Pictures from the run up to D-Day 70 from on board Brittany Ferries

Here are just a small selection of photographs from Brittany Ferries’ Normandie taken over the past few days sailing in and out of Ouistream, Caen. Many pictures have been shared in the media of the onboard activities, however the berthing position for the Normandie and the Mont St. Michel afford a very privileged vantage point. See below for some pictures along with a few other sights from the past week.
(Click an image to view full size)








How old am I?

I’m an adult!

I mean society tells me an adult is someone who is over the age of 18. However when you’re a child, adults around you often say that they still feel young. It’s the middle aged man who says that he feels like he’s 18 until he looks in the mirror. It’s the lady sat next to you on the bus. You know she scanned her pass with the driver but that doesn’t seem to stop her flirting with you, all batted eyelashes, coy giggle and tap of your knee as she rolls back into her seat complete with feet rising off the floor reacting to a ‘funny’ anecdote you’ve just shared.

You see, I think I’ve fallen into that category. Old. Albeit prematurely. I think prematurely. Is 32 old? There’s this ongoing fight I’m having in my head recently. I say recently, it’s more like over the last 5 years or so. Am I old? ’cause I don’t feel it!

A common saying is that you’re as old as the age you feel, but that can’t be right can it? If so, then some days I’d get on the bus for half. I’d get a lolly when I ate up all my dinner in Little Chef. Then again, some days I’d be able to get on said bus for free and probably get a discount in B&Q on a Wednesday. Some days I feel old, and some days I feel young. OK, some days older and some days younger. Is that what everyone feels?

This frequent inter-cranial battle arose again quite recently when Emma my wife and I stayed with friends. Ste and Claire, a great couple. Enfianced. Wedding in August. Very excited and rightly so. The two of them (same ages as us) seem so grown up to me. Not old. Mature in the sense of being comfortable in their ages. Incidentally, they’re the best hosts ever. Constantly feed you good stuff, leave you lovely fluffy towels on your bed and always a good supply of new and exciting drinks such as the latest flavour from Rekorderlig Cider or a recent genius concoction of ginger beer with Famous Grouse whisky. As I said, Genius!

I should add at this point that Claire is a buyer for a large drinks distributors and as such, she often gets free samples. Best. Job. Ever.

What’s more, when you’re set to end your stay at Chez Claire-Ste, you’re sent off with a packed lunch that would put your mother’s curly sandwiches and Transformers’ Thermos of Tizer to shame, including 2 bottles of white, a share size Lucozade, yummy sandwiches in Zip-Lock bags, Haribo and a TWIN PACK of Jaffa Cakes. Win!

So during our stay, we do what we all do. We mainly reside in the kitchen. Chatting, drinking, eating, laughing, yoinking new films from hard drives. Last one just me? I think not. However, during this time when we’re hearing about the wedding plans and salivating over the descriptions of the wedding breakfast, I’m suddenly lifted above the whole thing by my head. Almost floating above, looking down at myself and shouting, you don’t belong here! You’re stood there with your Ginger Grouse all chatty and grown up but you aren’t. You’re acting like a grown up. They’re gonna figure you out soon you know!? In a matter of moments everyone’s gonna turn and look at you and ask why you aren’t in bed. It’s a little off putting as you may imagine. Especially as I’d just started a little anecdote regarding how soon is too soon when crying at you’re own wedding? If you’re interested, I went far too soon! I’m stood there thinking, this really is a lovely evening, yet all the time I’m thinking that what I am in fact doing is acting my age. Acting.

If left to my own devices, without the strains of society, I’d drink the chocolaty milk out of my bowl at the end of a Coco Pops session. I’d scratch my bum if I needed to, regardless of being in the middle of a city centre on a Saturday afternoon. I’d sit on the floor when I’m tired, negating to acknowledge that my wife is currently looking at new jeans and I’m in the middle of a department store on said Saturday.

Do we act like we do because we want to, or is it because we have to due to our years?

That’s why more often than not, there’s seats outside a ladies’ changing room so weary husbands and partners can take a load off. However when there aren’t seats. END OF THE WORLD! It’s like a site of a refugee camp. All husbands and partners stood leaning on walls or clothing rails, each one avoiding eye contact, getting the way of other shoppers and checking Facebook or Twitter on their phones. We acts like adults, but are we actually ‘adults’?

I see people on TV and think, yep, they’re an adult. Only to find out that they’re younger than me. So it’s a concept then? It’s an appearance? The appearance of being an adult. Of being ‘all growed up’. If that is in fact the truth, with an active imagination like mine, I doubt that I’m ever going to feel like an adult. A mind that torments, chastises and generally winds me up on a daily basis.

If a person is the sum of their experiences then we’re all the ages we’ve been. We’re Child and Adult at the same time regardless of age. I’m a Kid-ult. An Ad-ild. Sweet!

Time for breakfast. COCO POPS!


Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Ah, the good old days!

It’s a very common term to utter at times when things for said utterer haven’t necessarily changed for the better or a previous time is preferred over current circumstances.

Remember when you didn’t have to lock your door? Ah, the good old days!  Remember when it was less than a pound for a pint? Ah, the good old days! Remember when Freddos were only 10p? Ah, the…actually that wasn’t that long ago!  What I’m trying to work out is if these days were actually good or whether, as is very common, the whole rose-tinted glasses paradigm is being applied. The thing is, being born in the 80s, I don’t remember a time when we didn’t have to lock the door but looking back at TV and film from the Seventies and before, I’m not too surprised. There wasn’t much to nick. The TVs weren’t HD, there was only vinyl and maybe 8-track and even worse, no one wanted to nick a BBC Basic, even with a 7½ inch floppy. What’s more, you can still get a pint for a pound I would imagine from some student dive of a bar if you were so inclined. However, with regards to Freddos, I’d prefer not to discuss this…it’s too painful right now.

You see that’s the thing, ‘the good old days’ are selective. We remember the good bits and chose to forget, or at least ignore the lesser times. You may miss the hands-on feeling you got when you had to wind back in the tape of a cassette with a biro but not the frustration when it was the original cassette 1 of 2Unlimted’s Greatest Hits your brother bought you for Christmas and you’ve wound it back it too quick so the bloody thing has creased and on the verge of snapping. An absolute gem of a pressie too. Thanks Chris. It may be sad to think with the birth of the Internet that we’ll never have to look up something in an encyclopedia ever again; literally feeling the physical weight of knowledge teamed with that all-knowing musk of bound leather, but really…Google’s so handy to settle a disagreement, and not least at the pub quiz. (Isn’t it funny how busy the toilets are when the quiz is on?)

You see I think a hankering for the good old days isn’t necessarily a desire to do away with what we have now, nor is it to negate modern advances in society or even technology. It’s all to do with growing up. The more we live, the more we learn. That is unless you’re an avid Jeremy Kyle viewer. As a direct result we know more than our younger selves did and more than our counterparts did in the generation before us at the age we are now. (My brain hurts!) If we know more, we have more knowledge of what makes us happy but, as is the balance of life, we know of more things that worry us. Sadness is cancerous. It seems to spread quicker and more effectively than happiness. It’s seen as more interesting too, just look at modern journalism. We hear, see and read about scandal each and every day yet very seldom do we witness reports of positive things. It’s like the negative is more sexy, more real. Eastenders showing this example several times a week, with a bumper edition of depression with the Sunday Omnibus. (Do they still do that now that we have the iPlayer et al?)

With this in mind, it means we don’t want to be sad, but it seems that is at the core of who we are. The default is in which we reflect on times gone by. Not sad; melancholy. Nostalgia with feeling. Which can’t feature a big smile because then you’re not doing it right. Not thoughtful enough if you’re happy. In that sense, it means everything we have in the present is under par unless it existed in the exact same way during those days of old, which of course includes nothing. TV has changed, cars have developed, sport has evolved. Even Horlicks has a ‘New & Improved taste’.

BOVRIL! That’s been the same since Shep’s Great Grandmother was a pup. I had a cup the other week when walking along Crosby seafront which took me back to when I was a kid. Since then, Big Mac’s are smaller, Burger King’s chips have gone rubbish and music is just noise, but Bovril. Oh Bovril, thank you for being you. Thanks for staying just the same.

Bovril: the ‘good old days’…but now.