Last Friday I was out of my bed at half past four to begin my trip to Ireland. A short cab ride through the rain-washed streets of London took me to City Airport, just as the sun was thinking about rising. By the time I landed in Dublin a few hours later the sky was blue and the sun was shining; a perfect start to my short break.
I collected my hire car (a very nice Fiat Panda) and bunny-hopped through the car park as I got the hang of the fact that the gear stick wasn't where I expected it to be and that the pedals were at a slightly different elevation. I then left the environs of Dublin and headed north-west towards Enniskillen. The road soon turned from dual carriage way to a rural main road - the sat-nav was in charge and took me through some lovely countryside. I stopped by a loch soon after crossing into Northern Ireland to switch my phone's data capabilities back on. Data roaming may be capped but I still didn't want any large bills.
The journey only took a couple of hours and I arrived in Enniskillen far too early to check into my hotel. I took a trip round the castle which had some exhibitions on local history and also housed the regimental museum of the Inniskilling Dragoons. There was a brief moment of panic outside the museum where I had to reassure myself that the currency of Northern Ireland is sterling... of course it is as it is part of the UK - but they have their own banknotes.
I did a bit more driving around waiting for check-in time and found myself on a scenic drive. I stopped at Topped Mountain which was advertising a view-point. That isn't a mountain, I thought to myself, it's a hill. So I decided to go up. I haven't seen the movie "The man who went up a hill and came down a mountain" but that seems like an apt title for my experience. Out of breath, soaking wet (a heavy shower appeared from nowhere) and not wearing the best shoes. The view was worth it though.
It was finally check-in time, but the next problem was finding the hotel. There is a time to stop listening to the sat-nav and use your eyes as I drove past the place three times before I found it:
Sat-nav: Arriving at destination on left
Nat: No, we aren't
The room was fabulous. We have a king size bed at home and this was even bigger. There was a lovely sofa, a 32-inch TV and a balcony door. After popping to the convenient Tesco for some lunch, shoe polish and more books (I'd nearly finished the one I'd brought with me) I met up with a couple of friends in the evening for dinner. We had a very Irish curry (!).
It was off to bed early to make sure we were in good form for our journey to the wedding we were all attending the next day.