Belgium / France 2000/2001
Inner East Youth Project and young people from the inner east Belfast area through the Community Training Co-operative produced a video, ‘What Does The 1st July Mean To You’. During the research and compiling of information for the video an interest, regarding what the 1st July is about in east Belfast, developed throughout the community. The video was a huge success and was screened at the Ulster Hall in front of a packed audience, it also educated audiences at various community venues in the inner east Belfast area. The climax being at midnight on 30th June 2000 when the video was viewed by 200 people at an open air showing on the Newtownards Road.
The video generated so much interest among the community, especially young people, that it was agreed to initiate an educational programme, which explored the events leading up to and the 1st World War.
The programme was initiated by Inner East Youth Project after a number of young people from the inner east Belfast area expressed an interest in the period between 1912 – 1918. A period which incorporated the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force, the 36th Ulster Division, and the role played by many people from within the east Belfast community and other communities throughout the island of Ireland during the bloody conflict of the First World War (Great War)." A war that was to end all wars."
The programmes aim was to explore this period of history from a factual perspective of human sacrifice and a simple remembrance as opposed to the, very common,‘ street’ education of glorification and celebration, which at times is coupled with a lack of understanding.
On Friday the 21st July 2001, after a full year of preparation, 20 young people and 8 youth workers and volunteers from the Inner East Youth Project set off on the long journey to the Belgium and French memorials and Battlefields which to this day play a prominent role in the lives of many throughout the world.
As we began our journey from the east Belfast area, with 16 and 17 year olds, one could not fail to let the mind wonder back to what it must have been like in 1914 when young men of the same age were also making this journey, for most the last time they would ever see their homelands, families and friends.
The trip lasted 8 days and I have compiled a day by day dairy of events.
Friday 20th July 01,
The group met at the Base at 8.00p.m where the young people were asked for their parental consent forms, passports and properly filled in E1.11 forms to cover them for travel arrangements for the trip.
A number of the young people’s parents came to the Base to see of the group and help us with transport to the H.S.S terminal in Belfast.
After all the checks where completed we locked the Base and headed for the fast ferry terminal as we had to be checked in at 9.00p.m for the 10.15p.m sailing.
When we arrived at the terminal it did not take us long getting our tickets from the reservations desk and checking the group in through the luggage bay.
We had to wait 30 minutes in the passenger lounge and most of the group passed the time playing the various machines, some of the girls read, while others just counted their money and had a chat about the week ahead. Some of the young lads where playing pitch and toss when a group of Scottish guys decided to join in the fun, our lads had a lot of success and seemed to make a few pound during the short time they where playing.
Finally we got the call to board the boat and headed for Stranraer in Scotland.
The duration of the crossing was 1 hour 50 minutes and most of us just put our feet up and relaxed with a cup of tea and a good chat. Stirling and Saucey had good fortune on the way over winning 70 pound between them on one of the many slot machines.
Saturday 21st July 01,
We arrived in Stranraer at around 12.15a.m, picked our luggage up from the conveyor belt and went outside where our coach was waiting to take us to Dover. We knew we where in Scotland as it was really cold and wet. We loaded our luggage onto the coach in a matter of minutes and headed of on the 10-hour drive to Dover.
As soon as we boarded the coach most of the group were hyper and very loud, so we decided to put on a video to try and calm them down, this seemed to work, after around half an hour some were watching the film, while the rest of the group slept.
We made our first stop at Scotch Corner at around 04.30a.m where we were able to stretch our legs and purchase some refreshments from the petrol station.
As it was only a short stop to change driver we boarded the coach as soon as we purchased our refreshments and headed of for Dover.
The whole group where now fed and watered and everyone got there head down until we reached the Dover boat terminal at around 11.15a.m.
After the driver checked us in for the 12.00p.m sailing to Calais we had 30 minutes to kill so Scott and Big Pip got a hold of the microphone and started a sing song with the group joining in throughout the coach, everyone was in full voice and having a good time.
We left Dover at 12.00p.m and most of us bought the newspaper and chilled out, as the sailing was only 1 hour 15 minutes to Calais. When we arrived in France we all had to put our watches forward 1 hour and the time now was 2.20p.m. We boarded the coach and made the 2 hour drive to Bruges where it was very quit the whole way there as everyone was wrecked and fell asleep.
We arrived in Bruges at around 4.30p.m, we where in a little bit of a panic as the coach driver did not know the directions to our accommodation. The driver then decided to go into the centre of Bruges were we asked some local people directions, they were very helpful and told us that our accommodation was only 3 miles away from the town centre.
With the help of the local people the coach driver was able to find our accommodation within minutes, we were staying at the De Karmel Youth Hostel and when we arrived we found out that it was once a convent before being bought over by the centre residents. Michael, Lave, and Scott sorted the young people into there rooms, the 11 boy’s were at one side of the building staying in a 18 berth bedroom, and the 6 older girl’s stayed at the other side of the building in a 10 berth bedroom so all the young people had plenty of room for their clothes and were able to spread themselves out.
We all got unpacked, got showered then had our dinner, the rest of the evening was your own to relax, some went for a walk, some played cards and listened to music, and the rest just got there feet up and did nothing.
Sunday 22nd July 01
Breakfast was served at 09.30a.m and most of the group made it apart from some of the boy’s who decided to mess around during the night and not get to bed until 03.30a.m. Scott had discussed the program with the tour guide and it was decided that we would go to Bruges today to do some shopping and tour around.
As the boy’s kept most of the leaders up to around 03.30a.m Lave and Pip had there own way of waking them up, they got a hold of Harvey’s whistle and went into their room and blasted it out, it was very funny as most of the boy’s nearly jumped out of their sleeping bags. They where told they had to be showered and dressed, and down the stairs in half an hour or we would be going out without them.
We held our group briefing at 11.30a.m were we discussed what was happening today, Michael also discussed with the boy’s some of the issues that arised after there messing about during the night.
We left the hostel at 12.00p.m and headed for Bruges coach park were our tour guide was supposed to meet us for lunch, we waited for about half an hour before eating and he never arrived. As there was no other coach parks in Bruges we decided he was not coming and went on and had our lunch that was provided by the women at the youth hostel. It was a really hot and sunny day and everyone was just taking in the sun while enjoying there lunch. When we had finished we cleared up and got the group together telling them that they had to be back at the coach at 5.30p.m as dinner was being served at 6.30p.m and we did not want to be late.
We all headed of are separate ways going through a park something like Victoria Park, with a long river and painters on the banks, there were young people everywhere having fun and enjoying the beautiful sunshine. The day was very enjoyable as we saw the sights on a boat trip around the city, some went shopping, and others went to Pizza Hut for something to eat and a laugh. When we were in the city centre we all noticed that there was more chocolate making shops than any other shops in the city.
The day went in rather quick and everyone was on time meeting at the coach as we headed back to the hostel for our dinner.
After dinner everything was very peaceful and relaxed, there was only one major incident of the evening when Stirling fell asleep and one of the boy’s decided to try and shave his head. Big Pip then had to give him a complete baldy with most of the young people watching in amazement and having a good laugh.
The rest of the evening went in very peacefully with everyone tucked up in there beds for midnight.
Monday 23rd July 01
Today on the program was a trip to Yepes were over 100.000 British Soldiers died between 1914-1918. The main sights we were going to visit was the Mennen Gate which is the entrance to the town that the British Soldiers defended from the German soldiers, it now houses all the names of the soldiers killed in action who defended the town during the great battle. We were also going to visit a British Cemetery, also on the program was a visit to Flanders Fields Museum, and to finish the day we were going to view the Last Post being played under the gate, this has been played every night at the same spot from 1928.
Everyone in the group made breakfast today as we all got to bed at a good time and all had a good rest. We had our group briefing and explained to the group what happened at the town we were going to visit during the war, and to look for their surnames on gravestones, and on the wall under the Mennen Gate.
The coach collected us at 12.00p.m and we headed for Ypes, which was about an hour drive from Bruges. On the way to Ypes we made one garage stop for the young people to buy some refreshments as it was a really hot day. We then had a straight run to Ypes and arrived there around 1.15p.m, had our lunch in the coach park and headed for the Mennen Gate were we had to meet our tour guide at 2.00p.m.
On the way to the gate we had to walk through the centre of the town and passed what seemed like a massive cathedral but in fact was the Flanders Fields Museum.
Ypes was a very old but well kept town and you could clearly see the impact war has had as most of the buildings have been build from scratch as they where before they were destroyed in the war.
We arrived at the gate dead on 2.00p.m and the whole group seemed to be taken back by this beautiful memorial. The cameras were well in use and a lot of us found our surnames of fallen soldiers in the Irish Division on the Wall. It got a lot of us thinking of past relatives and put questions into our heads that we would like answered when we got home. We stayed at the gate for about 30 minutes paying our respects and putting our names in the visitor’s books.
We then headed for one of the small British Cemeteries taking a brisk walk through another park something like the one in Bruges, it took us about 20 minutes to reach it but the walk was nice and relaxing and well worth it. When we reached the cemetery the first thing we noticed was the white head stones, this really took us back as we had only every seen this in books and slide shows we have been shown by the Somme Centre. The whole group walked around the graveyard paying there respects to the fallen soldiers, some held hands, others just walked alone gathering there thoughts of how these men may have died in the great war.
As we walked the graveyard Big Pip found his great grandfather lying under one of the white headstones. This was a very emotional moment for him and his wife Anne and it seemed to have an effect on the rest of the group as most of us began to realise how cruel this war really was.
We took a lot of photos at the graveyard and some of us laid little crosses with poppies on them beside the graves. After we paid our respects and signed the visitor’s book we left the graveyard and headed for Flanders Field Museum, we had to wait in the courtyard of the museum until our tour guide went in and found out the prices of entrance for our group. It was £2.00 for a child, and £4.00 per adult and Lave and Michael decided to pay the group as a treat from the Base.
The tour lasted about an hour, a lot of us got our photos taken with old war time machine guns, we watched a-bomb and lighting show, and we also saw the Victory Cross on display that was won by a fallen soldier.
We left the museum at around 6.00p.m, our tour guide said good bye and we had free time until the last post was played at 8.00p.m. Everyone went there separate ways but most of us met up at the towns biggest sports shop, most of the boy’s bought football tops, caps, and others decided to be funny and buy air horns which were sure to cause some kind of trouble somewhere along the trip.
When we finished shopping we all split up and went for dinner, most of the leaders stayed together and had a lovely meal in one of the outside restaurants. When everyone had been fed and watered we met up outside the museum and headed for the Mennen Gate. When we got there a big crowd had already gathered to witness the last post, we got a good spot and waited for the pipers to come. The town clock rang at 8.00p.m and they arrived, 3 men dressed in shirt, tie and blazer played out the tune to a great silence. It brought a tear to a lot of people and was a memory the group shall never forget. When the tune was played some of our group got their photos taken with the pipers, we then headed back to the coach and back to the hostel.
When we got back we got showered and sat outside the rest of the evening, as it was very hot. During the night the boy’s decided to mess about letting the air horns off and keeping everyone awake, we were up until 03.00a.m and had no other choice than to punish the ones involved in the morning.
Tuesday 24th July 01
Our breakfast was served at 08.30a.m, most of the group made it apart from the ones who were messing around during the night. As we did not get much sleep we were all very tired and there were some grumpy faces through out the group.
Today on the program we were going to the Dolphin and Amusement park in Bruges. We had our group briefing at 09.30a.m were we decided that the 6 boy’s involved in the messing about during the night would not take part in today’s outing. As it was the coach drivers day off our tour guide told us that it was only a 20-minute walk and away we went. Again it was a very hot day and we had to bring with us a lot of fluids. We left the hostel at 10.00a.m and headed for the dolphin park, we arrived there around 10.30a.m and noticed that everything was very colourful and there was a lot of people about the park. Patsy and Anne rounded up everyone’s money and went and purchased our tickets from the ticket booth.
We entered the park and everyone more or less stayed together throughout the day, there was a lot of big thrill rides, one in particular comes to mind the flying boat. Finzer and Rueben got on with the rest of the group but when the ride started both were terrified and were pulling all kinds of faces and giving the rest of us a great laugh. As it was a really hot day 8 of the group paid for the pedal boats and went onto the huge lake that surrounded the park. Scott, Stirling, Finzer, and Hawkesy all got into the water with Lave catching all the fun on the video camera. They stayed in the water for around 15 minutes and the people on the bank watching them mess around in the water were having a great laugh at their antics.
We all met up at 3.30p.m and went into the dolphin and sea lion show, there were about 3000 people in the arena watching the show, it was great fun. We watched the sea lions dance and play, and the dolphins playing football together, it lasted for about 1 hour and was a really great show.
To end the day we all got our group photo taken beside the dolphin waterfall, we had planned to throw Harvey in the water, we all jumped on him, got his arms and legs and put him in the water. It was very funny, as the water was only about 2 feet deep. He was shouting "Stop I can’t swim", he nearly pulled Patsy in with him but Anne saved her.
We left the park at about 5.15p.m and on the way back we stopped at a supermarket were we all bought refreshments for our rooms, some of the young people seemed to buy half the shop as they where coming out with bags, and bags of stuff.
We got back to the hostel around 6.00p.m, had our dinner, then got washed and changed. That evening around 8.00p.m Lave and Scott took some of the young people to look at F.C Bruges football stadium. We did not think we would have got in but Scott went up to the members lounge and told the people we were from Northern Ireland and would it be possible for us to view the stadium. They told him no problem and we all got in and viewed the stadium from the inside. We got talking to some members of the supporters club and they told us a lot about the team, they said that they have even heard of Linfield and Glentoran. We stayed there for around 1 hour then headed back to the hostel were everything was very quiet. The whole group went to bed at around 12.00a.m and it was very quiet the rest of the night.
Wednesday 25th July 01
After a quiet night everyone got a good nights sleep and made breakfast at 08.30a.m, fresh and ready to go for the day ahead. We had our group briefing at 09.30a.m and told the group that would be going into Bruges for a couple of hours shopping, then in the afternoon to the coast and one of the many sandy beaches.
The coach collected us at 10.00a.m and we headed for Bruges, the group were told that they had to 12.30p.m to do there shopping and to be back at the pick up point on time as the traffic to the coast would be quite heavy during this time of the day.
Everyone headed of their separate ways to buy their presents and do a little shopping for themselves. Others went and got money changed in the bank, while some got the opportunity to phone home and say hello to the parents.
The coach collected us in the town square at 12.30p.m and everyone was on time, apart from a few of the leaders who came back with half the town full of shopping. When they got back 15 minutes late they received a little bit of a lecture from the young people about being late, as they said if the shoe were on the other foot they would have received the same.
We left Bruges at 12.45p.m and headed for the Belgium Coast, the driver said the journey would take us around about 1 hour to get there and for us just to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. On the way we seemed to go through what looked like a rich mans holiday resort with massive hotels, and huge boats at the marina.
We reached the beach at around 2.00p.m, the coach driver told us that we would need to be back at the coach for 5.00p.m to beat the rush hour traffic and make dinner what was being served at 6.30p.m. The whole group stayed together at the beach, most of us went swimming, some hired sun beds and enjoyed the sun, while others played football or went for a brisk stroll along the shore.
The afternoon was very relaxing, but went very quick and before we knew it we were heading back to the coach and back to Bruges for dinner.
Some of the young people put too much sun oil on and received bad burn on their backs and legs so we had to monitor some of them in case of sunstroke.
That evening after dinner Scott, Patsy, and Anne took most of the group to the swimmers. It was great fun and gave the young people, and leaders who were burnt the opportunity to cool down in the Olympic size swimming pool. There was 6 diving boards poolside, and a big water slide that the young people had great fun on.
The most memorable moment of the evening was when all 15 young people made a chain on the slide going down head first and holding on to the person in fronts ankles, it was very one Patsy and Scott had never seen before and they had a good laugh at their expense.
The group stayed in the pool until 9.00p.m closing time, got dried and went into the sports café just beside the viewing gallery. Patsy and Anne took some of the younger ones back to the hostel, while Scott stayed with the others giving them time to chill out over a milkshake and phone home.
When all the young people had phoned home and finished their milkshake we headed back to the hostel. When we got back it was quite late and after the long day most of us just wanted to get our head down. Again it was a quiet night and the leaders felt that after grounding the 6 boys on Tuesday the young people had realised that the program was to good to miss and where beginning to toe the line.
Thursday 26th July 01
After a good nights sleep everyone made breakfast for the first time in the week what was served at 8.00a.m. Today was the most important day in the week, the reason we made the trip as we were making our way to the Somme Battlefields in France.
We held our group briefing at 8.30a.m, and explained to the group about the tragic losses men from the Ulster Division’s suffered in the famous battle.
The coach collected us at around 9.00a.m, we collected our ready made packed lunches, boarded the coach and headed for Lillie in France.
The driver told the leaders that it was around a 2 hour drive to the Somme region in France and when the young people heard this most of them got there heads down and went to sleep. When we left Bruges the sun was splitting the trees, but during the drive we passed through a lot of rain and thunderstorms. The traffic was also very heavy on the motorways due to the heavy rain, this slowed our journey to the Somme and we were going to arrive an hour later than expected.
During our journey we stopped at a service station in France, a lot of the young people complained about the prices of sweets and refreshments and said that they would never come here for a holiday.
We arrived in the Somme region at around 12.30p.m, and our first stop was the Ulster Tower. The Ulster Tower is a memorial to the soldiers of the 36th Ulster Division who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme. Surrounding the tower is the battlefields were the soldiers would have lost their lives, and now is the only place in Europe where natural poppies grow. Inside the tower is a memorial site were Northern Ireland British legion’s, War Societies, and Ulster Regiments have laid wreathes to pay their respects to fallen comrades. In the grounds of the tower there is also a souvenir shop were Lave, Michael and some of the young people bought original antiques that have been dug up by historians around the battlefields around the tower. We took our photos and left the grounds by foot, most of the young people boarded the coach, as it was a very warm day. Others went for a walk around the gravesites around the tower and found a lot of unknown graves were soldiers have lost their lives in the war. Unknown graves are headstones with the regiments badge on them, they pay respect to the soldiers who died within their ranks but have never been found to this day.
When the rest of the group had paid their respects around the graveyards we headed of to Thiepval Wood. In 1916 Thiepval Wood was a strong point held by British Soldiers from German attacks. A lot of men lost their lives around these woods especially men from the Ulster Divisions. Now situated within the wood is the biggest memorial site in the Somme region.
We were all amazed at the amazing site of the Thiepval Arch and decided this was the right place for the group to lay our wreath on behalf of all the young people from East Belfast. Scott filmed Big Pip and young Tori walking up the great steps with the rest of the group behind them. Tori then laid the wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of the group with everyone bowing their heads and holding a 1-minute’s silence as a mark of respect.
There were thousands of names on the walls around the arch, but one in particular had the group amazed when they found it as they had been looking all week for his name.
He was Private William McFadzen, a member of the 36th Ulster Division who received the Victory Cross in honour of bravery by saving his regiment from a German grenade. We took photos of the soldiers name, then got the group together on the steps of the monument and took souvenir photos to remember the occasion.
We then took a walk around the graveyard at the back of the monument and paid our respects to the fallen soldiers.
After we paid our last respects we headed back to the coach, sat in the shade and had our lunch. The time now was around 3.30p.m. Michael had a map of the Somme area a said to Brian the coach driver that there was trenches near Thiepval and that we would like to see them before we headed back to Bruges.
We packed up and left Thiepval and headed for the trenches, on the way we passed a lot of battlefields and small graveyards before we reached what we thought was the trench site.
We stopped at 1 field thinking that we had found a trench, it was covered in sawgrass and in the middle was a small graveyard. Beside the wall of the graveyard was an old deactivated shell that we all got our photos taken with for a keepsake. We then noticed to the right of the graveyard around about 500 yards away another graveyard, we noticed that this continued like this as far as we could see and started to imagine how many people lost there lives on the field we were standing in.
Rueben and Finzer then went for a walk through the field looking for the trench, as we had been unsuccessful in finding it. We then heard this loud laughing and realised when Finzer got back to the coach that he had slipped and fallen in horse’s dirt.
Even know it was an emotional day this gave everyone a great laugh and seemed to perk the group up a little.
We realised that we were a little lost and Big Pip got off the coach on this small road stopping a man driving a tractor asking him directions to the trenches, he told Pip that he would show us and the coach driver followed him to the site.
We arrived at the site at around 4.15p.m, and noticed that the closing time was 5.30p.m. We entered the site and found out that the Canadian Nufolond Regiment defended this area. Anne then got us a tour guide, a Canadian student named Brent who was over working for the summer to raise funds for his college tuition.
He gave us a guided tour of the many well kept trenches, and explained to us what life would have been like as a soldier living in the awful conditions during the war.
We also saw the front line were the men would have went over the top into battle, and a small Canadian and British graveyard to the bottom of no mans land.
The tour finished at 5.30p.m at the bottom of no mans land were there is a Scottish memorial of a Highland Soldier looking into the German lines.
When the tour was over the heat was up near the 30-degree mark. When we got back to the coach everyone was very tired putting their feet up on the journey back to Bruges just reflecting on what they saw during this memorable day.
We got back to the hostel around 8.30p.m, we had told the women at the hostel not to make us dinner, as we would be back late. We realised that this was a bad idea as everyone was very hungry. Lave and Michael then decided that the Base would treat the group taking them to the burger bar at the bottom of the road buying everyone their dinner. When everyone was finished we walked back to the hostel, most of us got showered and went to bed at around 11.00p.m after this long, but memorable day.
Friday 27th July 01
Today is the groups last day and we had something very special planned on the program to finish the trip off. We all made breakfast at 09.00a.m, then held our group briefing around 09.30a.m telling the group that we would be going into Bruges at 10.30-12.00p.m, and then we where finishing the rest of the day at Europe’s 2nd biggest amusement park at Bellewarde in Yepes.
The coach collected us at 10.30a.m and we headed to Bruges for one final piece of shopping. Some people also took the opportunity to phone home to inform their parents what time they will get home on Sunday morning. Most of the young people went to the sports shop and bought more football tops, others went and just bought presents for boyfriends and girlfriends at home. We all met back at 12.00p.m at the square in the centre of Bruges, everyone was on time as they knew the later they were the less time they would have in the amusement park. We all said our goodbyes to the city as it was the last time we would be in the centre and headed for Yepes.
We arrived there at around 1.00p.m, Scott and Patsy went to the ticket booth and paid for the groups admission to the park. They did not have to queue very long as Scott ordered tickets over the phone that morning and paid a cheaper price for a group rate.
When they got the tickets all the young people flocked round them as they were all excited and wanted into the park as they were standing outside for around 10 minutes and watched all the rides operating with other people on them.
Before we went into the park the young people were told that they had to be back at the coach for no later than 5.30p.m as dinner was being served at 6.30p.m, and they also had to pack their clothes and tidy their rooms.
As soon as we entered the park everyone went there separate ways, most of the group headed for the 2 Loop Roolercoaster as it was the biggest ride in the park. Through the rest of the day most of the young people worked there way back to the centre of the park going on rides like the Water Log, the Play Station, the Swinging Boat, and the River Rapid ride.
Stirling also proved to be a bit of a Michael Jordan by winning himself, and Lave a basketball each at one of the hoop shooting games.
The day passed by rather quickly, queuing for the rides was a rather long process as the park was filled with people from all countries of Europe. This took up most of the day. The group were able to get on all the rides but we realised if we had have went later in the day we could have had got on the rides quicker as the queues died down due to the heat.
Everyone arrived back at the coach on time, some had souvenir photos of them and their friends on the rides, they purchased them for around £3.00 from the park photographer. We headed back to Bruges for dinner and arrived there on time, everyone was very hungry and enjoyed their last dinner together in the hostel.
The rest of the evening was time to pack, and tidy rooms. Later on that evening the boys were very hyper and never got to bed to around 03.30a.m, they were trying to run from room to room shaving peoples eyebrows and most of the leaders had to sit in the corridor until they settled down.
Saturday 28th July 01
We had to leave the hostel at 9.30a.m, as we had to catch the midday sailing from Calais to Dover. Breakfast was served at 8.00a.m with only a few making it due the messing around during the night. The leaders had to go into the young peoples rooms after breakfast and wake the group up telling them that they had 1 hour to get themselves sorted out or we would miss the ferry.
When the young people heard this they were a little slow in moving at first, but as time went on they realised that the leaders were serious about missing the ferry and they soon got there backsides moving.
Everyone was on the coach for 09.30, some were complaining about not getting the time to fix their hair, but apart from that the crack was good. We said our goodbyes to the women from the hostel and headed for Calais. The leaders had planned not to let the young people sleep as they kept them awake most of the night. When the young people heard this some of their faces dropped as they thought they were going to get an easy time and all was forgotten. The group stayed awake to Calais, but everything was very quiet on the way down. We arrived there in good time and the driver was able to book us on to the 11.00a.m sailing to Dover. We thought this would have got us to Stranraer on time for the 11.30p.m H.S.S sailing to Belfast, as we were booked on the 05.00a.m Sunday H.S.S sailing to Belfast we thought we would have got home on the earlier boat.
We boarded the ferry at 11.00a.m and set sail to Dover, as soon as we got on most of the young lads headed for the slot machines, as they never got playing them in Belgium. The rest of the group got a cup of tea and a paper, putting their feet up while relaxing and catching up with the news from Britain from the past week. The sailing was very smooth to Dover and went in very quickly. We arrived back in Britain at 12.00 p.m, boarded the coach and headed on our 10-hour drive to Stranraer. On the way we made several stops at service stations, and a little village were we changed driver at Scotch Corner.
Earlier on in the day Scott had phoned Stranraer asking them would there be availability on the earlier sailing, they told him there was but it would be filled with Celtic supporters. When Lave heard this he decided that we would stick to our original booking, as he feared for the groups safety on the boat with 17 coach loads of Celtic supporters.
The journey to Stranraer was quite peaceful and the driver put on some of the videos the group had brought with them to pass the time. We arrived in Stranraer at about 11.15p.m, Lave and Scott asked the coach driver could the group stay on the coach until all the Celtic supporters had left for Belfast.
While the rest of the group stayed on the coach Lave and Scott went into the passenger terminal and asked security would it be possible to check the group in and wait for the 05.00a.m sailing in one of the waiting rooms as our coach was heading back to Scotch Corner in 15 minutes.
They told them that this was not normal procedure, but as we had so many young people with us, and had nowhere to go they agreed to give us a room to let the group get their heads down until the boat arrived in the harbour.
The room security gave us had around about 100 seats so everyone got the opportunity to spread themselves out and get their heads down. While waiting on the boat only the young children got the opportunity to get asleep as there was a lot of carrying on between the older lads going on.
Sunday 28th July 01
The H.S.S. arrived in Stranraer harbour at around 04.30a.m, we woke the sleeping few, got our gear together and boarded the boat. Again everyone spread themselves out, as there were not many people making the journey to Belfast at this time of the morning. Some got themselves breakfast, others played machines, while the rest of the group slept. Saucy was one of the victims of the messing in the passenger terminal and he was after revenge with shaving foam. When people were sleeping he crept up beside them and cover them in the stuff.
The sailing was very smooth, and went in quite quickly as most of us slept. We arrived in Belfast at 07.45a.m, collected our bags of the conveyor belt and went outside were most of the young people had organised lifts for each other.
It was a long and enjoyable trip, but we were all very tired and it was good to be home.
© 2000 Inner East Youth Project
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