The Irish Sea crossing
It's raining. What else should one expect? Isn't that what it does in Scotland and Ireland? Or so I've been told - and have now experienced.
I'm about to cross over to Northern Ireland, in readiness for the Horizons Unlimited Meeting, to be held this weekend near Enniskillen.
I'd camped for the past two nights near Dalbeattie, just south of Dumfries, in southwest Scotland, on the way to the ferries at Stranraer and Cairnryan. It was a lovely, peaceful and quiet campground, boasting colonies of red squirrels. Unfortunately, they didn't do their thing for me, and I left without seeing even one. But I did pass two deer grazing contentedly in a field beside the road on the way here to the ferry terminal at Cairnryan this morning.
The ferry hasn't arrived yet, and ---- oops, it has just come into sight! More later!!
OK, I'm now onboard. As I was parking the bike and preparing to go upstairs, a worker hove to beside me.
"How did you get the bike over here?"
"It came by plane, to Frankfurt."
"Does TAS on the plate mean Tasmania?"
"Yes", I replied.
"Oh, this ship was built in Tasmania!" he informed me.
So here I am , crossing from Scotland to Ireland, on a ship built in my home state of Tasmania, Australia, by Bob Clifford's Incat company. It is known as a "Fast Ferry" and takes roughly an hour to make the crossing of the Irish Sea. The sea was in motion, given that it was raining for most of the crossing, although not too heavily most of the time.
First vehicle off the ferry in Larne, I headed south towards Belfast, in the rain. Then west towards Enniskillen, the venue of the Horizons Unlimited Meet. Apparently, as I later learned, I just missed becoming embroiled in a massive traffic jam on the freeway not far west of Belfast, as several of the organisers of the Meet had been held up for over an hour.
The original plan was to get a hotel somewhere along the way, to charge up the laptop and phone, and complete some more of the website reports in comfort. However, when confronted with the horrendous request to pay £60 [$105A] for a pub room, it did NOT appeal, so I kept riding to the venue - and camped. [cheapskate me!]
As it happened, I arrived just as the organisers present were about to jump in their cars to go into Enniskillen for dinner, so they invited me along too. Then Grant and Susan Johnson, of HorizonsUnlimited.com fame, arrived from their hotel to complete the party. It was good to catch up again with Grant, whom I'd met at the Canada and North Carolina HU Meetings back in 2008, and also to finally meet Susan.
After a good night of general chatter, we all felt the need for a decent sleep, and went back to the venue, and a good night's sleep in the cold, cold of night. But I slept like a log, snug in my coccoon of down mattress and down sleeping bag/doona. Oh, I really DO like cold nights - coz I sleep! Not like on hot nights, when I don't, just tossing and turning all night.
Above: Friday morning, just 3 tents
Above: A beautiful R100RT Classic, just like my old Boris!!
Above: Some of the bikes on site.
Above: Friday arvo, a tad more tents now. Mine in the foreground.
Above: More bikes now - Friday arvo.
The weekend progressed as these weekends always do - lots of talking, presentations etc etc etc.
By midday Sunday, it was all over, almost everyone gone, except the organisers, of course, who had to clean up. I packed up and headed for the west coast, for a look at some sights that had been recommended.
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