A grey and very windy morning on Thursday November 29th saw me leaving home at 8.30am for a mini break in Ireland during which I would attend the second anniversary mass for Michael’s dad and uncle Jimmy ; Michael was also travelling over that day but while I was going on the mid-day flight his wasn’t until 3.15pm. Leaving the van with Sparky the mechanic so he could do a minor job on it while I was away I got a taxi to the station and was just in time to get the 9.20 train to the airport ; I had loads of time to kill once I got there but I’d rather be early than on the last minute.
With only a very small case on wheels and a small backpack I had no luggage to check in so I just went straight to the security check area, and that’s when I had a very odd experience. I made sure I’d put my phone, all my money and anything else in my backpack so I had nothing on my person at all ; the backpack, case and my jacket all went through the scanner with no problem but as I walked through the body scanner a young woman pulled me to one side, asked me to sit on a chair and take my trainers off. These were then sent through another scanner, which was fine, but then she asked me to hold my right leg out and she patted it down from my knee downwards – how very bizarre! As far as I know my right leg is exactly the same as my left so why she would want to check one and not the other seemed very strange to me – I don’t know what she thought she would find but I was given the all-clear and was then free to collect all my belongings and make my way to the boarding gate.
By the time the plane had arrived at the gate it was absolutely pouring down, and with the high wind as well I fully expected to hear a ‘delayed’ or ‘cancelled’ message but everything went ahead as normal and take-off was just a few minutes after mid-day. Above the rain clouds it was gloriously sunny and looking out at the cotton wool clouds beneath the plane it was hard to believe that somewhere underneath all that lot it was probably still pouring down. It wasn’t quite as sunny on the approach to Dublin airport and it was still very windy so I expected a bit of a bumpy landing, but whoever the pilot was he was certainly good at his job as the landing was so smooth it was hard to know when the plane actually touched the tarmac.
With no luggage to wait for I was soon out of the main part of the airport ; I had an hour to wait for the coach to Roscrea so I got myself a sandwich, a drink and a magazine and spent some time in a reasonably quiet corner before making my way out to the airport bus station. The route from the airport to the city centre goes through a tunnel nearly three miles long and when the coach emerged at the city end the sun was shining properly ; travelling along the south side of the River Liffey I couldn’t resist getting a shot through the coach window of the Custom House across the other side then I settled down for the rest of the journey to Roscrea.
It was almost dark by the time I got to Nellie’s ; the door was unlocked so I just walked straight in (which is what everyone else does) and this time I felt more comfortable about doing so. Trixie got all excited to see me and spent several minutes doing zoomies round the room and throwing her tug rope about so I made a big fuss of her while Nellie made a coffee. By that time Michael had landed safely at the airport and was waiting for his 5.15 coach ; it wouldn’t get into Roscrea until 8.15 so once I’d had a meal with Nellie, washed up the pots and put them away I walked round to the bus stop to meet him when he arrived – and that’s when I met with the strangest of coincidences.
There was a young woman waiting for the coach and I’d been standing there for a few minutes when she mentioned that someone across the road was trying to attract my attention – it turned out to be Nellie who was on her way out somewhere and she just wanted to let me know that she had left the door unlocked for me. When I got back to the bus stop the young woman asked me how I knew Nellie and when I said she’s my son’s aunt a look of incredulity spread over her face as she realised who my son is – and it turned out that she was Tina, one of Michael’s friends who he’s mentioned often in conversation with me but who I’ve never met.
It was lovely to meet Tina but we didn’t have time to chat as the coach arrived, and when Michael got off he was just as surprised to see her. With a quick hug she was on the coach and gone and Michael and I walked back to Nellie’s where we spent the rest of the evening watching tv before turning in for a relatively early night. Just as I’d expected I was bed sharing again with Nellie but this time I didn’t feel too bad about it, and anyway by the time I went to bed I felt too tired to care!