Tag Archives: Thoughts. Travel

Aug. 28.

Waffle Wednesday: Childhoood Memories – Holyhead

holyhead-thA couple of weeks ago I published a post about childhood memories, and how would the experience be if, as an adult, we did something that we remember doing as a child. One thing I remember doing as a child was a day trip to Wales on the ferry, usually on the HSS. Well, I did recreate the experience of going to Holyhead on the ferry, in order to see how things have changed. And this post details how I got on.

Firstly, my recollections of making the trip as a child. There was always an early start and a sense of excitement, of an adventure. After all, I was going on (what to my eyes was) a big ship, and was going to a different country. Onboard there was a couple of hours of fun, exploring the ship, looking around the shopping (it was looking for sweets and toys back then), and playing in the play area. Of course the journey was over all too quickly, and we would find ourselves in the port of Holyhead. From there it was down through the ferry terminal into the train station, and either on to a train somewhere, or else through the station and over the railway bridge into Holyhead.

Of course the first stop was Woolworths, looking for pick ‘n’ mix, and mini cans of drink, which were virtually unheard of in Ireland. We would then take a walk around the shops, before returning to the ferry terminal and the ship home.

Now, having not made that trip in a good decade or more, how does it feel doing the same trip again?


Again there was an early start, seeing me up before 5, to get myself ready and out to Dublin Port, to sail on the Stena Adventurer at 8.20. It was certainly a different experience to travelling on the HSS, mainly due to the time the crossing takes. The HSS crossing would have been just over 90 minutes, while the Stena Adventurer takes a good 3 hours plus to make the crossing. Onboard the Stena Adventurer, I didn’t get a sense of excitement, like I did as a child. It could be that in the intervening time I have become so much more well travelled, and have experienced travelling on cruise ships, that there was no way a car ferry could really compare. I got a feeling that the ship was set up for its main source of revenue, freight, and that passenger services came second. That is understandable with the way the world is these days. Passengers fly, not take ferries, so concentrating on moving freight is perfectly acceptable. That is not to say there was nothing to do. There was a bar, restaurant and cafe. There were shopping and kids facilities. There was entertainment onboard. And while I didn’t find the ship exciting, I did find it relaxing, being able to find a nice comfy chair (there were plenty about), grab a coffee, a drink or something to eat, and move about or go browsing in the shop as I see fit.


On arrival in Holyhead you see how things have changed. The railway bridge into Holyhead, while it is still there, is closed, having been replaced by a new bridge that goes into the heart of Holyhead. Holyhead too, has changed. It has gone so quiet, with so few shops that you would go into. There is a Boots, A Superdrug and a Supermarket, but not much else. While walking from Holyhead back to the port to get a taxi to the retail park about a mile down the road, I did walk past quite a few shops, but they were shops that you could almost walk past without really noticing. They seemed to be the kind of shops that the owners refuse to give up, and while it is great to see that spirit, but Holyhead just seemed a bit uninspiring. The retail park had more shops that adult me would be interested in going to, along with a couple of big supermarkets, and you really have to know exactly what you are looking for, or pick one or the other place to go to. With the limited time available, it was very difficult to visit both places at once.


The couple of dealings I had in the shops, or with the taxi driver reminded me that the locals are all very friendly and hospitable. The taxi driver especially, when he heard I only had a few minutes there gave me his card and said that once I called him, he would be straight back. True to his word, when I called to say I would be ready to go in 5 minutes, he was waiting for me outside.

The journey back was more of the same onboard the Stena Adventurer. Again I could pick out somewhere to relax, had a spot of lunch (pork, mashed potato and peas, which was tasty, but nothing overly special) with a glass of wine and looked around the onboard shop a bit more. The shop was a little mediocre, unless you are a perfume fan. There was a wall of perfume and aftershave, a quite sorry looking Benefit display (but it did have the most recent releases) and some assorted Dior, Clarins, Clinique and Estee Lauder, but not a great selection. I did fall in love with Marc Jacob’s Honey though, and it could find its way into my possession quite soon.

But, to condense everything down into a little space. Did my experience compare to how I remembered it as a child. Well, no. Things have changed so much since then, both for myself and in the world. I’ve become much better travelled, and as a result it is difficult to come up with excitement when you’re taking the ferry to Holyhead, compared to taking a flight to the USA for example. It just seems so pedestrian. Coupled with not being able to go into the shops I remembered, with Woolworth, unfortunately, having gone out of business.

That is not to say I didn’t enjoy myself though. It was certainly a relaxing day out, even if it was a long day. I got to go somewhere different, that I hadn’t been to in a very long time. I got to shop in shops I couldn’t normally shop in (and online shopping isn’t the same). It is a bonus that the ferry only cost €10 too, thanks to an offer that Stena Line have on at the moment.

So, while I can’t say I was able to recreate my childhood memory, I can now safely agree with what one commenter said on my previous post, that it does give way to other ways of enjoying the experience, even if the sense of adventure is no longer there.


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