Saturday 18th - Monday 20th July
Watch this adventure here
We have had the most perfect 24 hours in Plymouth!
The Plym Family Robinson were amazing hosts. After 5 minutes of teen/tween awkward mumbling, our three boys settled in for an evening of chat, table football, XBox and fun with Eva and Clara. Jill and Mel prepared a wonderful chilli, with Jill's world renowned guacamole and salsa. The wine flowed freely and we caught up on the last 4 years. Steve took George to bed around 11pm and the big boys I were right behind at around Midnight
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage and good bread, we booked a taxi in to town to explore! The taxi dropped us at Tinside, Plymouth's iconic outdoor pool, and Jill regaled us with stories of her lifeguarding youth, which almost impressed the boys as much as her "Jason Statham in her Wardrobe" story. George travelled in the Robinson car with a festival cart that the Teens enjoyed pulling him around in.
From Tinside we walked up the hill to The Hoe. We admired the Lighthouse, posed for BeetleBum photos and learned about Nancy Astor, the first woman MP to take her seat in Parliament.
We walked back down the hill and mooched around the Barbican area. After a pitstop for coffee and Cola at Cap'n Jaspers we headed back to Tinside and the South West Coast Path to watch the Pont-Aven arrive in to port - I don't think we fully appreciated how large the ship would be!
After the ship swept past Drake Island we headed back up the hill to use the lovely shiny clean new toilets. Unfortunately, they are still being built, so we used the filthy, rotten portaloos that were desperately overdue a bloody good clean. Shudder!
Having stayed a bit longer than planned watching the ship arrive, we did two trips in the Robinson car back to their house. The advance party of adults and George arrived back first. While George settled in to play Fortnight, Steve and I took the Motorhome to fill up with fuel and snacks!
We arrived back at The Robinson's at the same time Jill returned with the Tweens & Teens. There was just enough time to meet the lovely Greg, and say hurried goodbyes before we set off to catch the ferry.
Plymouth ferry port is very close to the town centre so it didn't take long for us to join the boarding queue. It did however, take over an hour to reach the front of the queue! When we did finally reach the front, our ticket and passports were checked, we were allocated to "Group Blue" and waved on through.
Boarding the ferry we were directed on to the lowest car deck (only slightly grinding the van out as we descended), and sent straight to our cabin. When we had booked a "Wheelchair" accessible cabin we weren't really sure what impact George's broken foot would have. At best we hoped it would help us stick together, at worst, it would provide us with the space we need for more accessibility if needed. I know that Brittany Ferries have really upped their cleaning game, but I still took a couple of minutes to wipe down all the surfaces with anti-bac before the boys entered the cabin.
When the pandemic hit, we could so easily have chosen to cancel or postpone the trip, and in fact until just 2 weeks before we left we were certain we wouldn't be travelling. However our ferry was never cancelled, and we received lots of reassuring videos and guidelines from Brittany Ferries and the FCO updated travel advice, sooo the Roaming Radfords decided to head back out on the road with an open mind and a whole new level of hand hygiene.
The ship was really interesting. There was no questioning of the mask policy. Masks were worn by everyone in all public areas, and there was plenty of hand sanitiser gel available in every key area. The onboard pool was closed and empty, and the cinemas were open but with reduced capacity. Although we were all strongly advised to stay in our cabins as much as possible, all bars and restaurants were open.
We ate a picnic dinner in our cabin and had an early night. Everyone slept surprisingly well. When we woke up the next morning we headed to the self service restaurant for the most disappointing "Full English" ever. The croissants looked really good, so we've decided to stick to the continental breakfast for the return crossing.
A little later than planned (mysterious technical issues and strong currents apparently), we arrived in to port at Santander. In stark contrast to the embarkation, the corridors and stairwells were much busier. It was a lot more difficult to maintain social distancing returning to the motorhome than leaving it.
Before we were allowed off the ferry, a lovely man with a carrier bag for completed Covid-Declaration forms and a temperature gun checked our temperatures were below 37.5°. Thankfully we all passed that test, had no issues with passport control, and were waved through customs and out in to the glorious Spanish Sunshine.