|Date: 6th July 2009
Submitted by: Anthony Feeney
Packing for an Alpine trip is a nervy affair - you have to balance the airline weight allowance against what kit is absolutely essential and then try to judge whether you can get away with 3 tshirts and a pair of boxer shorts for a 10 day trip. Like Santa Claus you make a list and check it twice and as you drive to the airport you're mentally running through your head: tent, check!, rollmat, check!, passport, check! etc. I'm not saying that all holiday makers don't go through this but a lot of Alpine gear is expensive and arriving in Innertkirchen sans crampons is not the same as leaving your Dove Body Silk shower creme behind.
Arriving at the airport sans luggage is in an entire league of its own however as a certain member of the CCC discovered today. OK I admit it, c'etait moi. Despite having calmly packed the night before, Monday 6:00am was a little stressed as I attempted to roust a deeply dozing brother from his bed and catch the 8:45am flight to Birmingham. As we roared out of Greenfield Park at 6:50am, tyres squealing, unplugged seatbelt noises pinging, radio blaring and choice language turning the air blue, Milo and I failed to notice that the car was a little light in the rear end. Arriving at Belfast International at 8:00am, having thankfully avoided radar wielding policemen, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Temporarily. Imagine the heart-attack I had on opening the boot to find a petrol can and a couple of empty water bottles. No 100L lovingly packed green Mountain Equipment gear bag. No brand new "it's not gay" amethyst and ghost Karrimor Alpiniste rucksack. Jesu Christe where were the blimming bags? One phone call later: "Mum are my bags in the hall?" "No" "In the bedroom?" "No" "In the driveway?!" "Nope" "In the STREET?!?!" "Uh, not there either". By now images of all my earthly belongings scattered over a hedge on some country road were flashing through my head and I envisaged having to drive the 65 mile journey back searching for them. A lesser man would have cried. And I still had to get to work in Brum.
Milo was despatched to re-trace the route while I went to catch the flight and seek consolation from a highly amused PJ. Some common sense options and offers of borrowed gear later I was slightly less stressed at the check-in desk. "Mr Feeney we don't seem to have a booking for you." Oh, great. No flight booked. Some idiot at work had... hey wait a minute. If I find the bags and catch a later flight no-one need ever know that I'd lost them! I can blame the booking people at work (turned out they'd booked an Anthony Jackson instead - it had to be a mourning Jacko fan) and no-one need ever know.
Except I'd told PJ. Who was bound to tell Keith. Who was bound to make my life hell on the Alpine trip on the subject of lost luggage, wrong airports and other recent travelling disasters.
Another couple of phone calls and Colm had discovered the bags in the next street beside a speed bump. I suspect an improperly closed boot or a severe dose of the boot lock gremlins. It was time to pre-empt the slagging and give Mr Monaghan a ring.
But it turned out Keith was in a bit of a fluster and heading back home to collect his and Sandra's passports. As a conscientious packer with an appropriate list he'd handed Sandra two passports that morning, only they belonged to the offspring Sam and Jane. Easyjet had calmly suggested that despite the Botox they didn't look anything like 11 years old and anyway they didn't have an accompanying adult.
Now our beefy Munro bagger is not a man to hide his light under a bushel and had been steadily crowing about how his 2-flight schedule, Belfast - Liverpool, Liverpool - Geneva had cost quite a bit less than the numpty's choice of Dublin - Geneva direct. (Still didn't beat my tuppence ha'penny flight out of East Midlands but hey!) Such a pity that the rebooked Belfast - Gatwick, Gatwick - Geneva was a bit of a sting in the tail.
Meanwhile there was mild panic among the rest of the CCC-ers. These things come in 3s as any good superstitious Irishman will tell you! Who'd be next to befall the Innertkirchen curse? Bonnie? PJ? Mike? George? Surely not Alan and Margaret who suffered enough already with a broken hand, futuristic bone welding and a new campervan to deal with?
Never fear Super Keith didn't let us down and saved us all by stepping up to plate with the 3rd calamity. Upon arrival in Geneva the usual luxury hire car was awaiting our intrepid duo for the cruise through Switzerland's mountain passes. "Could you just fill in this form Mr Monaghan?" "Sign here, here, here and here, initial here, tick here, and could you please produce your UK driving license?" "Certainly Mr nice car hire man here you......"
You can imagine the tense marital conversation: "Sandra where's my driving license?" "I don't have it, you have it!" "You packed it!" "Don't blame me!" etc. Turns out the driving license was trying to have a wee holiday of it's own and was discovered back at Aldergrove trying to check into a flight to Faliraki.
One thick and one deafened ear later, Keith was able to get a kind policeman to take it to Hertz who faxed a copy to Geneva and SM and KM didn't have to resort to flashing a bit of leg on the Route 1 out of town. Apparently the drive to Innertkirchen is quite serene. It would be if you had total silence all the way there!
07 Jul 2009
There by the grace of God go all of us! Great report, hoping for a very dull and uneventful journey ourselves . . . and look forward to seeing you all there
07 Jul 2009
Brilliant! I just sprayed tea all over my screen.