Bouncing Off England

Today was all about travelling. Not the enjoyment of, or spiritual journey surrounding, or even exploring a new… just the physical act of getting my body from one place to another – well, several others in fact. And they all had to be in a specific order and on time!

One off my main concerns was my baggage situation. I don’t own a large suitcase, so to travel to a wedding in a foreign country,  where I’m going to need items of more sophistication than my usual hostel-bumming allows, I had to take two bags. My old, trusty & legitimate orange Lowe Alpine hiking bag and my new, but possibly fake, green “North Face” holdall. Combined, this gave me plenty of space to carry all the frippery I would need to tart myself up for a wedding. Usually I only travel on hand luggage so this was luxury to have a whole extra bag to fill.

In Birmingham, I strode up to the desk with confidence that I was not going to be over my weight allowance. I’d checked to make sure. And I had my potions in a clear plastic bag. My shoes were tied in such a way to make them easy to remove for security along with my belt. I felt sure I had done everything to make air travel as easy as possible. However my lack of experience of checked baggage gave me away. Indeed I was nowhere near my allowance of 20kg. Each bag was only 10kg. I didn’t know there was a hand luggage limit of 5kg… is this new?

Desperately I swung out the way of the queue and had to do that awkward performance of unpacking and repacking my bag at the side off the check in desk. My standing audience tutting in disapproval as I had done so many times before. I crammed my bag full to seam stretching proportions, the other one now lying limp and deflated beside it. I put on my jumper and jacket. Stuffed my pockets with my laptop charger and book and went back to the desk. I hadn’t managed to maneuver 5kg  from one bag to another, but I got away with 6kg and a cheeky smile at the clerk.

The morning it was time to leave Dubrovnik, I packed very carefully. I was not going to have to do that again! I was now very off balance; with a big bag stuffed on my back and a droopy holdall to one side. Waiting for the bus at the bottom of all those stairs I tried to think or anything else heavy I could shed? If there was a way to sort my belongings by density, then that would have been helpful.

The bus swept us off to the airport and I arrived in good time. The check in desk didn’t even weigh my bags, just tagged them and threw them into a wheelie-bin. All that effort and it wouldn’t have made any difference this side? Is it just the stuck up, rule abiding british that get shafted by these sort of rules?

Back in Birmingham, I now had 6 hours to get my next flight. I was off to Ireland! I managed to get a train back to Lea Hall, where I had parked my van. It was covered in tree sap and bird shit but i’d deal with that later. I swapped all my clothes over, unloading the really dirty stuff and packing a few newer pairs of pants and my sleeping bag. I hopped back on the train to the airport again.

It turned out I had a couple hours to kill in the airport so I went for a wander and got chatting to the lady in the obligatory airport watch shop. I think I was the first person she had spoken to all day because she latched onto me and showed me all her favourite watches which was fascinating… She did reward my indulgence by opening up the glass case and letting me try on the most expensive watch in the place. A huge gaudy square thing that weighed as much as a brick and, in my opinion, was about as stylish. She was quite fun to chat to in the end as a study of someone at the height of consumerism. In the end I had to leave fairly sharpish to catch my flight, which I hope didn’t cause offence.

This trip was expected to be very rough and ready. Phil had taken his bivvy bag as he hadn’t been able to find a hotel for a reasonable cost. We were going to be sleeping rough, but not tonight. Waiting for my flight I gave a hostel a call in Ireland to find a bed. II was lucky, there was one available in a huge dorm. I don’t like huge dorms, there is always someone moving around or snoring  but there really wasn’t any other option.

I found the hostel after a bus ride and a long walk. It looked like a nice place but my eyes were heavy. It was midnight by the time I had checked in. I crawled straight up stairs and into my bunk. Reflecting on the day, it’s crazy to think I started off in Croatia this morning, touched England and now find myself in an Irish hostel!