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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

WholeLottaSoleapalooza #1 - Epic journey to and from Belfast Film Festival

This is the first in a series of highly self-indulgent diary posts about my trip to Belfast (7-11 June 2012) for the Belfast Film Festival. They exist mostly for me to rediscover a year or two from now and enjoy reminding myself of my weekend :)

Ever since I was fairly young (heavily influenced by the book "She, the Adventuress" by Dorothy Crayder) I have been keen to take some sort of 'sea voyage'. While I take the Thames Clippers ferries from Embankment to Greenwich as often as possible when I discovered that I could ferry my way to Belfast for the Film Festival I was pretty delighted.

The photos below are annoyingly out of time order but it proved too fiddly to rearrange.

Travelling by the 10.30pm ferry from Birkenhead was lovely - I stood on the deck outside for about two hours just watching Birkenhead recede and the Irish sea appear, although by that time it had become so dark that it was almost impossible to see where the sky and sea began and ended. Got chatting to a few people on the ferry - it's a fairly sociable place, and even managed to spot the International Space Station going overhead. I told the guy standing next to me what it was but I'm not sure he believed me.

Blue view from the ferryStena corridorStena ferry's lifeboatStena ferry logoInside the Stena ferryView from the ferry - matching circles
Belfast journey - outward bound, a set on Flickr.

After half midnight I realised I'd better get myself to bed as we were off the ferry the next day at 6.30, although as it turned out they woke us all up with a tannoy announcement at 5.30 in the morning with threats of rapid breakfasts and swift exits. Even despite this I managed to be the last person off the ferry (oops).

The four or five hours I spent in my cabin were amazingly relaxing - it was a very calm crossing although we were warned that there might be some high winds ahead but we totally missed them. It turned out that England experienced some pretty grim weather just after we left (I heard something about hurricanes) but it was calm all the way for us. Some squeaks and groans from the ship but they didn't keep me awake.

2012-06-11 15.08.082012-06-11 15.00.022012-06-11 14.58.35Gleaming white Stena ferry through slatted window panes2012-06-11 14.55.432012-06-11 14.54.15
2012-06-11 14.54.122012-06-11 18.34.05Ailsa Craig in the distance, Ayrshire2012-06-11 17.38.03SeaLink by Marlink - communication radar in radome2012-06-11 16.49.42
2012-06-11 16.49.312012-06-11 16.43.142012-06-11 16.42.542012-06-11 15.11.442012-06-11 15.11.052012-06-11 15.09.14
2012-06-11 15.08.222012-06-11 15.08.17

Belfast return journey, a set on Flickr.

On the way back I took the fast ferry which does the crossing from Belfast to Cairnryan in about two hours. I found a great place to sit outside on the upper deck (still couldn't see the horizon though) and wondered why we were 15 minutes late for departure. It was only when I stood up that I realised we were moving - it was almost imperceptible.

I was really surprised on arrival at Cairnryan to spot a couple - one of them was obviously very travel sick. I'd always expected that travel sickness would need to involve a bit of movement but I'd really not been aware of much.

Once off the ferry it was onto a coach from Cairnryan to Ayr (a really nice drive along the coast) and a train to Glasgow, then the overnight sleeper train to London. Perfect.

This was my itinerary.

18:07 Depart London Euston
20:19 Arrive Liverpool Lime Street (then go to Lower Level Wirral platform)
20:33 Depart Liverpool Lime Street
20:40 Arrive Birkenhead Hamilton Square
21:00 Arrive at ferry port
22.30 Depart England by ferry

06:30 Arrive Belfast port

15:30 Depart Belfast by Ferry
17:45 Arrive Cairnryan
18:15 Depart Cairnryan by coach
19:25 Arrive Ayr
19:43 Depart Ayr by train
20:36 Arrive Glasgow Central
23:40 Depart Glasgow Central by Caledonian Sleeper


07:02 Arrive London Euston

Other posts in this series
WholeLottaSoleapalooza #1 - Epic journey to and from Belfast Film Festival (this post)

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