Ireland day 0286. Monday 11 July 2022- Voyages
Today’s main focus was on getting ready for Val’s return from her extended trip to the the UK. Three weeks of dust had to be hoovered off the floor, and that thick crust of grease that always seems to accumulate on the cooker when men are in charge of the dining arrangements had to be chiselled off. And not only that, I thought I had better go out and clean the windows too, so at least it would be possible to see out of the flat once more.
I managed to tick off all these flat-related chores by about lunchtime, but barely pausing for breath I was straight down to SuperValu to get the ingredients for dinner tonight. I thought my normal staple of beans on toast or fish fingers would hardly be a suitable celebration of Val’s return, so I decided to push the boat out a bit and get some lamb for roasting. It was eye-wateringly expensive – so I quickly remembered why we normally eat sausages and fish fingers rather than proper meat – but I thought it would be a good investment. I also managed to get a half-price fruit and cream gateau thing – it was approaching its sell by date but I thought if I carefully pulled off the label Val would never know.
Back at the flat, I set to peeling washing and preparing, then got everything in the oven and paused briefly to have some lunch. It was at about this point that Val texted to let me know that far from being about to board a plane at Heathrow Airport, right now she was on a train somewhere near Birmingham, speeding her way towards Anglesey. It turned out that at half past five this morning, British Airways had emailed her to let her know that her flight back to Dublin that afternoon had been summarily cancelled.
Luckily she is a much earlier riser than I am so she had seen the message in time to do something about it. Whereas I would probably just have cursed and sworn and generally got cross, she rather more cool-headedly cancelled the flight completely, got her money back, and booked a train to Holyhead at 9:30 and then a connecting ferry to Ireland. If all went to plan – which it did – she would be back in Dublin only half an hour later than she would have been had the flight gone on time.
Anyway once the preparations for Val’s return had been completed, and back on the other side of the Irish Sea, the new travel arrangements were in place, my next task was to join a discussion with former Natural History Museum colleagues back in london. The topic today was biodiversity – and in particular an interesting debate about whether we should be concerned that most biodiversity funding goes into “fur and feathers” and relatively little into less exotic – but arguably more important from an ecological point of view – plants, fish, insects and fungi.
It was an inconclusive debate though I think we all shared a concern that at the end of our concerted conservation campaigns we would only have tigers and polar bears left to show for our efforts. But perhaps funding the conservation of these can be a Trojan Horse for accomplishing wider biodiversity goals. After all, you can’t preserve polar bears if you don’t preserve the ice for them to live on, and the fish in the sea for them to eat.
By this time there was only 90 minutes till Val’s ferry docked so I decided to make a brief trip to the beach to enjoy a coffee and cake in the warm summer weather. Obviously, as a coffee and cake would probably cost about €10 from a café in Malahide, I took my own which isn’t quite the same but at least it does mean you can push the boat out and cook roast lamb every once in a while. Conscious of my fabulous money- saving wheeze, I decided to blow the €10 I would have spent on refreshments on a decent bottle of Malbec for dinner instead.
Eventually the appointed time came so I drove down to the ferry terminal (it’s only half an hour through the port tunnel from here) and Val arrived, smack on time. I think she’d had a more traumatic and tiring day than I had, but it all worked out well in the end. She said that sitting on the train watching the scenery drift by was considerably more relaxing than shoving your way through sweaty stressed crowds in the airport while being shouted at angrily by security guards. I suspect we both might try this route for future trips back to the UK – though it is quite a lot more expensive than flying.
So now we are back in the flat and dinner is eaten. I’m pleased to report that it was all well received and the Malbec went down very nicely. And, as I predicted, the imminent sell-by date on the fruit flan was never even noticed. At it was excellent.
So quite an eventful day, really, more so for Val than me. She’s back to work at the Museum again tomorrow, but as soon as we have re-established our normal life pattern here, we will start thinking about the next stages in our plans for Ireland. Exciting times ahead!
Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
(No map today)