Its about time that I learnt to keep my big gob shut. I
only suggested that someone should be nominated or a name should
be drawn from a hat on every dive trip to write a small report and
everyone's finger Pointed to me. When they eventually agreed to
pull the name from the hat, my name was on every piece of paper
except one. No prizes for guessing. Doing the trip from Nuneaton
to Scrabster via Bitteswell in one go is not the best preparation
for a week long dive trip. Setting off at 5 a.m. having picked up
my room mate and buddy for the week, Kevin Yeats, and landing in
Scrabster some 12 hours later is knackering to say the least.
Landing in Stromness, we were amazed to see more people than you
get at Lutterworth market on a Thursday morning. Apparently the
famous Cameron from Big Brother had arrived on the earlier ferry
with Nigel and Ian and he was having a welcome home party. Unfortunately
we did not see him (Nigel got his autograph) but we did see his
mother so that was good. ??
Anyway, after piling all of our gear into the boat, some of us
downed our first couple of pints of 80 shilling of the week.
DAY 1. SUNDAY. SCAPA FLOW.
As we dived in Scapa Flow, we are having to drink in 'Flatties Bar'
tonight, which is O.K. and they do sell a fine pint of 80 shilling
but we have been here before and I like to try new and different
places. A local drunk seemed to take a shine to Carl. He tried chatting
him up in the toilet and splashed his feet at the urinal. Carl swore
to wear shoes for the rest of the holiday when visiting the local
DAY 2. MONDAY. WESTRAY.
Today's pub was about a mile away from the harbour. Why the hell
they had to build them so far apart God knows, ridiculous. Carl,
Nick and myself set off for the shop and were kindly offered a lift
by a kindly local. He obviously did not speak a word of English
because he dropped us off at the pub. Anyway, as we had a couple
of minutes to spare Nick suggested that we try the beer so that
we could let the others know whether it was worth venturing out
tonight or not.
I have to say it was not bad at all and I am beginning to get a
taste for it. The walk to the pub, after dinner, was a long one;
it was throwing it down in typical Orkney fashion and we all got
soaked. It would have been better if they had had a log fire burning
to dry ourselves by but Carl was afraid to ask them to light it.
We were joined tonight by Nigel (of course), Ian, Janet, Robin and
Fran. I had no idea that Janet could knock the Scotch back like
that. The walk back took a little longer. The weather had cleared
up and a small version of the Northern Lights were on display -
DAY 3. TUESDAY. STRONSAY.
Today was Martin's birthday so after singing 'happy Birthday' and
eating all of his cake (Ian ate most of it and had the fire extinguisher
ready, there were that many candles) we all hit the pub and showed
the locals how not to play pool.I have never seen anyone play as
badly as Fran. She may be a very bright woman but her hand/eye co-ordination
is crap; the white ball shot off at right angles from the cue every
time. Jon Brewis played a few good shots but he kept going for SPOTS
even though he was on stripes. Anyway a good night was had by all
and Janet knocked back a few more Whiskies. Even Carl and Nick have
got the taste for it now. Thank goodness this pub was a little closer
than last nights, but it did not open until 6p.m. Crazy. I thought
pubs in Scotland were open all day. However they did buy a bucket
full of scallops off us (that I de-shelled almost single hand) so
we let them off. Janet wanted to spend it on Whisky but the rest
of us decided that it should go in the food kitty.Just a word of
warning if any of you visit the shop at Stronsay in the future.
After going through the first door, the entrance to the shop is
then the second on the left, not the first, as Nigel found out having
walked straight into someone's living room and had to beat a hasty
and embarrassing retreat.
DAY 4. WEDNESDAY. SCAPA.
Today we harboured in a place called Scapa. God knows where they
got that name. After dinner we booked a couple of taxis because
some serious shopping had to be done, oh yes and we had to find
a pub. Jon, Nigel, Kevin and myself set off first so that we could
do the shopping for tomorrow's feasts and then made our way to Boffeys
Bar. Some of us decided to give the 80 shilling a miss tonight and
try the Dark Island and I can really recommend it. It isn't as heavy
as it looks and has a nice sweet nutty taste to it. A few tried
to have a look around the town for another bar, got lost and ended
up back with us in Boffeys. My philosophy is that if you find a
decent beer and pub, stick with them. You can waste valuable drinking
time wandering the streets and by the way some of them were dressed
there was also a danger that they might have been arrested for vagrancy.The
taxi drive back was a real white-knuckle ride. How we did not end
up in the water I don't know. The driver took bends at 80mph and
the straights at 10 mph. Good job we had downed a few.
DAY5. THURSDAY. STROMNESS.
Well at last it arrived. The day that everyone was looking forward
to, when Kevin and myself took the ladle. The look of relief on
everyone's faces was a pleasure to see. After four days of mediocrity,
at last they were about to taste some real quality cooking that
could grace the tables in any top West End restaurant. I know that
we may have gone overboard with the cost, having spent a little
over £5 (judging by some of the other poultry dishes I think their
budget was 50p), but it was worth it. We made sure that everyone
got plenty of vitamins because, to be frank, they were beginning
to look a little scurvy by now.
Although I did most of the preparation and cooking, credit has
to be given to Kevin for staying out of the way most of the time.
He was far too big for the galley and to be honest, a bit clumsy
too. However he did a good job fetching and carrying for me. The
major problem when cooking for so many people is overcoming their
Janet cannot eat anything containing wheat
Jon is dairy free
Mary is Vegetarian
Carl and Nick would only drink Camp Coffee
But these problems were overcome quite easily; we ignored them
and gave them everything. Someone informed me today that they saw
Mary and Martin sneaking out of their room carrying an empty can
of Tip Top and a few minutes later were in the shower. Janet and
Robin were also making some strange noises in their room (this might
explain Robins bad back, from which he had to abstain from a days
diving). I do hope this is not a trend that is creeping in to dive
trips, especially by senior members of the club. Some of us had
left our loved ones behind and that should be respected. Or maybe
it was just the sumptuous feast that had given them that bit of
extra energy. Tonight was back in Flatties bar. A few more pints
of 80 shilling. An amazing coincidence occurred tonight. Carl and
myself had been discussing weightlessness whilst diving and I told
him of a blind gentleman I had met in Goa some seven years earlier
that went diving just to experience the feeling of weightlessness
himself. About half an hour or so later that very man walked into
Flatties Bar. I was absolutely gob smacked to say the least. Carl
thought it was a put up job, but I can assure you that he was as
surprised to see me as I was him. We spent the rest of the night
talking about our holiday in Goa and his exploits since, of which
he is writing a book, more of that later.
DAY 6. FRIDAY. STROMNESS.
The second dive of the day was literally blown out, so we ended
back in Stromness at lunchtime. That old alchy, Nigel, suggested
we go for a drink. I reluctantly agreed, only to keep him company
and upright. As we were walking towards Flatties, a banner was unfurled
announcing a 'BEER FESTIVAL.' I have never seen anyone move so fast.Ian,
Carl and Nick joined us; Derek, my friend from Goa, was already
there.That evening we all, including Derek, ate at the Royal Hotel
and I have to say it was nowhere near as good as the feast I had
prepared the evening before, but at least Kevin didn't have any
washing up to do. After the meal Janet, Nick and Carl knocked back
a few more Whiskies before Janet staggered down the road towards
the boat being held up by Robin. Carl and Nick had another couple
of Whiskies back in Flatties bar and Nigel and myself enjoyed our
last pint of 80 shilling of the holiday. I then went back to the
Royal Hotel to say goodbye to Derek. I must say this was an excellent
holiday. The Big Brother programme makers would be far better off
sticking a few hidden cameras on a boat like this for a week. It
would make far more entertaining viewing.
Oh. Did I mention that the diving was excellent too?
(For obvious reasons)