Oh dear readers, are you sick and tired of hearing how we get it so badly wrong every time we travel or are you smugly pleased that it’s not you, that you’re not in this script?
‘It’s not here.’
‘It must be. Have we looked down here?’
‘Is it that one?’
‘Is it that one?’
’Did you check the number plate?’
‘Maybe it’s in the workshop.’
‘Of course it’s not!’
‘Where is it then?’
‘It’s been stolen! Bl***y h***! It didn’t have any security fitted. The insurance won’t be valid.’
‘Surely the site has security and insurance,’ but I was talking to thin air as himself had gone looking for a third time in the same place hoping our new caravan/travel trailer/RV would magically appear.
I beetled off in the opposite direction to the storage facility office. Himself overtook me and burst through the doors.
I was reminded of the time our VW Golf disappeared overnight from its parking place in the little hill town of Vejer de la Frontera in Spain. The police had picked it up and plunked in down in a car park a 10 minute walk away. We were told the town council wanted to plant a palm tree where it had stood or were they playing a joke on los Inglés?
Meanwhile . . . . ‘I can’t find it!’ himself blurted out to a startled-looking receptionist who didn’t know who he was or what he was talking about.
A competent-looking woman with a clipboard stepped out of the office and stated calmly, ‘I’ll just see if it’s where I think it should be.’
She vanished out a side door and we stood dumbly uncertain for a moment then raced after her back to where we’d been looking. And there it was – all twenty-six feet of it. We must have walked and driven past it six times.
‘It wasn’t there five minutes ago,’ I said blithely to her. As her worry lines creased into a smile I realized that she’d been concerned too.
And that was just the start of the day.
We couldn’t get the hitch to engage or the jockey wheel to disengage. I would explain what that means but you’d glaze over and go find something interesting to read. Suffice it to say that a five minute job took an hour.
The journey was OK-ish but I was increasingly hating sitting on the wrong side of the vehicle. In our big American left-hand drive truck on roads originally for a right-hand drive horse and cart my driver was in the hedge and I was sat in the middle of the road. Every time the central cat’s eyes dunk, dunk, dunked under the truck wheels when the road narrowed I knew the caravan was encroaching at least a foot into the oncoming traffic – not funny on a blind bend. I got dizzy from holding my breath and my back is permanently kinked from leaning to the left to avoid imminent impact.
We made it to within five miles of our campsite and got lost. Himself stopped to read a sign that stated “Vehicles over 45 feet prohibited.” We are 45 feet, four inches. How do you turn a 45 foot four inch rig around on a single track road? You don’t. You swear loudly and repeatedly and carry on.
Looking for somewhere to just pull off the road and hyperventilate a bit we found ourselves parked outside a country post office – ideal for asking directions you’d think. They were lengthy, complicated and wrong and included a single-track humpback bridge with an S-bend. I closed my eyes and hoped not to hear a screeeech on the flint stone walls as we snaked through it.
There was, of course, no signal on our phones or the SatNav.
I’m not sure how we eventually found our way but we were leading a long parade when we turned off the road to the campsite six hours after leaving home for a 70 mile journey that became 95 miles – some of that excess in reverse.
Arriving tetchy, prickly, jittery, hungry, thirsty, weary and crabby we could have given the Seven Dwarves a run for their money. Attempting to set up on site we couldn’t get anything to work – electricity, gas, water, leveling, heating, fridge, cooker.
We blamed the dealer, the caravan, the campsite, the locals, the whole of the county of Norfolk and their roads and naturally each other for our woes but all the issues were simply down to our diminished mental capacities. I’m sure you could think of another word for it.
Though now washed, rested, warm, fed and as calm as I’ll ever be I’m not sure I want to do this anymore.
Christmas last year:
Siesta Key, white quartz sand, azure sky, aquamarine Gulf of Mexico, squinting in the sun, sleeveless!
Christmas this year:
Grey, cold, damp, five layers of clothes, tired. What’s not to love about England?
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and the very best for the New Year, wherever you are!
Disaster 101- a new name for my blog?
No! That would be asking for trouble although it seems to find us just the same.
After a reasonably comfortable seven week stay in a static caravan/single-wide which welcomed us on our first full day in Blighty with a puddle in the sitting room, himself drove 1260 miles to the south east coast of Italy while I alternately argued with and fumed at the GPS.
In hindsight, four days of driving, six days in Italy and a return trip of four straight days of driving was an even more ridiculous idea than the time we flew from Arizona to the UK and set off, jet-lagged to drive to the south of France.
Needless to say on our return from Italy, we were exhausted, grimy, hungry and already in a poor frame of mind when we stepped into the hell that was to be our home for the next two weeks. The curtains hung in loops from the rails, only attached every few feet like sad bunting; it smelled of dog and the carpet looked like he’d made himself right at home. There was a gaping maw where one of only two kitchen drawers had been and the cookware consisted of two small saucepans, enough for a tin of beans each.
We’d begun the tedious but necessary job of disinfecting every surface when I encountered the last straw – the kitchen sink was blocked. I poked at it with a fork and a black Satan’s spew regurgitated into the sink.
After a fourth trip with the various complaints to reception, the maintenance men turned up, disassembled the plumbing, lost a crucial piece of pipe and blamed us for taking it.
At 10 minutes to closing time we stood in reception, stunned with tiredness and incredulous with our bad luck, to argue our case with an 18-year-old. The manageress had made herself scarce.
We were given no alternative accommodation, no compensation, not even an apology, just a refund.
At six o’clock on a Friday night our car was crammed with suitcases of dirty washing and groceries with nowhere to cook them. We were shattered and we were homeless. Again.
Our only option was to go to the FBI.
At the Ferryboat Inn (FBI – geddit?), a low-ceilinged, timber-framed seaside pub exuding warmth and comfort, we stuffed our faces with fish and chips and downed large glasses of red wine. On the way to the pub, we’d booked a hotel for the night so felt no further need to molly-coddle the few functioning brain cells we’d left between us.
Dear friends took us in the next day and even offered to put up the marquee for us to sleep in.
We declined the marquee so this is where they made us sleep:
. . . . . to have this view every morning when I opened the curtains:
And this is where they made us eat candlelit dinners night after night . . . .
. . . .and relax afterwards here . . .
. . . . kept warm of a chilly evening by a giant inglenook fireplace:
I had just his tiny garden to play in:
Our friends kindness and generosity kept us from walking into the North Sea – ending our Which Way Now quest forever.
And speaking of the sea, I can feel your sympathy ebbing away.
We are now rested and as sane as we’ll ever be and ready to embark on our next phase – life in a tiny rental house. Our big black Chevy truck is being titivated for the UK roads and our furniture is languishing in a customs shed. We’ve no idea where any of it is other than not at the bottom of the Atlantic.
We have just been emailed and asked to write a review for our “holiday” by the head office of the caravan park – corporate communication being what you would expect. No one thought to question why we had a full refund on the day our “holiday” was due to start.
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:
Zigzag ripples left in the sand by the retreating tide at Destin:
Zigzag reflections in the Withlacoochee River (cool name, kind of makes your tongue zigzag when you say it) taken during an airboat ride:
. . . . 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?
Aha! Put the canvas on the roof! Nice knees, Baz.
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.
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.
Is that a light on in the kitchen? Is dinner ready? Oh, please! Let me go in now!
After a week of foul weather, the garden party day was a perfect English summer’s day . . .
. . . . in a beautiful English garden, with five-star accommodation laid on . . .
. . . ample space for parking . . .
. . . . food, drink and entertainment . . . .
. . . . . and games for all to spectate or take part.
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.
As I sort through accumulated treasures of the last eight years ready for the removal men to box up our lives and whisk them away, I tear up now and again. I have petitioned for this move to England and yet . . . . we have been comfortable in our Arizona bubble of the good life.
My days consist of meals out, coffee with friends, swimming, shopping, yoga, reading, writing, blogging, walking amongst the desert flora, book club, watching wildlife from our balcony, writing group and wearing lightweight to barely any clothing all year round. What’s not to like?
Unbearably hot summers are alleviated with air-conditioning or going north. Our neighbor expressed it as eight months of heaven and four months of hell. Even now when it is 105° outside we’re comfortable, until the electricity bill arrives.
Our quest for the last eight years has been to look for the perfect place to live. With family spread around the world, there is no such place for us but all other factors considered we came close to it in southern Arizona. The weather has been kind to us in our ridge top apartment as we’ve watched monsoons and dust storms sweep through the valley from the comfort of our balcony. While the rest of the country endured an insufferably long winter we put the heat on now and again and wore trousers instead of shorts.
All photos taken from our balcony. Please click to enlarge. Go on! You can’t see them properly unless you do, especially the dust storm and the pink rain!
The next few months, year? two years? will consist of uncertainty, insecurity and temporary accommodation tempered by the warmth of family and friends. At least I hope they will be pleased to see us.
I have made a pact with himself, the green card-toting Englishman, who apart from his views on politics and guns could be a native Arizonian. For two or three months each winter – possibly beginning December 26th – we will cross the English channel and head south until we reach sunshine.
Right now I am in my anxiety default position – brain freeze and inertia. I gaze at our apartment with Native American and Mexican decorating touches and my American Southwest photos adorning the walls and don’t want to touch a thing.
Our year’s hiatus from travelling, cocooned in comfortable stationary housing, has turned into two-and-a-half years of spinning our wheels.
Which way now? The UK beckons.
I need a new blog title. What do you suggest?