That’s it. There is no more. The adventure is over. A fine time was had by all.
Such details as there are to share about our journey home follow…
We were on the road at 08:10 with unanimous agreement that we’d left the house tolerably as we found it. My car is well laden, including a carrier bag full of empty bottles. As far as I can tell, without the ‘benefit’ of EU diktats, the Isle of Man authorities have yet to embrace any form of recycling. Despite keeping half an eye out for one during my meanders, I failed to see a bottle bank and there’s just the single universal wheelie bin at the house. I never thought I’d have developed any sort of tree hugging tendencies but even I can’t abide the thought of bottles going into landfill. To that end, they’ll be going into my green bin back home.
We arrived at the ferry terminal only a few minutes before the outer check-in gate opened and were quickly in the second, main, queue. We were at the the head of one of the lanes with a grandstand view of the checking shed (Customs?). Vehicles were randomly (?) pulled out of the queue as they arrived and, er, checked. We saw one bloke make the walk of shame flanked by yellow uniformed officials, past the front of the waiting cars, carrying his case over to another office block, presumably for a more thorough, er, check? I didn’t see him return before we were called to board.
There’s a little drizzle in the air but it is still 11 degrees. The temperature never dipped below double figures (during waking hours at least) for our entire stay. Bernie will tell you differently about his experience in the hills yesterday, but that was good honest to goodness wind chill.
Once again boarding seemed to be systematic – but between us, we entirely failed to work out what the system was. We were directed into the kind of spiral ramp usually associated with multi storey car parks and when we hit the back of the inside queue, were instructed to apply the handbrake and leave it in gear. I guess it works.
The interior of the catamaran Manannan (built in Tasmania) is a lot different to the Ben Hur or whatever last week’s boat was called. Several large cabins filled with seats, mostly facing forward like aircraft seats – only a lot wider.
First job: coffee.
The captain made his pre-departure announcement. The crossing will be 2hrs 45 min with the wind Force 4 from the SE – should it should be “comfortable”.
By noon we were nosing into the Mersey. I’d snoozed most of the voyage (I think we all did), waking occasionally and looked at my Maps app to see we were bounding along at 38mph. It was a smooth crossing as predicted. I wandered to the food place and got a ham sandwich for lunch when about 90 minutes out, then read a bit. I hope this narrative oozes boredom – it is certainly what I’m reaching for!
The last few miles up the Mersey were navigated in a manner best described as cautious. Tortuous might be another word. It was 12:30 when we docked… with a bump. “Contact berthing” as Dave described it. Disembarking was frustratingly slow, but painless, all things considered. A phrase which also aptly sums up the drive out of Liverpool on a busy Saturday lunchtime. Once on the motorway, other than the 12½ miles of average speed camera enforced 50 limit while a perfectly good hard shoulder is being sacrificed to create a “smart motorway” with a fourth lane of dubious utility, progress was good and all was well.
Home for 14:30 with no nasty surprises. Bernie has the best part of an hour’s drive ahead of him to get home, at which point all that remains to be said for this trip is…