Last morning in Killybegs

Last morning in Killybegs. We move on today. It is always great to come to Donegal and our cottage, situated as it is slap bang in the middle of town, was a perfect base for festivities.

Yesterday we gathered outside the Tara Hotel and were picked up by Terence’s minibus to take us to The Country Inn, Ballinakillew where cousin Gavin and his lovely wife Caroline were there to meet us.

The Country Inn is a classic Irish country pub. Very friendly. I chatted for a while with the former landlord William Walls who very kindly bought me a pint.

On to Lough Eske Castle where Gavin is Executive Chef. Lunch was v tasty and afterwards I was treated to a particularly special glass of Midleton whiskey. Life is short. Drink special whiskeys 🙂We had the usual team photo on the steps of the Castle.

Finished off in McCaffertys in Donegal. Great pub although it has been extended since we were last there and is full of screens so didn’t feel quite as intimate as it might. I guess there were smaller side rooms. In case you didn’t know it Arsenal thrashed Man U three one. Lots of dismayed Man U fans.

Back in Killybegs at around eight forty five and straight to the Fleet Inn to finish off the night. It must be said I only managed a pint there before hitting the hay. That’s all I have to say about yesterday other than the fact that I didn’t lose my hat. Thanks @Dearbhla 🙂

Pretty much packed thirty minutes ahead of schedule.

On board the Irish Ferries WB Yeats bound for Cherbourg. Feels like the beginning of a big adventure which it is. A long sea journey even though it is only a one nighter. Could be any international destination. Port Said. Macao.

If it was the latter we would be in it for the long haul and would definitely need a port side cabin. Our current gaff is on the starboard.

The cabin is comfortable enough. Doesn’t appear to have tea and coffee making facilities though. Squeezing as much cash as they can out of us. Never mind. A few Euros spent on onboard drinks and snacks will seem like small potatoes by the end of this trip.

We are quite looking forward to a quiet night in the cabin after the full on weekend with the O’Rourke Clan in Killybegs. It is twenty to five in the afternoon and we haven’t touched a drop of Guinness. This was a bit of an issue for us in Ireland. Being on holiday we (I) somehow started in the pub quite early. Times ranged between shortly after noon to two fifteen to three twenty. This meant my stamina for staying the course late into the night was severely dinted. Hey… We are grownups and can go to bed whenever we like innit.

I have a couple of books with me to read on the boat: Francis Harvey Collected Poems and Band of Brothers (again). Not often I get time to read without distractions. I could sign up for the wifi though it would be nice to know whether it had decent performance before doing so. It’s 15 Euros for 4 hours! They do offer 20 mins free so might try it out although it feels if I did I would be wasting the opportunity to have some time off away from connectivity.

Meanwhile we’ve been for a drink and a biscuit, checked out the dining options and returned to the room to watch TV. Bit of Rick Stein on Dave. Seen this one before obvs. It must be said that based on our two hours at sea so far I don’t think I could manage a cruise. OK I know that during the cruising day you are mostly on a coach trip in different destinations but there will be some days at sea where all we have to do is participate in the deck quoits tournament. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before so will stop now. Some of you lot are avid cruise fans.

Shortly after six thirty we went down for dinner. Both had childs portions which were perfectly adequate. Chicken curry with rice (THG) and sausage beans and chips (moi). When I sussed out the options earlier I was a bit worried that the chips looked like they’d been in the serving bowl thingy for a while with the risk of coming out cold. However at six thirty it was rush hour and the chips were fresh. V important 🙂

The sea is dead calm and we did wonder how fast the boat was going. Knots yanow. At that time the captain wandered by and had I not been eating I would have asked him. Could work it out. Twenty one hours at sea but I have no idea of the distance, without tinternet.

Most people in the bar and restaurant area are tucking into beers or bottles of red wine. I’m quite content with not doing this. Back in the room oscillating between reading and updating this diary entry as I think of new things to say.

The idea of being offline for a lengthy period of time is a strange one to get the brain around. We are so used to checking things from time to time (often). Facebook, whatsapp, the weather. You name it. An extended trip offline would need careful planning. Bills need paying etc. How on earth did people do it? 

On the bus to The Country Inn yesterday I booked a hotel room in London for October. Click click tap tap done. Simples. I recall in my early days in product mangements at Marconi Electronic Devices one of the departmental secretaries (Brenda) ringing a London hotel to get a price and book me a room. Either pre www or very early days. Gosh. 

Strand Palace Hotel I remember. During the first gulf war. She got a good price. Thirty quid maybe. Person in front of me at the checkout was paying three times as much. Incredible, especially when you consider today’s London hotel prices.

Found University Challenge on the box. It’s a prog we watch. Together. A little piece of home on the high seas. Now watching Sky News. It isn’t a programme we normally watch. Brings home the reality that we don’t watch much terrestrial telly. It’s all streamed.

Dark out there. No visible lights. No shipping in sight. Empty. 

Slept well. Up now at five forty to see what I could see. Nothing. Nowt. One light in the far distance which must be another ship. I’ve stopped calling them boats.

A ship’s officer, one striper, and a man in a tee shirt walk past me purposefully through the deserted lounge with no sideways glance at just another passenger. Do they not realise it’s mee they are ignoring? No they don’t.

It would appear that all passengers on this ferry have a cabin. If they don’t they are hidden away somewhere. Probably gone off in search of a bench seat on which to stretch out. Away from the glare and the hubbub, of which there is none.

The tables and chairs in this lounge are tidily laid out in an orderly manner. Someone went around straightening them all after the punters had gone to bed. Shipshape. A tidy ship is a well run ship. 

Over the course of ten minutes several individuals have appeared. Wandering. One is sat patiently outside the entrance to Boylan’s Brasserie. Waiting for the first coffee of the day no doubt. All of them are fully dressed. I am fully in my pyjamas.

I had been expecting to see the dawn at this time but I guess we are much further south than Lincoln with the shorter days. The brightly lit lounge might also obscure any lightening of the sky outside.

Man has appeared and is now sat down reading his book. At least I assume it is his book. He might have borrowed it. Unlikely to be from a library though I’d have thought. Wonder what it is. I smile at the idea of going up to him and asking.

First woman of the day has appeared, so to speak. Wearing a green coat. She is looking around to see what action there is. I too am earing a coat. My fleece. This is so that I have a pocket in which to put my wallet and phone, in case I find somewhere to purchayse a cup of tea. Not tried the other end of the deck yet.

The man has packed away his book, taken a swig from his water bottle and slung his blue back over his shoulder. I thought he was going to move on but all he has done is turned around in his seat to survey the rest of the lounge. Nowhere to move on to really. No, wait, he has moved. 

It is definitely getting lighter out there. I’m off out on deck. I was the only one there earlier but it was dark.

Had a great little chat with the Sergeant at Arms who was having a quiet smoke. Polish guy. The ship averages 20 knots. All your questions answered. 24 knots if it is a following wind.

The captain and first mate work two weeks on two weeks off. The rest of the officers have a four week rotation and the Seargeant at Arms himself does six weeks on, three weeks off. The can’t afford to take any more time off. Company flies him home but flights are currently harder to come by due to the rugby world cup.

The sea is very calm now but during July and August it has been quite rough due to the weather system causing the extreme heat down south. Apaz they are expecting the ‘weather’ to return in a week or so. We will be solidly on terra firma.

His dad was from the mountainous region near the border with the Czech Republic. I wonder if I remembered that right.He also mentioned Belarus. I’ll have to check when I get connectivity. Not hugely familiar with that part of the world.

I told him of the RIPE dinner in Krakow that involved a different bottle of vodka with each of seven courses. In reply he said that at Polish weddings there was much singing and consumption of vodka. Different groups of men (married, single etc) would stand up and sing a song and then down a shot. He had recently attended a wedding between a  Polish girl and a Brit. The Brits all had serious vodka inspired hangovers the next day 🙂

I mentioned the lack of sightings of other ships. Apparently they mostly see fishing fleets en route, concentrated on where the fish were at any particular moment in time. As they get sloser to the channel it also gets busier as you might expect.

Quite a productive time on deck. He told me that the cafe was open all night so I am now in there letting a hot cup of tea cool a little to a drinkable temperature. In ten minutes or so I’ll take one down to THG. Cafe floor ten, bedroom floor nine.

Looking out of the windows I keep expecting to see dolphins swiming playfully alongside. Where are they all, c’mon. Visibility not great at this time on the morning. Mists still need buring off. 

Tis going to be a hot one I believe. We are headed south to the Quiberon Peninsula. Port Haliguen. First stopping point on the journey to Toulouse. Doing it in shortish hops. Didn’t see the point in thrashing ourselves.

Quite a few people around at six forty six. Sitting here on my own feels as if I am a solo traveller. People watching.

Leave a Reply