Blogging at 21:30 on Wednesday 25th August from N 54.68326°, W 02.74510° / http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:54.68326%2C-02.74510
By courtesy of P&O, we were under way at 08:00 precisely and by 08:10 were watching dozens of common dolphins and a few harbour porpoise toying with a sublimely smooth Irish Sea.
The dolphin sightings went on for a good half an hour and many involved pods moving quickly enough to make full breaches the norm. It's always something quite special to see cetaceans completely airborne at full speed and we tried to do the spectacle credit by watching for as long as we could.
Naturally, the decision to remain vigilant out on deck was also made much easier as we were not allowed in to what Emma-the-rational referred to as the miasma-of-covid; but what just about everyone else on the ship seemed to regard as simply indoors. Hmmm, breaching dolphins versus crappy over-priced chips for breakfast. Close call.
Cairnryan saw us back on mainland soil by 10:00 and so began the not-so-arduous traverse of Dumfries and Galloway. Yet again the landscapes were awesome with heather in full bloom and the sun in helpful mood. As per the journey out, red kites were apparent and such were the numbers I suspect there may have been a reintroduction program, very probably much disapproved of by the local ghillies.
I do understand the frustration, though. It must be really disappointing for game-managers when a predator that's part of a natural food chain - and simply in order to survive - has the audacity to prey on 'game' that's had its population artificially enhanced solely in order to maximise profit from people with questionable self-esteem (and in all likelihood withered genitalia) who gleefully pay through the nose to kill animals for casual enjoyment.
Anyway, Dumfries and Galloway traversed, we're now back on home-nation soil at the coordinates shown. I've stayed here before when out racing and half-remembered it as quite a decent spot, giving as it does excellent views of the Lakeland Fells to the south and the North Pennines to the, errr... north. It's OK as a stopover and has even proved quite good for spotting many species of gulls picking over the local arable.
Sadly, it's not only the stopover spot that proved familiar. We'd only been here for about an hour when a guy on a mini-digger came trundling up the gravel track beside us to do some groundworks somewhere further down the lane.
As he approached, and given the normalisation of Irish etiquette over the last three weeks, I prepared myself to interact with anything from a raised single finger to a full-on hour-long chat about everything and nothing; which may or may not also include the possibility of an invitation to a Christening.
Of course, I was quickly reminded this was England. The machine driver had to work quite hard at it but successfully just nothinged me. There wasn't even a cursory acknowledgement of my existence; nothing. Slightly embarrassed, I lowered my Irish-driving-finger and looked away.
Now that's OK, and indeed in truth I'm more comfortable with being nothinged than engaging in small talk with complete strangers.
But that wasn't the end of it. After he'd finished doing whatever he was doing with the machine he reappeared from the same track, but now in what was presumably his car. Now, the track is pretty rough and in a car like the one he had might support a speed of 10mph max. Notwithstanding, said digger / car driver was doing far, far more and I wondered at first if he was a digger driver turned TWOCCER. When he drew level with the truck he made an obvious effort to nothing me even more determinedly than previously, before then aggressively gunning the engine, spinning the wheels, and leaving us choking in a cloud of dust.
We knew we were definitely back in England.
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