Speaking too soon

Or, in this case, blogging too soon.

The other day I extolled the virtues of sailing to Ireland, rather than flying. At the back of my mind was the thought that perhaps I should save the post until I’d completed my return journey, but in the end I decided to go with it.

The morning after I published it, I got a text from the ferry company informing me that severe weather conditions had put my crossing in jeopardy. Within two hours, it had officially been cancelled. I was automatically transferred to one of two slower crossings – one at 8.05 or 20.55. This boiled down to a choice between a 5am drive to Dublin, or four and a half hours on the platform of Holyhead station in the early hours of the morning. The former – thanks to a generous offer of a lift from my father – won.

A good thing about ferry crossings is that even when fast crossings are cancelled, the slow ones almost always go. It’s not like flights where cancellations wreak havoc; it simply means that the massive slow boats (on Irish Ferries, it’s the Ulysses, which seems appropriate) become fuller and you’re faced with a four hour voyage instead of a two hour one. However, there are fewer crossings – which can mean if the quick ferry is cancelled at the last minute, you have a lot of time to kill in Dublin. [Seven years ago this happened to us on one of the coldest days I’ve ever known. My mother insists that this has put her off the city forever.]

Anyway, this change of plan basically meant that today, my already epic journey became epic-er. At 5.15am I waved goodbye to my Mum; by 7.15 I was boarding the boat – so far so good. However, by the time I finally disembarked at midday (and endured a ridiculous baggage fiasco) and got a seat on a train that was packed (thanks to the simultaneous arrival of two packed ferries), my patience was wearing very thin. Add to the confusion train announcements that were entirely in Welsh, and by 12.30 I was beginning to unravel. I spent a good while actually believing I was on the wrong train – after all, surely a train going to Cardiff from Holyhead couldn’t also be going north to Chester? [Turns out it does – Welsh trainlines are very special.]

All that kept me sane was a serious dose of magic, in the form of Harry Potter 2, 3 and 4, and a picnic breakfast/lunch/tea made lovingly by my mother. Exactly 12 hours after I’d left Belfast, I arrived at my front door. After so many hours travelling (and making it through four different countries), you might have thought I’d have ended up somewhere a lot more interesting…

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