I love that holiday feeling, the one where you know you're on your way and whatever the holiday holds is ahead of you. I didn't have much time to enjoy that feeling for this trip because I had pressing matters to address. I do a bit of volunteer work on a local arts and music newsletter and I had an edition to get off to the printers. That would mean an hour at the computer and then a trip into town to deliver the artwork. I
Coleraine at 9am is pretty much a desert. My favourite gentleman's barbershop is closed. I gatecrash a salon without an appointment. Punk rock, let's go. Even though my haircut is achieved, the morning is going Clockwise-esque. A summary of tasks in hand:
haircut deliver pen drive of artwork to printer
- change £70 worth of holiday fund coins into notes
There are no longer any banks in Portstewart and the post office is closed due to 'unforeseen circumstances'. I stuff the bags into my rucksack. I am so pleased I make my 2pm departure time for the airport that the realisation that I have forgotten to leave Carlosita's laptop round to her mum's is a real pisser. Turning round, getting it and delivering it adds half an hour onto my travel time. I'm now looking tight for getting through security at the airport, still the best part of an hour's drive away.
"Have you got coins in your bag?"
"No. Wait. Coins? Yes."
What is it about quasi-official questions that make you sound flustered and stupid? At least I got to the airport just on time. I only have time enough to do one of two things: have my habitual pre-flight whiskey OR go to the duty free. I go to the duty free. One till is down, the other has a long queue. I buy a bottle of Bushmills for my hosts and leg it to the gate. I needn't have bothered. A long, immobile line of sweaty travellers is still waiting to board.
Flying Belfast to Liverpool is hardly a flight at all. You're no sooner up than down again. I'm too cross to buy an inflated drink from the 'travel kiosk'. I read about the nightlife in Berlin I have missed in three visits and bingo, we have landed. I'm forcibly reminded that I'm about to entrust my personal safety to people I have never met. I only have the sketchiest idea how they look. What if they're awful? What if they're axe murderers?
I have to call home to say I landed safely. I know it's a delaying tactic. They're waiting in Arrivals and I'm hovering in the baggage hall. My nose is running and my ears are blocked - summer cold or hayfever, I don't know which. I'm just a tad nervous. This could be a colossal mistake. I wish I was drunk.
|Oh dear ...|
The run to Greater Manchester from Liverpool is fun. I can't hear a thing in the back of the car, @CardinalPhink is a brisk and deft driver. I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster. I don't offer much by way of conversation. I'm not that guy. I'm beginning to wonder if they're wondering if I'm a nutter.
At Casa Phinky there is a gift basket in the spare bedroom. There are two cats - one chummy, one invisible. There is punk rock, speciality ale, vodka, Châteauneuf du Pape, Bushmills, cheese, pork pie with black pudding on top - on top! - and there is pie, glorious home-made pie for tea.
A vat of booze is consumed, the craic is great. I don't know how I get to bed. Feels like home ...
In the next instalment: bar-hopping, the best jukebox in the world and after some tribulations, I meet a personal hero.
Read the prologue
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