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?

110 thoughts on “Good News, Bad News

  1. Oh my! I feel it would be wrong to press the like button for this post. Does NOT sound like a whole lotta fun. Hope you managed to move into a dry and warm caravan, and had a good week.

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        1. We are hyperventilating. The b******s have our truck and are demanding all kinds of paperwork that we’ve shredded!
          It’s nearly margarita time, although we’ll make do with red wine
          Have a great weekend!

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  2. was laughing pretty hard with you at the end especially – with the new view. oh wow.

    and well, at least your flight landed and did not disappear in space – and you the know the folks that never made it (which caused the delay) well maybe they were, um, well, let’s just count that as a blessing they did not make it. jk!

    anyhow, you told this with such nice flow – with the “ha” insertions and – oh – and I am shocked you luggage made it – I think I was expecting one of them to be lost – but instead we got the flood (fog horn sound inserted) – anyhow, enjoy your bopping around because sometimes before we know it things are so still to where the wish we were making adjustments….
    🙂 ❤

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    1. The second 2-hour delay was caused by missing passengers. The first 4-hour delay was caused by mechanical problems. I always remember the announcement made to impatient passengers: “It is better to be down here wanting to be up there, than up there wanting to be down here!”

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  3. I think back to our first few weeks of going full-time last year (after YEARS of dreaming of an idyllic life on the road!) and how stressful it was. Seems like there’s always the need for an adjustment period with any big change — and it certainly doesn’t help to have extra stress in the form of soggy accommodations! Wishing you all the best as you settle in. 🙂

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  4. Glad you’re in safe and sound nonetheless. Sounds like even your luggage survived the trip which can sometimes be a rarity on transatlantic flights. Keep us in the loop!

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    1. We were worried that our six! suitcases would go astray and we’d have to wash our knickers out every night. Thankfully the cases arrived on the plane with us . . . so . . . result!

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  5. You guys never seem to have a dull moment with plenty of adventure thrown in! I am glad to hear you made it safe and sound 🙂 Wishing You the Best in Getting Settled In – Good Luck!

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    1. Italy in August for a wedding and back in time for another wedding in England, then another caravan beside the seaside! for a short time, then a rental house then . . . . . ? House hunting. Not sure where. So definite plans then! lol

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  6. Cuz, glad you arrived safely. Now you remember why you left in the first place! Oh those reservations, so easy to make and so easy to accidentally delete the confirmation. I know how he felt. I particularly like the matchy-matchy leopard skin skirts!

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  7. The travelling misadventures and squishy carpet have not harmed your writing one bit, so that’s a plus for those of us who get to read you. Now I’m off to get me one of those leopard-print skirts!

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  8. Oh no! The night one of our mystery leaks dripped onto my husband’s chest in the middle of the night was an ugly one… We now have a new roof but three professionals couldn’t find the source of the multiple leaks. Just the wet soggy mess. 😦

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    1. That sounds expensive. This roof is not our problem, fortunately, especially as the roof light leaked last night during torrential rain. It dripped right in front of the oven and my shepherd’s pie. We had just decided to stay put and not move into the newer caravan we’d been offered – how could we give up the new view? – but now we’re not so sure.

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  9. So glad you made it to the UK unscathed but not exactly the view you enjoyed off that balcony in Fountain Hills, eh! Hope you’re able to embrace the change as well as all the family you’ve missed. I look forward to hearing about all the new adventures 🙂

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  10. My favourite line was about grenade head too … so very descriptive 🙂

    I have every confidence that things are going to get better … maybe not drier, that’s just an unrealistic expectation of UK weather, but certainly less stressful!!

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    1. I’m not minding the rain so far but I’m still in summer clothes and it has been interspersed with lovely sunny days. I walked through a field and took and deep breath of . . . green! and . . . English summer! Indescribable! I had the grenade head yesterday. Hey ho.

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  11. well, another fine mess, eh? wow.. thank Jehovah you have a sense of humour AND you know how to use it! anxiously awaiting the continuing saga

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              1. Oh SO pretty! That must have been a heartbreaker to leave, too. 😦

                If we do this the right way, with the kind of financial reward we hope to achieve, it will mean that we WON’T find something more beautiful. Guaranteed. 🙂 Hopefully the upside of more travel and less financial stress will make it worth it though. 🙂

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                    1. Meeting with my realtor on Saturday to get his recommendation for list price. I’ve decided if it’s at X or higher, I have no choice but to put the sign up. To not do that would be stupid.

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  12. Yep, only you could live this! Especially enjoyed your line about your husband, “effectively putting the pin back in his primed grenade head,” OMG, Very good visual there of how he must have looked. Am thinking this whole caravan thing needs to be over at this point….let’s book into hotel next, huh?

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    1. It would have been 7 weeks in a hotel, then 14 days in various hotels as we travel to Italy and back to attend 2 weddings and then more hotels here and then . . . and then? The roof has stopped leaking, the gas fire is alight, I’m warm and dry and drinking a lovely cuppa tea and chatting with my bloggee buddies. Everything’s cool!

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  13. Tired, stressed and quite damp – I’d say it’s not a good time for rash judgements! Once you find a dry home base there are so many great adventures ahead – especially for an adventurous spirit like you. Wellingtons are probably a good investment though…

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  14. At least you didn’t have a repeat with the Airport Gestapo. You two are not starting out in a very relaxing fashion. Hope that all changes very shortly Carol.

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    1. Relaxed is not part of our vocabulary at the moment. We are still fighting with corporations. Yesterday it was Microsoft. You’d have laughed if you could have seen me jabbing at the feedback button on the laptop after an unsatisfactory web chat.

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                    1. This is so true! Perhaps that is my problem. It would be easier to do nothing if I could just flip a switch and turn off my brain. 🙂

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  15. How to comment..?? Why didn’t you stay in the desert.?? and the view isn’t to bad as far as I’m concerned, the blonde, from the back looks quite delectable..
    I thought it rained everyday in England… is that not so.??
    The normal photos on your blog looked happier than these do, am I detecting a wish to return already.??

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    1. We got off to a bad start with a leak in the roof, but it’s been fixed, it wasn’t our problem and its only temporary. We’ve had lots of beautiful sunny days and have even worn summer clothes so far!! Nah. Pleased to be here. Himself? Not so much.

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  16. Well, that does it. No matter the temptation. I am NEVER going to fly again. You were damned lucky to get that “security cleared” label. I would never be that lucky. Enjoy the rain. We’re praying for some here.

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  17. No offence, Carol, but we went back to the UK in 2002-4 and found the weather so bad and the cost of living so high,we gave it away and went back to Australila. I do hope things improve for you and it works out better for both of you than it did for us. But the view from the caravan compared to your photos travelling the US – ewwwww!

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