How I Spent my Weekend
Where, oh where has my blogging mojo gone? I have lots of stuff to say but just can’t settle down and say it! To get me going again, here’s how I spent last weekend.
I had a brief trip back to Ireland last weekend, mostly to see Granny & the Youngest Daughter, but I packed in some other stuff as well. I managed to meet up with The Professor and his wife on Saturday, then I met the BFF and her nearly-new granddaughter plus her sons and their Significant Others. On Sunday, we did a whistlestop tour of Cork and West Waterword, catching up with the YD, Ash, Polly (the Other BFF’s daughter), Mary (an old horsey friend), the Ma-in-law, the sis-in-law and two of the Waterford Nieces on the way. Phew. That was hectic. Unfortunately it was too late to call into the Other Other BFF on the way back to Co Clare, so I missed out on one. Next time, I promise!
So that was Saturday and Sunday. Monday went like this. (FYI, my flight was due to leave Dublin at 11.45am. It’s a 2.5 hour drive. 3 hours with traffic)
6.00 am. iPhone alarm goes off. Haul myself out of bed, bleary eyed from listening to the rain blatting on the roof and against the window all night. Get dressed, pack jammies and toothbrush, kiss Granny goodbye, run through the lashing rain and hop into rental car.
6.20 am. On the road, radio blaring above the sound of the wind and the rain. Car getting blown around a bit, but not too bad. Keeping an eye on the fuel tank because I’ll probably need to fill up en route and then top up again so I leave the car back full.
7.40 am. Fuel tank down to two bars, I pull off on the west side of Portlaoise expecting to find a garage straight away. Drive all the way through Portlaoise before finally finding one 200 metres from the motorway exit on the EAST side of the town. Fill up and knock back a can of red bull as I leave.
7.50 am. That can of red bull was a mistake. Bladder is suddenly making its presence felt.
8.00 am. Spot a sign for motorway services and take the exit ramp so I can go pee. Assume I know where I am and blithely swing left and left again, expecting to find garage on my left. No garage. Notice a sign pointing in the opposite direction. Travel at least 1km down the road before I find somewhere to turn. Follow signs and find myself at garage, 50 metres from off ramp, if I had only cared to look to the right as I drove. A little irritated, I run through wind and rain into the shop, do what I have to, scurry back to car, jump in and return to motorway. Unfortunately, though, my brain sees the sign for Cork/Limerick and says “Cork! That’s where you need to go” and after about thirty seconds I realise I’m heading the wrong way.
8.05 am. Keep calm, there’ll be an exit soon, I can turn and head in the correct direction. Ten minutes delay max.
8.08 am. Why is there no exit?
8.10 am. WHY IS THERE NO EXIT???
8.15 am. I am finally heading in the correct direction once again. Radio informs me that there has been a bad accident at Naas, causing long tailbacks. Ok, I think, I’ll come off the motorway at Kildare, bypass the tailbacks and return to the Motorway at Naas. Unfortunately, I forget that Newbridge lies between Kildare and Naas.
8.30 am. Stuck behind some slow eejit as we traverse the Curragh. Keeping calm.
8.35 am. WTF, bladder??
8.38 am. Arrive in Newbridge and find myself at the end of a huge line of immobile cars.
8.40 am. Bladder is saying “I’m not kidding, woman, you should never have had that red bull.” I quickly realise I will have to listen to it, so I pull out of the queue and dash down the road to a garage I passed as I drove into the town. Much relieved, I jump back in the car and return to a slot further down the line of traffic. But at least it’s moving. For about thirty seconds, before it grinds to a halt again.
8.50 am. I am about half-way down Newbridge main street, chewing my nails and pounding on the steering wheel every time a traffic light turns red.
8.55 am. Approaching junction at the end of Newbridge main street, I spot a signpost up ahead with a blue M pointing to the right. Great! I think. Must be the motorway junction at the east end of Newbridge! (there isn’t one)
8.56 am. Realise, too late, that I’m being directed back the way I’ve come, along a different road. Still massive traffic queues heading east, so I decide that I’ll keep going and rejoin the Motorway. They’ve had nearly an hour to clear that accident, I rationalise, surely it won’t be too bad.
8.57 am. Another slow eejit pulls out just in front of me. Stress levels are pretty elevated. Decide to scream to see if it relieves them. It doesn’t.
9.00 am. Turn down Motorway on ramp. Something inside me dies; I think it was Hope. There is stationary traffic as far as the eye can see. I have no choice but to find a slot and park.
9.05 am. Have not moved. Ring car rental company. Car is due back at ten “But we normally give an hour’s grace,” I am informed. Double check that I am to leave the car back at the multi-storey car park across from the terminal building. Yes, I am told.
9.15 am. Progress. Have moved 50 metres. Text the LSH warning him it’s going to be touch and go.
9.40 am. Have moved approx 1km in 25 minutes. Things are not looking good at all. Feeling sick and shaky.
9.45 am. Suddenly there is movement. We pass a broken down truck and continue to move, albeit slowly.
10.00 am. Maybe my flight has been delayed with this awful weather! Call the LSH and ask him to check. No such luck, flight is still scheduled to leave at 11.45.
10.05 am. About 5km further on there are a couple of cars which must have been involved in the accident. Remind myself that there are worse things than missing flights. Traffic is very heavy, but now moving at a steady 80kph.
10.54 am. Garth Brooks is singing about friends in low places as I approach Dublin airport, looking for car-park signs. Quickly spot the one for the multi-storey across from Terminal 2 and enter. Strangely, there are no signs about car rental companies. Ask a chap manning the Car Valeting place is this the right place to leave it back. “No, the next multi-storey car park.” AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH…. Praying that I don’t have to validate my ticket, I get to the exit barrier. Hooray… no validation required…
11.00 am. Car is parked in Europcar slot. How the hell do I get out of the car park and back to the car rental desk?
11.05 am. Find my way out.
11.08 am. Car key has been returned and I’m lumbering my way to Terminal 2.
11.10 am. Check in kiosk?
11.11 am. CHECK IN KIOSK??
11.12 am. CHECK IN KIOSK?????
11.13 am. Find check in kiosk. Enter my details. “Check in closed for this flight. See agent.” NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo
11.14 am. Find Nice Man wearing Aer Lingus suit who tries to help me (I possibly look a little deranged). He and a Nice Lady call the boarding gate to see if they can do anything for me… No joy. The manifesto has been sent off to wherever it goes. Even though it’s half an hour before my flight leaves, I’m too late.
11.15 am. I sag.
11.17 am. Fresh air. I need fresh air. Go outside into the wind and rain and take shelter while I call the LSH and tell him not to bother going to collect me.
11.20 am. Tea. I need tea.
11.40 am. Settled in airport cafe with big mug of tea and the laptop on the table in front of me, trying to find the cheapest way home.
11.50 am. Eventually opt for Ryanair to Marseille via Stanstead as that’ll just entail one night in the Airport hotel. Spend a small fortune I had not budgeted for.
11.55 am. Post my woes on Facebook.
11.56 am. Ping!Ping! Two offers of accommodation, one from my niece and one from an old housemate!
12.00 pm. Arrange to have lunch with my niece and stay with my ex housemate, who will even bring me to the airport at 4.30 am the following morning.
Monday improves steadily from there, culminating in a bottle of wine and a mixed takeaway of Chinese and Thai food.
4.15 am. iPhone alarm goes off. Haul myself out of bed, bleary eyed from wine. Get dressed, pack jammies and toothbrush, hop into ex housemate’s car.
4.55 am. At Dublin airport. Thank ex-housemate profusely, check in and wait. Other than that, I have no memory of Dublin airport on Tuesday morning.
6.00 am. Board flight.
7.30 am. Arrive in Stanstead. I’ve never seen it so quiet.
7.45 am. Walk over to Radisson Blu hotel to see about breakfast (best breakfast buffet ever) but decide I’m not very hungry and I don’t want to spend £7.00 on a cup of tea and a bowl of muesli.
7.50 am. Walk back to airport and go to Costa Coffee instead. Buy tea, porridge and a bottle of juice, paying with my bank card. Juggling coat, wheelie suitcase, little rucksack and tray, so I shove my card into my coat pocket, intending to put it in my wallet later. Promptly forget about it.
8.30 am. Wander aimlessly around the airport for ages. Go through emails, read a bit, go outside for fresh air. Eventually decide to go through security.
9.30 am. Great! Security is very quick. But I randomly set off the metal detector (I know it was ‘random’ because the male security guy said so to the female security gal who had to pat me down. Resisted the urge to ask if it was good for her) My plastic bag of bathroom stuff is then randomly selected for testing.
9.45 am. Browse through WH Smith. Decide to buy the latest series of Downton Abbey. Open my wallet, looking for my bank card. Oh yes, I remember Costa Coffee, it’s in my coat pocket…
9.46 am. …oh no it isn’t.
9.47 am. Return Downton to the shelf. Ask for help from airport staff member who’s doing a survey. She tells me to go back to security, explain that I’ve lost my card and the last time I used it was in Costa Coffee.
9.50 am. I am checked back out of the departure area.
9.55 am. No card in Costa Coffee.
10.00 am. No card at information desk either.
10.05 am. Call the LSH and ask him to get the card blocked. The good thing about this is that it finally forces us to update our address with the bank.
10.10 am. Back through security. The metal detector stays mute but, this time, my little rucksack is randomly selected for swabbing. EH?
10.15 am. I have another two hours and twenty five minutes to wait. Wander around the shops. Find that I am now completely incapable of making decisions. Cannot decide on which magazine to buy, or which bottle of juice, or which sandwich etc etc. Eventually resort to playing Nethack. It passes the time while I wait for the gate number for my next flight to be displayed.
12.15 pm. Gate number is finally posted. I make my way straight to the gate, to find a huge queue already formed. BUT I had lashed out an extra ten quid for priority boarding when I checked in! I stride past them all, feeling the looks of pure hatred penetrating my back… mwhahaha, it was so worth ten pounds just for that moment!!
12.20 pm. On plane, in my correct seat. Ryanair has just introduced assigned seating, to the consternation of my fellow passengers. It takes twenty minutes for them all to find the right seats. Seriously, folks, IT’S NOT THAT DIFFICULT! It’s written on the little piece of paper you are clutching in your hand! Oh, and word of advice, if you’re sitting in row 30, you don’t need to check every row number all the way down :
“What number are we?”
“This is two. Oh look, the next one is three.”
“What’s the next one?”
“And the next one?”
“Ooh. And the next one?”
I swear, this conversation took place, as they walked slowly down the plane, checking every single row, just in case row thirty was cunningly tucked in between rows fifteen and sixteen.
1.00 pm. Our flight leaves, late. I suspect this is a policy-change that Ryanair might regret.
The flight itself is painless, as is the rest of Tuesday. The LSH has made chilli and has a couple of Coronas chilling in the fridge. What a guy.
7.30 am. iPhone alarm goes off. Haul myself out of bed, bleary eyed from listening to the rain blatting on the roof and against the window all night.
Wait. I’m in Provence. That’s not how it’s meant to be!