We only have three tasks today – check out of the B&B, drop off the hire car and fly to Vancouver. I must point out at this point that Murray and I, like the people with the secret formula for Coca Cola, are not allowed to travel on the same long haul flight. Murray and Jenny are leaving early to fly with Air Canada via Toronto. Nanette and I know that Britannia rules the skies, so we have opted to fly British Airways via London.
The colonial airlines are still learning from the mother country so the Air Canada flight leaves Dublin two hours before BA but only reaches Vancouver about an hour ahead. We therefore farewell our fellow travellers quite early and then settle for a last relaxing hot Irish breakfast.
It’s time to go. We have already ended our love/hate affair with “Coleen” and packed the GPS off with the colonial flight. Ah, where’s that car place again? We grab the iPhone to check the map. Our B&B host Tom looks disgusted. “Yer don want ta use tem maps. It’s easy. Yer jus foller tis road straight to ta car place, yes yer do. Jus remember ta stay to te left when yer get to te fourt traffic light yer must.” OK, we can do this. Tom’s directions are shall we say, not quite accurate, and we suddenly find ourselves cruising past the car rental entry. Handbrake turn, tyres screaming, rocket the Ford through the gate – no worries. The guys at the lot have seen this before and just make some little notes on their clipboards as they take the keys. We’re a bit stressed but we can now recover on the relaxing flight.
Our flight to London is delayed a bit. No worries, we have plenty of time for the connection. Then we hit Heathrow. OK, so we need to take a bus to the international transfer area. Then another bus for ten minutes to another transfer area. Then, in true British style, we join a queue, and then another. We can’t really complain about having the extra security screen in a country where the odd “nutter” has done really bad things, but time is getting on. At last we are suitably queued and screened and emerge into Terminal 5. What do you mean “you need to catch a train to the gate?”
The plane boards, late, and the pilot apologises that there will be a further delay while they try to find a “tug”” to push the plane back from the terminal. I hear Seamus Murphy, (relatively) recently arrived from Dublin comment to his wife “if cousin Fergus be here he’d push t’out quick smart wit his tractor an tat’s no lie.” Unfortunately, Fergus and his tractor are currently chugging back down the middle of the M7 to County Kerry after dropping cousin Seamus and his wife Bridget “at t’airport“. Fergus is ruminating on his day, and still can’t get over how friendly Dubliners are, all tootin dere horns to him an such like. He’ll get a few pints out of te lads at te Green Potata wit tis tale.
Anyway, back to the plane. A kind of resigned stupor has fallen over the passengers. The pilot comes back on the intercom from time to time to give us updates like “good news – they’ve found a tug” and “Sorry, they can’t find the keys.” At long last, the plane starts to roll back. Apparently the backup for the British and Irish Lions rugby team were in the terminal and have agreed to use our three hundred tonne plane as a scrum practice dummy.
Progress is slow but we eventually reach the taxiway. Everyone waves to the sixteen lads on the runway and we’re ready to go. The engines roar to life and, finally, we launch into the wild grey yonder. One last announcement comes over the intercom as I write this – “sorry folks, there’s a problem with the inflight entertainment system. We will try to reboot it.” Rule Britannia