One of the problems of pretending to be democratic is that it takes longer than autocracy. So when the time came to book the ferries, our chosen outward route (Fleetwood to Larne) was full up. So we have to be content with using Birkenhead for both departure and arrival. For one traveller this meant 'giving up the succulent triple hake at Seniors and the Real Ales at the North Euston', which clearly shows where his priorities lie. It would be possible to travel that route in the day time, but this would remove the essential sleeper element. It would also be possible to come back overnight from Dublin, but that would limit our activities in that fair city. Yet another possibility is to leave a day later, which would allow a night Fleetwood departure, but at the unearthly (and possible non-existent) time of 03.00am.

Suddenly the option of a week in Torremolinos, with guaranteed sun and no ferries, looks more and more attractive. However I am advised that the presence of steam railways in that part of Spain is unconfirmed, and another essential element is therefore absent.

For security purposes we are travelling in two unmarked cars, with the chairman and deputy chairman in separate vehicles. A (very) preliminary itinerary is here:


The RPSI steam trip we had pencilled in looks like being firmly crossed off, as they have got wind of our travel dates and carefully arranged tours for the weekend before and the weekend after. The search for the mole begins....