After a 48-hour delay, holed up in a smart hotel with DVDs, books and paperwork while the heavens opened and the sea lashed at the shore and all the ferries were cancelled, we eventually managed to set off for North Cyprus.

Even then it wasn’t easy. We discovered that our van had to travel on one ferry while passengers had to travel on a second one following in its wake. The car ferry had obviously done quite a few years’ service in some other part of the world and had an unusual system of loading vehicles onto the top deck. A section on the top deck lowered to the bottom deck on four cables. Vehicles including large trucks drove on and were raised to the top deck level where they reversed into a space.

We were told that, although it was illegal, we could stay in the van for the voyage if we wished to. We elected to use the passenger ferry — which we soon regretted. It had been built for use in Scandinavian waters on much shorter and less exposed routes. Our scheduled departure of midnight eventually became a departure of 0300. The bad weather meant there was a backlog of people waiting to cross so it was very crowded. We found ourselves surrounded by a snoring, flatulent, wailing, chatting, arguing throng. J treated it as a fascinating experience, while M was a typically grumpy and tired Englishman who found it almost impossible to sleep in an uncomfortable seat surrounded by so much chaos.

To be fair, we did have a very interesting conversation with a Turkish mechanical engineer who had been born in France and spoke very good English. We discussed literature, politics, the Koran and his idea for replacing capitalism with a Koranic economic system.

As time went on we found to our dismay that the journey we had been told would take three hours was in fact going to take eight hours. Just when we thought it could get no worse, the vomiting started…

As dawn broke we anxiously looked out to check the ferry with our van onboard was still in sight. To our great relief it was still there and hadn’t gone off to another island somewhere in the Aegean!

We had to walk round the port to where the car ferry was berthed and found ours was the only vehicle left on that ferry. Spotting an open window on the deck, we managed to find some of the crew just as they were sitting down to lunch. They reluctantly got the lift system going so we could get our van off the ferry.

All we had to do now was pick up the cats and dogs and get away on the next ferry, or so we thought…

Last van standing