More specifically a Brittany Ferries ship in 1980 from Southampton to Cherbourg for my first ever trip abroad, a school exchange from Ottery St Mary in Devon to its twin town of Pont-l’Évêque in Normandie, France.
I was fifteen at the time and remember very little about the trip apart from six things:
- The outward ferry journey was a riotous laugh, with teachers hard-pressed to control twenty-five over-excited teenagers
- My French linguistic skills were confirmed as appalling meaning I spent much of the trip in isolation rather than conversing with my family
- I was horrified to learn that one of the meals I had eaten was rabbit stew, being the owner of a fluffy white one back at home
- I was delighted to watch a film with all the family (mum, dad, Alain (15) and twelve year-old and already attractive Juliette), which turned out to be a soft-porn film called ‘Le Premier Fois’ about a youth losing his virginity with a hooker
- I was even more delighted to discover that you were able to received BBC Radio Two in Normandie, allowing me to listen to the English football
- Pont-l’Évêque itself stank of the smelly cheese for which it was (in)famous
Those Brittany Ferry crossings were a nightmare to me. I am a bad sailor but we kept on doing it when we lived in Hampshire.
I know your feelings about living in isolation because of language skills or lack of them. I had the same experience with German. I don’t think I spoke the entire time I was away.
“In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.”
Mark Twain – ‘The Innocents Abroad’
And French waiters are another thing all together!
I’ve been on a ferry, but never a cruise, I sure hope we get to one day soon!