Crossing the Irish Sea in winter

It is now officially winter and after several years of mild winters probably due to climate change, an approaching snow storm was forecast. The lack of snow probably had nothing to do with the fact that I had found a book on snowflake photography just after our last snow in 2010. I have not been able to try any macro photography of snow or ice since, not even on the Iceland trip. We had decided to stay in Birkenhead the night before our morning ferry as problems on any of the three motorways we use to get there could have delayed us. We did not anticipate any problems getting there in the afternoon. However, while we are all too aware of the problems satellite navigation systems can have in rural areas, this was unexpected in an urban setting. It kept trying to send us down the Queensway tunnel to Liverpool, not to the street in the next block we needed to get to. Once on the tunnel approach you cannot turn around. A very helpful member of staff at the toll booth (who has probably experienced this before), let us out and we reached our destination. The following morning the sailing was delayed and we eventually boarded in the midst of wind and sleet. That had already put paid to any shots of dawn over Liverpool and I had thought that I would be wandering around on the very cold and wet deck taking photographs. Fortunately there was a brief lull in the weather south of the Isle of Man and I was able to watch the sun going down before the next front approached.

We arrived in Belfast only an hour later than scheduled and were in the car ready to disembark when we were told to go back inside as a broken down truck was blocking the ramp. This took almost two hours to sort out. Fortunately we could go back into the lounge (it’s worth paying a bit more for Stena Plus on long daytime sailings) and I had a couple of brandies courtesy of Stena. James had to stay sober as he was driving. Someone told us that thinking it had run out of fuel, they brought some more diesel but found out that there was some air in the fuel system. This would have locked the brakes. Some engineers from Merseyside we were chatting to were amazed that in a port, there was no means of dragging the vehicle away that could be found quickly. At least once we could leave the roads were quiet, there was very little snow and we arrived about 11.30pm.

Over the Irish Sea

As soon as I had returned from work we hit the road, heading for Birkenhead docks. I had crossed over the motorway on my way back from the station and it looked slow and busy. The traffic announcements on the radio were of accidents on several routes and long delays. We set off heading north on the A50 but found a long line of traffic there as well, slowly heading north. There was even what appeared to be quite a serious accident just a little further north. Past that, we made reasonably good progress and were soon at the dock. Having just returned from working in Liverpool, it was interesing to look at the city from the other side of the water.

Liver building from Birkenhead dock (1 of 1)

Museum of Liverpool from Birkenhead dock (1 of 1)

Once at the dock we waited until we could board, watched by a lone seagull on the roof.

Seagull Birkenhead dock (1 of 1)

Now we are tucked up in our cabin with the alarm set so that we can grab some breakfast before we arrive in Belfast at 6.30am.