John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Wednesday 27 July 2016

[Tuesday 26 July 2016]

Le Palme Hotel & Resort, Porto Cervo, Sardinia
21:00–22:45 Olbia–Manchester

We got up ca.8.15am. As I was showering, Janet sat outside on the balcony with a glass of Pepsi Max; but she came in abruptly, disgusted. “It was very hot and sunny, beautiful and peaceful,” she wrote — “that is until some arsehole next door lit a cigarette and contaminated my air-space. I had to go back inside. Bastard.” We went for breakfast, then back to the room, then down to reception to pay the bill (still €15.50, as it had been since Day Two — a small beer and a small Coca Cola Light on the first evening, and a ½ℓ bottle of water on the second day: no more than that at those prices!). The Thomson rep hadn’t let us know what time the pickup would be this evening, so the receptionist phoned Santiago for us. She suggested that perhaps he had e-mailed, but as they were having problems with the internet (a familiar concept from my experience of it — or lack of experience of it! — some days ago) it might not have come through. Janet asked if there was a room we could pay for till then, but there wasn’t one available. Luggage could be stowed behind the counter in the reception area, though, and there was a safe available for valuables. We were more than satisfied with that, for reception was constantly staffed, and there was therefore no possibility of theft. We went back up to the room; Janet did the packing of the suitcases (my only rôle being to help zip them up and click the belts around them). I read from The Problem of Pain meanwhile. I couldn’t remember where I’d got to, though, and found myself re-reading a chapter. I packed my rucksack, and we vacated the room at 12 noon as agreed. We used the elevator for the first time since arriving. At reception, all our luggage was labelled with stickers showing our room number, and stowed behind the counter: hold luggage, hand luggage, everything. We were given a big envelope to put all valuables in, for the safe. We went out to the bar near the beach; I had two birre alla spina, and Janet had two Coca Cola Zero. We went for our final lunch. I ate my fill, since there wasn’t to be dinner and I didn’t know when I would eat again. Among other things, there were “buttered cod fillets” (which were, in fact, “battered”). I put some white wine vinegar on them; and there were some roasted potatoes cut small; so it was almost like fish and chips back home. We went for the last time to Bar Le Vele, where I had two caffè americano and Janet had two Coca Cola Zero (15:10 on the till receipt). We sat for a while in the lounge, then I showed Janet the other part of the abandoned park that I’d explored on 25 July 2016 and she hadn’t. Then we went back to sit in the lounge. And at 5.50pm the man with the big, black Mercedes-Benz came to pick us and our luggage up. On the outward journey we’d gone almost due north, not far much of the time from the coast, for I remember the sight of the great yellow full moon just above the horizon when the sea came into view. This time we went the same route as yesterday through San Pantaleo. Check-in was not automated; we handed our suitcases over at the easyJet “speedy boarding” check-in desk. Going through security was straightforward. Airside, I didn’t like the look of any of the panini and pizza-slices in the glass counters we passed. Janet, though, asked at another counter for two bananas and two brown seeded bread buns (19:12 on the till recipt). She also had a Coca Cola Light from elsewhere. I decided to wait till I was on the plane. Before we could go to the boarding gate we had to wait in an intermediate lounge until a man with a pistol in a holster[i] came and occupied one of the passport control booths, at which point a queue started. We got through there, and then went to a downstairs lounge that served two boarding gates. We had to board a shuttle bus to the aircraft. Unlike on the outward flight, we had people sitting next to us on this flight. Departure was on time. When the trolley came by, I ordered a Diet Coke for Janet, and I had a money-off “Meal Deal”: a bacon baguette, paprika-flavoured Pringles, and a bottle of sparkling water. Janet ate her bread and bananas — carefully, owing to a loose bridge. We put our watches back one hour. We landed ca.10.30pm, and were off the plane, through the passport check (no armed officials here!), with our luggage from the carousel, out at the taxi rank, by ca.11pm. The guy at the rank asked us where we were going and pointed us to a cab about third in line, not the front one. At the Premier Inn, the fare was a bit over £10, but while I was fishing in my wallet for coins for a tip, the driver said, “Call it £10,” took the note off me, and left. After we checked it and got up to our room, we found it was a mirror image of ones we’d been in before. We concluded therefore that this Premier Inn has two rooms! — because for all we could tell, all the others we’d stayed in could have been the same one: the same decor, the same picture on the wall, everything! Janet had packed the cases so that things we immediately needed were available without rummaging to find them. We were in bed by 11.45pm.
[i] It’s remarkable that Janet doesn’t mention this in her journal, because when we first started travelling she found the carrying of weapons by police, etc., very unsettling.

[Thursday 28 July 2016]

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