May 19 – The one with the Friends

There was another one of those delightful early starts today – up around 5 to leave nothing to chance. Checking out of the hotel was super-fast, not even as much as a “was everything ok”. The experience had been slightly less than stellar, so maybe it would have been good to ask. There were no disasters, just that on the last day – the first time we’d put the ‘please make up my room’ note on the door, they didn’t. Like I’ve mentioned a few times it’s only a new place, so hopefully over time they sort their stuff out and they become as fancy as they look.

We only had a short walk to the bus stop. The big effort was before that – trying to squish everything back into the bags. I bought a sum total of two tiny espresso-size coffee cups – that’s it. Not sure how this has felt like an expansion of luggage by a few square metres 🙂

And that was about it for Dublin – at least we got to see a little bit of it, and learn a little of its history. Hopefully there’s lots of peaceful time ahead.

We caught a Stena Line ferry over to Dublin, so for the heck of it I booked the other one, Irish Ferries, for the trip back to Wales. The check in process was super simply, just ‘yeah throw your bags over there on the belt and go up the escalator’. Too easy. Just had time to smash a coffee at a little cafe in the terminal and next thing you know it was time to get on another bus to be taken over to the ferry. This time, the bus didn’t dump us inside the ferry itself, just near the front, so we walked in. Their signage was on point, before we knew it we were at the door to the Club Class lounge, where we paid a few extra bucks for some free snacks and drinks. We found seats, settled in, I grabbed a free glass of Apple juice, and … next minute it was already time to disembark!

This ride, on the ‘Swift’ did indeed live up to its name as it was all over in a little over two hours, and I slept through pretty much the whole way, too easy! The only trouble was I missed out on free snacks coz i was too busy snoozing. Still, what can I say, I had a really good sleep and woke up feeling pretty refreshed and ready to go.

When it was time to leave, this time it was a bit more of the ‘Greek approach’ where we were all corralled to the back of the ship while the crew rushed around tidying and vacuuming and getting things ready for the next load of passengers. It didn’t take long at all before we stepped off the board into to the fresh Wales air, and straight on to the bus for a crazy hellride to the station 🙂 OK that’s overstating it, I’d say the drivers was bored of doing to the same little rip over and over and chose to have a bit of fun with it. Arrivals couldn’t have been easier – in the door, the luggage was already going around on the conveyer belt, there were no customs, no border control, just straight on through and seconds later, here we are in Holyhead Wales.

The wonderful thing about Holyhead is that the port and the train station are directly connected, one right behind the other, so it was again no trouble getting to the station. We had an hour to wait, so time for a snack in the little cafe there.

Bang on time, the train arrived, a little two-carriage thing, ready to take us all the way to Birmingham. Time to relax and watch the fields and head grows and lovely little cottages whiz by. And despite being only two carriages, there was still a drinks and snacks trolley on board, so I had myself a lovely cup of tea.

Sure enough, a little more nap time ensued during the journey, but by about the time we hit Chester, things got busy. I think they’re enough passengers for a 4 carriage train, certainly enough suitcases! The last half hour or so became particularly cramped and crowded. Finally, only about 30 minutes after we were scheduled to, we arrived in Birmingham New Street, and were delighted to be reunited with a dear friend we’d not seen in nearly two years. We’re staying with these friends in their lovely home just outside of Birmingham, which is very kind of them.

We even enjoyed our first home cooked meal since the start of May, so that was a wonderful change as well. But now, it’s late, sure there are exciting things planned for tomorrow so I’ll leave it there, and see you all tomorrow.

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