Ferry, please have mercy, ’cause the land’s the place I love – and would prefer to stay
When Mrs X said that someone we knew from a long time ago wanted her to do the clicking at his October wedding, I thought, good for her. So I thought to myself that she could take my van and I would see her when she got back from Harris or Uist or wherever it was to be. She sighed then slowly explained in simple words which I could understand that the wedding was actually in Lancashire, it was her van and I had to go with her to carry her camera bags and to drive. That would ease the stress on her – unlike the effect I normally have on her. Understood, milady. Whatever you say.
And in any case, we need to visit someone we know in Gloucestershire. Yes, The Daughter. The first born. The only born. I think I can say that confidently now because I have heard no more from the Child Support Agency. Just kidding, hon. You are my first, my last, my everything. So can you put the old lady and I up for a couple of nights? Least you can do to repay us for the last 22 years of worry and anxiety. No, I am not talking about your mother waiting for me to get back from the pub. Cheeky brat. I’ll see you soon.
That rotten old tub, the Isle of Lewis, is currently on the route because the Loch
Seaforth is a ferry on the Mersey, as it is down in Liverpool for its refit. We were only just past the Arnish Light when it began to wobble. The 24-year-old Isle of Lewis must be one of the least-suited vessels to be assigned to a route in the Hebrides – ever.
We were about to order breakfast and the rolling began.
The looks on people’s faces said it all. Many of us could remember very well how awful journeys were on this smelly old barge before the new Loch Seaforth came into service. Mrs X was going green round the gills and a quite unpleasant pallid hue. Dulux could market that colour if they called it white with a hint of broccoli.
Then she said it was all too much for her. She would have to go outside on deck. To be fair, that did help a lot. She was able to give a bit of counterweight and the ferry seemed to pitch a bit less. It’s an ill wind but Mrs X is still going to have to start that diet when we get back.
I feel so sorry for the people of Barra who have to put up with the shoogly ship, the Isle of Lewis, as their link with Oban. Services are regularly cancelled on that five-hour voyage. No wonder Barrachs describe her as the Olympic flame – she never goes out.
Even some of her hard-working crew were feeling unwell. That says it all.
The only ones smiling were the school of porpoises that came alongside to snigger and chortle at Mrs X and I peering over the rail and retching in unison. Yes, I know porpoises are known to have what we humans interpret as smiley faces anyway but they did not have to leap clear out of the water with joy everytime we boked.
When we finally got off at Ullapool, we were sickly and bedraggled, as were many other passengers too. I felt like getting out of the van and kissing the ground in front of the lorry park. I was just so glad to have made it. I would much rather lick up oil and diesel from D R Macleod’s lorries than go through that again.
When I have seen the Pope doing that at the foot of aircraft steps, it has always crossed my mind that must have been a rough flight.
Other arrangements have been made. CalMac, CMal, Transport Scotland – whatever you call yourselves this week – please get rid of the ferry Isle of Lewis. She has done her bit and is surely ready to be consigned to the pages of history.
Please do not make us – and the people of Barra – suffer any more. In the interests of justice and fair play, and to prove you listen to your users, you should not refuse this request without all the board members of your organisations taking a winter voyage on her. That’ll change all your minds pronto.
On the way down, we stopped for a breather and to stretch the legs in Carlisle. It has really changed since we were last here. Big new buildings, new shopping centres and brand new businesses trading everywhere. It is really very confusing. We were in a retail park and a guy came up to Mrs X and asked: “Excuse me, miss, can you help me? Do you know where I can find Pets at Home?”
Mrs X looked very puzzled and said: “Well, cove. I don’t know. Let me think. Have you tried looking under the bed?”
The Isle of Lewis in Loch Broom as she arrives off Ullapool – perhaps a scrap yard would be a more appropriate destination