We left home at 01:15 having spent the whole of yesterday doing odd jobs connected with the motorhome, shed, garage or house.
We were booked on the 11:00 Brittany Ferries service from Portsmouth to Santander, and were trying not to arrive too early and have to spend the night dossing in the ferry port area.
The cunning plan was to travel around the M25 before heading south on the M3 towards Southampton. Unfortunately the entrance to the M3 from the M25 was closed due to roadwork's. Unlike other roads which are closed, on motorways there are no 'Diversion' signs, you're just left to fend for yourself. Luckily I remembered the A3 route which must have been the main route south before the M3. was built. So further round the M25 we went until we came across the A3. Now bearing in mind this was the middle of the night, I found this route to be just fine for us. It was very quiet and gave me the opportunity to concentrate more on the twists and turns of the road.
We arrived at Portsmouth Ferry Terminal (GPS: N50.811652 W1.086531) at about 05:00 and joined a line of vehicles queuing for the ferry, we turned the fridge/freezer to 'LPG' operation, and rather than fight the urge, succumbed to a nap on the bed having set the alarm for 09:00 guessing they wouldn't be checking in anybody before then.
We were woken at 08:30 by a knock on the side of the vehicle. It was 'Check In' time. Having worked our way to the front of the queue the young man in the kiosk was very polite, then looked up at the height of the vehicle. Clearly we were worthy of closer inspection. Out of his kiosk he came to make a visual check of the vehicles height against markers on his kiosk wall. We were ok, we passed the test, we could go through. He even issued us with our two cabin keys to be used onboard.
We then joined more lanes of vehicles waiting to board, the very front of lane four infact, but not before a man with a long wooden stick with height markers on it checked us and every other van and motorhome again - just to make sure. I swear a passenger on one occasion had one over on them robbing them of an additional fee for their height and have vowed it will never happen again. Obviously 'Check In' was a ruse to make us all feel as if we were really making progress. And there we sat. One of the first vehicles to arrive at the terminal, and one and a half hours after 'Check In', one of the last vehicles to board.
We were to travel on Brittany Ferries www.brittanyferries.com 'Pont-Aven' ferry. Once parked up onboard I had to turn the gas bottle off which then meant there was no power supply to the fridge/freezer. I was confident that the way we'd packed it, everything would survive just fine. Rubber chocks around the wheels as I was not prepared to leave the vehicle in gear as instructed, and then we went to find our cabin, number 5105. Once found we were most impressed. The last time we made this journey it was on 'Brittany's' Economie ferry. We ended up hiring two reclining seats for the journey across. What a nightmare, we didn't get a wink of sleep, not helped by the fact that the lounge area was located close to the bar and social area frequented for half the night by drunken HGV drivers. We vowed we would never do that again. So here we were, for about eighty pounds extra, our very own cabin for the crossing. It had bunk beds. The bottom one was created from the long sofa, and the top one dropped out from the ceiling, all very clever. It has an en-suite and a small desk. Money well spent.
To keep our costs down we took a travel kettle in to the cabin with us together with our evening meal and other snacks in a coolbag.
I don't know if the Isle of Wight is treated like a roundabout, but when we left Portsmouth we went around it in a clockwise direction, which meant we got to see most of the islands shoreline before finally heading out to sea. It was a sunny day and the sea was calm, what a lovely change from our maritime experiences of a couple of weeks ago courtesy of Fred Olsen cruises.
Then it was off for an exploratory look around the ship. It really was very nice. Lovely decor in different styles, dining to suit all tastes, shops and ample seating for all.
Back to the cabin for a read, then a five star dining experience produced from the coolbag, followed by an early night. It had been a long day.