On this trip, we proved that it is possible to do all the travelling and fencing for a competition on the two days of the weekend.
However, we also proved that it is completely insane to do so, and we'll never do it quite that way again. We'll also make sure to avoid competitions held on the same weekend and in the same city as major international rugby matches.
You see, rwrylsin was fencing in the women's sabre on Saturday, and had to be there by midday. That meant we had to get a flight which got us to Cardiff in time to get from the airport to the venue, and have some time for her to change and warm up and so on. This meant a flight leaving at 8:45am (arriving around 10am in Cardiff, which allowed up to 30 minutes to wait for the airport bus, then 30-40 minutes for it to get in to town, plus the usual random delays associated with air travel). The check-in for the 8:45 flight closed at 8:15, which meant we really wanted to be at the airport by 7:45 or so, which meant reaching the near-airport parking at 7:30, which meant leaving home around 6:30 ... which meant setting the alarm for 5:30am. Ow.
I managed to get to bed by around 11:30pm on Friday night, but then woke up at about 1:15, convinced that it was nearly 5:30, and wide awake . Took me quite a while to get back to sleep after that ...
rwrylsin got to bed a bit earlier, and might have slept a bit better, but still didn't get nearly enough to be 100% ready for a competition.
Anyway, we did get to the venue on time, rwrylsin signed in for her event, and we found the hall the women's sabre was running in fairly easily (the Welsh Institute of Sport is large and rambling - and fencers were using three halls for fencing, plus a number of other rooms for armoury, DT, and so on). rwrylsin has described in her journal how she fenced - I watched, and cheered her on, and she did fairly well (19th). After she finished, we found our B&B and checked in, then headed out in search of dinner. We had the city almost to ourselves ... well, except for the many thousands of hungry rugby fans also out and about. We wandered around for most of an hour before finding a place that had a bit of room, but then had very good steaks which disappeared very quickly. After that, back to the B&B for an early night, so at least I'd have plenty of sleep before fencing.
Well, that was a good plan, but I woke up around 4am, and once again, was wide awake , and took a while going back off to sleep. Still, I got close to 8 hours, and I was feeling reasonable when the alarm went off at 7:30. My fencing day has been described elsewhere, so I'll skip that bit here.
After fencing, I changed, then we headed out to find some food, leaving our fencing bags at the venue. We ended up at Pizza Hut (oh dear!), and found service which took the "fast" out of "fast food". The place wasn't full, but we waited almost 10 minutes before being seated, it took a while to get our order taken, a while more for food to arrive, and another 10 minutes or so between asking for the bill and getting it. We were starting to worry about the time, because our fencing bags were back in the main hall of the venue, and they'd be wanting to clear the place out as soon as the fencing finished.
We got there in time, just, grabbed our bags and got a taxi to the airport at around 6:30, aiming for the 8:10pm flight. At the airport, we found a bunch of disgruntled fencers also returning to Edinburgh - they were disgruntled because our airline, "bmibaby", had decided to charge us £10 for each fencing bag. In theory, hidden away in the fine print of their terms and conditions, they are allowed to do that. On the other hand, they hadn't charged anyone at the Edinburgh end, and they didn't charge a number of other fencers who had returned earlier in the day (to Edinburgh and to other places). Further, we were carrying these bags instead of normal luggage, and they were well under the 20kg weight limit. We're going to collectively complain and see if we can get our money back.
Finally, we didn't get to see much of Cardiff, but it has a castle in the middle of town, so it must be a nice place. I'm sure we'll go back there sometime with a bit more time for exploring and not rushing to and from airports.
Gah. For some reason, this has been hard to write, and has taken all week to get around to finishing. I have no idea why, either.