Travelling – day 271 (J)

I spent the morning uploading photos on to the blog and publishing up to where we both had something written for that day. I am uber impressed that I have managed to stay ahead of Katherine. Pat on the back for myself.

We went for breakfast down at Heidi’s, again, and I had the posh breakfast roll. Still a manageable size and not too messy, even my parents began commenting on the number of food photos I take for the blog. Sure, do they want photos of us all looking upset for the day?IMG_8363Up the N22 to the airport and we spent ages driving around the car park looking for a space. I personally think it’s deliberate so as to rack up time in the short stay parking and get more money out of ya. Cheating gits the lot of ’em! My point was further emphasised when we got a juice and sat down for a bit and the geezer at the till put through the most expensive juice three times. Grumpy security staff didn’t make the parting any easier and I barely kept it together.

I have never paid for allocated seating on a RyanAir flight and I doubt I ever will. Thus, it was kinda cool to have seat 1A allocated to me. The leg room is incredible and there’s nobody in front bouncing a chair back and forth every 2seconds. However, there was a slight engineering problem that required a technician to come from the hotel and fix something in the cockpit and being in the front row looking out the plane, one could see all the staff in fluorescent yellow bibs running around and talking over the walkie-talkies. Not what ya wanted to see on any flight, especially when you’re about to blubber your eyes out.IMG_8367Departing 30mins after the scheduled departure time (what is it with me and delayed flights lately), I tried to occupy my mind with word games on the phone. No good, a few secretive cries looking out the window; watching the coastline fade away as we passed out further over wave-crested blue seas, gradually ascending over a blanket of clouds and I felt a bit better afterwards.IMG_8369First off the plane – WOOHOO!! – I was zooming through the arrivals hall, bypassing passport control altogether and strolling through the terminal till I found the escalators down to the train. And away it went, darting in to Liverpool Street and the train even had wifi. SCORE!! Being ever so efficient (and clever) I walked up the street to Moorgate station to get the Northern Line, rather than getting the Central at the station which would have been manic.

A typical sardine can tube line experience in the infamous Northern, I got out at Balham and waited for a train that would pass through Wallington. On the train I remember thinking, if I had to describe it, “it would have been quicker to crawl uphill over broken glass with my hands and feet bound.” It was painfully slow, aggravating the need to pee and I was charged the extortionate price for getting on a train so soon after zone 1, thus qualifying for a transfer under TFL rules. Grrr!!!

Clare was there for a massive hug and catch up, cooked an amazing home-made sausage roll with a fresh salad (no more yellow food in the house) and Martin came back from his bike ride for us all to sit down, chill out and watch Marco Polo on Netflix before bed.

Monday 4th July 2016

Cobh – day 267 (J)

Everyone who lives/grew up in Cobh at some point has had to visit the Heritage Centre, probably as a school trip. It chronicles the life and fate of the Irish people through the famine and emigration. I can’t tell you if it’s changed much over the years, but apparently it’s a bit more animatronic. And of course it’s inundated with stragglers who come off the cruise liners and don’t want to get on a coach to visit other sites in Ireland. But, no trip home to Ireland is complete without a scone and a cup o’ tea at the Heritage Centre. Mam used to spend most of the summer down here selling jewellery to tourists, mostly off the liners. They seemed to have dwindled in numbers and the ones that do turn up don’t buy anything except the cheap stuff in the gift shop. Ah well, their loss. Blissfully quiet on this occasion, the scones were still hot but the latte came straight up from hell and took ages to cool down. Again, loads of catching up on complete nonsense that we’ve missed over the past few months.  After enjoying the Disney film yesterday we said we’d throw on another one – this time ‘Robin Hood’. Not as old, being released around ’73, the colour was still captivating, the voices were striking and memorable (legendary Peter Ustinov as Prince George) and the songs and ditties had a catchy quality like all of the classics. I worked away on the blogs and beauty clinic websites for a few hours and before I knew it the day was chewed up. Mam went out and continued being creative! Thus, it was brilliant news that Ritchie was still able to come collect me from Cobh and bring me down to Cloyne for dinner and a catch up. He’s now working as an EMT and has proper hours and rotas and can plan holidays and weekends away. Now, he’ll admit it himself, he used to be the type of guy that would be late for his own funeral and he was always rushing around to get from own job to the next as a self-employed carpenter. Things are finally looking up for him and I couldn’t be happier – he deserves it. And of course the last time I was down in Cloyne I was babysitting their 2yr old so they could have a night out. He’s now 8, incredibly sporty and doing well in school and he hadn’t a clue who I was. (Insert sad face and play small violin music). So, sitting down for some rice and curry we picked up as if we just left off and chatted for hours. Karen managed to get back from Port Laois on a business trip by 22:20 and suddenly the wine was pouring, the gossiping was in full flow and the hours melted away in to the morning – just like old times. With both of them working on Friday I was incredibly lucky to be able to meet up with them and was luckier that Ritchie didn’t just let me walk home, being the perfect gent and driving me. Exhausted, I still Skype’d Katherine to tell her how amazing the evening was. Thursday 30th June 2016

Cobh – day 265 (J)

Months of travelling, nights with little sleep and roughing it on buses and trains and I am still struggling to relax, kick back and just snooze. So, I was up at the crack of dawn and waited downstairs for hours for others to surface. But, when I was graced with their presence we headed off for breakfast down at Heidi’s. A nice little cafe in what I remembered as being a shop down the road from my primary school. And what does one order for breakfast… a mini fry! Trying desperately to top up the grease and fat levels in my veins in such a short frame of time, breakfast was perfect and we chatted nonsense for ages.  Killed a few hours watching Wimbledon (I have yet to see our flat when they do the aerial shot of the area) and copying tv series to take with us travelling. Myself and Mam took the Grizzly monster for a walk to the black railings (a viewpoint with imaginative nomenclature due to it’s black railings). The steel works factory on Haulbowline has been gone for almost a decade, maybe more, but I hadn’t seen how much of the scrapyard at the end of the island they had reclaimed for the naval base.  We had a beautiful Chinese for dinner, while watching Dad’s Army DVD (Father’s Day present). Followed by homemade flan with custard and peaches. Bliss! Tuesday 28th June 2016

Travelling & Ireland – day 264 (J)

Tip-toeing around the flat I managed to leave without banging anything or tripping on stuff in the dark. I was like a ninja and stealth mode was working for such an early start. It thankfully didn’t start drizzling until I got to the bus stop, with the agonising countdown of 16mins in the cold waiting for the 157. The Northern Line, constantly busy no matter if it’s the first or last service of the day, had seats and got me to Moorgate on time. There was no info on the boards at Liverpool station for Stansted airport, so I asked and got directed to an empty train with plenty of time to stop fretting and relax.  The staff at the airport were in great form, shouting loudly to the massive queues and keeping spirits up in the slow march to the security gates. For the first time in a long time, the sensor beeped as I passed through, although I have no idea what could have set it off. So my hands and waist were swabbed and my shoes sent through an additional x-ray scanner. The wifi at the airport however didn’t work, so I couldn’t avail of my free Harris+Hoole coffee and joined the masses in front of the jumbo screens waiting for a gate number to appear. The mad dash to check-in was indicative of a RyanAir flight where nobody wants their bag to be taken away and put in the hold. Such a stupid system – they should all just properly enforce the one bag rule and they’d all fit in the overhead lockers.  The uneventful flight was quickly over, I passed some stunning aerial photographs of Cork’s coastline on my way to passport control and I was able to show my new passport. The Garda on duty just kind of waved me through and I was greeted by my Mam in Cork Airport. My Dad was outside in the drop off lane, keeping the engine running like a get away driver. And we went as far as the electrical store down the road to have brunch in their restaurant. Clearly the mischief gene runs in the family as they were totally up for messing with some of the items we passed in store.  Homeward bound we chilled out for a few hours, did the usual small gift thing and watched some Wimbledon tennis on tv. The early start was catching up with me when we plonked ourselves done for dinner. Yet another, ‘I Miss’ moment when we had Irish Stew and soda bread for dinner. A nice few hours chilling out and chatting.  Monday 27th June 2016