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About SpecialK

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  • Birthday 25/07/1947

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  1. The thread title gave me an idea. Some decluttering is well overdue so let's make a start. Hang on, the tip is closed for the rubbish as are the charity shops for clothes, books and other stuff that somebody else could make good use of. Guess it will have to wait a few more years.
  2. Which was the point of my original post. With the information we have to provide at booking, a bit of pro-active work should give some clues before we even arrive at the port. Once there, proper, random checks of the vehicle, sniffer dogs and drug/explosive wipes etc. not only would I have no problem with, indeed I would welcome as long as I did not miss my crossing. What really irritated me was the one size fits all, cut price pantomime we had to endure. It was more cursory than an airport or many buildings I have been through. I am not saying that four silver haired pensioners can be guaranteed to present zero risk but if we are to be checked then at least let us leave the inspection bay feeling reassured that if we had been up to no good, it would have been discovered, not that the only people to benefit were the company that provided the personnel, and of course a day's wages for those employed.
  3. Back home, I seem to have opened a can of worms! I appreciate that there is a lot of behind the scenes security going on and that checks will be random. Our experience in the past has been that you get pulled in if there is a space in the shed when it is your turn to go through and then it was reassuring. The car was quickly but efficiently checked, interior, boot, bonnet and I seem to remember, mirror underneath. That felt like they were doing the job properly. What we cannot get over this time is the attitude. It was if we were part of a kiddies tea party, everything seem to be something of a joke to the operatives. We are still wondering what was in our friend's trousers that was such a danger to MSM! Compare that to the return at Ouistreham. Much more low key but although the high vis jackets had "Douane" printed on the back they looked as if they had been trained by the French equivalent of the SAS. Much more reassuring. What has not been mentioned above is that I assume that part of our ticket price includes an element for security. However much it is, we do not feel we have had value for money.
  4. For what it's worth, returning on yesterday's afternoon crossing, as the driver I saw the way was completely clear. One of the passengers spotted what might have been a couple of migrants or on the other hand might just have been locals enjoying the sun. Certainly no police presence, of any flavour, going past all the restaurants, round the roundabout and up to the terminal. One difference between yesterday and our previous crossing earlier this year was that at check in, BF only wanted to see our passports not our tickets. They were scanned and naively thinking that we had had all the checks and put them away, only to have to get them out again just into the secure area for the Douanes to check
  5. I am all for appropriate security checks, but what happened at Portsmouth yesterday was anything but. After check in we were directed into the security shed and what followed I can only think of as the young members of staff on an away day from an airport. Of course the car number was logged and I was asked to open the boot. No problem, been there before and I was expecting to be asked to open the bonnet and the vehicle inspected. No. Four of us in the car, luggage for a short break. The smallest bag was taken out and we were all asked to go into the shed. This one bag was scanned and we were asked to remove all metal. My watch has been through many an airport scanner with no problem. Off it had to come because the machine is “very sensitive”. Indeed it was. The metal zip in one of the group’s trousers set it off! It was a warm day, all of us in shirt sleeves, what could we conceal? How could anything we were wearing have any effect whatsoever on something the size of MSM? We were then directed back to the car as the obligatory boxes were ticked on the clipboard by the high vis wearers whose attitude was more that they were having a fun day out than a serious job. Did we feel more secure? Of course not. Just somebody going through the motions so they can announce how much security has been tightened up.
  6. I am not bothered about getting on board early, in fact the later the better especially on the return journey. We normally are on the afternoon ferry from Ouistreham and when we arrive, it sometimes seems that every other ferry in the western channel arrives about the same time. With a 2 hour drive to the midlands we like to be through border control as soon as possible to be home before midnight, and arriving later usually means the mezzanine deck is filled and lifted out of the way and with a bit of luck and following wind you can end up being one of the first down the ramp. We came badly unstuck the other week though when the main deck was filled with camper vans. Not only were we sent up onto the mezzanine, there were only 2 cars behind us before they lifted the deck and the remaining vehicles were below. I think the word I used was "bother".
  7. Driven about 100 miles today on a mixture of roads and have been pleasantly surprised by the number of local drivers sticking to the new limit on the first day even though not all the new speed limit signs have been uncovered or old ones replaced. Perhaps it’s because it is Sunday. Of course there are still those locals who think that any speed limit is for everyone but themselves and those who take it as a personal insult to be traveling behind a car with foreign number plates no matter what is coming the other way. One point I had not appreciated until the overhead gantry signs were explaining last week, the new limit only applies on roads without a central divider/barrier. Dual carriageways with a 90kph limit stay the same.
  8. A slightly different take on this. We arrived at Ouistreham from Portsmouth last night and were one of the last to drive off, and were expecting a long wait to clear passport control. As we drove off the ship, there were two men with very big guns at the top of the ramp. We drove round to passport control to find just one, rather severe looking, lady with a high viz jacket and clipboard. She was clearly looking for certain vehicles but the rest of us were just waived through with no formalities. In recent times that is probably the quickest from starting the car engine to leaving the port we have achieved. Even better, the town was not clogged up.
  9. I received the usual "bon voyage" email for our upcoming crossing on the Normandie and to avoid doing any real work, decided to look at the "discover your ferry" page. There it informs me that she entered service in May 1992. So far so good, but then comes the following sentence:- The stunning exterior design of Normandie means that even as she approaches 20 years old; she still looks amongst the most modern in the fleet. Does this mean that:- a) somebody at BF towers is not very good at sums - hope it's not the navigating officer on our crossing b) it is a very old webpage that nobody has thought to update c) the proof reading is not as good as it could be. I hope it's either b or c but either way, not very impressive.
  10. Though I did not take as many groups as Jardinier, I did my share of them, mainly with younger children, and echo his experiences. We always found BF very helpful and they usually allocated a reclining seat lounge for our exclusive use. The sign on the door indicating that fact did not seem to deter some of the other passengers though, and as it was "our" space, I found no reason to stop them letting off a bit of steam after being strapped into a coach seat for some hours beforehand. (Nottingham, that is why we used the longer crossings travelling between the Midlands and Normandy - shorter sea crossing = longer time on a coach). We set guidelines as to where they could go on board and what they could do. For us as well, running was not allowed on the basis that on anything but a flat calm sea, the floor might be in a different place when you land from when you took off. On an early trip, one youngster thought it did not apply to him and he came a cropper, nothing too serious, but this became enshrined (and embellished) in school legend so enforcing that rule was never a problem in later years. Soon after boarding, one member of staff would contact the self-service restaurant to organise a time for us to eat as a group, usually not their peak time, and they would set an area aside for us. Being away from home for a week or so was a great learning experience for the children, part of growing up and it was pleasing on more than one occasion to have been complimented on their behaviour, usually by retired teachers who had been there, done that and got the tee-shirt, and yes, I now do the same when warranted. On a different note, we were on a short flight the other week along with a small group of children (12/13yo) and one member of staff. The children were brilliant despite getting no leadership from the person supposedly in charge of them.
  11. Update. Second email now received and the link works this time.
  12. Every company you have ever had an email from is currently asking permission to keep on sending stuff because of the new rules next week. No prizes for guessing which ferry company’s link does not work. (Hint - look at the thread title). One of the very few people I do want offers from.
  13. You know how it is at the supermarket check out. The person in front of you has a trolley full of stuff but only realises when everything has gone through the till that they have to pay - and their credit card is at the bottom of the last possible bag. They have now started crossing the channel. Waiting to check in at Ouistreham the other day, quiet crossing, just 2 lines with no more than 9 cars altogether in front of us and 3 of them had to rummage in the car boot for the paperwork. Did they do it whilst they were waiting? No chance. They wait until they get to the booth before the realisation dawns that they need it. The only saving grace was that once onboard, none of them were in front of us in our row. No doubt they were last to the car deck once we had docked. What irritates others on crossings, taking it for granted that French school groups will be near the top of many peoples lists?
  14. We have done it a couple of times in the summer when there are half price offers. It's a day out, a chance to meet up with some old friends and a good lunch. If you get the right sailings (and Libby is actually running at full speed), about 3 1/2 hours ashore. It could be longer but Condor seem to think to think we enjoy spending a lot of time crowded in the cattle shed that is the departure "lounge".
  15. Coming home aboard MSM now. Arriving at Ouistreham the Gendarmerie were out in force, before the check in booths and indicating which lane we should go into. Our passports were then, very politely checked and the contents of the boot were inspected. It did not slow us down as we were waiting for the cars in front to check in. We have seen caravans, motor homes and the like checked before but not such a close examination of cars. Quite what they hope to find also eluded me. They were very cursory checks but perhaps it was more subtle than that as an attitude test.
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