Day one of my Ireland trip
by Dr Anthony D. Cliffe
Day one of my Ireland trip:
So I’m trying to stay true to my word by doing more regular blogs so I thought I’d take a departure (no pun intended for the topic) from recent relationship blogs and blog about my recent trip to Ireland.
I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve been to the Emerald Isle, I first went when I was less than a couple of months old. Subsequently I’ve visited it around on average four times a year, every year since! More often than not it’s been to visit my wonderful grandparents who live there, for which this trip was for to. There is something very familiar and very homely about Ireland and I always class that place as my second home.
For this blog I’m going to talk about the travel over there which was far from exciting, before my next ones discuss the amazing coastal walk I went on and meeting family up north. This break was welcomed after an incredibly successful but demanding period in work and in the run up to this trip I was starting to feel the strain of the continued effort since my last few days off, which were in July. Yep that’s right! I haven’t had a day off work since July for RIAT airshow. So I was well due some R&R and in Ireland for a few days is as good as any until the 17 day’s off at Christmas, oh how I love academia. With no overtime pay in my role, I get my hours back in lei which meant I could take two days off without taking any holidays, further bonus!
I’ve travelled to Ireland by boat numerous times but being an avgeek and flying only being 30 minutes instead of 10 hours by boat, not to mention how much cheaper it is. I elected to fly Aer Lingus, who finally have come back to Liverpool after years away. With a flight price of £40 return it was a welcome return to my home airport. For years I’ve flown by myself or with family from Manchester on Aer Lingus. The hassle of traveling to that airport and walking its soulless walls just to get an Aer Lingus flight far outweigh having to travel on Ryanair. An airline that I despise for many reasons. Not least the owner, who is the definition of neoliberalism taken too far. The way that airline hold passengers and airports to ransom is borderline extremism, in a business sense. No, give me Aer Lingus any day. A proper flag carrier, with brilliant leg room and courteous and professional staff. Y’know, it’s nice having a flight with welcoming cabin staff, neutral cabin colours and flight announcements that are actually about the flight. Not the chewing scruffy cabin staff I’ve experienced on Ryanscare for which I witnessed, who once dropped his gum from his mouth during the service of drinks, into a poor mans overpriced beverage! Their incessant need to use every available minute of the flight to flog some money making scheme and their horrific on time jingle had haunted my aviation nightmares for years. Don’t even get me started on that cabin interior which actually makes me feel nauseous. Plastic yellow tub-a-wear box. Eugh I can feel the sick in my mouth as a I type.
So in short it was nice that Aer Lingus have started back at Liverpool. A much welcomed return! That’s not to say I was happy flying from Liverpool again, a little apprehensive I was about flying from this airport after my undergraduate dissertation. At the risk of a law suit I’ll keep it brief but it safe to say I was never going to get a Christmas card from senior management or their accountant. They learnt the hard way that once someone tries to piss me off or fobs me off I’ll make sure they regret it. My research and what it discovered went all the way to the houses of Parliament. It all could have been avoided if they were pleasant to begin with and didn’t have a very rude and abrupt email. “it’s only a undergrad thesis, you’re just a student why should we be worried?”. Unlucky Bitches.
So I was a tad afraid that I was going to get a full body cavity search. I half suspected to have my face on the CEO’s dart board in his office. Ooops. I needn’t have worried, a change of management and approach seems to have worked wonders and it was a very pleasant, if not a very unusually quiet experience.
It’s been a very long time, possibly before I even did my undergraduate degree, that I’d flown from Liverpool. I was amazed at how much had changed, especially since a child. My dad would often take me to watch the planes, not that there were many back then but I have watched the airport grow. It does still however have a long way to go in my eyes. Security was a hassle more so than it needed to be. Security is a stressful point in any airport travel and some airports are more efficient than others. Dublin for instance is the best there is, Liverpool not so much. I don’t know if it’s because they have relatively little to do in terms of passenger figures and therefore are slower but it seemed very cold and inefficient. Everything I do comes down to efficiency and certainly ever more so in my job so when something is needlessly inefficient it bugs me!
I spent 10 minutes waiting with my shoes off and my pants nearly falling down waiting to go through the scanner while the staff chatted. I had plenty of time to kill so I wasn’t worried but oh boy if I had a flight to catch I’d be highly annoyed! There is a time and a place for chatter and that’s in the breakroom guys.
Once through security I was greeted by a deadly silence. The airport was absolutely dead. The rain hammering against the windows outside and with the winter schedules started it was pretty glum. As an avgeek I’d usually sit and watch the planes but with only one arrival and four departures in the two and a half hours I was there, there was little to entertain me.
I walked up to the top floor and sat in burger king with my overpriced double cheese burger meal and watched the rain lash off the apron. I did reminisce about the times I’ve sat in that seat watching planes with my dad in much busier times before the economic crisis hit this airport hard. It’s still recovering from that crash and the basis of the lack of people in the airport and aircraft it still feels like a very long way to go. I’m far much more used to travelling from big hubs like Manchester, Heathrow and Dublin. I love the hustle and bustle of these places. The flight announcements, the running of late passengers, the chatter of excitement. Airports have a real buzz about them and that’s something I love when I fly, that atmosphere. With no one but the cleaner in sight it felt very flat and as the rain grew even harder outside with the river Mersey no longer in view and the runway vastly disappearing in the decreasing visibility it all felt very lonely.
I love travelling by myself, especially flying. It gives you a sense of freedom and travelling by yourself means you can do whatever you want, when you want. It’s also much easier to just get around as a solo traveller. I really cannot wait for April/May next year when I travel to Canada on my own and cross the country meeting family as I go. It’s going to be one hell of an adventure and I can’t wait. The good thing about that trip is I’ll be excited. I sadly don’t get excited by flying to Ireland anymore. After close to 100 flights to Ireland in my lifetime thus far, it’s just like getting on a bus. So much so, that my family joke that it’s a commute and it kinda is!
With my £8 burger finished and having thought back to the times when burger king burgers were bigger than a 2 pence piece I walked downstairs to an even emptier terminal. I had wondered if I had somehow phased out in my memories and there had been a fire alarm in the process. It was dead as the picture below shows. Private terminal or what!
Despite the glum weather outside I found a nice, vibrant little café’ called Joe’s Café’. The poor Barista was so bored she was rearranging the brown and white sugar packets into colour order when I arrived asking for a peppermint tea. While I watched the steam rise from the cup like an aircraft leaving the runway and a few Snapchats to Chloe who looked even more glum in her office, time ticked closer to departure.
Finally! The only aircraft in was my flight and with only a quarter of passengers that the aircraft could take, being on the flight we were boarded, strapped in and up out of the weather around 10 minutes early. It was as if the aircraft itself didn’t want to spend too much time on the ground at Liverpool in case it got so bored itself.
The cabin crew were very friendly and efficient as always and I had a lovely chat with Sara one of the stewardess. As there were less than 30 of us on the flight she chatted to a few of us as what else is there to do at 25,000 feet over the Irish sea?
Finally I had arrived in Dublin just under 30 minutes after leaving Liverpool with a brilliant crosswind landing from the co-pilot who was flying the plane that day. I had my seatbelt off, through customs and border control and then into arrivals in around five minutes! So easy and hassle free!
I was picked up by my Aunt and Uncle and laughed all the way to my grandparents. These two people are legends (Something I’ll talk about in the next blog when I spent the day walking the Irish coast with them! Some amazing views and pictures to come in that blog!) and before long I was at my grandparents. It felt great to see them again and start the process of catching up after a few months apart. Despite leaving my house only a few hours earlier the boredom of the wait for the flight had made it feel like I’d been travelling for days. That and the Irish air always knocks me out. After a few hours I bid my good night and went up stairs to the room I’ve slept in everytime I’ve come here. It’s almost like a second bedroom for me! Before long I was away in the land of nod, looking forward to visiting the Mens Shed with my granddad the following day, catching up with my nan and grandad, having some great home cooked food and then looking forward to the coastal walk the day after.
I was glad to be over there but that journey was boring as hell! I was so glad that the following few days and therefore blogs will be far more exciting!
Come back in a few days to read about the mens shed, my views on the village which has changed so much and then that fabulous coastal walk which was really beautiful and funny, despite the weather!
Until next time.