A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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The Whyfors Of Our Impending Return

Blog Date - Leading Up To 12 September 2021

By Ren Withnell

Last year The Worshipful Sharon and myself went to Northern Ireland. Some of you may recall this journey was meant to be with friends and sharing a house in Portballintrae. Due to Covid it ended up with just Sharon and I in a chalet in the outskirts of Belfast. Despite the initial problems last year's trip panned out quite well all things considered.

Sharon smiles in the sun with the Northern Irish coastline in the background
I accidently allowed Sharon to smile last year. I'll have to fix that.

The shared house in Portballintrae was not cancelled, it was postponed. The chap organising all this simply pushed the dates back 12 months. As such we have all already paid for our share of the house so all we need to do is get there. The current Covid status is, oh gosh, errrr, "lower" than it was last year but to say we're out of the pandemic is far from the truth. 

Just like last year we have choices regarding ferries. Liverpool to Belfast takes 8 hours, costs more and if we desire any level of comfort we'd need a cabin adding more to the cost. This being said the ferry terminal is only 10 miles from Sharon's house. Grrrr. 

Or we can cross from Cairnryan to Larne. That's 240 miles to Cairnryan but only a 2 hour crossing at less cost. We did this last time, breaking the journey up with a cheap Travelodge in Carlisle. It's a bit of a trek but even with the cost of fuel and hotels it's still slightly cheaper than going from Liverpool. And it adds two days to our trip. And we get to see a corner of Scotland once again. And the ferry timings are more sociable. Yeah, it worked last time, we'll go via Cairnryan again.

For reasons only known to Travelodge's peculiar pricing algorithm Carlisle's Toddhills Travelodge is pricey this time. Dumfries is cheap but only on the way up. I discuss this with Madam Sharon at which point she drops a bombshell. She will accept the Dumfries Travelodge on the way up, but...

She wants to go posh on the return leg. She desires sumptuous beds, waiter service, concierge parking of the motorcycles, jacuzzi and a room with a view. When I manage to talk her down we finally settle on a nice hotel in Stranraer. I mean it's not Travelodge cheap but I've manage to pull her back from a night at the Ritz. I gird my credit card and consult with my financial advisor (me). I cry inside at my loss while smiling outwardly at the delighted Sharon. Oh - she'll be paying her half as an independent woman of means but still, I mourn my loss. Shoulda taken the tent...

And here we are. Ferries booked, shared house in Portballintrae sorted and paid for last year, hotels booked and all is well. Well... except for more noises and more cases of Covid. Except for my own stupidity in preparing the bike. Except that Sharon may need to apply for a promotion at work while we're away. Except for the weather forecast of doom. 

The usual state of panic sets in. All is normal. 


Advertise here - contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

The Whyfors Of Our Impending Return Ren unnecessarily tries to justify their return to Northern Ireland. Sharon takes out Ren with a fiscal left hook. Is there any hope?
Sauntering Up To Dumfries It's a slow slow start to this year's Northern Irish adventure. There's no rush and not rushing is something Ren isn't very good at. On the other hand Sharon is so laid back she's horizontal.
Of Work And Holiday Fears In between working far too hard and the fear of middle aged spread Sharon manages to squeeze into her bike gear and change into holiday mode. It's time to try and forget work and enjoy the ride.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
It's nice to see you pair off to upset the population of Scotland and N.Ireland.
Cost? Now there's a subject.
Does it matter if you can afford it?
Will you ever spend that tenner wisely that you managed to save?
Was it worth the hours spent trawling the interweb thingymabob?
Would you have enjoyed what that extra tenner spent could bring, more than the tenner itself?
Strange innit? Even stranger I think most of us are similar; but then most of us spend money on maintenance, storage, farkling and general extravagance on an inanimate two wheeled object we barely ever use. This is somehow justified because it's a lifestyle/hobby/indulgence.
But we can still feel good because we saved two bob on a packet of chips.
I await for more Ed and I am intrigued to read if Madame du Soleil will return to er Moist past.
Keep up the good work fella.
Upt'North.


24/09/2021 08:51:31 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Money, and our attitude towards it, is very personal. I myself am prudent (ie tighter than a submarine hatch). For myself this provides advantages and no doubt disadvantages. I don't work excessively hard, I'm not a dynamic go-getter, I'm not climbing the corporate ladder. Some may call me lazy, I say I have a good work/life balance. I can do this because I don't have a fancy TV or house or car or phone or clothing or... a garage. Of course I'd like all these things but not enough to motivate me to work my ass off to get them.

I appreciate the work put in by those who've sacrificed their free time and stress levels to achieve an Evoque on the driveway, a Ducati in the garage, 1.8 children and a semi in suburbia. I "want" a nice house and garage and motorcycle but not enough to work hard for them. I also know a lot of folks with nice things who never have the time to use them and appreciate them until they retire. My way ain't the right way to do things, but it's worked well enough for me. So far.

I don't earn a lot but I own everything I have. I have but the tiniest of mortgages and I have savings because I don't waste money. It's not about appreciating that single tenner, it's about hundreds of tenners over the years that means when I was made redundant in January I didn't have to freak out and have a break down.

As for Madam do Soleil returning to Madam Moisture... you'll just have to wait and see.
24/09/2021 10:03:11 UTC

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