Ship’s Biscuit

Before a sea crossing, I find it always helps to be hydrated and to line the stomach. Those who are carb-phobic, look away now. Yes, the ship’s biscuit is the thing – minus weevils, of course (unless you’re truly desperate for protein). Ship’s biscuit can be toast, plain cookies, potato chips or crackers and it does the trick. This also helps, incidentally, on other occasions when you might be feeling bilious for all sorts of other reasons – but that’s another post for another day.

I don’t get seasick – so am a very fortunate island native and dweller, but for some odd reason I do like to tempt fate (as in so many areas of my life). Last night, knowing I would be taking the boat to Symi today, I decided to go out for a drink (or two-ish). I’ve long passed the stage where I needed Dutch courage to face The Rock again, so can only conclude that this now-developing habit is to test myself (Am I really immune to seasickness? etc.). Luckily, last night’s test was way short of April 2012, when prayers and talking to someone about their terminal illness (scuppering my self-pity very successfully) were all that prevented me from throwing up as we hit the waves.

I had a reasonable night’s sleep last night, though Daft Punk on a loop at 3a.m. with ‘Get Lucky’ didn’t make me feel very fortunate. A very detailed, very good dream woke me up smiling anyway. At 6.30, I checked the shipping news by looking out the window and watching a couple of yachts and a cruise ship pass the lighthouse. Hmm, choppy and windy. I packed for my two-frock-trip, took a cold shower, closed the shutters (in a, probably, vain attempt to keep out lizards and an intrepid kitten) and left the yard. Departure was delayed slightly by my getting a three-day pass.

I went to have ship’s biscuit and coffee with a friend en route to the harbour. We chatted as we always do, and, once the world was put to rights, I left. However, I forgot to use the bathroom – big mistake, boys and girls, big mistake. Parents are right to tell you to go before you go. They so are. I was on the boat ten minutes before departure and found a comfortable seat on the air-conditioned lower deck in the middle of the cabin – proud of myself, I was budging for no-one. The Pride was bursting with people and I knew that, once we set sail, all those enjoying the view on the top deck would soon be coming down below to avoid seaspray and falling overboard.

I sat tight, the boat glided past the lighthouse and the captain put his foot to the floor (yes, I do know that’s not the correct nautical term). This is when I discovered that not only had I forgotten to use the bathroom while I had the chance, I had also forgotten my headphones to drown out the sound of children screaming and the general public vomiting. I sat tight, the boat bumped and bounced while I recalled last night’s dream in an effort to distract myself, and hoped no-one would throw up over me (or even within olfactory range).

Well, I survived today’s self-imposed test (with the no-headphone variable) and set foot on dry land to head directly to the butcher’s wife’s rooms. My room wasn’t ready, the previous occupants had just left on the boat that brought me in. The cleaner took my bag, gave me a key and said I should come back in an hour. I went for a walk around the harbour, marvelled that there was (a) a breeze on Symi and (b) that the breeze was cool. Then, I remembered I needed the bathroom, urgently. I arrived at Elpida’s to hear her husband had sailed for Datça – so, I used the bathroom while she got news that he’d arrived in Turkey. She then brought me coffee, juice and ship’s biscuit (this last unordered but guess I looked like I needed it). It’s done the trick. I’m now going to my room…more from Symi later, people.

I first posted this on axrhodes on 31/08/2013

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