24th August 2012
I missed the 1123 by seconds so caught the 1223 instead. That was my first mistake.
My second was being pleased that my connecting train required no changes and was straight through to Glasgow. Hah! I should have suspected something when it turned up 40 minutes late, but no, I boarded, found a seat and buried my nose in a book. By Leeds I was feeling fractious and uncomfortable and really not chuffed when a large party of merry, middle-aged chaps infested my carriage. Not put off by being scattered around the carriage in different seats, they kept up a constant flow of chatter at the tops of their voices. Then the train broke down. For an hour.
When we finally made it to Newcastle, the happy chappies left but my joy at the sudden quiet was marred when I learned that my train would be terminating at Edinburgh… Scot Rail was going to honour our onward tickets so we could catch 2300 through to Glasgow. Good old Scot Rail. Shame the 2300 had to stop at every hamlet between Edinburgh and Glasgow though. I arrived in Glasgow at 2430 after TWELVE hours on a train. By the time I got a taxi and arrived at my ship it was gone 1a.m and the watchman who helped me aboard wasn’t sure which cabin I was supposed to be in. Never mind, we found an empty one and, though the bunk was unmade, I threw myself into it. Bliss.
25th August 2012
Doon the Watter.
It’s Cowal Games Day so it’s up and at it this morning. It’s nice being welcomed back aboard by friendly faces among the crew – and the regular passengers. It is ten months since I sailed on this ship.
Hundreds of passengers fill the decks as we paddle around the Clyde, dropping some off at this pier, picking up others at that pier. Whenever I go down on deck people say ‘You’ve been here all day!’ What do they mean? The whole crew has been here all day. Surely I’m not the only one that they notice?
Anyway, as the day wears on, many of the passengers are the worse for drink and one is escorted from the ship for being abusive and aggressive but mostly people are in good spirits despite the torrential rain that sets in during the afternoon. I even get chatted up a couple of times at the gangway so it’s not all bad.
26th August 2012
Doon the Watter again.
Last Sunday on the Clyde until October so the ship is full for most of the day. We’re carrying 700+ most of the time. Greenock, Largs, Rothesay, Lochranza and a cruise to Skipness Castle then back the way. When we return to Lochranza, it’s the last time Waverley will call there this year so it’s toilet rolls at the ready. Apparently this is a tradition that has crept in over the last couple of years. The people on the pier fling them at us and we fling some at them – only our loo rolls are large catering ones and we need to avoid concussing anybody.
My hands are sore from steering the ship. I’m sailing as extra Mate this trip and so, to free up the regular Chief Officer, I’m acting as helmsperson for going alongside and sailing from the piers. The thing is, this is one heavy ship to steer. I have the muscle power but my palms are bruised from the spokes of the wheel. Not that I’m letting on, of course cos I’m tough.
I get two kisses today. On the mouth. But both the passengers concerned are known to me and are openly gay so I don’t think I need to confess all to my boyfriend.
I end the day by escorting a very drunk woman down the quay in Glasgow to the taxi rank. She had refused to leave the ship and had previously been abusing another family until I stepped in. I held her up as she fell over on the gangway and walked with my arm around her, steering her away from crew members that she’d taken a dislike to and listened to her talking about her children. Then she asked me how old I was and I replied that I’m 47. She nearly fell over again. She thought I was younger than her kids who are in their twenties. Well, it was dark. And she was very, very pissed.
27th August 2012
Bye-bye Scotland, hello Irish Sea.
28th August 2012
Hello Swansea. OK we’re meant to be in Avonmouth but this is close enough. Tomorrow we start plying our trade on the Bristol Channel. Let’s hope the weather improves and that many people will want to come for a day out on a paddle steamer. In the meantime, I’m just glad that my world has stopped bucking and pitching and rattling. Time for bed as Zebedee once said.