My, haven’t we been slack! No updates for nearly a month. Several people, some of whom we didn’t even know were following the blog, have told us off for not keeping it up to date. So, apologies, point taken, we must do better etc., etc.
So what have we been up to for the last few weeks? Following our visit to Suffolk and D’s landyachting regatta (more on that from D in the next few days), we headed over to Mum’s & Dad’s in Oxfordshire. We needed a home base while we got some work done on the van and also wanted to see the family for an early Christmas as we won’t be around for the real thing.
The work on the van took longer than we expected. The exhaust needed replacing and it turns out that the exhaust we need is no longer manufactured. Oh yippee. The workshop was able to fashion what we needed from three different exhausts, together with a lot of welding to keep it in one piece. Not the cheapest exercise when you think of all the labour involved, but it did the job and we wouldn’t have passed the MOT without it.
We had a great Christmas catch up and got loads of spending money – I spent all of mine a couple of days later in Oxford. D has saved his and is planning and researching – it looks like we might end up with a canoe strapped to the top of the van!
We also had an incredibly frustrating time trying to get companies to do what they are meant to do. D changed his mobile phone provider and had a pig of a time trying to get someone to help him unlock his phone. Vodafone came up trumps in the end, while O2 turned out to be about as useful as a chocolate teapot. They also employ the most unhelpful, arrogant ‘customer service’ person I’ve ever come across (Angelo in their Oxford store if anyone is interested – big fat raspberries to him). It all got sorted in the end, but involved lots of conversations with O2 which ended with ‘So you’re telling me that, although I’ve been a customer for 6 years, there is nothing you can do to help me?’, which got a bit tedious.
Tyretraders were no better than O2. We wanted some winter tyres and they had some on their website at a good price. So far, so good. D placed the order, the money was charged to our credit card. A couple of days later, we get a call to say that they can’t supply the tyres at that price so we will have to pay more. The guy D was dealing with agreed that it seemed a bit dodgy to up the price after accepting our order and said that he would speak to his boss. He said that he had ordered the tyres anyway and they would be with us within a few days. We didn’t get a call from his boss regarding how much more we were going to have to pay despite several calls chasing him – didn’t stop them charging more money to our credit card though. To top it off, when we called to confirm delivery, we were told that they couldn’t guarantee delivery on the day they had told us and it could be any time within the next week. As we were due to be leaving, we cancelled the order.
To top it all off, D has had a horrible cold for the last few days. He isn’t unwell often, but when he is, it hits hard. We decided to delay our departure so that he could recover and we could see Mum’s brothers who visited for the weekend. By this time we had the van back so could free up the spare bedroom we had promised Mum we would have vacated by now!
Despite the frustrations, we had a great time. The kitchen looked like a Chinese laundry the whole time we were there as we took advantage of the washing machine and washed everything in sight. D had a lot of work on so made the most of having electrickery and wifi, which also meant that we could catch up with the Aussie family via Skype. Mum & Dad were as generous as always and, bar a couple of meals, were vegetarian all the time we were there – I think Dad was getting a bit desperate in the end as our stay kept extending! We got to spend time with my sister and her family. One great story from Hannah, who is 4 and a half – she was telling us that they are going to Majorca on holiday next year and that they would be going on an aeroplane (first time for her) and would have a private pool, which she was very excited about. A couple of days later, Mum & Dad picked her up from school and she was talking about the private pool again. After a while she said ‘Granny, what does private mean?’.
We also caught up with friends and discovered that lots of them are reading the blog, even though they don’t leave comments or send us emails so we know what they are up to. Hint, hint.
But now we are on the road again and the ferry is booked for Abroad. Slightly apprehensive but very excited – the adventure continues!
AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
I know I shouldn’t focus on one little thing in a big scene (and I’m not trying to be provocative) but…the quaint English concept of “abroad”. I’ve never understood it and I think it’s faintly amusing that one could live on such a little island yet think that everywhere else is “somewhere else”, if you see what I mean? (Note upward inflection at end of sentence). Although, now I think about it, I remember my Aunt in Yorkshire telling us about a local Lord in t’old days who refused to build a bridge on the grounds that it “would allow the common people to get about”. Maybe that explains it…maybe not. Don’t pay the ferryman ’til he gets you to the other side.