way out west!

By amy ~ September 4th, 2011 @ 11:43 am

And apologies once again for the unusually lengthy (even for me) time-lapse; I returned from Cardiff yesterday evening after an eight hour train journey preceded by a shaky start (thank you Mr Saturday morning No-Show, both from me and the charming-sounding gentleman I turned away because of you) and following several extremely long days of fun and frolics both there, and in my new favourite place, the Isle of Man!

I landed in Douglas on Monday afternoon somewhat bleary-eyed after a fair few hours of trains, boats and automobiles (specifically that of the lovely Rosie Campbell of UKNSWP who kindly picked me up from Lime Street and dropped me off at the ferry terminal, and to whom I now officially Owe One) and comfortably installed myself in my digs for the next few days having quickly found the bank, Marks and Spencer and most importantly, a branch of KFC – woohoo! This being my first visit, I had no idea how many people were likely to be about, but by way of the Manx Grand Prix I found myself with plenty of delightful leather-clad gentlemen to occupy my time and will certainly be coming back, if only for the ice cream (and some spectacularly good fish-shop gravy, since the Manx folk appear to share the very Northern characteristic of being physically unable to eat a dry chip).

On the surface Douglas is very similar to Scarborough and I happily settled in straight away; rain, seagulls and the aroma of drying bladderwrack being entirely familiar to me. The Manx Grand Prix was in full swing, and following a mad dash to be ready for the first keen callers I enjoyed some walks along the beach, some quad bike racing (on same) and a ride in a horse-drawn tram before an ungodly 5.30am start to get on the ferry back to Liverpool, only to find that I had not only lost my wallet (grrr) but, far more importantly, had forgotten to recharge my Kindle and now faced a three hour trip across the water with nothing to read except either the less-than-riveting safety guide or a left-behind copy of the Daily Express; naturally the safety guide won by a landslide and I am now fully versed and expert in all onboard emergency procedures. Fortunately for me, repeat adventures on the high seas were not on the menu after the lengthy delay on the outward leg, blamed on bad weather (drizzle) and rough conditions (slightly choppy water) by people who have clearly never ventured far enough east of the Pennines to discover what real waves look like.

To add to the excitement, the ferry is currently running half an hour late and has apparently been for some time without anyone feeling the need to mention it when people book tickets online – the resultant Blues Brothers-style taxi ride back through Liverpool City Centre in order to make the 1104 to Crewe adding a few more grey hairs. An undignified sprint later (and despite the suitcase-handicap) I made it with around a minute to spare, and finally arrived in Cardiff mid-afternoon in good spirits, these lasting as long as it took me to get into my room and onto my huge and comfortable bed where I slept like a baby first until midnight, and then again until seven am after refuelling with CupASoup and Snickers and sorting out the emails. Even the onset of that slightly alarmed and panicky feeling which accompanies the picking up of a hotel kettle to find there is still water in it was not enough to keep me awake, and Thursday was officially written off as a bad job.After the sleep-fest, and having enjoyed a lovely early morning swim and sauna (followed by a two pronged attack on the fabulously plentiful breakfast buffet) Friday was a different story altogether and despite my slight disappointment at only meeting one actual bona fide Welshman throughout, I more than made up for my rest day and joyfully reinstated my usual trip to the pictures by way of a treat (the brand-new and very British Kill List – highly recommended to anybody who doesn’t object to a bit of a rough ride, but don’t read the synopsis before you go or you’ll spoil it). I also managed a stroll around the Queen Street shops on the way back from the bank, and a couple of Welsh cakes for elevenses – hurray! To those who missed out, apologies, but further missions will be forthcoming in the New Year, although I will certainly be investigating more sensible routes (and possibly some more Welsh destinations too, having developed a definite Thing about the accent).

Island-hopping will once again be on the menu in a couple of weeks – Guernsey is next on the list and I am already taking appointments for my first visit to Jersey’s compadre (Jersey folk need not fret, I’ll be heading your way in a couple of months). For now, relaxing at home is the order of the day, and whilst normal service will be resumed this week I am looking forward very much to a couple of days of serious downtime (and needless to say, fridge-time, swimming-time, fish-time and so on). To the best of my knowledge the school holidays are over this week which ought to make for a lively one, so anybody wishing to book is advised to get in soon! For now, it’s time for porridge, unpacking and laundry and at this rate, possibly even getting dressed before noon. Happy Sunday everybody…

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