It’s our 38th wedding anniversary today.  The weather’s not good this afternoon in St Helen’s.  We managed to get out this morning to the beach in the sunshine, albeit rather earlier than expected.

While waiting for the kettle to boil after breakfast, I detected a strong whiff of gas.  Panicking slightly in case we had a gas leak and the van was about to blow, I turned off the kettle and went outside to find Sam, whose legs were sticking out from under the van (not an unusual sight) due to having to repair a loose post on the decking.  He’d noticed a smell too, and went around the back of the van to check out if it was a leak from our van and to turn off the flow of gas from the bottles.

While he was checking if we had a gas leak, I walked to Reception to report the smell.  At the counter a queue of holidaymakers were there, all with the same problem – a strong smell of gas near their vans.  We were instantly put at our ease by the staff there, who assured us that the smell of gas happens a couple of times a year, as ships out on the English Channel clean out their gas tanks.  I phoned Sam and gave him the all clear.

By the time I got back to our van, Sam’s legs were sticking out from underneath it again and I wondered if he’d been overcome by gas.  I never seem to see anybody else’s legs sticking out from under their vans – Sam even has under-the-van clothes that he keeps here!

Sam's legs

I shouted under to Sam that he could turn our gas back on again, and it was all a false alarm.  We were both rather relieved that we didn’t have to pack up all our stuff again and spend the night in a Travelodge!

Why do ships pick somewhere so close to land to clean out gas tanks?  Wouldn’t it be better to do this out in the open sea?  Us holidaymakers this morning were all in a state of mild panic.