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The epic trip to collect my car

The epic trip to collect my car

(About a 5 minute read)

It was a case of the ugly, the good and the bad today as I collected my car from Belfast. The schedule should have been:

  • 0607 train the Birmingham International Airport,
  • Catch the 0755 to Belfast,
  • Taxi to Newtownards to collect, sign for and tax the car,
  • Collect the car at 1000
  • Get the 1200 ferry from Larne to Carinryan
  • Drive home from 1400
  • Home by 2000

Sounds simple.

Alina dropped me off at the train station and the train was flawless to the airport. A group entered the train without masks and sat chatting away. The conductor asked them to don masks and they all refused. They loudly and aggressively stated that it wasn’t law and there was nothing the conductor could to to force the issue. The conductor stated that he could call BTS (British Transport Police) and the group laughed it off as they knew this ‘crime’ was too minor to worry the Police with. They were right, the conductor had no authority and the group chastised him as he left.

The usual walkway between the train station and the airport was closed with no info on how to get to the departures lounge. I had to Google map my location, the airport departures and use my phone as a compass to direct me there via a busy road.

On arriving at airport departures, with an hour before my flight, I could see a small queue for security. After 20 minutes, I got the the end of the queue where I rounded a corner (that I thought was the security check) to see another hour queue. EasyJet were last calling for boarding so I asked a security guard if I could skip the queue, he agreed but had to also let everyone else through that was about to miss their flight (about 30 of us!). So now we had a main queue for security and a smaller, but still dense queue for the Belfast flight with EasyJet still calling for the last passengers to board. With ten minutes before the scheduled departure (and 20 minutes after the gate had closed), I ran from security, through the maze of duty-free and through the winding, interconnecting terminal buildings.

hen I got to the gate, the plane had only just landed and was still removing baggage from the previous flight. I queued at the gate for about 20 minutes while the airport staff continued to call for the last remaining passengers (this was now 10 minutes after the scheduled flight time and approaching a hour after the gate was supposedly closing).

As I went to board the plane, a young gentleman in front of me was asked to fit his holdall into a cage by the gate to ensure it would fit under his seat on the plane. It didn’t so they insisted that he pay £24 to put his bag in the hold. He stated that he didn’t want to because the bag contained money. When asked what he had, the opened the bag to show neatly-bound notes that he claimed totalled £100,000. He was immediately pulled aside as, despite this being a domestic flight, he was not allowed to carry that amount of cash on a plane. He reappeared in the queue shortly after with his bag in his had as a fellow passenger pointed out that with £100,000, he could afford the £24 charge – he ignored the passenger, clutching his bag tightly.

We eventually boarded the plane and waited. After 30 mins on the tarmac, I received a push notification from EasyJet to tell my my flight was delayed. The captain then said there was a paperwork issue and we would be grounded until it was sorted. I could hear a young mother in distress a few rows behind me but didn’t click. She’d boarded the flight with twins in separate car seats with three seats booked for the family. The captain, after and hour of inactivity came on the radio again to state that this young mother was to leave the plane as her car seats for the babies were not airline approved and would be hazardous in the case of an emergency landing. The young mother left the plane in tears as her babies were carried from the plane by solemn air stewardesses.

The flight left straight after (over an hour after the scheduled departure) and was a fairly smooth flight. As we came into land, we were several meters from the runway when the pilot abandoned the landing and took off again. he said there was too much cloud to be able to land so wanted another go! On the second attempt, the pilot kissed the tarmac like a sledgehammer would ‘kiss’ a brick wall, the cabin shook and there were a few screams of shock as people were thrown forwards into the chairs in front of them. At least my taxi to Newtownards was straight forward.

I picked up my car from the showroom and got it taxed and transferred into my name online. The faff with EasyJet and Birmingham airport had taken its toll and there was no time left for me to catch my ferry to Scotland. I went to the ferry terminal and the boat had literally sailed so I called their phoneline ready to beg.

I’d booked the cheapest ticket I could and in doing so, it was non-refundable or transferrable – I’d missed my ferry so they owed me nothing. A kind lady answered the phone and immediately changed my booking to the next available boat, a 2000 sailing (that would get me home at about 0500 the next morning). I asked if I could be cheeky and sit at the port and wait for fully-booked ferries to see if there could be room. She said it’s doubtful I’d get space but I could try.

With a few hours to kill, I took the new car on a test-drive up the coast and found a beautiful place called Ballygally Beach. I stopped for a while to chill out and pray to the god of haulage that a truck would miss the 1600 from Larne to Cairnryan and I could swoop the spot.

With an hour to go before the 1600 sailing, I arrived back at the port and a helpful chap at check-in cheerily changed my ticket to the 1600 ferry and squeezed me in. The security/customs lady was helpful and friendly and, after a small wait, I was granted access to the ferry.

After a relaxing two-hour sail, I arrived in Cairnryan, Scotland, eagerly anticipating a spirited drive in my new toy Unfortunately, the ferry company let off some lorries first so when I exited the ferry, I was stuck for about 60-mile behind a train of slow lorries. At least the scenery was great.

I took a pit-stop in the lake district where the shop-worker made me wait about 20 minutes to verify my age so I could by an energy drink! As the M6 had a section closed, I took the toll road and realised, at the barrier that my Apple Pay wouldn’t work. That was my last annoyance and powered on home for just after midnight where Alina was still awake and feeding Halle.

An ultra-stressful trip home but it’s all done and dusted and I’ve got my new car at home, ready for a weekend deep-clean.

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