Monday, October 17, 2011


Smoking Hot over at Nothing 2 Declare gives a good account of the smokers' cross channel shopping trip which was great fun and a huge success.

I really like what he has to say about P&O and it's smokerphobic smoking policy which I complained about the last time I took the trip.**

From what I could see that time and this, most passengers are smokers. The inside of the two bars were scattered with people as many crammed outside where the real fun was.

There were friends on the trip from previous smoker, activist and protest meetings including Bucko who I first met at Stony Stratford. I met Mrs Bucko for the first time. They were practically neighbours as their cabin was a couple of doors from ours so they called in each night on their way "home". I'd brought my travel kettle - or my life support - and some serious tea drinking went on into the small hours along with some damn fine conversation.

I also met Nominedeus for the first time and was delighted to know we had a common interest and knowledge of towns in North Wales. I'll definitely look him and his missus up next time I'm over there.

It was a refreshing change to apologise for ranting on about nothing else but the smoking issue only to find the people I was among were eager to hear it and more as we discussed experiences since 2007 particularly.

In fact I was encouraged that one couple on the boat, who knew nothing about any resistance and support for smokers on the internet, were the first to rant on to me about the injustice of it all as I stood outside and lit up a fag. They eagerly took down various blog addresses I gave them and promised to try and pop in for a read but they don't love computers.

They had booked their trip coincidentally for the very same reasons. None of us were there to make a profit as smugglers but a political point as denormalised smokers denying the Govt our tax until it starts to listen to what we want. They joined our crew and it was great to have them aboard.

I'd like to think the future for us lies in something like this. There is no harm in providing smokers' rooms or bars even on a boat. P&O easily could - and should - for the sake of the majority of its customers on that route.

UKBA, despite our fears, left us in peace. Perhaps because SH had called them out and they were aware before we went of our intentions. I bought enough tobacco to last six months and an extra bucket of baccy because I thought if my home grown becomes a success, I'll need something to keep it in.

I have no idea if or when another trip will be organised but I hope so because it was simply ace. There were so many people that I didn't get to meet or chat to them all but hopefully next time. I can't wait.

Big thanks must go to SH for sorting all this out, for the hand-outs on the law and advice for those of us who exceeded these ridiculously low guidelines, and for making sure that the two friends with with me and my other half, who didn't have bus transfers, managed to get into Bruges and back from Zeebrugge.

I had a go at Hull the last time I caught the Ferry but after managing to get this photo of the sun going down on the docks, I guess the town's beauty depends on what angle you look at it from (or what mood you're in at the time).

** I will get around to uploading some of these lost images soon.

UPDATE 18th October 2011

I just received an email from P&O asking for feedback. I referred them to this post and the links from SH, Nominedeus and the Moose. I told them that the trip would offer a better service if it offered facilities for smokers, that smokers would spend more in places that didn't treat them as second class citizens, and P&O could make more profit if it offered choice for both sides.

I'd encourage others to make the same point if asked for feedback on the trip. We can only hope that P&O really will take this feedback "to inform the improvements to the P&O service." The company might want to note that although I would travel P&O again, only when I'm among such fine company, there are many smokers who have commented here and elsewhere to say that they would not specifically because of it's smokerphobic policy.