Author Topic: Exercising my bus pass, my memory, and my self control  (Read 443 times)

Offline Gyppo

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Exercising my bus pass, my memory, and my self control
« on: October 01, 2017, 08:59:15 AM »
   Exercising my bus pass, my memory, and my self control.

   Alma and her Mum were away down in Cornwall, so I planned to have a day out, do something different, if the weather was kind.  I had two destinations in mind and was going to exercise my free bus pass.  

   When I woke up there were no clouds, the forecast was good and accurate, for once, so I decided which way to go and set off.  In retrospect I should probably have taken the other choice, but the day had its moments.

   My bus pass got well used, but I also took three short train rides, a two way ferry trip down nostalgia street, ate a well-filled bacon baguette on the waterfront, and watched two tiny tugs guiding a massive great container ship, (one of the world's biggest when I looked it up later), into the docks opposite my vantage point.


   On the last bus of the day, filled with idiots, I came perilously close to turning around in my seat and punching the living daylights out of the foul-mouthed oik behind me who kept calling his girlfriend a c*nt.  She was nearly as bad back to him, but had that irritating passive tone, whereas he was the classic full-on-drunk of limited intelligence.  Quote:  "I'm not going back into town tomorrow unless you're gonna let me get really pissed.  No point in paying out all that money if I can't have fun."

   But when they eventually got off the bus they walked off up the road hand in hand.   Which I guess is why the police hate having to deal with 'domestics', where as often as not both arguing parties turn on them as soon as they arrive.

   I might have been in a better mood if I'd not had to deal with a massive shopping complex earlier in my search for a toilet.  'Over ninety shops and more than fifty places to eat.'  I guess that's supposed to be some kind of recommendation.(Almost as if they can't be bothered to count, or the turnover is so fast they can't keep up.)  To me it's hell on earth.  I've been in there once before in the several years since it was built.

   I trudged up four levels inside, faithfully following signs, and then had to take a lift back down three - deep into the bowels of the earth due to the split levels of the building, to find the hilariously named 'accessible' toilets.  These spacious cubicles are far better for a claustrophobe than the shoulder-hugging broom closet spaces in the ordinary public 'inconveniences'.
   I eventually escaped, harassed and close to panic, and the only bright moment was a absolutely delightful young lady in the tiny lift, with a massive pushchair nearly as big as her personality, who greeted me with a smile as 'Another lost soul, a fellow wanderer in the labyrinth."  I could have hugged the dear girl, but it may have been misconstrued and I am not a complete idiot, even when most of my brain is shut down with claustrophobic shadows ;-)


   But the better part of the day was the time on the ferry, even though it is now a modern efficient catamaran instead of a proper little ship.  When I was a kid I loved that little ferry.  You could get to the front and watch the bow dipping and rising, and see water draining back through the fancy woven rope fender on the bows as it butted its way through the waves.  Now you're not allowed near the sides or anywhere you might fall off, and all the fenders are bright safety orange plastic.

   When the weather was bad you could go downstairs, below deck, and see the waves passing by a series of little round portholes.  Mum hated it down there, but came down to keep an eye on me.  When a bigger ship passed and the ferry rolled slowly to one side and back up again on the waves the portholes would all be underwater, a rather pleasing shade of green as I recall.

   There was a proper engine room, with a hatch, and it was always open so you could see the engineer when you looked inside.  A curiously foreshortened view from above.  I always thought he was a dwarf, which seemed appropriate in amongst all those dials and long levers, but it was probably just a matter of perspective.  He looked even broader and shorter on the occasions he sat on his drop-down seat, reading a newspaper or eating his lunch.

   On top of the engine was one of those wonderful spinning governors, the thing which always gets a lingering camera shot in Hollywood films involving steam ships.  Dad used to explain all this stuff to me, being an ex stoker/mechanic.

   The modern ferry is more like a waterborne bus. and even 'downstairs' is well above the waterline.  (I should have taken some pictures, but I was busy wondering at the absence of truly big ships along the dock walls.)  I saw some tugs lurking, and a rather lovely twin-masted gaff-rigged sailing ship bobbing around, but for a normally busy water-way it was pretty well dead.

   One of the reasons for the trip was to visit the waterside area, listen to New Forest voices in the narrow streets, and see what I call 'the lizard faces'.  The old forest and waterside folks are burned brown by wind and sun, have skin like a well-worn Morocco leather handbag, and generally smile at you.  A definite feeling of homecoming.

   On the city side of the water they're 'city people', with a multitude of accents and languages, and generally too busy to see anyone else except as an obstacle in their path.  And far too numerous for comfort.  (Which is why the girl in the lift was such a delight.)

   I told the ticket man it must have been twenty years plus since I last rode on his ferry.

   "You're remembering when we used to make the male passengers take a turn at the oars."
   "I'm not quite that old."

   He cheerfully opened up the ticket booth to issue me a 'proper ticket', when he saw me hesitate at the card operated ticket machine.

   I pointed towards the three patches of brickwork amongst the general run of salt-bleached and weed-hung concrete.  "When I was a lad the Flying boats used to be moored there."

   "Christ, you're older than you look."

   "It was only about sixty years ago."

   "I suppose so.   People often ask me about the brick moorings, but they just look blank when I mention Flying Boats."

   "I never saw them flying, until I saw one a few years back at an air show, but I used to see them taxi-ing out beyond the docks to get a clear run.  Ungainly as hell, lurching and wallowing with the engines roaring.   Bloody noisy.  If I heard them as we came through the town I'd hurry to try and catch them moving."

   His eyes were sparkling in his 'handbag' face as he caught my enthusiasm.


   Once across the water I rode the little pier train and went wandering.  I was still unsettled by the earlier struggle through the city so I bought a baguette and headed for the waterfront.  The lapping of the waves against the seawall, and the sudden bigger splat as an occasional larger wave arrived with more authority gradually calmed me down.

   I ate my baguette, drank my bottle of water, and seriously considered lying down along the bench and going to sleep for a while I felt so relaxed.  But the thought of missing the last ferry and  having to take the long way around to get home over-rode the urge.  It wasn't as if I could phone my daughter to come and rescue me.

   Two tugs butted out against the waves and then hung around like lurking highwaymen.  Eventually their prey appeared, a massive container ship towering over everything and seemingly endless as it slid out from behind the cover of shore-side buildings and normal sized ships moored up alongside.

   The muted sound of a massive marine engine barely ticking over, (truly like a giant heartbeat and to hell with the cliche), was just audible as the tugs took control, one at the front and one at the back, slowly guiding the huge beast to the mooring further up the coast.  I took a few pictures.  10x zoom, hand held, so not the best, but they captured the size of the thing.

   Later, at home, I found the name on the photos, and did a web search.  Barzan, if anyone else wants to look it up.  Only two years old, and definitely one of the biggest.  A fascinating bit of kit with surprisingly 'green' credentials.

   There is an amazing amount of free detail online, in real-time- about shipping movements.  Even more if you sign up and pay for various services.  If I was a terrorist, or modern day pirate, I think I'd see this as a legitimate 'business expense'

   I chatted with an elderly couple sat on a nearby bench, exchanging bemused comments about the size of the ship.  "I know there's a lot more of it below the waterline, but it still seems impossible that something that tall doesn't blow over in a really rough sea."

   "I know, Boy.  I remember thinking the Queen Elizabeth Two was huge compared to the original Queen, but these things are unreal."

   "The tugs look like sheepdogs herding an elephant."

   Then it was time for my ferry and the trip thorough hell with Mister Gobby until the bus took me nearly home, just late enough to miss the final bus connection.  At least I didn't see it go, which would have been the final straw.

   I gave in and took a taxi for the last bit.

   A day of mixed fortunes, but with some wonderful moments.  

   Left click to see the massive container ship and tugs.


« Last Edit: October 01, 2017, 09:29:24 AM by Gyppo »

Artemis Quark

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Re: Exercising my bus pass, my memory, and my self control
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2017, 10:44:37 PM »
Thanks for posting, Gyppo. I enjoyed the imagery you painted with well-chosen words. No waste. Just the facts, man. The first person point of view brought me into your day, looking over your shoulder.

Hope you are well, all things considered.



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Re: Exercising my bus pass, my memory, and my self control
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 03:23:48 AM »
Apart from your moment of panic and the yobbo and yobbess, sounds like a wonderful day out. You should do it more often. Because now you know that you can.

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Exercising my bus pass, my memory, and my self control
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2017, 09:16:53 AM »
Yeah.  Today's train ride to and from the New Forest hospital was lovely.