Days out when we were kids!

days out when we were kids

Days out when we were kids were simpler!

It was around May every year that the A4 confirmation pack would arrive to our house by post and included in this, was the oval shaped ‘IRL’ sticker…..that little sticker for the back of the car…..and that meant we were gong on the ferry!.

The following weeks were spent in a state of perpetual count down. I remember we always left on a Friday night. After dinner that day we would go to the green to play footie but we’d have to be back early ’cause we were going on our holliers – we made sure all our mates knew we had to leave early for this very reason!

It also meant that we would be staying up late, we’d have to travel and it would be ‘ages’ before were were settling down for the night in a cabin on the ferry. Simple things like driving to the docks to get the ferry was such an adventure. I remember the B&I logo. Oh the excitement of those days – our own cabin on the ferry – we thought we were kings! 

I can remember feeling nervous, completely unnecessary of course, of driving over the ‘draw bridge’ from the land to the back of the ferry.  It had it’s own ‘click clak’ sound. I’ve grown up as an adult enjoying water but purposely avoiding the edges of harbours and docks and maybe this had some part to play in it.

The guy inside the ferry always got you to nudge up really close to the car in front, obviously to maximise the space but because this was something never done anywhere else except the ferry it sticks in my mind as one of those unique memories of going away on our hols.

Exiting the car in the belly of that ferry meant we were stepping out into the din of the internal mechanics and sounds of the ship. That continuous hum – it had it’s own atmosphere to it, unique and something experienced nowhere else at other other time in our daily life. To this day, anytime I travel on a ferry I think of and seek out that same noise. 

Up we went – negotiating the passageways and finding the way to our cabin via the internal links and maps was all part of the fun. As a parent now myself, I think of the preparations and precautions I would be making – retracing my steps, knowing which way was out, was it left or right at this junction. My folks obviously did this too but we were oblivious! I think Mam or Dad sat up all night to make sure we were okay, that we could get out if there was an emergency. I only remember it being something like camping – sleeping in a different bed and if you were lucky, you got the bed that folded down from the wall! 

Waking up the next morning, sometimes we’d see land through the little porthole windows. We knew we’d be driving off soon and on our way to aunty Mary’s in Manchester!

hp sauce kids


Doesn’t matter what age you were, the aunty hug and family welcome you’d get would soothe any aches and pains. Then came the full English/Irish breakfast – ‘real tea’ with tea leaves and chunky bread!. I’ve always loved HP brown sauce and I’m convinced that it came from those breakfast visits.
We’d play with our cousins for a little while, say hi to penny the dog and go explore the local park and maybe kick a ball about. I remember once our cousins took us to see what they said were air raid shelters during the war, I can still remember the slits in the concrete at ground level – it was dark and mysterious, an ‘underground bunker’ that was a complete fascination to us kids.

Off we’d go on the motorways in England – we had nothing like this here at that time. I can remember the thrill and buzz when we came up behind a truck carrying the same oval ‘IRL’ sticker. Yesss – it was another Irish person and they were adventurous just like us, millions of miles from home! Dad would overtake and we’d pull in in front. Those drivers would see 3 red haired kids squashed against the back window with thumbs up and looking for a response. The driver would see us, see our reg and the IRL sticker on the back of our car and then it came – the flash of lights from the big truck to acknowledge us fellow Irish travellers. My dad would give a little smile and a gentle flick up of the hand – too cool to acknowledge or get over excited about it in front of the kids. It’s okay dad, I know you were chuffed too!

Days out when we were kids were simpler. There wasn’t a screen or sat nav in sight. We got lost on motorways and it was part of the adventure. If we took the wrong turn off the roundabout, we just turned around and did it again. We always got there. We survived and we always got home!. Thanks Mam & Dad for those days, thanks for the memories and thanks for all those adventures!

Days out when we were kids!

by Fergal Walsh |


Did you know?

The B + I Line and operated ferry services between Dublin and Holyhead and between Rosslare and Pembroke Dock and ran from 1836 and 1992, when it eventually became Irish Ferries.



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