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Our Irish Adventure.

By Betty Holman

Our grandson Adam, Lynn’s eldest son, met his friend’s cousin and after a short engagement, announced his intention to marry in her family Church in Southern Ireland. We, Norman and I, soon received an invitation. Having long since decided our flying days were over but longing to see our eldest grandson get married we overcame any misgivings we may have had. Some of the younger members of the family voiced the opinion that they considered we were too old to undertake such an adventure.4 Having made our decision we closed our ears to their advice and informed Lynn to include us in the block booking which she had taken on herself to organise. She and Gina, our eldest daughter did all within their power to make this a stress free experience for us.

We were to be collected by taxi and taken to Southend Airport for our flight to Dublin.

We boarded the plane, no hassle… Everything going according to plan, so far no misgivings! Feeling quite calm and somewhat adventurous waiting for take-off when, the pilot’s voice came over the intercom…. “We are sorry for the delay but I have noticed a slight smear of fuel oil outside the fuel intake area and intend, before take off to ensure this has no significance. I shall get a ladder and make an inspection”, thereupon he strode along the aisle, presumably to collect the ladder. A few minutes elapsed (it seemed longer!) when he again spoke “We’re off now folks, sorry for the delay, we shall easily make up time, it was, as I suspected, an overspill when the plane was re-fuelled. Best to be on the safe side”…..Phew!! What a start and certainly not one to inspire my confidence not having flown for sixteen years!

We duly reached our destination, Dublin Airport, and were transported by pre-arranged taxi to a splendid hotel where we were introduced to the family of the bride, Michelle, who invited us after we had organised and refreshed ourselves at the hotel to the family home for lunch and also to meet the rest of the family. We then enjoyed a magnificent spread prepared by Rosemary, mother of the bride. The Irish are a very sociable race, they could have done nothing more to make us feel welcome.

The wedding service was really homely, they were all such friendly people who obviously knew each other very well. We had no feeling of being outsiders, they embraced us with a warm feeling as though they had known us for years. Rosemary is the church choir leader and her ladies treated us to some expert singing,2 Rosemary sang a solo and also gave us an expert solo on her violin. The bride looked beautiful, in the manner of all brides and our grandson looked so handsome we felt proud of him and happy for them both.

The reception afterwards was a splendid affair, the priest joined us for the wedding breakfast and seemed a happy and ‘down to earth’ sort of fellow and I could sense that if necessary would be easily approachable if any problem should arise. His parishioners were comfortable with him. I was very touched during the reception when gifts were being given to both mothers in the customary manner, then my grandson came to our table with a gift for me. It was certainly unexpected and when I enquired of him why I should have been included he told me it was because both he and his bride wanted to thank me for making the effort to be there!

!cid_inlineImage5We left for home the following day and were seen off by most of the bride’s family who had made the effort at a very early hour to get out of their warm beds to see us off. Having regard to the late hour most of them must have turned in after the festivities we felt it was very kind of them.

The journey home however became something of a damp squib! In more ways than one, we were unable to fly back to Southend but were to be taken to Gatwick.

At Dublin Airport Lynn obtained a wheelchair for Norman and another for me. We all queued together for a while then the rest of the party left us whilst they made some enquiries. A very helpful check-in young lady, possibly thinking we were lone travellers and feeling no doubt that she could make things easy for us, grabbed our wheel chairs and whisked us to her checkout desk ‘No need for you to queue’, she said, ‘not when you are you are disabled!’  I can process you now’.  I must admit the word ‘process’ did give me some misgivings!

Having checked our credentials she then picked up our luggage, put it through and assured us that now we were ready to proceed when our carers came to pick us up, she kindly wheeled us to one side to allow other passengers to access her check point. We then noticed, at a check-out desk a little further down that there appeared to be some commotion going on. Little did we realise that we were the innocent cause, only when one of our party, obviously a little hot and bothered came dashing over to us and signalled to one of the girls and whisked us at post haste to the check-out where another operator waited. Apparently she had been unable to check them in as we were all on a block booking and she had demanded to see the two ‘missing’ passengers! She then asked us to hand over our luggage. Upon telling her that we had already been ‘processed’ and pointing out our ‘kindly’ helper there then started a rather heated argument between these two ladies and we all hastened away as fast as we could with the sound of their haranguing ringing in our ears!

A lesson to all…..never agree to be ‘processed’ until you have ascertained the full meaning of the word!

Another important thing to remember when your last experience was so many years ago is that travel regulations have changed so drastically. As we were queuing for our cases to go through the X-Ray device, Lynn dashed across to check that I had left nothing sharp in my suitcase, I assured her there was nothing but my small nail scissors, fruit cutting knife and metal nail file. Lynn was horrified, telling me that they would be confiscated, however after a few minutes I saw my case emerging, nothing was said. It appeared good fortune was on my side and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The Irish are known to be a fairly ‘laid back’ nation, who knows, maybe a leprechaun had alighted on my suitcase at just the right moment!

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The flight home was uneventful until we reached Gatwick, and as we had been unable to return to Southend the girls had arranged for us to return to Wickford on the Gatwick Flyer.

There were no wheelchairs available and neither was there a buggy to get us to the pick up point for our case retrieval. We waited for what seemed like an eternity for an available buggy, we were squeezed on to one which was already almost full to capacity and I shall forever in my mind see our two dear daughters, Gina and Lynn, running behind so that they could help us at the end. I am seriously thinking of entering their names for the next Olympic Games!

All this sequence of events caused us to miss our time slot on the Gatwick Flyer. We waited for two hours for the next bus on the chance that there would be room for us. This must have been a far greater ordeal for Fern and Danny, the new parents in our party as they had their very young baby with them, she was a darling though and gave no trouble at all for which we were all very thankful. Fortunately we were able to find room on the bus when it pulled in.

Arriving home at last, we agreed that this had, on the whole been a worthwhile and pleasant adventure but henceforth I intend to leave flying to the birds!

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Shamrock~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On our return, Lynn wrote one of the letters (for which she is well known!) complaining of the lack of assistance at Gatwick and a few days later I received a beautiful flower arrangement by way of apology. Very kind I’m sure but in the thank you letter I sent them I told them that in my opinion it was my two daughters who should have received the flowers, not me for all the stress they’d endured trying to make this whole thing as easy as they could for both of us. We are indeed fortunate to have such loving, dutiful daughters.

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