Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Adventures in Knobblyland Part 1 
So I've been away for a bit...didja miss me? It seems more like a month than a mere 10 or 12 days of driving back and forth across France, ferrying our way to England, travelling from Bath to Blackheath, packing up the flat (my exile abode) and the constant cloud of doubt surrounding how the shengen troll was going to behave at shengen border entry/exit points. 

On the final Friday of February (aaaaaaahlliteration) the Big G and I set off for the 8 hour drive across France to Calais where we would catch the ferry to Dover the next morning. My favorite part of this drive, aside from sitting next to Big G and reminiscing about sitting next to him in the Mighty Gland Bruiser way back when in the 1970's, was the trip through the Jura mountains.Once we reached the motorway it all got pretty flat and boring, kinda like driving across Saskatchewan except the speed limit is 130 km/h which means everyone drives at least 140. It was dark when we reached Calais, so we had a quick dinner, accompanied by a very tasty and wonderfully inexpensive Bordeaux, and retired early to watch a documentary about Johnny Halliday (the French Elvis) from the comfort of our hotel bed.

Leaving shengen was a non event and when scanning my brand new passport for entry to the UK, the woman didn't flinch or make a comment about my shengen status, so I was mildly reassured that I would be able to return just as easily. As we neared Dover, I caught a glimpse of something white and towering sticking out of the water and, being Canadian (and perhaps mildly retarded) I said, 'Look! Ice!' The Big G gave me a look that conveyed both his incredulity and wonderful acceptance of my shortcomings and I tried not to dither on about how any 'normal' Canadian always assumes that large blocks of white things must be composed of ice and snow.

We rolled off the ferry alongside the famous White Cliffs of Dover and drove onto Bath to meet up with Big G's oldest son, Adam. In Bath, we had a few pints, dined at the marvelous Tilley's Bistro , had a disappointing pie at the Raven Inn and set out for Blackheath on Monday. 

It felt a bit strange to be back in the flat after being away for 2 months, and the prospect of packing up all the bits and pieces I had acquired during my exile was almost bittersweet. It seemed like a good idea, at the time, to use the newly available BT Openzone wifi from the flat, as I would be able to use both my laptop and my iTouch with it, rather than being restricted to my O2 dongle connection. After paying the ₤22 for 33 hours of access and logging in once, I was unable to reconnect.Ok...let's try the dongle then...nope. Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh no internet for me, no keeping up with my fellow bloggers, no wasted hours of pointless surfing!! All of which I could (and did) live with, but my fear was that my networking abilities would continue to be compromised once I returned to Switzerland, so an appointment was made to see a 'Genius' at the Apple Genius Bar on Thursday. In Kingston-on-Surrey. 

On Tuesday evening we ventured into London to meet up with the Big G's boss for dinner at the Gay Hussar in Soho. We stopped briefly at a currency exchange right off Leicester Square to buy some Canadian dollars that I needed for my shengen visa applications (which we mailed from England due to the fact that I'm not allowed to apply while in Switzerland) and strolled through the heart of Soho to the restaurant where we had a most excellent evening with Andreas, good conversation, delicious food and the obligatory speculation about the manager, John Wroble whose Bela Lugosi accent and Old World manner makes one wonder if he's not a distant relative of Vlad the Impaler.

Wednesday morning it was sunny and haircuts for both of us were on the agenda. As we were leaving the flat, I looked in my purse to find my wallet was gone! The Horror!!! The Agony!! The Screaming Fit!!! I lost my wallet in Paris last spring and getting all my bank cards, credit cards and my ALBERTA driver's license back had been an enormous hassle. In fact, the only way to get a new DL is to present oneself at an Alberta Registry and it took me until November to get my license sent to me in England last time. I was, needless to say, most upset (this is a polite euphemism for a lot of swearing and moaning with the phrase 'F**k me!' being most prominent).I told my sad tale to Mark the stylist (whose part in this knobbly tale turned out to be pretty important), who was suitably sympathetic and then met up with the Big G to commiserate over a pint. 

Thursday morning I did a quick email check on Big G's 'petit ordinateur' and in big bold letters in the subject line was: 
The only thing in my wallet that gave any indication I was in England was the business card of my (now) friend forever stylist, Mark. When my wallet was found on the streets of Soho, after having all the cash in assorted currencies removed, the man who found it tracked me down via that card...goes to show, the old saying about your hair dresser being your best friend is true. The rest of the day was spent travelling around the suburbs of London, where it was determined there was nothing wrong with either my laptop or iTouch and meeting up with the Red Cap Warden of Oxford Street who returned the wallet, with the precious Alberta driver's license inside, to a very grateful and relieved me. My faith in human nature and the beneficence of the gods restored, Big G and I celebrated our last meal in Blackheath with a Thai feast at the incomparable and truly authentic Lai Cram. Our final walk home down Lee Park Road to the flat was blessed with a sighting of the Lee Park Road fox (who knows his name is 'Fox' and will stop dead in his tracks if you call him) and I took that encounter as a lucky sign for my ability to vanquish the shengen troll and have an easy return to shengen.

Stay tuned for Adventures in Knobblyland Part 2 where you will find the answers to these and many other questions:
Are there any good restaurants in Canterbury? 
Who knew you needed Lessons in Curtain Terminology?
Will Brite get past the Shengen Troll?
What the fuck is 'shengen' anyways?
Is schizophrenia a requirement to become a bureaucrat?


Spot said...

Wow. At least you've been busy while you were away from the blogosphere! I'm way glad you're wallet was found and the important pieces intact. Shame about the currency tho!

I'm glad things finally seem to be going well! Missed you!


Xtreme said...

Having lost a wallet that was found 4 months after the fact, cash intact, I can understand your relief. Glad everything is working out!

Danica-Dragonfly said...

I was missing you.

Happy to hear all is well ...

Safe travels to you.


kathryn said...

Wow....talk about extensive traveling! You must be a pro at packing, eh?

I'm glad your wallet was found....it's a drag having to deal with canceling all the credit cards, though...