The Flying Martinis are off once again. Except this time we’re not flying. We are, in the words of craggy-faced, fake-Scotsman, brunette-shunning, lothario Rod Stewart, sailing.
Cross the water, cross the sea to the Netherlands, as it happens. I am really looking forward to it. At least I was until French workmate’s response to me telling him that I was going on a caravanning holiday to Holland was a simple and deadpan,
“God, that sounds terrible”
We leave on Saturday departing from Hull, as sailings to Holland from the far closer Rosyth are twice as expensive for no good reason. Maybe the expensive air and ferry fares in my country are a ruse to keep us Scots firmly within our borders. We do have a tendency to kind of take over. (Waves) Hello wee Gordy from Fife!
It has occurred to me that I haven’t been on an overnight ferry for a very long time indeed. There is a good reason for this. And that, my friends, is the theme of today’s Misssive.
At age sixteen my childhood friend Helen and I are allowed to go on our own on holiday to visit our other friend Julie whose parents have taken her to live in the Hague. We arrive in Hull 10 hours too early for the ferry and spend the day being skittish and nervous of other people as we are only 16 and from the sticks.
That night we board the ferry and we excitedly find our "couchettes". Couchettes are wipe clean (and this is important, folks!) armchairs set in rows in a large lounge area. They are not designed for comfort in any way. But they are the cheapest option for wee lassies on a budget.
The journey is underway and after skittishly checking out the vessel for teenage boys, who we may lust after but won’t approach, we make our way back to the couchette lounge to play cards. Outside the rain and wind lash the boat, “Poseidon Adventure” style. The boat starts to lunge.
As darkness falls and the storm outside gets worse, we begin to upset the Dutch gentleman behind us. He apparently cannot stand the excited chatter of annoying girls and complains bitterly to us every five minutes. He is a pain in the arse. So, when he starts to vomit loudly and constantly into a plastic bag, we laugh our asses off. He is well aware of our mockery and scowls at us in between gagging.
Within 15 minutes it seems that everyone is vomiting and plastic bags are becoming a real commodity. The waves are crashing over the front window of the ferry and at times it feels like the boat is on its end. Despite the hurly-burly, we are still laughing our asses off every time our Dutch friend retches. Sixteen year old girls can be right bastards.
Then it hits us. Repeatedly. We are both sick as dogs for 8 hours straight. We can’t even make it to the bathroom, as we will get flung all over the ship. We do try, but some near misses with falling in the vomit of the many people who tried before us, forces us back to our seats. The couchette saloon becomes the Vomitarium. The walls are spattered with it, the couchettes are covered in it and the floor is swimming in it. It is absolutely vile. Projectile doesn’t even cover it.
The only thing to do is try and sleep on the plastic couchette, clutch your plastic bag and threadbare blanket, pray and wait for morning.
When morning arrives, the place looks like the pits of Hell, the passengers look like the residents of Hell, and our Dutch friend is silent. As are we.
It is 7am, the Tannoy bing bongs,
“We would just like to remind all passengers that the restaurant will be serving breakfast until 9am”