The Mahout preferred Crayoning to Kayaking

I am going to Dublin. To be more precise I am going to Co. Carlow to appear at their Garden Festival. This is a rather delightful fiesta that stretches over a couple of weeks and a scattering of venues across a very pretty bit of Ireland. Various gardeners (local and alien) pitch up and talk about stuff – the audiences are invariably charming and a jolly time is had by all. Last year I was teamed with Adam Frost for a design off (see here) and, such was the excitement, that they have invited us back.

I have raced through rain and traffic to the airport. I am reminded how much I dislike airports although, to be fair, the experience this time has been fine. The time from car park to overpriced Pret A Manger sandwich being about 14 minutes. I am always intrigued by the number of people who pack liquids in their hand baggage and are then stuck in a long queue while their luggage is unpacked by security people and their intimate apparel exposed to the travelling public. I am not innocent of this as I have twice lost quite nice penknives by forgetting that they were in my luggage. This trip’s excitement was someone trying to get a large family sized tub of Utterly Butterly through security. It begs a number of questions none of which are interesting enough to go into here.

Bored of eating the aforementioned sandwich I wander around the airport not wanting anything before joining a long queue. Eventually we are steered onto an aeroplane, the doors are shut (35 minutes post scheduled departure) and we are all filled with excitement and expectation.

We peak too early as we are not yet going anywhere- presumably we have missed our slot and have to give way to the flights to Poland, Portugal and Porto Fino. Instead we sit on the tarmac exhaling diesel fumes while those who spent too long in the air side Wetherspoons writhe uncomfortably in their seats waiting for the seat belt sign to be extinguished and the toilets are opened to visitors.

The cabin announcements are made in an inaudible monotone and the seats are sticky and uncomfortable.

There is a baby behind me who is being a baby and whose parents are getting more and more embarrassed: I feel for them.

We are urged to sit back and enjoy the flight. I wrote about Ryanair years ago and, although less blatantly commercial, the experience has not improved a great deal. I would like you commend it to you but it lives in part of my blog history which is no longer accessible. I should drag it across here as it is quite good but I fear that is something that may have to wait for my retirement.

I put in headphones and close my eyes in an approximation of meditative calm.

We are collected from the airport and ferried to the excellent Arboretum Garden Centre. Rachel, who started the whole thing, is a major tour de force! We ate chips and loafed until gig time. All went smoothly ending with a slightly raucous raffle, Adam Frost doing a guided tour of the men’s urinals (which are worth visiting) and a huge surprise birthday cake for me – enough for the entire audience to share.

Back to one of those soulless airport hotels and up for a shuttle bus at 5:45 and home for late breakfast with luck.

Happy Birthday to me.

I am listening to Orlando by Blood Orange. The picture is of the enormous cake.