Some friends and I were sitting in a little coffee shop on O'Connell's street in Dublin when my worse nightmare happened - my purse got stolen. Even worse still, it was literally taken right from under my nose.
We were crammed around a small table with a giant map covering not only the table but our laps as well. We were so engrossed in planning out our next couple of days, I did something I never do. I put my bag on the floor to make more room. And usually if I have to do that, I loop the handle around my ankle or wedge the bag between my feet, but for some reason, I did neither.
I always wear my money belt on trips, but this time I thought I'd be a little more civilised and actually carry a handbag. We were on a city break after all, hardly the wilds of Africa. It would be perfectly safe. Inside my bag I had my passport, purse, camera, insurance docs and phone. Luckily I'd split my cash and left some of it inside my locked suitcase in the room, but the rest of my Euros were in my purse. All I remember is two Eastern European girls sitting at the table next to us, having a quick drink and then leaving. When I looked down ten to fifteen minutes later, my bag was on its side and wide open. Panicking, I first accused the new occupants at the table next to us, then I apologised and asked them if they had seen anything or could give me a description of the girls, which they couldn't but it was worth a shot. Be grateful for small mercies - they'd only taken my purse. My passport, camera, insurance paperwork and phone were still inside my bag. Lucky to still have my phone, I immediately started making calls - running up a huge bill but I didn't care at this point. Again, if I had just had my money belt, I wouldn't have had so many cards to worry about because I pack the bare minimum in that. I spent the next hour mentally going through the layout of my purse and systematically cancelling the cards. I also phoned my partner for reassurance, the insurance company for advice and my works to let them know two of their cards had been stolen and I would need replacements. My friends were great lending me money and helping me do everything, but it did take the sparkle out of the trip and left me feeling extremely vulnerable. I remember having to watch how I spent for the rest of the day and evening just so I could go crazy for our final night on the town. It all worked out brilliantly in the end, but I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
We were on one of the main streets in Dublin, so, after asking around for the nearest police station, I went and reported the theft and got my all important police statement for the insurance claim. This time I didn't miss the deadline and claimed back everything well within the time frame on my return. About a month later I received a parcel in the post and it was my purse still intact except for the cash. A bin man named Willy had found it dumped on O'Conell's street on his rounds, took my address off my driving license, used my stamps (which he apologised for and said he hoped I didn't mind) and posted it back to me. The girls had literally taken the Euros and dumped it straight after.
You know, these things happen and I'm glad I went through the experience (even though it was horrid) because it definitely toughened me up for future trips - how to cope in a crisis etc. And it could have been so much worse to lose all of the contents in my hand bag.
The only thing I'm superstitious about is the fact that everything happens in threes. With two down and one to go, I was wondering what else was going to happen to me. I had to wait almost two years for the third, which turned out to be the biggest shock of my life and completely shook all of my foundations to the ground.
See you in the next post!
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.