The tenth of the month appeared and it was time to head off. My Father’s health was as stable as it can be at this point, he was being very well cared for and it was time for me to head off. Yet again I had managed to involve myself in a massive overstay although it was probably one that is slightly more understandable given the circumstances. I had gone “home” in early June for a family reunion on my Mum’s side of the family which I had thoroughly enjoyed despite some initial misgivings due to so much time and separation.
For reasons that I have outlined in previous entries I had stayed rather longer than my intended week or so and it was time to get off again. My brother had told me that there was effectively nothing useful I could do there (is there ever anything useful I can do?) and I had a little plan in mind. It was called Broadstairs Folk Week and it will form another series of blogs here shortly.
My kid brother (how can I call him a kid when he is 57 years old and Father to a 20 year old strapping lump of a son?) very kindly gave me a lift to the station and I started off on what should have been an uneventful journey back “home” to London for an overnight turnaround and off to Broadstairs to play and meet so many old friends. Train from Portadown to Dublin Connolly, no problem. Bus to the ferryport, no problem. Ferry, big problem. Surely it cannot be just me and my cursed bad luck but they had completely screwed me on the way out and then they screwed me on the way back. I will not provide links for Stena Ferries or Irish Ferries here as I do not want to give them the admittedly minimal traffic I generate but who knows, one day I may go viral. They are both abysmal and seem to exist purely for their shareholders with no regard for the travelling public.
To make a long story short, we eventually arrived in Holyhead, having missed our train. Not a major problem as there was one coming soon but it just shows the utter incompetence of the ferry companies running that route. The train I was not supposed to be on involved a change at Chester but I was already ahead of the game on that one. I had about a 35 minute layover and I knew that there was a better than decent pub just across the road from the station so time for a quick pint and a smoke before the onward journey but there was one potential problem.
Because of the ticket type I was using the system would have swallowed the ticket had I tried to use the automatic gates but I knew from previous experience that the gate staff here are pretty decent and will let you out the gate for a smoke if you ask nicely. In the event I needn’t have worried as the inevitable staff shortages meant that the gates were wide open as they legally have to be when they are unmanned in case of emergency.
Happy days. I took off outside, devoured a cigarette in no time flat and walked into the Town Crier which was quite busy at half seven on a Friday evening in decent weather but I was served quickly by a very friendly young barmaid who, after explaining my need for haste watched in some amazement as I skulled the pint in about no time flat. I really must make some time to visit this pub properly as I do rather like it and I only ever manage one hurried pint between trains in there.
OK, I was in a rush and missing my train after the cock-up by the ferry company was not an option as I would have been travelling literally all night. Sod that. Thanking the barmaid I went back across the road and was in good time for my inevitably delayed onward connection. I swear I do not understand how British railways can charge what I believe are still the highest mile for mile prices in the world and continue to provide such an abysmal service. Frankly, the word service flatters them as the only people they serve are their usually foreign shareholders and passengers be damned.
Back to London then without further mishap and I ran into the problem that always assails me when I get back form a trip. My nearest tube station is only about ten minutes walk from home, even with luggage but there is a slight impediment in the way in the form of the Half Moon pub where all my mates drink. Well, I had been away for a while and wanted to catch up on the news so in I went, complete with luggage, to be immediately assailed by a few mates all demanding to know “where the Hell I had been this time”. I told them about being back to Northern Ireland and a few drinks were had before I made my way home eventually at about 0100 to yet another appalling pile of mail, mostly complete unsolicited junk which I binned immediately. No, I do not wan’t a bloody stairlift and I know where the best eating houses are. I swear that is the worst part of travelling.
I did take an image but in my exhausted state I didn’t have the sense to turn the envelopes over and much as I love my few readers, you don’t get my home address that easily. I know I am not the smartest man around but I am not that stupid! Take my word for it, it was a bloody huge pile.
Leaving any correspondence that looked like it might be semi-official to be dealt with later, I hit the sack and slept like a baby. Thus ends this series of entries about my rather extended trip back to my home country and I hope you have enjoyed them but the break in my own home was to last all of about 12 hours because I had things to do, places to go, people to see and a guitar to play.
Because I always backdate everything to the relevant days, if you press next after this item you’ll see what happened later that day and which begins another series of ramblings which I am still engaged on in late October 2018! I swear I don’t know why I own a flat (apartment) as I am never there.
Stay tuned and spread the word.