Shotley Marina sits opposite two of Britain's busiest ports - Felixstowe and Harwich. High-intensity sodium lighting casts a ghostly glow over the whole area and a constant hum with the occasional clunk is a reminder of the loading and unloading activity round the clock. Shotley Marina though, manages to feel a little remote from it all.
Shotley is well-known in navy circles as the home of HMS Ganges, a major cadet training centre right up until 1976. From 1899 until 1905, the actual wooden sailing vessel HMS Ganges was moored off Shotley Point, but the establishment moved ashore just six years later.
By coincidence, the father-in-law of Keith - my fellow trainee Day Skipper - was a Captain of HMS Ganges and told us many stories about the place. After HMS Ganges transferred to Cornwall in 1976 it became a Police Training Centre but now lies empty and somewhat forlorn, awaiting some new role.
Shotley sits just hundreds of metres from both Harwich and Felixstowe but is more than 40km by road from the former and 32km from the latter. It takes the best part of an hour to get to Harwich by car.
Despite the glow and the hum, we enjoy our dinner in peace, enjoy a couple of pints in the Marina bar and then sleep soundly.
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