Thursday, November 15, 2001

Back to the Sea

Back to the Sea

The bed and pillows were so comfortable, it was difficult dragging our butts out of it to shower, but we did. Anne fixed us breakfast and gracefully, it was not typical English fare. Since she did not have to leave for work early, we were able to hang out and get some things done on the computer. When it was time to go, she called for a taxi and we said our good-byes.

Mini-taxis are not as regulated as the traditional black cabs in London, but they are not metered either. They give you a quote over the phone, so there are no surprises if you are stuck in traffic. The poor taxi driver was not having a good day. He could not fit both of our large suitcases in his truck, so one had to go in the back seat along with a smaller suitcase and Ron. I have yet to sit in the front seat in either the U.K. or Ireland. It makes me uneasy to sit in the ‘driver’s seat’ while the passenger has the steering wheel and we are driving on the other side of the road then I am used to. Our driver sounded Jamaican. He was not having a good day. We no sooner left Anne when a truck trying to turn into a business could not make it due to a parked car being in the way. Rather than back up, the truck driver left the truck to look for the car’s owner blocking traffic in two directions. Shortly thereafter, a truck cut him off to make an illegal right hand turn. To top it all off, we were going down a very narrow street with parking on both sides. As we rounded the corner, there was a United Parcel Service truck coming at us. The UPS truck could have backed up less than ten feet and let us through, but instead, he sat there staring at us and ate a sandwich. The three of us could not intimidate him enough to make him move. We had a stand off for over five minutes with our driver saying “Why are people so evil?” He was definitely in the right. It was much more cumbersome for him to have moved back than for the truck. It took us probably a half hour longer to get to the station then it should have.

We had an hour before the train, so we stopped for coffee in the station. They refuse to give any information about what platform a train will leave from until five minutes prior to the train leaving, then there is a mad dash of every passenger fighting to get on. There were no stairs to hassle with and our car was totally empty. We chose the afternoon direct train to Harwich so that we would not have the hassle of changing platforms in order to change trains.

In Harwich, the tourist information office is over a mile away from the station. What good does that do? Ron asked someone in the station if they knew of a B & B close to the station and dock. They called a B & B about five minutes away, but the room could not be ready for an hour. We had to hang out at the station, so we had an excuse to have a beer. The elevator did not work, so we schlepped the suitcases down two flights of stairs. The memory of why they have been sitting in London for the last four weeks came back to us in a flash, but we did make it to the B & B in about ten minutes.

At the guesthouse, the man who greeted us was perceptive enough to know that we did not want to lug the entire luggage to the room. It was an inspired decision. The staircase is very steep and the steps are extremely narrow. He took the two big bags into his office for safekeeping. With our boots on, we have to walk on the stairs sideways in order to have our feet fit on each step. We are on the second floor. The room is comfortable, but nothing luxurious. It will do for one night. We had asked our host where we could get something to eat, since it looked like we are in the middle of nothingness. He directed us to the back path through the residential area that will bring us to the local Safeway supermarket. “They have a restaurant there, but it closes at 7:00 pm. If you want the best choice, you need to get there before 6:00 pm,” he explained. It is a toss up as to what would get the most reaction, to say that we came all the way to England and ate at McDonalds or the Safeway restaurant. Again, it is a matter of any port in a storm.

The host was correct. We arrived at Safeway at 6:00 and they were pulling the hot food out of the display. No! Wait! Stop! Feed us first! Do you have any idea how humbling it is to beg to be allowed to buy food in a supermarket? Well this trip was meant for new adventures. Our choices were fish and chips, no, thank you, I will starve first or a meat pasty and chips. Well one of each. Ron will eat the fish and chips and probably part of my pasty. Let’s go all out, it is our last night in the United Kingdom.

Off we go tomorrow, fully armed with four suitcases and a backpack. When we open our two large suitcases again, it will be like Christmas. Since we have been without them for over a month, we have no idea what is in there that could be causing all of that back strain. They will be with us throughout now unless we find a place to rent for a couple of months, which is what I am hoping. For now, we are still content to spend time in various places, but the time gets extended as we go, so we don’t have to move so often.

When we settle in at the next stop, I will have all of the semi-finalists in the “Name Ryan’s Computer” Contest and then have all of you who are reading, vote for two names. More later.

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