Friday, August 10, 2007

Chris & Eva's Wedding: Part IV

I awoke on Sunday morning and gave myself a three second countdown for the hangover to kick in but the beautiful thing was that there was nothing there, the bare minimum of cobwebs. Nothing a shower couldn't fix.

Once again I had the fry for breakfast and myself, David and Peter sat and discussed a wide range of topics over coffee and toast while Lou got in an extra forty winks.

The sun was out and Pembrokeshire was looking beautiful. We decided to meet up with Andrew and Sarah and take a walk along the coast. The beaches were few and far between in this area but there was a beautiful artificial harbour, a small inlet with steep sides and turquoise water with small boats and canoes. Perfect for swimming if we had the time.

After a brief stop for ice-cream, we headed back to St David's for lunch with Andrew and Sarah whilst David and Peter set off on a long hike. I think we got the better end of the deal though for as soon as we reached the pub, it started to rain heavily.

The strange thing about the place we had lunch was that it was run by children. I counted five or six working the tables, bar and running errands and not one of them was over 18, some clearly not even teenagers. It was like a scene from an old Disney film where the parents are laid up and the children go to work lest the evil man take away their parents home.

One hearty lunch later and we said goodbye to everyone as they were London-bound and we were staying for another night. I made arrangements to meet Chris and Eva for dinner and then went for a nap.

Forty winks later and the rain had gone but the sun was still on partial vacation. Lou and I had a few pints at the Farmers Arms and met Chris and Eva at the Grove for dinner. Chris was tired and Eva was somewhere beyond, in a realm of walking sleep. We had a beautiful meal of asparagus with bacon wrapped chicken in a cream sauce washed down with a tasty white wine.

Eager to let them get home to bed as they had several things to do before they could touch head to pillow, we said goodbye and went back to the Farmers for a nightcap. The sky was clear and the heaters were on and we sat outside and talked about what a great weekend it was before heading back to sleep ourselves.

We were up and ready to make the long trip back to Belfast on a bright and warm Monday morning. Our first task seemed easy enough. Catch a bus from St David's to Haverfordwest. It's a small town, it shouldn't be a problem. Wrong.

We asked several people who didn't seem to have a clue and then we finally got directions from a girl who worked in a shop. We stood for five minutes at the bus stop only to see our bus swing around the corner and drive past us on the opposite side of the road. We were furious as much as we were panicked because this could mean missing our flight.

I walked up the road and enquired to a policeman who stated quite simply where it was and indeed, there it was. The next bus wasn't for another hour and if we missed that we were done for. Twenty minutes later I saw a taxi making its way down the street and I waved it over. It was £35 to Haverfordwest but what choice did we have?

A short while later we made the station and realised that if we had caught the next bus, we still would have made the next train. Cue 10 minutes of misery as we goaded ourselves and cursed the air around us. The main thing I rectified myself with was that we didn't know we could have made the next bus and that there was nothing that could be done about it now so resigned myself to relax and await the 1.25pm train to Cardiff.

It arrived on time and we got two nice seats at the front of a carriage. Lou popped on her earphones and slept while I set up my DS and watched Evan Almighty. This is one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time and for a comedy it's low on laughs and by low, I mean devoid of humour. It's an extremely friendly family film and couldn't offend anyone - and what's the point in that? I read in the Guardian later that day that it was being recommended by American churches for their flock so if that's anything to go by, you'll know it's a film to avoid.

We arrived in the train station with only an hour to go before our plane took off and we would be stranded in Cardiff with nowhere to stay. We jumped into a taxi and was told it would cost £30 to take us to the airport. "No way pal" I offered. "That's the cost" came the reply. "Absolutely not. No deal". Plane to catch or not, I was not paying that amount. "OK, OK, I'll do it for £25". I said that was a joke and was half-way out of the door before he reneged and accepted £20 for the job. Bloody charlatan.

Our car journey to the airport was like taking a Sunday drive with a revolving cast from a retirement village. Lou and I sat in the back in silence, furious that if this jerk made us miss our flight there would be consequences.

At 4.30pm we ran into the airport and up to the desk. We made it. There was not another soul to be found and we were greeted with a knowing smile that another few minutes and we would have not made it. Big sigh of relief in between panting for breath after running through the car park.

We made our way to the departure gate and had a few minutes to wait. I went and bought a paper and we sat down opposite this strange overweight sweaty fellow, lying down over three seats making odd noises and sleeping. I assumed he was drunk and thought nothing more of the matter just glad I would be home in a short while.

Boarding complete and the usual air crash instructions later, we took off over a sunny, hazy Cardiff bound for Belfast. Twenty-odd minutes later there was a disturbance in the seats. Air hostesses came down the gantry and surrounded a passenger. I overheard sounds of "heart attack" and "fetch the oxygen" and there was a buzz as canisters and breathing apparatus were brought forward. A few minutes later there was an announcement asking if any passengers on board were doctors. No one raised their hands.

Who was this mystery passenger? You guessed it. The sweaty stranger from the departure lounge. I wonder how he managed to get on the plane in the first place looking so obviously deranged.

Five minutes later it was announced that we would be turning back and the aeroplane engaged in a steep hard left bank taking us 180 degrees back towards Cardiff. Damn it.

I thought the whole episode very strange indeed because we were half way to our destination so why not just continue on our way? Needless to say, I was not consulted on our turnaround and we landed for the second time in four days on the same runway. An ambulance was called for and airport medics boarded the flight. We had to deboard for ten minutes whilst they removed the passenger who it turned out had some kind of diabetic or epileptic fit.

I couldn't believe it but it took over twenty minutes for the ambulance to arrive and if it was anything more serious, who knows what could have happened to him.

An hours delay later and we were back in the skies. What a time. We had enough happen to us that day by itself never mind the drama that was packed into a that long weekend to last a long while.

If you're interested in photographs, see my Facebook account.


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