We Lose 24 Hours

Are you paying attention?  Did you notice that the countdown timer has suddenly leaped forward by a day?

We had a lovely plan for our departure.  We were due to sail out of Cork Harbour on the Brittany Ferries vessel, Pont-Aven, at 16:00 on Saturday the 29th of September.  We had visions of standing on deck, waving to family and friends who had come to see us off, as we watched Ringaskiddy slip away from us.  We would watch Monkstown Hill (where I’ve ridden many’s the time at Hitchmough’s Riding School) fade into the distance, we would pass the pretty town of Cobh and we’d get a wonderful view of Cobh Cathedral, where the YD’s boyfriend has been working up to recently.  Sailing on out of Cork Harbour, we would see Anne’s old house in Crosshaven, from which we watched the Tall Ships Race enter the harbour in 1991 – a sight I will never forget.  Then we would pass Roche’s Point and Trabolgan Holiday Village, where we had many happy days when the girls were very small.  Finally, we might catch a glimpse of Guileen, a tiny seaside village which gave its name to my in-laws’ family home in Dalkey.  Then we would retire indoors, to enjoy the excellent food and service which, I have been reliably informed, one will find on board the Pont-Aven.

All very poignant, all very romantic.  All very unlikely, now.

Brittany Ferries have been attempting to introduce cost-cutting measures, in order to remain competitive in these tough times.  Their crew (only some of them, I am told) are not happy, and have hit the company with a series of Wildcat Strikes.  The response of management, after four months of disruption, was to tie up their fleet until the dispute is resolved.

This happened last Friday.  The Pont-Aven sails in and out of Cork every Saturday, and last Saturday’s sailings were instantly affected.  Apparently, people travelling to Ireland were first of all told to travel to Saint-Malo, but the ferry could not dock there, so they were once again contacted en-route, and asked to proceed to Cherbourg, where they were all accommodated on the Irish Ferries vessel, the Oscar Wilde, the following day.

Those travelling from Ireland to France – which would have included us, had we planned on leaving a week earlier – were diverted to Rosslare, which is the home port of the Oscar Wilde.  Priority in transferring bookings from Brittany Ferries to Irish Ferries was given to French people returning home, so I’m not sure what they would have made of “Irish people emigrating” – maybe they would have fitted us in!

We’ve been waiting all week to hear if the dispute has been resolved or not.  We’re still waiting.  I’ve been keeping an eye on the Irish Ferries vessel, the Oscar Wilde, too.  She sails on Fridays and Sundays – Friday will get us to Provence a day earlier than planned, Sunday a day later.  We had a two-day overlap with our landlords planned, to allow them to show us the quirks and foibles of their house, so we decided to focus on the earlier departure date.

I’ve been watching for any signal that Friday’s sailing was filling up, and today, I spotted that all of the two star cabins were booked.  My nerve cracked!  Given that we have a high trailer, it seems to me (maybe I’m wrong) that there will be less space available for our sort of vehicle, hence my panic, but long story short, we’ve jumped ship and are now booked on the Oscar Wilde to sail out of Rosslare Harbour on Friday the 28th at 9.30pm.

We’re leaving our house at 1pm, meeting the YD and Granny for a quick lunch and then leaving Cork at 2pm.  It’s only a three hour drive to Rosslare, but we also want to pop in to see the LSH’s sister and mother on the way.

So no last, lingering views of Cork Harbour, no five-star food and service with Brittany Ferries.  Just the now-familar drive to Rosslare and the now-familar Oscar Wilde.

Oh well, so long as we get there…

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