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About AdamW

  1. CONDOR FERRIES: Condor Liberation

    Working on the railway, welcome to every single day at work
  2. On second thoughts yes, you're correct, it was Etretat. Got my wires crossed there as it was Baie de Seine that was loading at a similar time to us on the outward. Remember now as my dad remarked on the small superstructure of Etretat. In the end we docked first - at one point it did look as if Etretat was gaining on us but that could well have been a trick of the eye as darkness set in mid-channel. We were very much 'in the lead' by the time we entered the harbour area, even if Etretat was rather close behind by the time we had completed the manoeuvre for docking. One of the first vehicles off after the motorbikes and car-hunters were out of the way.
  3. Breakfast in the cabin - whilst this I imagine is what we still would have chosen had we have known (in the cabin, for my mother does not have great sealegs!), how does it work in the Deauville? Le Havre has the most to gain by the arrival of Honfleur - they get a 'proper' BF ship with the capacity increase and level of services on-board that comes with it; it will feel more integrated into the route network is my guess.
  4. Summer brought time to return to what has become a family tradition – the annual summer holiday to France. This time it was down to La Charente-Maritime to explore the area around La Rochelle. Saturday 09/09 – 08:15 Portsmouth – Ouistreham (Normandie) We had tried to book a commodore class cabin for both journeys, but this was only possible on this outward crossing. Boarding seemed to commence earlier than we’ve ever had before and so we were in the cabin with a good half an hour before departure – after the now obligatory bag check as we left the car deck. Other cabins were still being cleaned and readied although ours was good to go – I presume there is an effort to ensure the Commodore class cabins are ready? Breakfast was served at around 8 and as always it was immaculately presented. Out on deck then to watch the departure from Portsmouth, and I reflected on the fact that 20 years ago, as a family we were probably stood in the same place, doing the same thing, although if my memory is correct from one of the P&O ‘super Viking’ class, most likely Pride of Cherbourg was the vessel of choice for my first trip abroad. From there my love of France as a 4 year-old began and the rest, as they say, is history. Normandie was very lightly loaded for the crossing, and whilst the cabin facilities meant that we didn’t venture out much around the ship, Normandie is looking well for her age. The outside decks appear very well kept, and only some rather vintage neon signage and stained carpets give away her age and a clue to the workhorse she has been of the route. When she moves to the Le Havre route, it really will be a step change in the offering. Normandie at 25 looks nothing like Pont L’Abbé did in her late twenties when we did a return crossing on her around 10 years ago – having ‘one owner from new’ certainly has made the difference as the latter looked tired at the time. It was a slightly choppy crossing and arrival was bang on time into Ouistreham. A much quicker exit from the port this time around (no doubt due to the light loading) although still not like the ‘good old days’ when it was off the boat and out of the port in 10 minutes on the French side, guaranteed. The holiday was spent enjoying the region around La Rochelle, our first visit to this part of France and breaking the usual destination of Brittany or Normandy. We were very impressed by the area, and it was pleasant to stay in a town that was typically French and where presumably many a Parisian heads to over the summer (Chatelaillon-Plage), where Ile-de-France number plates outnumbered GB ones. Saturday 16/09 – 16:30 Ouistreham – Portsmouth (Normandie) The return trip was on Normandie once again (just like last year, with the out and back being on Normandie) although this time the crossing was markedly busier. We were loaded at the far end of deck 5, ensuring a quick disembarkation at Portsmouth – always a result. We were allocated a cabin on deck 6 this time, asking on the off chance if a (paid for) upgrade was available being met with a ‘malheureusement, non’. We left Ouistreham in much poorer weather than for our arrival a week earlier, and this time the crossing was flat as a pancake. In then end the cabin on deck 6 didn’t turn out to be too bad at all – as a family of now 4 adults we had feared it being cramped but we didn’t find it that way. These cabins have clearly received some attention recently, with new purple cushions and curtains, even if the pillows were rather lumpy and the toilet seat rather loosely still attached! This time round the top deck was open and so we took advantage of this to watch the English channel traffic – Etretat was parallel to us for over 2/3rds of the journey, leading to intense debate over who would dock first and therefore be first through passport control! Arrival into a now dark Portsmouth was again on time, as we watched the army of cleaners assemble on the quayside ready to board the ship. Our swift disembarkation was briefly put in jeopardy by multiple people being unable to find their car. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t understand how you can forget where your car was, especially since the people in question even had the card indicating the deck and door letter! Through Passport control in under 15 minutes (a record for us at Portsmouth) and home around midnight. Another enjoyable holiday and two very agreeable crossing on Normandie – certainly life in the old girl yet.
  5. MSM Friday 17 Sept

    I too noticed the presence of people hoping to hitch a ride in the Ouistreham town area on the drive in yesterday (Saturday 18), and also what I'm also guessing were people with similar intentions on the rocks between the port and the beach. I did see a news article (can't remember where) suggesting that Bilbao was now a target due to it not attracted the security attention like Calais or the Tunnel does.
  6. SAILING UPDATES: 2017 Latest News

    Interesting - I did Caen - Portsmouth on Normandie yesterday afternoon/evening, and we only had the former, no sight of boarding cards required.
  7. Advice On GCSE Options

    Don't know how I missed this being an Exeter graduate myself but you're 100% correct - the whole city is hilly and Cardiac Hill certainly lived up to that reputation. Very difficult to navigate (up or down) once a few drinks were consumed* *or so friends advised me
  8. Agreed, small but perfectly formed... familiar looking livery too!
  9. French supermarket favourites

    Without wanting to turn this into an alcohol thread, this wine http://www.prixing.fr/promotions/cotes-de-bergerac-aoc-blanc-moelleux-3282885# from Super U (other système U outlets are available!) is a firm family favourite. Other than that - Picard Pear sorbet. Pear + sorbet is such a superb combination.
  10. South Brittany Break April 2017

    That doesn't surprise me - can't imagine the ice cream places were doing a roaring trade. Carnac was another favourite when I was younger. As for Benodet, the last time I was there (August 2011) it as at a free concert in the summer evening sun on the Sunday evening, after which people swamped the ice cream place on the front near the Casino. Ice creams at 10pm on a Sunday... why not!
  11. South Brittany Break April 2017

    @cvabishop - great images, brought back a few memories having not been in Southern Brittany for a couple of years now. Benodet, Concarneau and Pont-Aven have long been family favourites. How busy was Concarneau? The narrow(ish) streets are full of life in the high season, wonder what it's like at this time of year?
  12. Cargo Ship Travelling

    Interesting you mention this, just last week I was watching a French documentary on someone who did exactly this. "Tout Compte Fait: Drôles de vacances sur un cargo"
  13. Never travelled on the Val when she was with BF but interior looks very modern, very impressed. Quiet lounge and its refreshment desk looks a little sad though!
  14. End of year awards - 2016

    Here here - although I'll confess to be slightly biased in the pro-UK Rail camp given my current job! As for the 'age of the train' stats - they don't really mean anything. Suitability, quality and value for money go far beyond the year on the builder's plate on the vehicle you're travelling on. I'd rather a frequent service with a 1980/90s DMU every 30 minutes than a French Bi-mode AGC unit every 90 minutes or so (but not at regular intervals)! Back to the subject of the thread, I'll go for "Biggest surprise of the year" - how much I enjoyed Hamburg. As much as I love France, I was blown away on my first visit to Germany by the friendliness and helpfulness of the people to me who can just about order a beer or check in to the hotel in German, and I don't think I've ever felt so relaxed in a foreign city in such a short amount of time. Very much looking forward to my next German trip in March.
  15. HONFLEUR - Arriving June 2019

    Maybe the combination of the two could be the MediaServer that many rail companies are moving towards (will be moving towards - only up and running on Virgin West Coast at present) whereby content is loaded onto a server overnight and can then be viewed when the train is out in service during the day. I've not used the system, but they claim that there is no buffering etc. as the content is already there - you are not trying to download it whilst in signal blackspots such as the Lake District. I don't know the technological ins and outs of the system and whether it could be transferred to rail but could fit the bill in terms of providing media content to individual devices.