Memories from twenty years ago

By Derek Longly

Shortly after I married in 1993 my wife's family would come down to Newhaven quite frequently from their home at Upminster on the outskirts of London to visit us to enjoy a breath of fresh sea air.
It wasn't much time later that they mooted the idea of our all going across to Dieppe for the day as none of them had ever been to France up to that time.  To me, in retrospect that era of the early 1990's seems to have been the time when it was most easy to enjoy a Channel crossing at a very cheap cost with few formalities, often as a result of £1 offers made by local newspapers and we soon set off on our first venture together aboard the Stena Parisien.  

My brother in law and his wife had three children all quite young, two boys and a girl.  The boys were of an age where the voyage was a great adventure and they thoroughly enjoyed the outward trip despite the sea being a bit choppy.  However, the little girl, who perhaps inadvisably was sat in a window recess, constantly and unhappily looked at the waves outside and didn't take to the experience at all, being fretful for most of the crossing.

However, she was perfectly happy once we were off the ship and the day spent in Dieppe was highly successful.  When the time came to return aboard, however, the situation became somewhat fraught as she dug her heels in at the foot of the gangplank refusing adamantly to walk up it.  My sister-in-law was encumbered with the girl's pram whilst her husband was engaged in ensuring the boys were OK. The congestion this caused rapidly created a queue of other people trying to board and one of the crew on the ship seeing the problem came down, lifted the little girl into his arms, and took her aboard.  She didn't seem to object to being removed from her parents but once on board she played up merrily for the whole of the return voyage.

We made a number of crossings together after that initial foray and all went smoothly until there came the trip which became known to us all as "The Battle of Waterloo."  The outward voyage was reasonable and the weather appeared to be set fine but during the time we were in Dieppe all that changed.  It was aboard the Stena Londoner that we were due to make the voyage back to Newhaven and when we boarded she was very crowded.  However, we were lucky in finding a nice quiet corner in a lounge on the boat deck and everyone settled down apart from the two boys who were let loose in the children's play area.

Sailing time came and Stena Londoner departed into completely different weather to that which we had had on the outward trip, the sea was decidedly rough and the strength of the wind indicated it would get a good deal worse.  Indeed it did and before long the Londoner was plunging and rearing in fine fashion, rain and spray swept her decks and the effects of these conditions began to have their effect, although luckily in the small lounge where we had found seats few seemed to suffer.   One of our fellow passengers, an elderly lady, left to go for some refreshments and not many minutes later staggered through the door and announced rather dramatically 'It's like the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo out there!'  

My brother in law and I decided we had better investigate, in particular to ensure the two boys were not unwell and when we went down into the main lounge areas soon discovered what the lady had meant as there were people lying around all over the place and a great many of those in seats were very much in the throes of mal de mer.  Hurrying on down to the children's play area now quite concerned about how the boys were faring we discovered them jumping joyously up and down on a trampoline completely unaffected by the movement of the ship, which in fact rather enhanced their efforts.

As the voyage continued conditions became worse and at one point my wife asked my sister in law which way the ship was travelling.  To my amusement she replied "In that direction" pointing aft!  I assured her that fortunately we were not going astern back toward Dieppe!

Their little girl a bit later indicated that she needed the toilet so my sister in law went off with her to find this but when they got there the movement of the ship plus the number of people unwell in the toilets completely put the girl off and despite being there at her request she stubbornly refused to go.  The result was a hurried rush with her to the nearest one once we were ashore again.

They were happy times when the children were young. Now all are grown up and working making it difficult to remember how small and innocent they once were and to appreciate that twenty years have since passed. 


Photo:Stena Parisen arriving at Newhaven

Stena Parisen arriving at Newhaven

Derek Longly

Photo:On the boat deck of Stena Parisien

On the boat deck of Stena Parisien

Derek Longly

Photo:My wife Pat as 'Little Red Riding Hood' on one of our day trips

My wife Pat as 'Little Red Riding Hood' on one of our day trips

Derek Longly

Photo:Stena Londoner at Newhaven after a rough voyage

Stena Londoner at Newhaven after a rough voyage

Derek Longly

This page was added by Derek Longly on 20/05/2012.
Comments about this page

Très belle histoire. J'ai moi aussi pris le Parisien et londoner de Dieppe à newhaven en 1993 et 1994 à vélo. La mer était souvent agité se qui me rendait malade. Nous avions été dans  camping à la sortie de newhaven. Nous avons fait des kilomètres pour visiter le sud jusqu'à east grinstead et toute la côte sud. J'adore  l'Angleterre et l'accueil que nous avons eu.

For our English readers a rough translation is:-

Very nice story. I also took the Parisian and Londoner from Dieppe to Newhaven in 1993 and 1994 by bike. The sea was often agitated which made me sick. We had been in camping at the exit of Newhaven. We made miles to visit the south to East Grinstead and the whole south coast. I love England and the welcome we had.

John -- Editor

By Tony Bourget
On 07/01/2019

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