Sunday, 27 April 2014

Fawlty Towers meets Absolutely Fabulous

For the fifth time in two years, I arrived into Belfast’s George Best city airport yesterday afternoon. This time, my traveling companion is one of my bff’s and a colleague in ministry, Linda Yates. Former partners in ministry at St. John`s United Church for 4 years, we have traveled overseas together once before – early in our relationship when we took a group of youth to Guatemala in 2007. This time, she is one of 7 participants in another Corrymeela pilgrimage through the Tatamagouche Centre in Nova Scotia.

The rest of the group is arriving into Belfast today. We arrived a day early, and because there was no room at Farset last night, over a month ago I booked into a B&B that I have stayed at several times before. Our adventure began as soon as we walked through the door.  Strong paint fumes ... the dining room was taken apart and being painted. Yes, they had the booking that I booked through Expedia, but even though my booking clearly stated that we had one room with two single beds, the proprieter (who Linda later said reminded her of Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous) said that they only got a the booking which said ``two adults`` and all they had was a room with one bed. ``It`s a king sized bed`` she sad ... (which it definitely was not...).  After trying to find another room in Belfast to no avail, we decided that between ear plugs, eye masks, and snore strips we could muddle through one night of sleeping together. And, she assured us that the dining room would be put back together and ready for what I remember as a fabulous breakfast by morning.

We got into the room and began to acclimatize ... Linda took a glass for a drink of water, put the empty glass on the shelf above the sink, and realized too late that the shelf was on such an angle that the glass slid off, right into the sink, breaking into a hundred pieces. I looked around for a plug to recharge my computer and my UK phone ... and realized there was only one accessible plug in the room. Linda went out for a walk ... I decided to take a shower. After running the water for five minutes, I got dressed and ran downstairs ... “any special trick to getting hot water?” I asked. “No, just let it run, it will come” was the answer. 10 minutes later and still no hot water ... I was getting kind of cranky by now. I did finally get a hot shower, only after another complaint that resulted in me getting a hot shower on the top floor bathroom with electrically heated water. The water alternated between extreme hot and extreme cold, with not a lot of control either way – I think I have burned my right breast.

Linda came back from her walk to find me nearly in tears ... this whole trip has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster in the weeks and months of planning for it, and I was not only frustrated, but embarrassed that I had brought her to this place. She was great ... in keeping with the British comedies, she said imagine that we’re in an episode of Fawlty Towers. I laughed, squeezed myself into our tiny bathroom, and knocked the toilet paper holder out of its wall socket. BASIL!!!!

We went out in search of dinner and ended up at Benedict’s – a great place to people watch, hear some music, and the food was good. And so was the beer. Found an old episode of Waking the Dead on TV, and settled into our less than king sized bed. This morning, paint fumes were minimal, and the breakfast was as good as I remembered. Linda did notice that the an old bookcase made into a china cabinet in the dining room was dangerously leaning over on the wall ,,, and she also noticed the inscription on one of the books (well, really it was wallpaper) .... together we live. It’s great to be with a good friend with a sense of humour – and thank God for British comedies! Today, a visit to the Ulster Museum, and then  to meet our fellow pilgrims.

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