Ying And Yang

Last week I wrote about a days racing in Ireland, this week I had another jaunt across the Irish Sea and it could not have been a greater contrast.

Last week I wrote the immortal words:-

“Now I am a frequent flyer the novelty of hanging around airports has worn off and I can get the trip down to a fine art now, especially with online check-in. Now I aim to arrive at the airport 45 mins before departure.

Of course there is a risk with this strategy, you need a clear route on the roads but so far it has not let me down.”

I just knew I would be tempting fate when I wrote those words.

In truth I still have my 100% record but only just and almost at the expense of having a coronary in the process.

Normally I catch a flight sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 but because I was off to Fairyhouse, only a half hour drive from the airport I thought I would catch the 9:35 flight to Dublin and have an extra hour in bed.

The drive to the airport is usually about 1¼ to 1½ hours so I set off at 7:00, in plenty of time for a relaxing drive.

Of course, what I forgot was the with the later start I would hit the commuter traffic and, later on, the “Mad Mothers”.

Boy, did I hit them with a vengeance ?

The result – I turned up at the car park at 8:53, with boarding beginning at 9:05.   

Goodness knows what people thought seeing this middle aged man, lugging a large computer bag, a pair of binoculars and trying to put a coat on at the same time, running across the car park and into the terminal.

By the time I reached security control at just after nine I was so out of breath I could hardly communicate with them. Luckily the queue wasn’t too long but it was still a mad rush to the gate. I just grabbed my belongings – hoping my trousers would stay up as I hadn’t had time to put my belt back on after security.

I shudder to think what my fellow passengers thought when I turned up at the gate,  wheezing and starting to get dressed?

At least I did catch the flight and my priority boarding wasn’t wasted.

Unlike last week the car hire process was less fraught, the downside being I didn’t get an upgrade. When going to courses in the Dublin area I tend to book a “compact” car on the basis the drive is not very far so all I need is something cheap and cheerful to get from “A to B”.

Well the car I had yesterday was cheap, but it was far from cheerful.

May I respectfully suggest that if any car hire company ever offers you a Toyota Yaris – run a mile.

I have never driven such an uncomfortable, noisy heap of junk in over 30 years of driving.

It was so noisy the engine drowned out the radio and I was astounded, when I went to put some fuel in, to discover it was a petrol car – I was convinced from the noise it was a diesel.

The next contrast came at the course itself.

There are generally no half measures at Irish race courses.

They come in two flavours, basic and friendly or first class and friendly.

After the rustic charm of Thurles last week, Fairyhouse definitely fell into the latter category.

Now last week I had to skip the last two races in order to ensure I caught my flight home. This time I had the opposite problem. The flight was four hours after the last race with the airport only half an hour from the track.
Loads of time to kill but at least it gave me time for a curry and the chance to do some work.

The flight back was a delight, a lovely clear night and, for me , there is nothing like flying on a clear night with the lights all twinkling below.

It even arrived back in London 10 minutes early.

It was then I started having to make choices. Choices which were to have a dramatic impact on my day.

I had probably drunk about a half of a litre bottle of water on the flight so I thought it a good idea to “empty out” before driving home.

I then decided with under ¼ tank of fuel I may as well fill up before the journey home.

Both, in total, killing about 15 minutes.

I then had a final choice. Do I go home the “back way”, which is shorter in mileage terms but takes about 1½ hours? Or do I take the motorway route, longer in terms of miles but that time of the day just over an hour?

I decided it had been a long day, so it was the motorway option, also with temperatures showing -2 I thought the motorway would have been safer.

With it being late the M11 was quiet so I set my cruise control to 77 mph and was looking forward to soon being in bed.

As I came off the M11 onto the M25 (and past the point of “no return”) I looked up and saw the traffic on the M25 was very, very slow. Not what one expects at a quarter to midnight.

I managed about 400 yards on the M25 before I stopped. Next there were police cars and three fire appliances making their way along the hard shoulder.

This did not look good.

By midnight I had not moved so decided to turn the engine off.

I finally drove away from the spot where I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life, just before two in the morning.
2¼ hours, in the middle of the night, sitting going nowhere. Of course sitting for so long gives you time to ponder. Had I not stopped for the loo or petrol would I have passed through here before the lorry caught fire? Why didn't I go the other route? What on earth are the couple in the car in front doing? Is she doing what I think she is doing?

It transpired a lorry had caught fire and with there being no escape route between where the M11 and the incident none of the waiting vehicles had anywhere to go.

I eventually arrived home, in an absolutely foul mood, at 2:45.

The Ying and Yang of going racing in Ireland.                  




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