Monday, February 02, 2009

The relief of Shetland! John Niven, Stieg Larsson and seaborne lasagne

Arrived safely in Lerwick after a 14-and-a-half hour trip from Aberdeen via Kirkwall...pretty impressed that the Hjaltland left on time, though, as she was apparently sitting off Aberdeen until after 1.00pm.

It's all a bit of a mess at the moment, with the other ferry, Hrossey, in for her scheduled drydock inspection (following repairs after her encounter with a Very Large Lump of Water last week, leaving the Hjaltland (fresh from being bashed about by a freak wave two weeks ago) sailing from Aberdeen to Shetland only every second night. In fact yesterday's sailing was the first to reach Shetland since Friday due to the Hrossey's mishap.

That means there's a dangerous lack of fresh Tesco sushi and Co-op sun-dried tomatoes, not to mention 'sooth bread' (that evil substance made with wallpaper paste and preservative. Last night's boat was rammed with trailers packed with these delights, so all will be well, at least from a dietary point of view, from today.

It was an annoying, uncomfortable trip - I couldn't face another Phenergan anti-histamine hangover, so relied on lasagne and chips to settle my stomach (worked a treat). Forgot to take Dan Holland's lifeboat-tested advice and get some ginger nut biscuits. But it was very difficult to sleep as the boat pitched and rolled and slammed into the big seas left from the weekend's storms. Still, I finished John Niven's scabrous (and frankly mind-soiling) but admittedly funny Kill Your Friends, Martin Amis's Money rewritten by a Viz fan from Irvine who likes Idlewild. AND Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire, sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which I liked but did not love; though it's a very interesting approach to the Scandic Noir form of crime novel. I may write more about it later.

Still, I'm here, at least I didn't have to deal with the execrable Flybe: Susan spent much of yesterday trying to book flights for her, Martha and a cello. An extra ten quid to put the (very valuable and delicate cello) in the hold. A seat(for the cello) for 10 per cent of the human price, said the first lady. No, full human price, said the next one. No, seven quid more than that, said her supervisor, as you booked your human seats online, and now you're on the phone. And this for unchangeable, no-refund bookings.

NorthLink may have its faults, and the Hrossey and Hjaltland are far from ideal for this lifeline service, but its (Orkney-based) bookings staff are unfailingly polite and helpful. And you can change your booking any number of times at no extra charge. Plus, the lasagne and chips last night was very good indeed.

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