Linzi, to make you feel better with the whole tube, bus, sleep thing.
Spotting the post about the Ace Meeting a good few weeks ago, I thought "I'll go to that if I can". A few days later, Brittany Ferries sent me an e-mail with €25 offers for day trips to Portmouth, arriving at 8am, leaving 8.30 pm, and further down that day's mail, an e-mail from the Ace Café reminding me about the Adventure Travel day. So, I click on the link for Brittany ferries and book myself on with the bike, total price €40 return with a bunk in a shared cabin both ways and the bike.
Friday night sees me indulging in a bit of frantic rummaging to unearth my passport, a bit of spanner wiggling to get the aluminium boxes on ready for filling with books, Marmite and tea bags (spot the ex-pat), and a look at the weather forecast revealing I'd probably need to pack almost as many clothes as if I was going for a month.
Saturday lunchtime and the weather's looking good so I set off for St Malo early, thinking I'd take the coast roads, stop off and get coffees on the way and then have a mooch round the old town before needing to get on the boat at 6.30. I had a great time round the coast, the occassional gust threatening to throw me into the sea aside, and got to St Malo at 4.30, parking the Derbi beside two British plated, Touratech'ed to death GSes. I like parking next to BMW's people come up to the Derbi, and ask me how far I'm travelling and their riders seem to think I'm on the new Tenere till I point out that yes, that is the whole engine they can see. To cheer me up even more St Malo had a fair so I mooched round the fairground, bought candyfloss (how do you get it out of Goretex?) and tried to avoid the inevitable 14 year old scooter boys and girls snogging each others faces off.
Then into the old town to go to the tourist tat shops to get a Breton flag for the boxes, they're just looking too shiny and new. What a huge selection of touristy rubbish, so much choice, well, I'll just have to buy a flag and a strange breton woman symbol thing. Hmm, a bit of drizzle, but not too bad and it helps me slide the stickers round to just the right place. And now off to the terminal to check in, get on board and stuff my face full of whatever they're serving, a
or three and bed.
And here's where the plan starts slipping. I arrive at check-in, the nice lady in her little cabin accepts my passport, looks at my very pale, very badly printed off electronic ticket (I knew I should have bought new cartridges for the printer), and then asks me if I want to change anything on my booking. I reply no, I'm happy with it as it is, merci. And then she says "but monsieur, why are you here a week early?"
The ride home wasn't scenic, the drizzle turned to rain, sleet, snow, and one of the stickers pealed off.
So what should I do in Portsmouth next weekend?