In which Formerly Blog Fodder gets very cross, following attempts to cross the Channel in high winds and rough seas, eager to reach the welcoming arms of his family.
Do you remember those TV ads featuring “That Condor Moment”?
The first whiff of tobacco transported the deluded smoker into a state of blissful serenity.
These days any mention of That Condor Moment re-awakens in me the sickening sound of yet another tannoy announcement along the lines of…
“Condor Ferries regret to announce… “ either an interminable delay or the cancellation of yet another service to France.
Last weekend I was trying to get to St Malo, a mere 40 mile hop from Jersey, for the Easter break.
My journey started on Thursday, but I didn’t arrive until late on Saturday night.
In between there were e-mails, news stories, last minute swaps from one ferry company to another, followed by delays aplenty, variously blamed on the weather and “operational reasons”.
To be fair, the weather was foul – high tides, rough seas and unseasonably low temperatures.
But that doesn’t stop my main memory of the Easter break featuring St Helier’s ferry terminal – a vast and draughty tin shed filled with an anxious throng of bewildered would-be travellers, going nowhere fast.
Heathrow’s Terminal One doesn’t seem such a bad place after all. At least there are shops there.
And it wasn’t just Condor that gave me a headache.
My woes started with a booking made by Beta Mum with the (cheaper) rival ferry company, HD Ferries.
After months of careful preparation for the new season, they had to cancel their inaugural crossing last Thursday because of the non-arrival of a key engine part.
To me, “lost in the post” has a similar ring to “the dog ate my homework”. But perhaps I’ve just been around the block a few too many times.
Friday’s crossing was also abandoned – stormy weather having prevented vital safety checks as well as the journey from Southampton.
So I switched to Condor, the allegedly more reliable but definitely more expensive alternative.
Despite the outlay of extra cash, the frustrations continued unabated.
Their late Friday crossing was also jettisoned because of the weather. I was switched to an early Saturday boat requiring me to be back at the terminal at 7.30am.
I arrived, spent four hours reading the paper and loitering without intent, only to leave the terminal on foot after a string of Condor moments.
The wrong kind of weather was cited again, although the word on the street was that the ferry had been holed while negotiating St Malo harbour – a rumour later confirmed by local media.
Dragged back to the ferry terminal at 6.30 on Saturday evening a ferry finally left Jersey one and a half hours later.
This was a replacement vessel that made very slow headway. A traditional ferry rather than a high speed catamaran, which took more than twice as long as the advertised service – just to add to my terminal frustration.
It was enough to drive a man to drink.
So once on board and safely at sea, I went to the bar:
“A pint of lager please.”
“Sorry, sir, we’re out of draught lager”.
“How about a coffee?”
“Err, the machine’s not working.”
How I needed a Condor moment.