The Swift was leaving Dublin at 8.45am and passengers were supposed to arrive for embarkation an hour before the sailing time. As was the norm now, Darelle and Maryanne asked what time we needed to leave the hotel. Ty replied 7am. The groans from my fellow travelling companions could be heard by the diners at the other end of the large restaurant I’m sure. We had moved from the house in Kilmainham to a hotel closer to the port so we wouldn’t have to get up too early but Ty, ever the project manager, would have had us up and at ’em even if we were sleeping in the car at the port. Everyone up at 6am, showered, packed, finished eating their banana (our only food source at that time of the morning) and in the foyer at 7am. Showered in freezing cold water…..we had showered the night before and the water was boiling hot, a great shower. This morning was entirely a different matter …..there was no hot water, not even lukewarm water just icy cold water coming from the tap. Had they forgotten to tell us that hot water was rationed and if you showered at night you wouldn’t be allocated any further hot water until the next evening??? This was not a cheap hotel, it was Sandymount Hotel near Landsdowne Rd and very popular. Perhaps we were just unlucky.
Yes, we were all present for muster at 6.55am, car was packed and we were making our way out of the hotel driveway by 7.05 am. The project manager wanted to have extra time in case we got lost between the hotel and the port of Dublin which was should be no more than s 15 minutes drive. The GPS had been set the night before in preparation for the drive so I couldn’t understand why Ty thought we might get lost but I wasn’t going to challenge his logic…..project managers can be a little odd at times so it’s best just to humour them in these situations!!!
We arrived at the port at 7.15am to be the 2nd car in line for the Swift…..the Ulysses had just commenced losing its trucks, cars and foot passengers. Ulysses was due to sail 45 minutes before us. The Ulysses is a monstrous ferry and quite luxurious inside but it’s a slower trip than the Swift, which is smaller. Ty suffers from seasickness so a fast ferry ride is a good ferry ride for him and me, of course. I don’t fancy having to provide him with sick bags, I’m not good with sick people so I was also thankful for a calm crossing.
We had booked Club Class for this trip of 1 hour 55 minutes. Club Class provided faster loading and unloading of the car, also offered complimentary food and drinks. A full cooked breakfast was also available for an additional charge. Magazines and newspapers were available for those who wanted to read. The free WIFI was a little slow but to be expected given we were on a ferry with several hundred others and a good percentage in CC had an iPad, a laptop or tablet with them.
There was an English couple seated near us who had ordered the cooked breakfast and he must have requested a certain type of bread or bread roll because he was complaining he’d received the wrong bread. The waitress apologised and said she’d bring the one he wanted. When the waitress she brought the wrong item again and by now he was becoming more frustrated and louder. He was not a happy chappy……I thought somebody should point out this isn’t a restaurant where you expect 5 star service this is a ferry taking people from one country to another quickly and cheaply. So just accept you were given a different bread roll to the one you ordered….get over it, get on with eating your full English breakfast before it goes cold and becomes a greasy mass. I’m sure sausage, beans and eggs taste the same whatever bread they’re eaten with….I’m not a connoisseur of English breakfasts so perhaps I’m wrong. Can you be a connoisseur of breakfasts??
We docked at Holyhead without further incidents and on time. Our next port of call, so to speak, was Harrogate in North Yorkshire. It was Sunday so we hoped for less traffic than you might come across on weekdays. Not so, roads were busy with trucks, camper vans, cars and caravans….the residents of the UK were on the move. Ah, yes, and the Stobbard trucks were also on the move, Ty was spotting them faster than me and in my haste to spot one before him I was making errors of judgement and shouting out “Stobbard” when it wasn’t so I was losing points rapidly (anyone who read one of my previous tales will understand this).
I’m not sure how many people know or, dare I say, remember the song ‘Didn’t we have a lovely day we went to Bangor’ but it was a favourite of mine for awhile…..don’t know why, maybe because it was a tongue in cheek send up British song (well that’s what I thought it was) to amuse. Anyway, I felt it appropriate to take my fellow travellers to the town of Bangor, Wales, to the Pier for a walk along the pier and a photo opportunity. Of course there’s no Ferris wheel and you couldn’t have lunch for under a pound as the song says – it cost one pound for parking and 50pence to walk onto the pier!!! When our companions realised it cost money to set foot on the pier they said ‘no, we’re not going, we’ll wait for you”! I paid their 50 pence entry fee as we had specifically came to see the Pier ……I’d been here before. This tour does all sorts of things you won’t find on the traditional tourist trail!!!
Bangor is also the town where the Beatles went to meditate with Maharishi Yogi and it has been said that this was one of the ‘nails in the coffin’ of the Band. It was whilst they were doing whatever they were doing in Bangor that Brian Epstein (their manager) committed suicide. This left them without a manager. A little bit of trivia before we step not the Pier!!!
Any thoughts of wandering the pier whilst eating an ice cream left us immediately we stepped onto the pier. It was so cold and windy we had trouble speaking to each other but the scenery is worth the walk. A men who was opening up his little shop saw us all rugged up, me with my earmuffs commented, in his best Welsh brogue, “it’s not THAT cold! Perhaps not for some, but 13 degrees celsius with a wind chill factor of 8 is cold in my book it certainly isn’t weather for wearing sleeveless tops and skimpy shorts as some were!!! If someone told me we were going to Bangor for a summer holiday I certainly wouldn’t be excited at the prospect.
After packing away our gloves, earmuffs and face warmers it was back into the car for the next stop, lunch, somewhere along between here and Harrogate.
Unfortunately before we managed to find a little place for lunch we were on the motorway. This meant we would need to turn off to a town or stop at the Services area. Put to the vote the Services area was chosen. We had stopped at others and they were fine but this one was crowded…..car park was full and inside every area was taken up with people. It was quite grubby but given the number of people around this was probably understandable as they wouldn’t have much opportunity to clean up spills.
What will I have – a hard decision….. there was lots of food choices but it’s what I will eat that narrows those choices. I finally opted for potato and leek soup with a bread roll. It turned out to be a bad choice for several reasons. Firstly I had trouble ordering as when I reached the head of the queue an OAP would suddenly rush forward and demand attention from the cashier, cashier would then serve them, this happened a couple of times before I got his full attention. Of course I couldn’t have my soup straight away one of the 5 people in the back would need to place the soup in the container and then he would deliver it to me. “Right, so how will you find me” I snapped, patience wearing a little thin now, “we’ll if you keep an eye out for me when I come out with your order and then wave to me”. “Of course, how silly of me” I replied. Thinking to myself that he is never going to find me in this crowded food hall……sure, don’t we all look the same after awhile???
Ten minutes passed, the others had their lunch and had almost finished, “this is ridiculous” I said to Ty, I would’ve just left it but it had been a long time since breakfast. That’s it, I went over to the outlet, where I had ordered the soup, to a female cashier standing around and asked for the soup and roll. I had obviously disturbed her rest time because she was not a happy customer service person. Armed with my lunch I sat down at the table took the lid off to find a lot of chunky potato pieces and large slices of leek….not my idea of potato and leek soup……generally this soup doesn’t have chunky bits…..luckily or as usual Ty was still hungry so he ate some of the soup whilst I ate the bread roll!!! I’ll be sure to eat dinner……
As we drove into Harrogate and saw all the wonderful old houses a feeling of terror came over me…….our rental property would be the same…..3 stories high with small winding staircases and our room will be the one in the bloody attic!!!!!
We found the key and opened the front door…………to start our week in North Yorkshire.