28 March 2010

Where are the car keys

"I can't find the car keys"
"They're not in my pocket.  I don't know where they are."

This was just after we had removed the house keys from our keyrings and posted them through the letterbox.  After doing a decent search of the car, it became apparent they were not there either.  I must have set them on the coffee table in the house as we got the last few things out and packed into the car.

We would have to phone someone in the house (we shared) to open the door for us again.  Problem was, it was 5:45am.  Scott, the South African guy, would gladly open the door for us if managed to answer his phone, but he was on a night shift, and our relations with the Romanian couple who had the other bedroom was recently at an all-time low.

We needed to be in Holyhead by about 11, and it was a five hour drive, so we didn't have much time to lose.  Audrey made, the call, no answer. So we tried the doorbell also.  After a wait that seemed like an eternity, someone looked to coming to the door.  It was Danny, the Romanian guy.  He didn't seem to mind to much, saying something about have to be up at 6 anyway when we offered our apologies.

I went into the living room, nothing.  The kitchen, nothing.  Upstairs in our bedroom, nothing.  Shit, where could they be.  Still somewhere in the car?  I didn't want to unpack it all, as it had taken us more than 20 minutes to get it packed.  I started retracing steps, even running up to a skip up the road where I'd tossed a few pieces of polystyrene earlier (you're probably not meant to do that).

After 10 minutes of clearing out the car again, I heard a jingle of keys falling down a bit.  I pulled back the computer monitor, and there they were, wrapped up in my iPhone cable.  The relief was palpable.  I'd been envisioning paying another X amount of money for a different sailing, or not getting home for another day.

30 minutes had been lost.  Time now wasn't on our side now, so instead of the nice simple drive up the road at normal speeds, I'd have to revert to my normal speed limits.  Made the boat with plenty of time, and have spent the last few days meeting up with friends and family.

21 March 2010

Ireland here we come

Everything is packed and in the storage space, save for what we are taking with us and what will be packed into the car to leave at my parents.  Altogether I estimate that it was more than 800kg worth of stuff, and that was after Audrey and I tried our best to throw out as much as possible.

My back was aching yesterday from all the heavy lifting, the day after all was done, but we still had to go back to sort a few things out (the fact I seemed to have forgotten to have packed any socks was a leading factor).  I was still impressed that Audrey and I were able to pack everything into a small van and get it into storage in about 4 hours (thanks Scott for your help).

So from that day onwards, we've been basically living out of our backpacks. It's not quite the start of the trip, and certainly it does not feel like it yet, but it's a beginning.  We're going to have to get used to living with the minimum amount of underwear etc., but it's a comfortable place to get started.

Roll on Ireland!

16 March 2010

I Hate Goodbyes

Yesterday was my last day in the office.  Saying goodbyes to people is one thing that I've never been good at.  I prefer to just try and slip out without anyone noticing.  (This is one reason why I tend to be the last out of the pub, along with the other hardcore hangers on, you don't need to do the whole awkward goodbye thing to loads of people).

Anyway, it turned out to be rather nice.  I got lots of warm well-wishing responses to my 'Aufwiedersehen' mail from people who I'd worked with over the last few years.  Thanks for all those, it was all very appreciated.

Then I tried to make my move, but did manage to get accosted by about 7-8 members of my team (you know who you are!) for a final 'ciao'.  Then I wandered out, with the odd nod to people who spied me on the way.  The Goodbye was over.

And hats off to Rohit, who put the shits up me when he wrote back to me indicating that I'd forgotten to put the 'L' in front of earn in the following sentence in my goodbye e-mail:

In my time at GS I’ve met many great people and built relationships that I believe will last a long time, and earned lots in the process.

Luckily, he'd simply removed the damn 'L' in the reply.

14 March 2010

No No-fly Zone

Turns out the dream of making from Swatragh to Hong Kong without leaving the surface of the earth (apart from the odd jump of joy) has been punctured rather early.

Due to scheduling issues, we'll actually be flying from Dublin into Munich instead of getting the boat to Holyhead, train to London, Eurostar to Paris and finally a sleeper to Munich.  That would have taken 24 hours.  Flying is 2 hours.  Also, the cost of flying is definitely a lot less than half that of the other option.

But those are not the main reasons for flying though.

The carbon footprint would be significantly lower boating and training it.  But it falls down to the fact that we can't get a proper connection between arriving in London and departing on the Eurostar.  We would only have 20 minutes to get from Paddington to St Pancreas, without staying another night in London.

The alternative is to spend another night in London, but due to time constraints, we don't want to do that.  Mum would certainly like me to stay as long as possible in Ireland before we go, and we've a few friends in Munich that are heading of on Easter holidays, so the earlier we get there the better.

Friends and Family come first.

07 March 2010

Cash In Hand

"No receipt"
"No receipt?"
"You can get one once you pick up your passport"

Couldn't do much about it, since I'm the one who wants the Mongolian visa, so they have the power.  The form had been quite primitive, and the whole atmosphere in the Mongolian embassy on that Wednesday morning was very relaxed (well, the visa office part of it anyway, which was tucked in down in a cellar, didn't get to see the other part).  I paid up the £40, which I thought was reasonable for it, was told to come back in two days, and left.  I picked it up on Friday.  So laid back.

I know that the application for the Russian visa will be nowhere near as simple, from the questions we have already asked the helpful people at RealRussia.  And China will be just as much fun, but we don't plan to get the Tibet stuff sorted out until we get to Hong Kong.

Leaving the embassy, I wondered if Mongolian was that laid back in real life; I'll see in a couple of months time.  It's a huge place, with the lowest population density in the world, maybe that helps.

06 March 2010

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