Been absent from the forum for a while as I've been on holiday in Ireland. It was brilliant but involved a lot of traveling In Ireland, England and Wales to see my family and kids. I had also hoped to meet up with Graeme but more of that later. Unfortunately as it is with life sometimes you have to pay for good things with bad things.
Hence the following nightmare. Jet lag and traveling and early flights and driving long distances and lack of sleep. I was absolutely wrecked when we arrived at Belfast airport on Monday morning for the flight back. At passport control I pulled the wife's passport out of it's leather holder and promptly ripped out a page. The damn thing was ready to fall out but the extra pressure separated it from the rest of the passport.
They wouldn't let us on the plane. Accusing us of having a defaced and damaged passport. The passport guy seen me do it but no way were we getting on. Stress...... just the beginning. I rang my brother who found that there was a Korean Embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin. We rang and they said it would take 6 weeks to get a new pasport. Sweet Jezus!!!! what do we do now? The Mrs started crying and babbling in Korean and they said they could do a temporary one in 3 days. More crying and babbling and long silence. "We'll do it special case in one hour". As I'm running to the nearest car hire a bloke turned his head and sneezed. bad timing.... I caught the full bast. Within 2 hours my throat started to hurt and my eyes started to tear up.
I had no idea where the Korean Embassy in Dublin was but I had a little bluetooth GPS unit which linked to my PDA. 2 hours of manic driving later we were 3 miles from the embassy and...... the fecking battery died. We lost signal. Might as well have been 300 miles away. I blocked traffic asking people for directions. Of course no one knew where thee Korean Embassy was, but we met a guy who knew where the US embassy was and said it might be near it. Thankfully he was right.
As we got out of the car I turned my head and instantly a big black ribbon of blood wafted across my left eye and I lost partial sight in that eye. It was exactly the same signs and symptoms as when I tore the retina in my right eye last year. Now we are talking real stress. I just looked up to the heavens and said 'hey how about cutting me some fcuking slack here!!".
The embassy was great and got the new passport in less than an hour. Only problem is they used her Korean name and didn't include W/O Millar on it. Of course the plane ticket is in the name of Millar (of course we didn't notice this until we were back in Carrick at my mum's house. Which doesn't have a computer or internet by the way).
I had thought to ring Graeme and see if we could meet up but given the circumstances I didn't. Sorry Graeme, next time.
I managed to recarge the GPS unit a bit at the embassy and on our way north it worked but really patchy. After driving around for 30 minutes in Dublin we found ourselves back at the embasy..... I just wanted a gun to shoot myself. Of course by this time I was feelinjg like crap as whatever rhinovirus I had inhaled was starting to kick in.
We made it back to my mother's at 8 PM after leaving it at 7 AM for the plane. I couldn't sleep worrying whether Continental would accept the travel document and ticket with different names. Next morning we get to the airport and guess who's checking the tickets. The rat bastard from the Monday morning. Nope ticket and passport are different names. After a rather heated discussion with supervisors etc they accepted her ticket but refused my passport. My passport was issued in Beijing and isn't machine readable. US immigration won't accept it. Instead of grabbing the guy by the throat I flicked it over to the US visa which is machine readable. He let us through.
When I had to change the flights on Monday I asked the ticket lady to just give us the same flights. I never looked at the newark - Chicago leg. We were originally booked on a 4:30 departure which would give us 3 hours to clear immigration etc. Belfast flight was delayed. Arrival at Newark was delayed as we circled waiting for a slot then they couldn't get the gate to work. We were standing in the immigration queue at 2:20 and I looked at the tickets. she had booked us on a 3 o'clock flight for some reason. "Ah for fcuk sake"............
Unbelievably we made it. The flight was delayed......Our luggage even made it too.
By the time I got home at 7PM I was wrecked. I went straight to bed and slept right through to 9 AM yesterday. I called the eye speciallist and got in immediately. Thankfully not a retinal tear. I'll not explain what it was but I'll recover fine and my eyesight should go back to almost normal in a few months. I hope my right ear does the same..... what's up with the right ear? Well it had always given me trouble when I dive. Serious pain and real difficulty equalizing. Pretty much why I stopped diving. The PADI certification I did 3 weeks ago was absolute hell and I ruptured something in my inner ear canal. Every morning for the first week I woke up with blood at the back of my throat. I've been partially deaf ever since. There is no rupture of the timpanic membrane but what is possible is that blood has run against the eardrum on the inside and has congealed against the membrane which is affecting the frequency response. It is getting better but it may mean that my diving days are over as i don't want to take any more risks of doing more damage.
Of course the cold / flu bug I picked up is now in full flight. I came home and went back to bed and slept to 9 AM this morning. I just got up, had something to eat and wrote this, with so much runny stuff dribbling out of my nose to float a battleship.
I've had to cancel the cussler convention. Which really sucks as I had wanted to meet up with Andy and Ralph Wilbanks again, but the way I feel and as contagious as I am, it's probably not a good idea.
So that was my holiday nightmare. It cost an absolute fortune by the time I paid for everything and flights, car hire etc in the UK is horrendous, especially short notice flights. Of course as my kids are final year students, presents are useless, cash is king!!!!! Pity whatever meagre investments I had are now worthless, but I think we are all in the same boat.
Good news...... I came back to find that the vintage aquadive I bought had arrived and is a beauty, I also had 2 dials refinished and they are excellent and the Irishstar I wore in Ireland is now my new favourite watch.
Right, I'm going back to bed.........