HOLIDAY DISASTERS

Pat Mulholland was looking forward to her short break in Normandy - if she could just get off the ferry

Four nights in Normandy being pampered in a nice hotel. This is what had us racing towards Portsmouth in what felt like a tropical storm. We secured a place on the slightly delayed ferry which was now completing boarding; we zoomed up the ramp and they closed the doors behind us.

The crossing to Cherbourg was very bumpy - an eight-hour sickerama of waxen faces and anguished retching, but we got there at last - or so we thought. "Slight mechanical problem - short delay in entering harbour." An hour later, a bad sign: "Complimentary tea and coffee will be served". Two hours of back and forth in the waves outside Cherbourg ensued. We could see cars moving beside the harbour. The cliche "so near and yet so far" bites frustratingly deep. Cabins are being issued to nursing mothers, free tea and coffee is losing its appeal, and the myth that the English never complain is exploding around the purser's ears.

Mr Polite But Firm made his point, then repeated it (fearing perhaps that the crew member had memory lapses). Mr Diffident apologised for complaining and seemed in need of the loo. Miss Isn't This Awful? simpered and sympathised with the long-suffering staff. There was a chill when we heard: "The bow-thrusters are not operating, too hazardous to risk docking in these seas". That's it! I get us a cabin (Mr I've Read a Book on Assertiveness) and we settle down for a long night. Actually, lots of people have been assertive and there is a continuous stream of announcements asking Mr and Mrs Featherstonehaugh to report to the information desk. The unfortunate French girl on the tannoy was really struggling with unfamiliar English surnames when some cad (obviously a Simpsons fan) passed her the following: "Would Mr Hugh G Rection please report to the information desk?" Followed by a repeat of the above. Chuckling passengers forgot their woes, however briefly.

One welcome hour in bed, then: "Please report to the passenger lounge at the rear of Deck 5. We will be docking shortly and disembarkation will follow." Fumbling with clothes, swift re-pack and check we haven't left anything.

Sure enough we're in the harbour now, tugs tugging, and we are approaching the dock. "Goodness! That tug between us and the dock is moving away quickly". Then we hit. Fire-doors slam from their recesses, children scream, duty- free is awash with glass and booze. The litigious wonder aloud if they can claim for whiplash; Houston obviously has a problem.

"This is the captain speaking, we will not be reattempting to dock tonight." Back to our cabin (which the ever-patient crew had just stripped and made- up). A beautiful, calm dawn broke; 750 complimentary full English breakfasts were served and we looked over the side at the Promised Land. A boring, tedium-filled wait. Mr Polite But Firm enquired whether the rumours that the captain had spent the night ashore were true? Inch by slow inch, the tugs pulled us into berth. A French docker tried, unsuccessfully, to swing a weighted line up to our crew. "Obviously never learned to play cricket," Mr Retired Colonel muttered. We drove off, reached our hotel, showered and let ourselves be pampered. It was worth it after all.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own