All systems green for go

After a little delay whilst I did other things, such as going off to the other side of the world for some little time, we are back on track with the planning process. From previous trips it was anticipated that getting accommodation of the right type might involve splitting ourselves over at least two B&Bs at each stop, but some judicious internet searching for the larger type of premises paid dividends. Prices seem a little higher, either because of the unfavourable sterling/euro ratio (one of the many consequences of the credit crunch) or because I have been unconsciously drifting up-market as I get older.

However, we are safely booked in at five different locations, taking advantage of having our own transport to look a little wider afield to better suit our destinations. Hence we are giving Belfast a miss, and choosing Castleblayney in preference to Newry. All that needs to be done now is to discover why I have a credit card bill for the outgoing ferry but not for the inbound one, despite having email confirmations for both. Perhaps the Dublin end of Norfolk Line's operation works a touch slower than its UK counterpart.

A coming together of plans

After a little delay whilst I did other things, such as going off to the other side of the world for some little time, we are back on track with the planning process. From previous trips it was anticipated that getting accommodation of the right type might involve splitting ourselves over at least two B&Bs at each stop, but some judicious internet searching for the larger type of premises paid dividends. Prices seem a little higher, either because of the unfavourable sterling/euro ratio (one of the many consequences of the credit crunch) or because I have been unconsciously drifting up-market as I get older.

However, we are safely booked in at five different locations, taking advantage of having our own transport to look a little wider afield to better suit our destinations. Hence we are giving Belfast a miss, and choosing Castleblayney in preference to Newry. All that needs to be done now is to discover why I have a credit card bill for the outgoing ferry but not for the inbound one, despite having email confirmations for both. Perhaps the Dublin end of Norfolk Line's operation works a touch slower than its UK counterpart.

Ferries

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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:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=patiw1o4YJsCzAn-r_ltSWg

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....

Decisions, decisions

Response to the consultation document was generally favourable, so to maintain the impetus a planning meeting was called, attended by six members with another two interested. Within a surprisingly short time a consensus was reached that we would a) take two cars rather than try to hire in Ireland, and b) go outward from Fleetwood to Larne and inbound from Dublin to Birkenhead. Due to time constraints we would concentrate on Northern Ireland and the North of Ireland, subject to further detailed planning. Of which there will no doubt be lots.

Requests to the two interestees to consolidate their position seems to have prompted them both to withdraw, so it looks like we shall be in two sets of three. Just who travels with whom will be an interesting problem, with no doubt a premium set on competent navigators. Perhaps we should have a bidding system?

Consultation document

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As a good policy civil servant, I know the value of at least pretending to consult the electorate, before telling them what’s good for them. So today marks the publication of a list of Irish narrow gauge sites for possible visitation and a corresponding map, sparing no expense (i.e free). One awaits an avalanche of keen interest.