A quick word of explanation before I start this series of entries which refer to a trip I began in April 2017 and went on rather longer than initially expected. The entries were originally written for a travel website called TravBuddy which is now defunct and led me to creating this site. I have edited them slightly so they make better sense.
As always I shall post the entries back to the dates they refer to or I shall get completely lost. It will take some time to complete this series as it is quite long but I have some time on my hands now as I am staying with my Father in Northern Ireland and do not have much to do so it is a perfect opportunity. I do hope you enjoy it.
To the trip itself which was planned by mistake. I have a very dear friend who works internationally and we get a chance to spend some time together overseas. We had a brilliant time in Madrid some years ago which I hope to make the basis of a journal entry here in due course.
Some time prior to the trip my friend had asked if I fancied a few days in the Netherlands as she was going there for work and naturally I answered in the affirmative. I do love the Netherlands. She ‘phoned me on a Thursday in late March to ask if I was still up for it to which I replied, “Sure, it is next weekend, isn’t it?” Knowing how scatterbrained I am she literally nearly wet herself laughing on the ‘phone and relied, “No, this weekend and the days after” (that was the original plan). Oops, got it wrong again.
Still, it was not a problem as I am a single man and can literally get up and out the door in moments. It is somewhat of a proud boast of mine that I have never taken more than 40 minutes to pack for any trip and that includes a trek round the Annapurna trail in Nepal some years ago. My passport is always to hand.
The original plan was to meet up on the Sunday night so I had to get a transportation option organised. I have fallen so out of love with flying short haul that I will do just about anything to avoid it. Since Islamic fundamentalists have created a worldwide climate of fear about flying and even heritage airlines have gone down the route of cheapos by providing nothing and charging for everything, flying is now my least favoured travel option.
My very dear friend from Virtual Tourist (another defunct travel site) days, John Gayton, visits Belgium regularly and had raved to me about the ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland which he uses frequently. He is the guy that features on my Lundy Island journey here. The ferry certainly sounded like a plan to me. As luck would have it, I was due to meet another dear VT friend on the Saturday and the RV was Liverpool Street station which is the departure point for the boat train to Harwich so two birds with one stone as they say as I could meet Jo and also get my ticket.
We were going to scope out a potential route for a “Treasure Hunt” which we jointly arrange with our friends Sarah and Lesley (both former VT members). It is an annual event, timed to coincide with the Open House weekend in September where buildings that are not normally open to the public allow access. It was always great fun and we had some great days with friends from all over the world. Yet another harmless and beneficial event that has gone by the board with the wanton destruction of that excellent site.
The Liverpool Street venue obviously put me in prime position for obtaining my ticket as walk-up prices for any sort of rail travel are obscenely expensive in UK and I did read somewhere that we pay the highest prices per mile in the world. I do not know how true this may be but I know that booking ahead of travel is definitely advised and that is what I did. After our little exploratory walk and having dispatched Jo to a previous engagement, I toddled up to the ticket booth where I was dealt with by an utterly charming gentleman who, it transpired, had been a railwayman for many years. I mention this merely because the vast majority of staff employed on British railways nowadays are surly and rude, thinking that they are doing you some sort of favour by paying their wages. This was a Saturday and I bought my ticket for the Monday morning boat-train as part of a Sailrail deal. which I also use to travel home to Northern Ireland. If you wish to do this you can get a ticket until 1800 the day before travel which will save you a lot of money.
On the way home I noticed a sale in my local sports shop which is literally about 100 yards from my home. They sell luggage and my old kitbag was getting a touch worn as I am pretty hard on baggage, not by carelessness but just by the amount and type of travelling I do. I decided on one of the “cabin compliant” rollalongs for which read ludicrously tiny. I had no real intention to use it for flying but I travel light and it seemed ideal for short breaks. As you can see it only cost me £14 which was a bargain although it turned out not to be quite so good value for money.
As you can see, I thought a few new socks would not go amiss either and as you can also see by the date, this was April 1st aka All Fools Day. Mmmmmmmmm.
Stay tuned and spread the word.