we wanted to join us. Fortunately, he had felt kind and booked me on the diving. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure who I was going to dive with. Fortunately, Rodney arrived back from his travels early.

Olly had booked Megan and himself into the Swanage ######### (a French sounding name that I can't remember), but it was fully booked by the time I'd got around to booking anywhere. The YHA was fully booked for Friday night, but I'd found a few campsites at Swanich that I could stay at. I didn't fancy camping on my own, so was glad when Rodney could come.

Friday 29th May

I'd booked the hire car during the week. Unfortunately, FastTrackBoy had served me. He reckoned that it wasn't possible for Rodders to take his driving license into the Reading branch of National Car Rental until I'd picked up the car from Slough. Not only that, but when I called up, he apologised for being slow, because "I haven't done this for a while". Gimmeration, your job is to book me hire cars, how can you not have done it for a while?

It was a nice sunny day when I left work, so I hoped that it would stay like that all weekend. Olly had told me that we were likely to be back on dry land by 2PM on Saturday, so I knew what that meant - Monkey World! Forgetting that she was going to a wedding, I called Becky to see whether she would join us. She didn't answer, so I left a message. I also called Sarah and a few other bits of totty before I got to the grocery store to buy an emergency Scotch Egg. The car wasn't ready when I arrived, despite arriving half-an-hour after I'd booked it for. When it had been cleaned, the bloke drove it outside, got out, and handed me the keys. He went to walk off, but I stopped him, and asked why the car was beeping. After lots of gimmering, we found out that if one stops, opens the door, and then turns the engine off, then the only way to stop the car beeping is to get back into the car, shut the door, turn the engine on, and then turn the engine off again!

I then saw that the handbrake was simply a button, so asked the bloke to tell me about it. He said that it would only let me release the handbrake if I had my foot on the brake. Not only that, but the car would only let me start the engine if I had my foot on the clutch! What a stupid car, still, at least it had a DAB radio. I drove back home, wondering how I was going to do a hill start if I had to have my foot on the brake to release the handbrake. Back at home, I loaded up the car, and then drove to Slough Scuba. I got my twin-set and argon cylinder filled, and then started reversing. There were cars close on both sides of me, so I continuously checked both wing mirrors carefully. Unfortunately, I didn't check the rear-view mirror, so didn't see the lamppost. Ooops!

I then drove to Rodney's gaff in Reading. I tried pulling away without releasing the handbrake, and found that it released automatically. I'd asked the bloke at National Car Rental whether it did this, and he said it didn't! The journey to Rodney's gaff should have taken about 45 minutes, but it took much longer than that due to loads of traffic. It probably took about an hour and three quarters. Oh well, it can't be helped. Rodney loaded up the car while I went to get some milk from his local store.

Fortunately, there were no traffic hold-ups for the rest of the journey, and we made it in good time. The woman that I'd spoken to during the week had said that if there was nobody in the office that we should check-in at the bar, which was open until midnight. There was also entertainment on both nights - a disco on Friday night and a singer on Saturday night. On the way down, Becky rang, but she must have rung when we were in a bad reception area, because Rodney couldn't answer the phone (either that, or she just hung up when he answered!). Anyway, she sent me a text message that said invited me for dinner with her and her single Irish mate. Well, that was me sorted out, how about Rodney?

Soon after that, we saw the sea, but SatNav reckoned we were still 30 minutes away. Rodney reckoned he knew where we were, but I soon realised he didn't have a clue! I was impressed that SatNav knew about the ferry - it was a good job I hadn't set it to avoid tolls! While we were waiting, I called Becky, and said I'd call her on Sunday when I knew what our plans were. [9/6/09 23:23 to be continued - my battery is very low, and there is some TOP totty opposite me on the train!]

SatNav took us past what looked to be quite a nice campsite, and then directed us to the middle of nowhere. We continued round in a circle, and got back to the nice campsite. The bar seemed nice, and the barmaid was totty, but, instead of asking if we could stay there, we asked for directions to the campsite we were aiming for. The directions were perfect, so we had no more problems getting there. The reception was closed, so we went into the bar. The bloke at the bar didn't know how to check us in, so the totty sorted us out instead. She reckoned that the credit card machine only worked in a secluded corner of the bar, but I reckon it was just her excuse to get me into that secluded corner with her! Unfortunately, the bar had stopped serving food, but the barmaid gave me a pizza delivery menu.

After paying her for the camping, and finding Rodney again, we drove to the camping area. It was surprisingly busy, and the car annoyingly started bleeping as we drove along. It was a good job it didn't do this on the motorway! Rodney had borrowed a 2-man tent. It was taller than my 1-man-1-totty tent, but still only had just enough room for the blow-up bed. As we were putting the tent up, we heard some people walking past, commenting on how small the tent was. Fortunately, a drunk came over and offered us a hand. I think he was only joking, but I took him up on his offer, and borrowed his mallet.

Once we'd put the tent up, we went for a few beers. As we started walking towards the bar, my phone started ringing - it was the pizza delivery bloke. When we got to the bar, some unfunny drunks kept on telling us they'd eaten the pizza, and the delivery bloke reckoned he deserved a tenner tip for being kept waiting. Bloody cheek - the bloke who'd taken the order said that it would be about 20 minutes, and it was 20 minutes after we'd ordered.

The music was a bit better than when I'd paid the bill, but it still didn't "tickle my fancy". We ate our pizza outside - carefully choosing a table away from the smokers. They started '70s music, but I knew Rodney isn't into '70s music, so I didn't suggest going for a boogie. We called it a night after a few beers, and went back to the tent to blow up the air bed.

Saturday 30th May

Ollie didn't join us last night, but said we should meet him and Megan at 08:00 at Swanage Pier. I reckoned we should wake up at 06:30. Rodney wasn't convinced, but went along with it anyway. Leaving Rodney sleeping, I started making tea and breakfast. He surfaced just as I'd finished one lot of bacon. Excellent timing! After stopping at the toilets on the way out, we arrived at Swanage Pier at about 07:50. It was a good job we didn't arrive any later, because we were the last car allowed on the pier. The bloke taking the money must have seen me before, because he said, "Can you reverse?"! [16/6/09 17:52 to be continued, we're just coming into Paddington]

Once I'd parked, we realised we had plenty of time to kit up, so took our time. This turned out to be a mistake, because we were only ready to go just before 9 o'clock when the boat was due to leave. The boat arrived and the skipper shouted "Oliver Simmonds", so we started loading our kit onto the boat. Just as we'd finished loading our kit onto the boat, the skipper realised his boat was full, but he still had a few people wanting to get on. He read out those people who were supposed to be on board, and Oliver Simmonds wasn't one of them. It turned out that he just wanted to check that we were here, he wasn't actually saying that we were on his boat! We then had to unload our kit, and wait for the next one!

After all the gimmering, we set off. The skipper gave a really good brief, so good, in fact, that I didn't feel that nervous about diving from a new boat with new people. It didn't take that long to get out to the Kyara. Not knowing the layout of the boat, Rodney and I had put our kit right next to where people exit. This meant that we got in everybody's way while I gimmered around getting kitted up. We promised the skipper that this wouldn't happen again!

It was a pretty good dive, but I could have done with some extra weight. The current was pretty strong, so we didn't have much choice about where we went. Knowing that Rodney uses SMBs as often as I do, I realised I'd have to use some advanced SMB avoidance techniques. My plans was to hide from Rodney until he thought I'd lost him, and then appear once he'd put up the SMB. After a while, Rodney went off on a mad swim against the current. I had no intention of following him, so held onto the wreck, assuming he'd come back eventually. He didn't appear after a few minutes, so my advanced SMB avoidance techniques were of no use, and I had to use my own SMB!

Back on the boat, I gave Rodney jip for swimming off and he said that he'd gone with the current, not against it. Apparently he's often accused of swimming off against the current, but reckons he always goes with it. That's it! He's right and all his buddies are wrong! We all got back onto the boat OK, and headed back to dry land.

We had about 3 hours before we were due to head off again. Ollie, Megan and Rodney went to get some food, and I stayed with our kit. While I was waiting, a diver left his kit behind. I said I'd keep an eye on it while I was there, but couldn't promise anything. The disadvantage of coming diving on one's own. Thanks to Ollie for getting me food. He'd put tomato sauce over my chips. It seemed ungrateful to tell him that I don't like tomato sauce on my chips, but I'll have to mention it sometime. Once I'd eaten, I went to get some things out of the car, and then decided to go to find an ATM. [16/6/09 23:03 to be continued, my train's getting into Slough]

It was a really sunny day, which not only meant that I had to stay in the shade as much as I could, but it meant that Swanage was full of idiots! Anyway, I got plenty of cash out, and then walked back. I couldn't resist popping into the tea rooms for a cuppa, but could just about resist buying some Dorset Knob! I remember Andrea buying me some years ago - I've still got the tin in my loft. It never fails to make me smile! On the way back to the boat, I saw the bloke who asked me to watch his kit (I'd mentioned it to the others before I left), and stopped for a quick chat. It turned out that his mates were coming down from Nottingham for the day on Sunday, but he decided to make a weekend of it.

When I got back to the boat, the unloading area had been invaded by pokiness - sunbathing and jumping in the water. The Legoland Twitch soon appeared! The boat arrived, and people started carrying their kit off. There was a nice lady with a lovely dog, but a bloke taking his kit off reckoned the dog had bitten him. He threatened to call the police and get the dog put down. I felt a bit sorry for the lady, and considered pointing out how ignorant the bloke was, but decided that I'd probably make a bad situation worse. Not only was he being ignorant, but he discussed it with his mate who claimed to be a barrister, and he said that the dog would be put down if the police were called. I was even more tempted to tell the barrister that he was wrong, but decided against it.

Anyway, our second dive was on the Valentine tanks. The way Olly had described it, I had assumed they were cylindrical oil tanks, not two Army tanks! To be fair, it was probably me being stupid, rather than Olly describing things badly. I hid at the front of the boat out of the sun, but do remember one guy telling me an amusing story about four Manchester United fans travelling to Brussels. While I was hiding out of the sun, Rodney had been chatting to the bloke from Nottingham and asked him if he wanted to join us. This was, of course, OK with me, but I had to say, "But Rodney, he's a man!".

The dive went OK, but I really wasn't comfortable with my weight, and kept on having to dump almost all the air out of my wing and drysuit. The dive was good, but there were too many divers around, so Rodney decided to lead us off on a mad detour. I was feeling more uncomfortable, so tried to catch them up to tell them I was surfacing. I couldn't manage it, and lost them, so, yet again, I had to use the SMB! Back on dry land, we left our cylinders at the air filling place, and loaded the rest of our kit into the car. We'd invited Olly and Megan to the campsite for a BBQ. As we were packing up the car, Rodney suggested that we invite Nottingham Matey. I was going to suggest that myself, but had forgotten. His car was parked next to ours, so we didn't find it that hard to find him!

Rodney spotted a Co-op on the way back to the campsite, so we popped in to get beer, Coke, and food for the barbecue. The sunny weekend had obviously given everybody the same idea, because there were hardly any burgers and rolls left. We eventually got enough for five of us, and headed back to the campsite. There was just enough time to shower before the others arrived. My regs had been leaking during the two dives, so I asked Olly to look at them. He thought I just wanted some hoses moved around - how incompetent did he think I am? Anyway, he played around with them, but wasn't sure whether he'd fixed them or not.

I can't remember much about that evening, but I do remember NottinghamBoy, after hearing I had problems with my weight, asking whether I was still getting used to the new teckie kit! Rodney also took a picture of me to send to this t'internet bird who wanted a bit of DicksonLoveTrain action. I hoped it wouldn't scare her too much! Once the others had gone, Rodney and I went to the bar, but the female singer wasn't particularly good, so we didn't stay long.

Sunday 31st May

We woke up an half-six again, but, instead of lazing in bed, Rodney took the tent down instead. Top man! We managed to leave a bit earlier than yesterday, so weren't last onto the pier. Once we'd got a space, I went to ask whether we could pay 10 quid and reserve a space for Olly. The guvna said not, which was a good thing, because Olly was parked next to us! Today we were on the boat all day - a dive on the Aelonian Sky, followed by a drift dive.

Rodney very kindly offered to carry my twin-set down for me, because he would just walk straight onto the boat. Top man. As he was getting into my kit (ooh-err), this bloke said, "That's why we bring trainees.". Not really sure how to respond to such an idiot (SNBB), I just said, "Oh, he's a better diver than me". SNBB then replied, "I know what you mean, I've done 400 dives and learn something new on every dive". I considered saying, "Well, give it another 200 dives, and you'll have caught up with me", but decided I couldn't be bothered.

We got onto the right boat this time, but were delayed by some gimmers turning up late without half their kit. Fortunately, there was some slack in the plan, so it didn't affect us too much.

Being good boys, Rodney and I had put our kit on the other side of the boat from the exit, so that my gimmering wouldn't delay other people. As we were getting kitted up, the skipper asked whether anybody would be diving for longer than an hour and we all said no. Rodney then pointed out that we might be diving for about 65 minutes, so I told the skipper. We then realised that putting ourselves out of the way was a bad idea. The skipper said we should go next, so we did. This involved pushing in front of SNBB, leaving him standing with his kit on. I felt a bit bad, until I realised that it was SNBB!

The skipper had warned us that there were some large holes, so swimming accidentally into the wreck was likely. This sounded like a bonus to me, although we would obviously find some small holes to squeeze through! This didn't take too long, and I went first. Once inside, the swim through was pretty big, but it was a bit difficult to squeeze through on the other side. We swam along a bit looking for another swim through. I found one, and suggested the Rodney went through first. It turned out not to be a swim-through, but we searched a bit more, and found a swim-through that looked like it would compare well with Scapa. Rodney went first, but, after a while, found a bit he thought was too narrow. I looked at it, and said, "You'll fit through there". He tried again, and I was right. However, I got to it, and, thinking back to getting stuck in the Persier, decided I didn't want to go through it. I also didn't want Rodney to have to come back through it, so suggested to him that he continued out the way he was going, and I turned around. I couldn't make myself understood, and my torch was beginning to run out of power. I could see Rodney signalling to me, but couldn't understand what he was saying either. I considered just turning around, but didn't want him to think I was leaving him. It turned out that he was thinking exactly the same thing, but also didn't want to leave me. I swam off for a bit, but didn't feel comfortable leaving him, so came back again. It turned out that he'd seen me swim off, and was about to swim off himself, before he saw me swimming back again. Realising this had already gone on far too long, Rodders forced his way back through the swim-through, and we both got out.

By this time, we had clocked up more decompression than I had expected, but it was still within the 65 minutes we had planned. Rodney went to use the SMB, but it wouldn't inflate. I was trying to put my fin back on, so I gave him my SMB, and he inflated that. We started surfacing, but Rodney's dive computer went into spanner mode. First of all, he couldn't change the gas, and then, even when he had changed his gas, I'm sure it made him stay down longer than it should have done. Anyway, we eventually surfaced after about 85 minutes. I immediately apologised to the other divers and the skipper. Once I'd explained what had happened, the skipper was happy enough, and it didn't actually affect the other divers, because they wanted a 2-hour surface interval between dives, so were going to wait around at some point.

Not wanting to delay people after their second dive,. Rodney and I sat out the second dive. It wasn't one that we were particularly interested in, so it didn't bother us. SNBB was very patronising about scalloping, but that's to be expected! We had quite a nice time chatting with the skipper while the others were diving.

Back on dry land, it took us a while to find enough trolleys for the 4 of us, but we managed it eventually. Back at the car, I had three text messages from Becky and a missed call. I called her, and she said that she'd got enough BBQ food for us if we still wanted to come around. If we had sense, we would have filled our cylinders before leaving, but the promise of big-breasted single red-head Irish totty was too much of a temptation! Once we'd packed up, Rodney and I drove to Becky's house. Becky's Irish mate was already there, and two other single totty were arriving soon. Wow!

We had a really nice BBQ, but couldn't stay too long, because I wanted to get back home before midnight. We had a fairly uneventful drive home, and I got back in good time.

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Created on: 07 Jun 2009. Modified on: 23 Aug 2009.
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