I’m back – did you miss me?
I shall draw a veil over most of the trip there and back – suffice it to say that while London to Northern Ireland via Holyhead doesn’t exactly rival Cape to Cairo in the great overland trips of the world stakes, it certainly gets into the top ten list of train journeys to die before you make. And I would like to add, while I’m on the subject, that three hours to explore the delights of the Holyhead ferry terminal is about two hours and fifty-eight minutes too many. Oh, and that putting up a dot-matrix information board with the message ‘Please see posters on platforms for details of trains’ is somewhat missing the point of a real-time travel information system. But that is all I will say on the subject.
No, what I did want to blog about today happened right at the end of our journey out there, the supposedly easy part, once we’d picked up the hire car. This is by way of a public information service for those urban dwellers out there who don’t get out into the country much. We were nearing our destination after a trip which had, for reasons I will not go into*, had taken 12 hours longer than it was supposed to do. The other half was distracted by the need to multiply every speed limit by 1.6 to get it into kilometers because that was all the car would display, and so when we saw a sign pointing us confidently towards Newcastle, we took it, even though it was pointing confidently off to the left and Newcastle was, as far as I could tell on the standard issue car hire map that was showing the whole of Ireland on a sheet of paper approximately the size of a tea-towel with most of the space taken up by showing you where all the other car hire branches were located (just in case, you know, you wanted to hire another car on top of the one you already had) and leaving lesser landmarks – little places, like Belfast – to be guessed at, was somewhere to our right. (sorry was that a parenthesis too far? It’s been a long day). Sometimes, particularly in that corner of Ireland, little things like logic and geometry need to be left behind when navigating, so off we went, trusting the sign, and it was only when Kilcoo inexplicably turned out to have been replaced by Rathfriland, did we realise we had fallen prey to the one-legged signpost. Anyone who lives in urban areas where the local youths can amuse themselves by mugging people and selling crack may not realise this, but out in the countryside where people have to make their own entertainment, one-legged signposts cannot be trusted. Two-legged ones are fine. The local yoof may decorate them, or shoot airguns at them, but that’s about it. But one-legged ones can be rotated to point pretty much anywhere the locals choose and should therefore never be trusted. If you ever find yourself at the end of a muddy track looking at a field and thinking that Ludlow, or Chipping Camden, or Little Giddings has changed since you last visited it, that’s probably what happened.
Anyhow, we made it. And now we’re back. Work tomorrow …
* I promised