Ireland or Bust.

Some 4BallR 2019 realities hit home hard this week during another route planning session on Wednesday. We had a conflict of interests and at the time, it seemed devastating, but in reality (and after actually sleeping a bit for a change) it has made a real positive change to proceedings, and should only add to our route, not detract, as earlier I had feared.

The problem came about when Irish Ferries, the company responsible for getting us from Wales to Dublin, and Belfast to Scotland, couldn’t do anything to sharpen their pencils and provide a keener-crossing fee for eighty-five vehicles. Don’t get me wrong, I get that they have profit margins to hit, but it seemed a tad unreasonable that such a large group couldn’t swing a little discount, or even a great big fat one. Stena Line, bless them, did offer a portion of cash back, but I think you could swim to Ireland quicker with no limbs than boarding anything with Stena Line written on the side. It takes over three hours on an aged-Stena ship compared to an Irish Ferries one and a bit hours. For you keen mathematicians out there, three hours each way is six in total. That’s a whole bloody day gone. 25% of driving time lost to the sea. Forget the Titanic, this would be the biggest maritime disaster ever. Couple that with the borderline-extortionate £250 crossing price, and I think you will agree, Ireland had to wait for another year.

Initially, I found this hard to swallow. It disrupted the flow of the rally. Dropping from four countries to three seemed like lessening the rally. Overall, its fair to say I took it rather negatively, and threw a jam sandwich at a wall. This was a tad dramatic, and did nothing to help the situation, but it appeased the local wasp community somewhat. 

My wife stepped in and evaluated the situation, mopped up the jam and told the wasps it was closing time and that they had had enough. A tea towel helped usher them back outside, and then she turned to me. Fearing the same tea-towel treatment, and quite literally being whipped into shape, I explained what the issue was and why there was now a voodoo-doll shaped like an Irish Ferry in our bedroom.

“Ireland is ok, but the roads through the Lake District are better” 

Then she left. The Lake District. Eureka! Why lose hundreds of both pounds and minutes when we can drive through places like Windermere, Kendal and Keswick? I had been so preoccupied with having Ireland on board that I missed the opportunities that the North of England had to offer, and for free.

So here we are now, plotting stops and a new 4BallR camping site and I must say, dropping Ireland has opened the doors somewhat in terms of timings. It has freed up some extra driving hours and that is a very good thing indeed. Sitting on a ferry isn’t a great way to spend 25% of a short rally. I was blinded by the sound of Ireland, but in reality, I needed to look at it from a driving point of view. 

The change in perspective has really focused efforts back on to the experience of driving the event, rather than what sounds more impressive on paper. Sadly for my bedroom wallpaper and the local tea-towel-whipped-wasp community, it took a rogue sandwich to kick-start the thought-process. 

So, the Lake District it is, then. Kudos to my wife for quite literally pointing me in the right direction. And to you, Irish Ferries, should one of your illustrious fleet suddenly capsize and sink, it has nothing to do with the jam-covered voodoo-ship upside down on my bedroom floor.

Robert.