By road and by sea

We left from Braintree, Essex as we’d attended Len’s birthday party the night before and had stayed overnight at Kay & Wreford’s. Being up at 6 and away by 7 was no problem for a constitution as tough as mine even after a night of excessive drinking and merriment.

Wreford took us as far as the A120 with the stern instructions never to leave the motorway…ever! And he was right. All the way to Fishguard is almost all motorway and very, very easy. We had an amazing trip – not too much traffic, weather fine (apart from a brief but torrential spell of rain as we crossed the Severn Bridge), two stops for petrol and Kay’s fantastic ham salad sandwiches.

I thought the toll on the Severn Bridge was a tad steep. £4.80! At least it’s only for one way I guess. Also odd that you pay AFTER going on the bridge. Perhaps you can tell the toll booth operator that you didn’t actually like it so refuse to pay. Bit odd really. Maybe it’s something to do with Wales being on the other side of the bridge and collecting the tolls from the unsuspecting English tourists. Even so, it’s a very impressive bridge with a wonderfully sweeping approach road that takes full advantage of the views.

We finally reached Fishguard at around 1pm, the whole trip taking just a smidge over 6 hours. Denise did very well with the driving, especially considering that she hasn’t actually stopped since arriving in England last Friday evening.

Fishguard harbour

Our ferry didn’t leave till 3:30 so we bummed around Fishguard while we waited. The coffee/gift shop was our obvious first choice where we indulged in refreshments and postcard purchasing. I then convinced Denise it would be fun to walk up to the church we could see overlooking the town. This mysterious building has the ability to vanish the nearer you get to it so we ended up chasing it up hills, around corners and all over the place before we actually caught it. As we arrived two chaps were busy locking up so we didn’t get to see inside St Peter’s but the outside seems to have been shortened somewhat, for what reason we know not!

So we wandered round and made uneducated guesses then slowly walked back down to the quay (admiring the very brightly painted buildings on the way) where, outside the coffee shop, the two chaps from St Peter’s were setting up an outside church for a service for the sea scouts who have a base thereabouts. Just before we left to board the ferry, a brass band marched the scouts in to take tidy seats before the chaplain at his dais and God’s words rang out as we (and lots of other cars) started to form up at the grid which would lead us onto the Stena line super fast ferry.

Something most people wont know – and it might come up in a trivia contest you’re at one day – is that the last invasion of Britain took place not far from Fishguard at a place called Carreg Wastad. It was on the night of 22 February, 1797 and about 1400 heavily armed men came ashore. Unfortunately they were also very, very thirsty because they immediately stole a whole load of alcohol and got totally pissed. Sensing the advantage, the towns people managed to round the Frenchmen up. Jemima Nicholas managed to round up 12 with just a pitchfork! After 2 days the French gave themselves up to local soldiers, one assumes with pretty bad hangovers.

The Stena ferry is pretty much the same as the cross channel ferries but quicker with the added benefit of a group of repulsive Irish teenagers who think the height of entertainment is to play each other their ring tones and speak using the most amount of swear words as possible. These kids would have been the cannon fodder for most ancient armies and you can see why. Pity they serve no useful purpose any more. I don’t think you can count being a nuisance as useful. In the light of recent news reports about yobbish behaviour, it’s interesting to note that the staff aboard the ferry did nothing to halt this group’s anti-social behaviour even when they took a lifesaving vest, inflated it and hung it round one of their necks, joking about drowning in the sea (a pity they were joking, really). You have to remember we’re in the open sea, nowhere to run in case of trouble and yet a group of teenagers are allowed to run rampant like this. Keel haul the crew, that’s what I say!

Anyway, we arrived dry, unmolested and rested at Rosslare on time and tried to follow the moron in front of us who seemed to have difficulty deciding which way arrows point – he turned left in the ferry rather than follow the HUGE right-hand pointing arrow directly in front of him. As we left the ferry he again ignored the massive sign and went left until turned back by a guy in a yellow light reflective jacket who did not respond to the man’s cheery waves but instead insisted he go all the way back and stop trying to forge new trails.

The run to Wexford was simplicity itself and we arrived at the Abbey House B&B by 6:30. This was in part thanks to Georgina’s excellent instructions. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for her booking skills! She’s booked us into a double room and as her mother showed us and asked if it was ok, we declared we were brother and sister. She then had to rearrange a few things before settling us into a twin room at the top of the building. We then went in search of dinner.

Wexford has a windy, wandering main street, lined with shops and restaurants and pubs galore. Unfortunately they are nearly all closed on a Sunday so we just wandered until we found Roberto’s Italian Restaurant where we supped on carbonara (Denise) and pizza with an egg in the middle (me, of course). The meal was lovely and afterwards we strolled back to our room where I left Denise to doze while I went to ring Mirinda.

On the way back from the phone I dropped into the Selskar Pub (named, I assume, after the abbey I couldn’t get into) for my first real pint of Guinness. They were right, it DOES taste better. Could have drunk it all night but instead, I went back to our room and was in bed by 10 (Denise was well asleep).

My first impressions of Wexford are not exactly complimentary. It seem like a grotty little seaside town with hordes of parentless children in souped up sedan cars and a maze of streets with few restaurants. I’m hoping my opinion will change with familiarity upon our return.

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