The vital paper work for our trip finally turned up with three days to spare. Unfortunately it turned up at the travel agents sixteen miles away and with a weekend in the way, posting it on was risky so we waste two hours of our lives going to collect it. This is the point at which we realise that the second part of our trip, a ‘package’, does not entitle us to food. Well, it entitles us to three breakfasts in seventeen days. I know I need to eat less but this is somewhat excessive. This means we need to get more cash. We get a favourable rate at the travel agent with whom we booked – another thirty-two mile round trip and another two hours only to find that their computer will not allow them to put cash on a travel card. What else can go wrong? Well, this – it seems that the coach station is closed for renovation so our coach will be depositing us somewhere else. It is not clear how far ‘somewhere else’ is from where we need to be.
I have arranged to close a bank account while I am away, writing to give the requisite notice. I decide to telephone to check this will happen and exactly when the funds will be in my other account. Never, it turns out, as my signature didn’t match – must have used my ‘best writing’ when I opened the account. Why was I not informed of this? I ask. Had I not phoned I would have remained in blissful ignorance. Allegedly a letter was sent – a letter I did not receive. Who failed to deliver this letter? The Post Office. Who sent the letter? The Post Office. The irony is not lost on me. Now my only option is to pay these incompetents in order to release some of the funds. Post Office savings to me: I will need your 6 digit security code. Me: ****** (the correct six digits). Post Office savings: No that won’t do – I need to ask you for certain numbers and you have to give me them!
Then there is my usual anguish over baggage allowances and security issues. We are allowed a carry-on bag and a ‘personal item’. Descriptions of what constitutes a personal item vary from laptops, to musical instruments and cats – cats? I debate taking the cat instead of the laptop, after all I survived a fortnight on the cruise without internet with only a slight twitch as a result. Then I realise that in order to take the cat I will have to perform an exhumation first and decide against it.
Amongst all this pre-holiday mayhem I learn that I have been awarded the silver medal for Britain in this year’s Genealogical Rockstars competition. A great honour and some megastars and friends are amongst the other awardees. I am honoured to be in such illustrious company. Congratulations to all and many thanks to those who felt that I warranted their vote.
We are off! As usual this involves me sitting on Bideford Quay with all our luggage while Chris takes the car home and walks back down the hill. Panic 1 – will he arrive in time? He does. Our ticket informs us that we should be at stop B. Chris insists it is stop A. We wait at stop B. The coach stops at stop A. I point out that our ticket says stop B. Apparently the driver has stopped at stop A so passengers get used to it before the stop is changed to A next week. How many people do this sort of journey on a weekly basis? Standing at Bideford Quay I realise that the emigrants I am due to talk about would just be arriving in Canada after their voyage as I will be arriving home again – and I think my journey is bad
We begin the long haul to Heathrow. A lady alights at Tiverton with an identical bag to mine. Panic 2 – will she take the wrong bag by mistake? This is not so irrational as it sounds – it has happened to me before, when the bags were not even similar. Turns out my fears are unfounded. Panic 3 – will we find our way from the wrong coach stop to Hoppa bus 7? We do. Panic 4 – will there be food at the Travel Lodge? (again this fear is based on past experience) – there is. They even refund our breakfast money, which we paid when we thought our flight was mid-day instead of at an unearthly hour. Panic 5 – will we be in time for check in? We are advised to be there three hours before take off; this is 5.30am. I am very law abiding, if it says be three hours early, I am four hours early – on a calm day. This does seem very early even to me and I am almost always awake before 6. We can get the return Hoppa at 5.32am. On the strength if the refunded breakfast money we book a taxi instead for 5.45am – WE WILL BE LATE! Oh the stress. Panic 6 – My laptop bag (my personal item in lieu of the cat) is fractionally larger than the approved size – will I get away with this?