Road Trip!

As we left a sleeping campsite behind and headed towards Dover, the stresses and strains of the last three months – an international move and corporate harassment – seeped away.

For the moment the monumental planning tasks for the move and our impending trip were complete and we were still on familiar roads.

Approaching check-in at the Channel Tunnel, reservation in hand, we were both spooked when the self check-in computer screen greeted us, “Hello Mrs. C. Welcome to EuroTunnel.” Without a word or screen touch from my driver, we were checked in and the smarty pants machine spat out our boarding pass.

“It knows me. That’s a little creepy.” The adventure into the unknown had begun.

*****

The unmanned all-knowing computerised check-in at EuroTunnel:

EuroTunnel 200

EuroTunnel was celebrating 20 years of operation and the terminal building was heaving. Les Anglais on holiday. Even Snow White and Cinderella were there. Look closely under the W H Smith sign:

EuroTunnel

Attendez! We’re next!:

EuroTunnel

Oh very funny. France this way. Follow that car to the train:

EuroTunnel

On our way into the train, like a rat up a drainpipe, I had hoped to elucidate you with a quick snap of the Folkestone White Horse, an ancient Celtic carving in the chalk cliffs of Dover. However the carving is only 11 years old:

Folkestone White Horse

Follow the leader into the train:

EuroTunnel

In a car, on a train, under the English Channel. I’ve never quite been able to get my head round that:

EuroTunnel

And away we go. Italy beware:

France

To those of you who commiserated with me on my last post – A Catalogue of Disasters – many heartfelt thanks. Your kind words were most appreciated.

At the moment our brains are dulled with French food and wine to the extent that we are unable to stress about anything for a few days.

A Catalogue of Disasters

The original title for this post was going to be “Named and Shamed.” The conversation in the car went something like this:

“You can’t do that.”  That would be himself speaking of course.

“Why not?”

“It’s libelous.”

“How can it be libelous if it’s the truth?”

“It just is.”

“I’ll stick to the facts. Just say exactly what happened. What’s wrong with that?”

“A large corporation can come after you and sue you to protect their name. It doesn’t matter if you’re telling the truth.”

“Well I won’t bother writing about it if I can’t name them. What’s the point of rambling on about some nameless company?”

This sorry tale then went into the trash bin in my head. It’s an increasingly large space.

But the stories nagged at me, occupied that space in my head when I should have left room for happy thoughts and gave me toothache from clenching my jaw in anger and frustration.

They say moving house is in the top three of stress-inducing life events. I think a bereavement and marriage are the other two. (Doesn’t say much for getting married.) If moving house is so stressful, let me tell you an international move is off the scale. We should have had nervous breakdowns. I nearly did.

Shortly after that conversation I read The Jaded Apothecary’s blog referring back to a post she had written in April referred to cryptically as TirecDV. After lots of bad words and humorous jibes, she’s still around writing and posting in July.

So . . . gulp . . . himself phoned our satellite TV company before our move to inform them we were leaving the country. They assured him they would cancel our contract on the agreed date and send a post paid box to return the receiver. Needless to say the box never arrived. Two weeks before our departure himself phoned again and was told the post paid box would take 36 days to arrive.

This might seem a minor complication but in amongst packing up goods (which for the suitcase and which for the packing box?), throwing out long-held useless treasures, making friends with the guy at Goodwill, seeing our truck off for an ocean cruise, arranging for furniture shipment, arguing with credit card companies, insurance companies, and the motor vehicle division, saying goodbye to friends, family and neighbors, it was nearly the proverbial straw.

The digi box was still streaming programs through to our TV the day after the agreed cancellation date so himself disconnected it, wrapped it up, put it on the doorstep and I wrote a snotty email to the company telling them it was there for collection. I told them not to bother replying to the email. They didn’t.

More than one company insisted that our U.S. credit cards could be used in Europe.

“Where are you moving to?”

“England.”

‘You can use our card there.”

“I don’t want to. I have UK credit cards.”

“You can pay your bill online.”

“I know that. I already do. But I won’t have any funds in the U.S.”

“We’ll give you a good exchange rate.”

“I’ve been changing pounds to dollars and dollars to pounds for probably more years than you have been on this planet.” (This was meant literally. I don’t know how the insistent don’t-cancel-your-card representative took it) “I know that no financial institution will give me a good rate.”

They began to cave at that point.

I came to enjoy the patter once I was expecting it so was wholly disappointed when I cancelled my J C Penney store card by pressing a few phone buttons and not speaking to anyone!

The real laugh, if you think this is funny (I don’t but I can’t help what you are thinking) is that many U.S. credit cards cannot be used in Europe as they don’t use the electronic chip and pin system in place over here.

The motor vehicle division of the particular state where our truck was registered insisted we renew the license OR ELSE! was the gist of the email. This was after himself had phoned twice and written to them twice to inform them Mr. Chevy was emigrating to Europe.

Chevrolet Silverado

The medical insurance organization for old gits with which some of you may be familiar politely requested payment for July when we’d informed them of our departure in June. In writing. Twice. Or was it three times. I forget.

I thought all the tricksters, scammers and snake oil salesmen resided in the United States until I tried to buy a car in the UK.

Here’s where I’m on really dodgy ground as the dealer is not five minutes away from where I sit. They could swoop in, serve a writ and leave me bereft of worldly goods.

I so wanted that car. It was the right size, almost the right price, economical and most importantly, the right color. The only thing missing was its history. As it sat amongst six other identical cars with similar registration number plates, similar mileages and of a similar age, himself quite rightly asked the question:

“Is this an ex-rental car?”

“Not to my knowledge,” was the answer. My radar went up. That wasn’t a yes or a no.

“Can I see the log book (registration documentation)?”

“We don’t have that here.” Why not?

“I won’t buy a car unless I see the log book first.”

“I can get it faxed from head office.” Why didn’t she offer to do that when himself first asked to see it?

When the blurry fax was put in our hands it showed that it had been owned by ERAC Ltd.

“So it was a company car, not a rental,” I said.

She nodded a little bit.

Himself, the old cynic, was not convinced so looked up ERAC Ltd. when we got home.

Guess what ERAC stands for?

Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

I did not buy that car.

I was trying to turn this into a humorous tale but feel I’ve failed. So if you’ve read this far, I thank you for your attention and possibly your commiseration. If it has amused you at my expense that’s okay too!

Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside!

For those of you liked the pastel cottages on the Outer Banks NC in Summer Lovin’ here is the English version:

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Seaside living bijou style!

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Yes you can actually sunbathe in England.
The picturesque view is Felixstowe docks.
The bathing beauty kindly gave her permission to be photographed.

This is the Place to Live!

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Editors’s (that would be moi) note: Oh my. Look what I’ve done. In my frustration with the WordPress App and using my new smartphone I have published the same thing twice! I won’t delete one as some of you lovely people have “liked” one and some of you have stumbled on the other one! Oh bother.

This was a smartphone practice post for our upcoming road trip through Europe. More practice needed. Or a tablet. Or the laptop on my laptop while himself argues with the new SatNav. I’m so looking forward to it all.

This message is coming to you from the cozy familiar space of my laptop and will be repeated on the other post. LOL LOL!

This is the Place to Live!

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Editors’s (that would be moi) note: Oh my. Look what I’ve done. In my frustration with the WordPress App and using my new smartphone I have published the same thing twice! I won’t delete one as some of you lovely people have “liked” one and some of you have stumbled on the other one! Oh bother.

This was a smartphone practice post for our upcoming road trip through Europe. More practice needed. Or a tablet. Or the laptop on my laptop while himself argues with the new SatNav. I’m so looking forward to it all.

This message is coming to you from the cozy familiar space of my laptop and will be repeated on the other post. LOL LOL

Photo Challenge: Zigzag

Can’t resist a photo challenge!

Today’s challenge ZIGZAG comes to you courtesy of Florida.

My favourite (publishing from England now, must use English spelling) boardwalk in the whole wide world (what little I know of it) , a zigzag path at Destin:

Destin Florida Beach

Zigzag ripples left in the sand by the retreating tide at Destin:

Destin Florida Beach

Zigzag reflections in the Withlacoochee River (cool name, kind of makes your tongue zigzag when you say it) taken during an airboat ride:

Withlacoochee River

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Mad Dogs and Englishmen . . .

. . . . not only go out in the midday sun but also the pouring rain so they can go out in the midday sun!

Iffy weather forecast? No problem! Erect a marquee.  In the rain. Oh. Problem. Hmmmm. Scratch head. What do we do next?

garden party marquee

Aha! Put the canvas on the roof! Nice knees, Baz.

garden party marquee

There was a lengthy time lapse and a lot of rain between taking the above photo and the one below. As part of the six-person erection crew to lift the half tonne structure into place there was little opportunity to take photos.

garden party marquee

Once the heavy and slightly terrifying job of lifting the roof and inserting the supports on a windy evening was complete, photo opportunities presented themselves.

garden party marquee

Is that a light on in the kitchen? Is dinner ready? Oh, please! Let me go in now!

garden party marquee

After a week of foul weather, the garden party day was a perfect English summer’s day . . .

garden party marquee

. . . . in a beautiful English garden, with five-star accommodation laid on . . .

five star accommodation

. . . ample space for parking . . .

garden party marquee

. . . . food, drink and entertainment . . . .

entertainment

. . . . . and games for all to spectate or take part.

rounders in the garden

This particular game is rounders, a bat and ball game similar to baseball but played in England since Tudor times. That would be something like 1500 to those of you who think America invented baseball. The game played on this day had a very relaxed set of rules depending on the age  and ability of the player. There were no tears. Not even from the adults.

It was a perfect day.

Photo Challenge: Containers

This week’s photo challenge immediately struck a chord with me . . .

So tell me again . . . when you were baling today, what happened???! He ended up where???

Man in hay bale
An unusual container!

You thew away what??? WHO???

Man in trash
You put him where? Why?
For more photo challenges press here:

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Photo Challenge: Relic

This disappointingly dark photo of the Mezquita in Cordoba in Spain was taken during our second visit to this ancient mosque. Our first visit was when it originally opened in 987 AD.

Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain
Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain

No, that would make us relics as well. We’re not quite that old!

A visit earlier in the day might have produced a brighter photograph.

English: Mezquita of Cordoba Español: Mezquita...
English: Mezquita of Cordoba Español: Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mezquita de Córdoba, España.
Mezquita de Córdoba, España. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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