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rogerpatenall

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About rogerpatenall

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  • Birthday 23/07/1945

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  1. Every year my wife attends a conference in North East Holland (Gelderland0 and I traditionally make the trip and have a mini break. (last year included trip on Eurostar between London and Rotterdam. I have never travelled from Harwich to the Hook, so determined that this year we would sample the route. We arrived at Harwich at 830pm on Thursday in time for the pre-booked dinner on board. Our treat was dinner and a Captain's Cabin. The spacious cabin is situated at the front with a big round picture window. On entering it looked really good, and didn't disappoint. A comfortable double bed, tv if you wanted with a wide choice of channels, two comfortable chairs, a desk and a well stocked complimentary mini bar. Two small bottles of Prosecco, two small bottles of red, water, soft drinks ( including a very passable orange juice) and crisps and nuts. And all for the price of a last minute booking at a Travelodge. The cabin, like the rest of the ship, was spotless. Dinner in the Metropolitan restaurant was £26 or thereabouts for a three course offering. No buffet, but a selection to meet most tastes. (My wife's steak may have attracted a supplement - but after sharing a bottle of champagne and a glass of red, I didn't notice). The Hotel manager (if that is his title) spent quite a while chatting at each table. He was very perturbed that I kept referring to the Stena Britannica as a ferry. He kept correcting me that it is a SuperFerry. I guess that if we had been regulars on the straits of Dover, it would have been obvious to us, but being exiles from MSM, Bretagne and the Pont, it was not so relevant. The Food was excellent, and in no way inferior (nor superior) to the best that BF offer. (I still miss the waiter service restaurant on the old Stena Normandy from Southampton - that was special). The rest of the public areas looked ok - they always look better on quiet crossings. We skipped breakfast - just making a cup of tea in the cabin. The return trip on Sunday was on an old friend from Dunkerque - Delft Seaways. Although we had a flexi ticket(which also gave access to the 1st class lounge) upon arriving at 530pm with a booking for the 8pm ferry, it was not possible for us to get on the 6pm. Disappointing - but so be it. We spent the extra time in the dismal but warm terminal building, although we found a well lit table, created a hot spot, and got up to date on our computers. The Delft Seaways was quite busy, but the overall standard of cleanliness was higher than we have found in he past. The lounge is a quiet area with a welcome glass of prosecco, tea, coffee, soft drinks etc. You wouldn't, though, call it 'plush'. The restaurant has a limited menu with nothing that is suitable for a wife with severe allergy to both gluten and dairy. In the lounge the charming Latvian steward (he flies home to Riga every fortnight) - arranged for the filling of a steak sandwich, which set us up for the unexpected diversion back in the UK as we found that the A2 was closed between Dover and Canterbury and the M20 was also closed near Maidstone. For me, the highlight of the trip came on Saturday. When I was very small I was the proud owner of "The Wonder Book of Trains'. Featured was the overhead metro system in Wuppertai, Germany - built in 1901 and still going strong. My ambition to visit this engineering pioneer, which still uses exactly the same technology, was finally satisfied. A wonderful day out. It was too dark to take any photos of the ferry and Super Ferry, so here is one of the Schewebahn . . .
  2. Not so. Maps produced by Marketing Men should not be trusted. There are two large Eddie Leclerc stores in Cherbourg - but not on your route, and smaller ones at Valognes and Carentan, but they are not 'on the dual carriageway'. You need to divert through the town in each case. There is an Auchan on the main road out of Cherbourg (opposite Fine Whine's emporium).
  3. Couleurs/Saveurs is certainly nice and recommended for a special occasion - I have only been twice and one of those for a new year's eve occasion. However, I am not sure that I would recommend it as a lunch stop pretty close to the start of a long journey. But that's a personal choice. I would continue on into Avranches which has a good choice of more informal lunch stops. Or, better still, stop (perhaps in Brehal) and buy yourselves a nice, French style picnic. Be in control of your own time and schedule. Save your money for a nice, relaxing meal at your destination without having to worry about the Rennes Peripherique and other horrors that lie ahead.
  4. Memories ( or Nostalgia). . . I remember how our spirits fell when we asked the secretary for a copy of such and such document to be told 'it's on the Wang'. Shorthand for being told its lost forever. Apologies to our younger members who do not remember the wonders of the Wang word processing system.
  5. No difference in cost now. I got into the habit of booking two singles so that changes could be made, free, to the return closer to the sailing date rather than being subject to the cut off dictated by the outbound date. As you say, Stu, greater flexibility.
  6. The Australian cricket selectors may have an opening for you.
  7. The sort of hotel that does expensive meals, but this (filet mignon au sauce camembert - it is in Orne, after all) was part of the two course €17 menu. Top notch and you are treated just as royally as if you had chosen the top price menu, and with a table on the terrace overlooking the lake and, joy of joys, unlimited triangular buns.
  8. Found 'em!! Just got back from a couple of days at Bagnoles de l'Orne (Hotel Spa du Beryl - Highly recommended). And bingo.
  9. A propos of nothing at all, I was stopped this evening, for the very first time (had the house here for 27 years), for a random document check. Two very pleasant gendarmes. Big feeling of satisfaction when the driving license, and the leasing company certificates were accepted after intense scrutiny, and a zero reading on the breathalyser. What it is to be a law abiding citizen. . .
  10. It is one of life's little mysteries to me. Why did that innocent stencil when I was barely 12 years old (or whatever) always stick in my mind? Was it because between 1972 and 1984 I was destined to commute from Tunbridge Wells to London using the special stock that Millsy describes? or just coincidence?
  11. On a family holiday (aged not more than 14), I remember walking around the railway yard at (I think) Dole one evening. I suddenly came across a van with the stencil 'not to be used between Tonbridge and Bo Peep Junction'. Quite incongruous, and has always stuck in my mind.
  12. rogerpatenall

    Menus

    I always find that the cold dish selection is far more appetising than the cooked - although that in itself is not bad for a buffet. Smoked salmon starter, then the plate of 10 jumbo prawns (also, nominally, a starter), followed by one or more of their delicious puddings. A feast fit for a Master Mariner (or King or whatever). And if you are really hungry - the cheese with a bread roll of indeterminate shape, although I am not convinced that the cheese is value for money. The rest most certainly is.
  13. Yes indeed. A wonderful service until the last days when catering became non existent. The train was loaded onto the ship at Dover Marine - I do not believe that there was rail access at Folkestone, but I may be wrong. However, the arrival port in France was always Dunkerque. Sadly missed.
  14. As I understood it, ships were registered overseas because weddings were not licensed on UK registered ships. That rule has now changed.
  15. Frequently at Portsmouth one waits in line, and quite correctly, the first line then proceeds through. However, the marshalls by the booths then direct all the incoming traffic into the fast diminishing first line. That would work if that line then waited once the first section had loaded. But it doesn't - they just keep on coming and proceeding through. So whilst I accept that there is a protocol for loading the different types of vehicle, I do not accept that applies to the same type of vehicle. DFDS load well on the short sea routes, but neither BF nor P&O has ever mastered the art since the highly efficient operation of Stena at Southampton and Cherbourg.
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