Monday 26 April 2010

Guest Blog: Taking the Boat to England

Hints to Lady Travellers, uncomfortably aware of impending deadlines, has been leading a quiet life the last week or so. To provide you with a bit of excitement, I asked Luíseach to write a guest blog about her travels over the weekend and she did! Here it is, in its original, unexpurgated glory.

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The year is 1845 2010, and this morning the Lady Traveller left her bed at an early hour in order to put the Lady Traveller’s Little Sister (LTLS) on the boat. A coffin ship, setting sail from Ireland’s green shores, in search of a better life, far from the famine volcanic ash cloud which has lately plagued us.

Only select elements of the above are true (disclaimer: the one about the search for a better life is definitely not, as I’m returning to attend to a rock-drawing project), but nevertheless, it is true that LTLS is going back to London 1845-style. It is perhaps unlikely that the original coffin ships had shamrocks on the outside and sold bad cappuccinos within, but there were definitely huddled masses yearning to breathe free this morning. The Jonathan Swift was swift enough however, and there was little need for the piles of sick bags (‘spuckbeutel’ in German apparently. Mellifluous, no?) that the cabin staff had thoughtfully placed on every available surface. God knows what went on earlier in the week when the airlines first shut down...

A mere two hours later found LTLS in Holyhead. No doubt many of you are familiar with the port of Holyhead, but it is my fervent hope that fewer of you are familiar with the town itself, where I had the dubious pleasure of spending four hours (I saved much money on my train ticket this way). Actually it’s not that bad, but there really isn’t a whole lot there to see. As the nice lady in the left luggage office told me “if you shut your eyes you’ll have a better view”. It was a nice day though, so I sat on a bench by the sea and read my book, ate an ice cream, and then got very lost while trying to get back to the train station (I nearly made it up a mountain).

The second leg of my journey was far more luxurious: saving roughly £50 by waiting in Holyhead for four hours, I decided to upgrade to first class on my four hour train to Euston, and was rewarded by free wifi, free tea, and lots of free biscuits.

Heartily recommended. The route the train takes is very pretty too, along the Welsh coastline, and past several llama farms (no lie). You even get to see the Menai suspension bridge too, so you get all the comely sights you would from the car journey, but with nice train people to feed you (sadly no complimentary alcohol on the cheap weekend upgrades) and handy toilets too. Unfortunately LTLS’s skill with a camera does not compare with the LT, so I have spared you my photographs of blurry llamas and trees (LT can show you my Austrian efforts if you wish – some interesting diagonal photos of trees and the side of the car window)

I still have another two hours on the train (we’ve stopped at Crewe) before I take my pack (the size of a small house; with a tent attached, see the upcoming attraction ‘LTLS goes to live in a Moroccan cave for four weeks’) and get on the bus to my house in London – I did think of offering a hint to lady travellers on London transport (Hint #1: don’t open fizzy drinks on the 390 bus to Archway; there are a lot of speed bumps) but am not entirely sure they’re particularly helpful. I will thus leave you with my general hint for the day: have an experienced LT serenade you with traditional ballads (See below) as you depart the port. Sadly she didn’t wear the hat, but I have hopes that some day she will don the peach polyester beret she had for her confirmation and sing to me.

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