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In Which I Continue To Be Pleasantly Surprised By Things

July 12, 2013

Frank doesn’t do lobsters.

“I don’t do lobsters,” said Frank, as he searched in his bag of long balloons for something that might do for a unicorn’s horn.  “There are people who do lobsters, and good luck to them, but you can’t do a lobster justice with a line of children to keep happy. It just doesn’t work.”

Frank is a man who knows about such things.  He is employed by StenaLine Ferries to shuttle between Liverpool and Belfast and keep the children happy and, from personal experience, he does a jolly good job. Even when they ask for a unicorn.  Just don’t request a lobster.





I hadn’t been looking forward to my ferry journey.  It had the potential to be utterly vile being, as it was, for 10 hours across the Irish Sea (not known for its calm and still temperament).    As is my wont (see here), I tend to overpack when I’m nervous, so having parked on the boat we decamped to our cabin with 4 large bags (one entirely given over to spare clothes for the 4 of us and just about anyone else we met en route)  took a deep breath and went off to explore.

On our first foray round the ship we noticed that it had been spruced up.  The coffee bar served a very passable latte and the flapjack had just the right amount of crumble without being dry.  All good so far.  The children’s play area (which we were just delighted to see last December, despite it being a little tired around the edges) had been revamped and was clean and engaging. And then Stena Sealine (for it was they) started pulling out The Big Guns.

Big Gun No. 1:  Frank (see above).  He didn’t just make balloon animals though.  Oh no.  He did magic, told jokes and demonstrated remarkable crowd control skills.  Even the slightly feral youths we saw sneaking into the “crew only” areas and having a cigarette didn’t get the better of Frank. He was a pro.

Big Gun No. 2: I got to drive the boat…whilst wearing the captain’s hat.  Technically it was 3 year old H who had won the competition to meet the captain and go up to the bridge, but he needed a responsible adult to accompany him and, well, having flattened A in my inelegant haste to volunteer, we decided that I should be the one.  It was BRILLIANT.  I’ve never been on the bridge of a big ship before.  You can see for miles.  They have a sextant and everything, and a bit of the bridge that sticks out from the side of the ship with a transparent floor so they can park it (I’m sure that’s the technical term) next to the dock.  I was very excited.  I think H enjoyed it too…

Big Gun No. 3: They had a little cinema, so again, using H as an excuse, A got to enjoy ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ (it comes highly recommended), and I had the pleasure of ‘Madagascar 3’, which I sat through to the end despite H falling asleep after the first 10 minutes.

All in all, in an era of cost-cutting and miserliness on airlines and general lowering of standards and disappointments (Creme Eggs are smaller than they used to be and cost about 5 times as much, which just about sums up the decline of civilisation), it was just lovely to find a company that was trying to make things more pleasurable and easier.  Our journey which could have been horrendous, actually became A Grand Day Out.  That doesn’t happen very often.

By the way, I’m not being paid by Stenaline.  I have no interest to declare, no axe to wield and no tub to thump, save that it’s a jolly nice thing to be pleasantly surprised and they should be applauded.  Hurrah!


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  1. Next time, you should definitely ask Stenaline to sponsor your post!


  2. How do you do that (apart from the obvious writing and asking them to sponsor my post)? I’m new to this world of blogging for return, although I’m aware of, and am jealous about BlackberryCrumble’s Yorkshire tea bags.


  3. Write to them. Include a link to this post and ask if they’d like you to write a sponsored post for them. Though usually it’s the other way round… you ask before you write. Horse and stable door, and all that.

    You’ve nothing to lose by asking, though.


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