Kuortane'09 – homecoming

Final day in Finland, and for the first time, I slept badly and so slept in, only waking at 1130, half an hour to checkout and an hour after breakfast closed up. Sod. Got up, got dressed, finished last-minute packing, then down to reception and checked out, leaving my baggage in their storage room for a 1540 taxi to the airport that the hotel runs. Then out the door and I’m alone in Helsinki with a whole three hours to kill. Hmmm. Bus to the center of Helsinki and into the shopping district and I go walkabout, find a nice cosy jumper for herself indoors as well as the shawl/poncho/notsurewhatyoucallitbutallthefinnsarewearingthem that I got yesterday, had some Finnish Mexican food (seriously Finland, what’s with the coleslaw and jalapeno thing? Eeek!) and a ‘chocochino’ which is nice hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and much nicer than it sounds. Then it’s time to get the bus back to the hotel and so it’s goodbye to Helsinki for at least another year 🙁

Back at the hotel, we load the bags into the taxi and do the 4km run to the airport. Into terminal one, up to the KLM desk, all the paperwork is done in seven minutes, I get stiffed for another €230 in excess baggage and have to walk a mile to the desk where I pay it and back again (not joking, a half-mile there, a half-mile back), collect boarding pass and done. 20 minutes. Granted, bloody expensive, but that’s the fastest I’ve ever gone through the checkin procedure with a firearm before. They didn’t even want to open the case to inspect it, so I locked it with the second padlock (the first trip through, it became obvious you needed two), duct-taped the latches down and put it through. Walk on through security and go sit and wait an hour for the flight.

Helsinki to Amsterdam was without incident; Schiphol was grand, though I’d forgotten they do a security check at the gate for transfer passangers again, so it was a little awkward; Amsterdam to Dublin was a little bumpy, and then it was out onto the tarmac in Dublin airport in the worst weather I’ve had since I left. Every other airport, every other flight, it was into a corridor; only at home do you get dropped onto the tarmac on a dark, cold, wet and stormy night. Welcome home…

On to the baggage collection point and there’s my rifle case waiting for me at the baggage desk. I walk over, let them know it’s mine and that I have another bag coming and I’ll be right with them. I go wait for my kitbag. And wait. And wait. And nothing. Hooray, my kitbag never made it from schiphol. Apparently 90 minutes isn’t enough time to offload it and reload it. Feck’s sake, all the presents were in there, including one for a three-year-old’s party tomorrow. Grrr. I fill out the baggage claim forms and am reassured it’s not lost, they know where it is and it’ll be on the first flight tomorrow and dropped right out to me. (In fact, the first flight landed at 1000h and the baggage got out to me at 1700h, and we were basicly confined to the flat for the whole day waiting on the delivery. Grrrr. €210 out, €230 back, lost for a day and confined to home for a day as well. Not impressed. KLM are so off my winter solstice card list).

We take the rifle case through customs, where the customs officer wants to know “is it your training weapon Guard?”. A few words on weapon-v-firearm later, and he explains that looking at my licence he sees the garda crest and we realise he’s not been told there’s a new Irish licence format and he’s not seen this before. Another snafu caused by the Minister’s over-ambitious schedule for the new firearms laws combined with his lack of funding for proper training of the people who run the system. That resolved, I’m waved through, meet up with herself indoors and we head for home.

And that was that. A week of hard work (during which I seem to have lost ten to twelve pounds according to the scales), good results, and a list of things to do and to work on and to buy for kit that will see me through a good few months. Now onto the post-training plan, which means doing nothing on Sunday at all, resting through Monday and Tuesday and starting back to the range on Wednesday for balance work and cleaning kit and such, and getting into some regular routine for balance work, and then a match on Sunday with the DURC 10m Rifle Open, which is also the Intershoot selection match. 573 to make the team. 4 points over my PB, so it’s a challange, but that new position feels good. I wonder how it’ll go?