Wednesday, 19 November 2008

What have I been doing?

Wah.... can't believe it's around July since I last blogged.... sorry (hangs head in abject remorse).

So, what's happened to my life then? Ummmm.... moved, got older, got wiser!

The bliss of our marriage is as special as ever. So happy!

Photographed a few weddings, attended our first wedding fair (as exhibitors), went to France, moved house, did Battle with BT (don’t know who won though?)..... loads of things in fact. 

So, where to start? How about our trip to France? That was interesting.....

It was a spur of the moment thing - we needed a break, especially as we had Maisie with us for the school holidays and she enjoys our trips away. We wanted to go to Normandy but because of the school holidays accommodation and Channel crossings were at a premium. Marianne found some places but I hit an odd "button" on the browser to the page she'd sent me.  A chance to use my favourite, English word ~ 'serendipity'.

By accident I'd found a delightful early 19th century Normandy mill! The information said it was in an isolated location... this proved to be a masterful understatement.  More later! So we signed up and paid up..... the next day we received confirmation of our bookings - or at least, the bits that were available. It seems we couldn't get on the Ferries from Portsmouth to any of the Normandy ports. The company we'd  chosen were brilliant. They suggested changing to Dover and staying in stopover hotels from Calais. It actually worked cheaper than the supplements for the Brittany Ferry crossings... a very favourable result as it gave us a chance to drive leisurely both sides of the Channel.

Come the glorious day of travel. Leave Cambridgeshire at a sensible time to arrive in Dover at 12:00 for a 13:30 crossing - this is how a holiday should start. Indeed, we did arrive at 11:45.... super!

We go through all the various controls, emigration, security, ticket office. In  fact, at the ticket office I was greeted with, "Hello, Mr. Razmabaz, good journey?"  The smiley side of Technology. "Please drive to Lane 183."

Thinking about it, the security check was somewhat strange - at least I thought it was. "Did you pack your bags yourself?" "Are you carrying anything for somebody else?" Nothing unusual these days, especially if you're travelling abroad. But, at a Ferry Terminal the next question challenged my intellect. "Do I have anything sharp? Like a knife or something?" I immediately thought of the campers and caravans surrounding us. Do they all use plastic cutlery? Am I going to run amok on a Monster car ferry with a sharp implement? Most odd!

Anyway, I digress. On to lane 183 where we stop and decide we have time for a coffee and such. An announcement summons us to our vehicle. So, we proceed excitedly to our car. The car in front starts off. I start the engine... but ... it only spins over, it didn't start. We'd just done 180 miles or so without a hitch and now the car  
doesn't want to leave England's green and pleasant land!

Many people come to offer assistance, for which we were extremely grateful but nothing was going to cause the engine to spin continuously without electricity and the starter motor. One guy even suggested that the vehicle had immobilised itself (no argument there - it had!) and that the system may need re-arming. So I go through a logical (to me) procedure which should've reset the alarm system. No happy result! Time ticks by....  
we were to miss our ferry. P & O were helpful. We have some jump leads and we'll put you on the next crossing. Very kind of them but the battery wasn't the problem.

Time to invoke the Landrover Assistance scheme. 'We'll get you going where ever you are'..... we'll see.

Phone is answered promptly and courteously. "Ok, no problem. We'll get you on your holiday. Whereabouts are you exactly?"

Now, exactly is a thing I could do.... we have Sat Nav! "Hang on a moment, I'll get you the exact co-ordinates". (Remember "where ever you are means a great deal in Landrover off-road terms and they mean it - seriously). 

"Are you sure of those co-ordinates?" Quick check. "Yep, why?" "Well Mr. Razmabaz, that puts you in the sea according to our map!" I guess Lane 183 extends over the sea onto the Ferry ramp.... so I have to explain in more detail.

"We'll get our Engineer to call you". "Ok, I'll check with P & O what we can do. Thank you".

Speaking to P & O they suggest that the Landrover engineer will need a passport to get onto Lane 183. So, when I get the next call I explain the need for some serious photo identity. "No problem. I've been there before. You're not the first to break down after customs etc." I wasn't going to argue, after all he'd done it all before!

During the same call he managed to diagnose the problem and was certain it was the fuel pump that had failed. This quite an experience for Marianne as I was instructed to perform some tests, most of which didn't help get the engine started. "Thump the  car floor from underneath just in front of the off-side rear wheel" I did and the  
car started..... result. Just the need the pump and have it fitted. Marianne's face was a picture.

"Don't worry. I'll get one and be with you in a couple of hours".

I moved the car away from lane 183 to a more convenient position where we can fix it safely. We wait. We get thirsty. We need the 'facilities'.

As we returned to the car Marianne said, "That doesn't half look like the back of a Hairy Biker". Hmmmm. Too much sun and in a state of distress - we both dismissed it.  We wait some more. I get bored so start to explore with the camera. 

"Do you know what Marianne? That is a Hairy Biker". It's quite a favourite TV series of ours. Hairy Bikers

More waiting..... "Hello, Mr. Razmabaz?" "Yes?". "I can't get into the docks. Can you get out?" "More than likely but, how do I get back in?"

A long story cut short (honestly) we have to go through, in the opposite direction, all the security things we'd done hours before. "That was a short holiday Mr. Razmabaz". "Don't even think about saying anything else", I muttered to myself.

The Engineer apologised about not being able to enter the docks, but it was fortunate that the well aimed blow to the car floor motivated the fuel pump to perform enough to get us out of the docks. I think we'd still be there now if it didn't.

After a successful repair we went through all the security checks and ticket procedure. 

"Can you go to Lane 208 please?"

"Yes, I can", I'd grown to really dislike Lane 183!