My wife and I traveled up to Moville in Donegal on Thursday. We were bringing an aunt up to a funeral of a cousin's husband. It was a tough days driving up and down - ten and a half hours in the car - not helped by an hour each way on the M50 as we hit it at morning and evening rush hours.
Anyway, we went through Northern Ireland to get to Moville via Derry. I'm used to traveling in NI since I was very young as my Mum's family are from Derry. However in recent years I'm beginning to notice it's often easier to live with Continental Europe than these six counties on our island. Here are some niggles from Thursday's trip....
1. We decided to eat in Donegal before we returned via NI. I couldn't cope with having to deal with Sterling after spending the last four years using Euros at home and in trips to to much further places like Portugal, Spain, France and Italy.
2. The roads in NI are still marked in mph, which is weird having just got adjusted to kph both in the Republic and in the continent. Given that there is no noticeable border point to/from NI you have to start thinking what units the speed signs are in at border areas.
3. The Republic actually in general now has better roads than NI. I remember when it was the opposite.
4. As well as not eating in NI I wasn't tempted to buy petrol either - it seemed to work out at an average of around 1.50 Euro per litre!!
5. Our mobiles phones roamed into Orange and Vodafone respectively in NI - strange as we are both O2 and O2 claim to be one rate for the island. I suppose we could have stopped the car and forced the phones onto O2, but we were in a hurry and we couldn't be bothered.
So it was a case of - let's get through NI briskly - don't eat or spend sterling, don't buy petrol, don't use the phone, be careful on the narrow main roads and interpret where mph signs begin and end.
I'd feel a lot neater in NI if the UK would become more committed Europeans.