Daily Archives: July 7, 2014

Good News, Bad News

This title should read: Bad News, Good News, Bad News and More Bad News. We are alive and well so it wasn’t that that bad, however . . . .

After two weeks of trying and mostly failing to sever our relationships with credit card companies, the satellite TV, phone, internet and electric companies – for the most part these companies don’t accept that there is a functioning world outside of the U.S. – Jimmy tried to check in online for our transatlantic flight 24 hours before departure.

“I don’t believe this!”

“What?”

“They haven’t got our reservation!” With the stress of packing, planning, making lists and arguing with corporate America on the phone I was surprised his head hadn’t exploded.

My heart sank but I tried to exhibit calm in my voice. “Let me try.” I carefully typed in our reservation code – 6yk2E7i14clD5CK – easy, no? and I got:

We don’t recognize this reservation.

Our furniture was gone, truck shipped, apartment lease terminated, hire car returned and taxi to the airport booked. I tried not to think through the consequences of having booked flights with a company online we hadn’t previously used.

“Have you typed your name correctly?” I asked.

“Of course I have!” said like this: “&*  #&*%@*  #  &*$#!!!”

“What name did you book it in?” I asked patiently. He has two names, first and middle, like many of us, but uses them interchangeably, unlike many of us. They were both on the screen. “Try taking that space out.”

Up popped our flight reservations effectively putting the pin back in his primed grenade head.

We celebrated with one margarita too many at happy hour. So cheap! How could we not?

The taxi turned up early the next day and we arrived at the airport in good spirits.

After the lost reservation fright on the laptop at the hotel I was unable to check in online anyway as I am to become an alien once again in the UK and I needed to be scrutinized. As I am “special” we were escorted to the head of the long queue.

The check-in clerk was either surprised at our cheerfulness at that early hour or just liked the look of us because then something magical happened. She put “security cleared” labels on our carry-ons and even on my handbag.

“You’re TSA cleared,” Tracy declared.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“You go through the security cleared line. You keep your shoes on, you don’t have to take anything out of your bags and you aren’t x-rayed or searched.”

We swanned past dozens of sweaty, harassed-looking, bare-footed passengers and I felt like royalty. They looked at us with hate and envy.

No more Airport Gestapo for us. We had had an encounter with an airport angel.

That’s the end of the good news.

During our trans-country flight we were concerned that should our flight be late, our one and a half hour layover in New York would evaporate and we and/or our luggage would miss the connecting flight to London.

We landed in good time and rushed to the departures board to see . . . . . oh nooooo! . . . . . a four hour delay! It was our punishment for feeling smug at security in Phoenix.

Four hours turned into six hours as we waited on board for eight passengers with names the cabin steward struggled to pronounce. They never turned up. When we finally pushed back from the gate the captain assured us these eight passengers hadn’t checked any baggage but I fretted all across the Atlantic about the airline’s record keeping systems.

You will have gathered that we landed safely. Somewhere.

London, actually. Tired and stressed but all in one piece.

Jimmy drove the two hours to our accommodation through torrential rain alternating with bursts of sunshine. With the countryside looking so green after spending  140 days in the desert with no rain we were pleased to be nearing the end of this particular journey.

caravan/single-wide/park model
Our temporary home. For now. See storm clouds looming.

Our caravan/single-wide/park model/whatever-you-call-it was pristine, cozy and dry and we tumbled in with six pieces of luggage in the evening, 36 hours after our alarm had gone off one third of a world away.

Driving rain continued on and off the next day but viewed through the window from the comfort of a warm sofa and feeling slightly smug again as we watched campers dashing in and out of their tents, we didn’t care.

Until . . . . .

“Ewwwww! This carpet is wet!”

After I’d stepped in the soggy mess our eyes drifted up to the ceiling where crumpled wallpaper showed signs of water damage. We had just unpacked and put away the contents of six suitcases and one hundred pounds (Sterling, not weight) worth of groceries. Looking like Spiderman, my hands and arms outstretched, I hopped from spot to spot and patted all over the walls searching for more signs of damp.

I patted down all the recently filled cupboards and shelves. There was no sign of running water.

We waited and watched.

Somehow a small damp patch on the carpet you could feel but not see turned into a squashy obvious puddle.

We were demoralized. The campsite owners were alarmed. The maintenance men were less than sympathetic.

“You didn’t know a swimming pool was included in the price of your rental did you?!”

Oh ha.

“You should have popped down the shops and bought some wellington boots and charged them to the campsite!”

Ha bloody ha.

Long story short . . . oh wait, too late for that . . . we have to move.

Our caravan has been condemned.

It could only happen to us.

English bottoms
Remember the view from our balcony? This is our view now. What do you think of it?