Ireland day 0302. Wednesday 27 July 2022- Travelling
I think it’s true to say that no matter how well you prepare for a major event, things will always come along to take you surprise.
So although travelling to the UK for a few days isn’t really a “major event” in the grand scheme of things, it does require a bit of planning. Recently, for example, I have been travelling with only the minimum of baggage. A small bag which fits under the seat in front is all I take. Partly because it’s cheaper as you don’t have to pay any surcharges, but mostly because it makes getting through airports and on and off transport infinitely quicker and less hasslesome.
The consequence of this approach is of course that you have to plan carefully what goes in the bag. I have pared it down to the bare minimum now. A few overnight things, a laptop, a spare battery and phone charger and a waterproof jacket. Someone once said to me, in a different context, “the less you carry the more you will enjoy it” but the wisdom applies equally to flights across the Irish Sea. If I forget anything I reckon I can probably afford to buy it anyway, with the money saved in not paying for a bigger bag.
But as well as thinking about what you pack, you also have to plan your trip to the airport with some care. Here in Dublin – as elsewhere – there have been horror stories of huge delays at check-in, bag drop and security, resulting in flights being missed and endless frustration for passengers. So when I checked in (online) for my flight yesterday, the airline recommended arriving at the airport a full two and a half hours before the take off time.
As I was getting to the airport via the sometimes unreliable 102 bus, I thought I better allow an hour to get to there from Malahide. Anyway, today’s first unexpected event was that the bus arrived bang on time and absolutely whizzed along the R132 and got me there in next to no time. The second unexpected event was the security check. Much to my surprise – well, amazement, if I’m honest – there were no queues at all and I was Xrayed, scanned, frisked and airside just five minutes after stepping off the 102.
All that was fabulous of course although it did mean that I had over three hours to kill in Dublin airport before my flight went. The cynic in me wonders if some of the hype about delays is generated by the airports themselves. With of course the intention of getting you there early so you spend longer buying duty frees and hanging around in the extortionately expensive cafés.
I used to travel a lot for work so I don’t have any particular affection for airports and air travel any more. Though the sense of keen anticipation laced with the heady scent of burnt kerosene does, I admit, kindle an echo of the exotic and of distant horizons still to be explored. And Dublin airport today was certainly heaving with people and exotic horizons, so the collective excitement always almost palpable. Though so have to say that on balance, despite all the extra paperwork required, I think I did prefer travelling at the end of the pandemic, when everywhere was so quiet.
The flight itself, once I eventually got to it, was straightforward. It left and arrived on time, which is always a bit of a miracle. And I still get a bit of a child-like thrill from soaring up into the sky, while the ground drops away and the views panorama out below you. Today, the Irish coast was clear, so I had excellent views of the Sugarloaves, Bull Island, Sutton Cross and Howth (including the Sutton tombolo to Howth, which features in the banner image at the top of the blog). A perfect context for our terrestrial explorations over the last few months.
Once back on terra firma in the UK, I encountered the third unexpected event. Well actually, it wasn’t exactly unexpected as it was a rail strike, which had been announced several weeks ago. But information about transport from Gatwick airport and into London on strike days had been distinctly sketchy so I decided not to try and do any advance planning. I would just get to Gatwick and then try and work something out when I got there, depending on the situation on the ground.
Anyway unexpected event 3a was that I happened to be sitting near the front of the plane, so I scuttled off and was through the arrivals terminal in just ten minutes. I hot footed it to the railway station on the off-chance and purely by luck, there was one train departing for London that was running a few minutes late. It pulled into the platform just as I got down there so I jumped on with seconds to spare before it sped off. It later transpired that on this strike day it was actually the last train into London Victoria today, so one way or another, fate was really on my side.
So today I can honestly say that nothing today quite went as I expected it to but, for once, everything that didn’t go entirely according to plan did so in an entirely positive way.
Well that’s enough for now I think. I am here in the UK for a family event and will be returning to Ireland in a week. Val is working at the museum the next couple of days so she will be flying out on Friday to join me. While I’m in the UK I won’t be writing full blogs – just a few notes as an aide memoire to myself. You’re free to take a look if you like, but the next full blog won’t be until next Wednesday or Thursday.
So long for now!
Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
(No map today)