Life at the end of the road

October 7, 2008

It’s still very impressive

Filed under: boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:33 pm

Now I’m a creature of routine with a very good biological clock, on my week on I’m ruled by the Calmac ferry timetable and on my week off by the stomachs of 27 ( I think ) hungry pigs. Over the weekend however it’s all gone a bit pear shaped cos I’ve been away for a boys weekend down to Glasgow! Now not that long ago this would involve Paisely’s techno dungeon http://www.dontstayin.com/uk/paisley/club-69 in a cellar under the Koh Inor Indian resturant or a gig at the Barrowlands either way lots of alcohol would be involved and usually a long walk back to Barrhead. This weekend however involved a 52 year old male a 41 year old queen ( the QE2 ) and three boys!

Let me explain!

I’ve spent most of my adult working life on or under the sea and the last thing I want to do is spend my precious spare time on old Clyde ferries watching old cruise ships sail in or out of dock but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing this weekend! Last year I won 2 tickets to go and see the then exactly 40 year old QE2 sail down the Clyde after her 40th anniversary sail past the yard that built her. I went down half heartedly with my then 8 year old boy and we had a whale of a time so this year when the chance came to to do the same thing on the MV Saturn but this time escorting QE2 up the Clyde I leapt at it and even managed to acquire 2 extra tickets ( thanks Angus ) for 2 of my boys pals. So we left wife and mother in charge of the pigs and headed south in her car first thing on Saturday morning, my 22 year old Land Rover not being the ideal vehicle for a 500 mile weekend dash. When I say the rain was torrential on the way south that would be an understatement it literally bucketed it down all the way from Arnish to Fort William, we passed several water falls who’s power and glory had to be seen to be believed but there was no way I was even going to wind a window down let alone stop and get out to take a picture so we just kept driving. After a wee stop in Fort William for socks and lunch we continued onto Glasgow and the http://www.museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk/museums/by_name/c/clydebuilt_scottish_maritime_museum_at_braehead.asp

This relatively new museum situated on the Clyde at Braehead is well worth a visit and quite by chance had a whole room dedicated to the QE2, we had a great couple of hours there.

Even found an anchor made by ‘WL Byers of Sunderland’ which is just like the one on Raasay! https://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/category/16-years-ago/

and sits just outside the museum. After our cultural afternoon we headed to our berth for the night and a bite to eat and no sooner had we finished than I took the boys to see ‘The Dark Knight’ which they all enjoyed thorughly despite it being almost 3 hours long! I even enjoyed it myself though I was left reeling when I was asked to part with $13.50 (and that should read pounds and not USD) for 3 popcorns and one medium sized pepsi having just paid $18.00 to get in it struck me that either I’m mean old and miserable or things are very expensive these days. When we came out my boy had a raging thirst having single handedly munched his way through a bag of savory popcorn so I went to get him a small bottle of water but baulked at $2.30 for 500mil of stuff that falls from the sky. It takes 8 million years to make oil, extract it carry it half way around the world, refine it, then get it to a petrol pump and its still cheaper than a bottle of water at the Paisley Phoenix cinema! So my boy went thirsty until we arrived back at our lodgings for the night though by this time it was after 11.00pm and we had to be up early for the big day tomorrow.

The last great ‘Clyde built’ liner

The cruise to view the QE2 from MV Saturn http://www.calmac.co.uk/qe2-cruise-on-mv-saturn.html left Gourock at 10:00am but I had a cunning plan to avoid the traffic and parking restrictions along the entire waterfront and that was to catch MV Jupiter the Calmac ferry to Dunoon at 9:00am and board Saturn there at 10:30. This would also mean we’d get to travel on an extra ferry much to the boys delight and we’d be a few miles nearer to home at the end of the cruise. Even at 8:30 when we arrived at the Gourock ferry terminal there was a buzz in the air with traffic cones everywhere and people in hi viz jackets standing around diversion signs. The aircraft carrier Ark Royal and the French Assault landing ship FS Tonnerre where moored just off shore probably in preparation for next weeks big ‘Joint Warrior’ NATO exercise

Here’s the rather graceful Ark Royal

And here’s the decidedly boxy looking Tonnerre

Anyway we were soon on board MV Jupiter and whisked over to a very sunny and pleasant Dunoon where wandered about the park until it was time to go and meet the Saturn

MV Saturn

MV Saturn

We boarded Saturn and joined the other 500 odd people who’d come to see the last great ‘Clydebuilt’ ship. Now me and my boy had already been through a similar experience last year but that didn’t make it any less exciting we headed south down the Clyde along with hundreds of other vessels of all shapes and sizes to meet the ‘Queen’ and we were not disappointed as she came into view escorted by HMS Manchester and a host of other craft.

In no time at all she was abreast of us and more and more boats of all shapes and sizes joined the procession

QE2 and HMS Manchester

QE2 and HMS Manchester

And I know the photo’s are poor but I’ve no broadband so can’t take then at any decent kind of resolution but she is VERY impressive and as the flotilla grew in size as we neared ‘Ocean Terminal’ her tugs waited patiently with one of them firing off her fire hoses a hundred feet in the air.

And just as the Queen approached the sun came out and the tug disappeared in a rainbow!

QE2

QE2

As well as the host of boats there were helicopters and even a light aircraft

QE2 and ace of clubs

QE2 and ace of clubs

'Ace of clubs'

This particular Royal Navy rescue helicopter the ‘Ace of clubs’ did some spectacular fly pasts but all too soon the QE2 was arrived at Greenock and we headed first back to Gourock to discharge around 500 people and then onto Dunoon where us 4 and about 20 other people got off and after filling up with fuel we headed for Mallaig and yet another ferry. This time it was the MV Courisk and it would take us to Skye but now it’s 10:30 on Tuesday evening, I’m back at work tomorrow so I’m off to bed. It’s been a very busy few days and I’ve not even mentioned the mad Frenchman, 3 guinea fowl, wild mushrooms, and several boxes of red wine.

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