Tag Archives: vacation

When in England my friends, look right but always–ALWAYS–stay left!

Good Morning, Residents of Crazie Town.

IMG_0604After a good night’s sleep in our tiny hotel room in Oxford, England, I am sitting in the conservatory (pronounced conservatree) having my morning cup of tea.  I managed to negotiate the non-American breakfast buffet (pronounced with the T as in Warren) and picked some nice poached eggs. I even bravely chose a colorful “meat” link, but avoided a black hockey puck described as “Blood Sausage.”

Ignoring all the gluten free/sugar free promises I made to myself, I quickly abandoned my properly Paleo plate of food and instead snarfed my way through a delicious, crumbly croissant slathered in soft butter.  Yum.

I feel fine, really.

I feel fine, really.

As for that nasty sinus infection I’ve been fighting for two weeks – the antibiotics kicked in the morning of our flight and I made it through just fine.  

In a rare fit of genius, I’d asked the gate agent to see if there were any empty rows on the plane.  He (not so kindly) moved us to a row of three, so I was able to stretch out and get a few hours of sleep on the seven hour flight to London.

Upon arrival, we rented a car and cleverly refused the expensive SatNav (GPS to you Americans) as I’d borrowed my brother’s for the trip.  Off we drove, happy as clams.

I think we were supposed to turn left back there

I think we were supposed to turn left back there

Unfortunately, I could only get the screen to display a wide purple line snaking up north with a little blue car that floated from east to west in no discernable pattern. Turns out, I should have downloaded the “UK Maps” app to the GPS before leaving.  Oops.

Since my husband has the confidence of Paul Bunyan, we drove on, following the highway signs for Oxford.  We arrived in the medieval village, bumped over cobblestone streets and raced around roundabouts for an hour, with me shouting “Stay left! Stay left!” every five minutes.

In order to avoid a head on collision, John took a sharp turn and we ended up in a teeny tiny parking lot with one narrow space available.  Our Vauxhall fit perfectly.  We managed to extract ourselves from the car and walked down the sidewalk to our right. Not really sure what we were looking for or how to find it, two blocks later we turned around and walked four blocks to our left, stopped and walked the two blocks back to where we started.

Passing the Cous Cous Cafe for the fourth time, I grabbed John’s elbow and yanked him inside. “Please,” I begged the guy behind the counter, “can you help us find our hotel.” He told about the time he’d gotten lost in France and how the gentleman he’d asked directions from, drove him to his location.  “So,” he said, “I will do the same for you.”  He left his waitress in charge of his restaurant, got his car and waited while we retrieved ours. Then we followed him through a dozen twists and turns, back out on to the M40 and directly to our hotel.

We have been moving non-stop ever since, interrupting our journey just long enough to stop at every pub my husband deems “real,” where I choke down another order of fish and chips.

My tea is cold and John is ready for our next adventure.  A three hour drive to Wales.  

IMG_0612When in England my friends, look right, but always, ALWAYS, stay left.

Peeping Toms, Ticks and Trouble

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Like any good Mid-Life Crisis purchase, the 1955 Aljoa camper I bought has been nothing but problems since the day I brought it home.
[Click here and here and here and here to get caught up.]

Image 1Recently, I was required to pay $300 for steel plates to be welded on the undercarriage that will support the special-ordered stabilizing jacks I needed because I’m a princess and can’t sleep in a crooked bed.

Then, on the way home from the the stabilizing jack installation, I failed to remove the grates off the stove and as I careened around turned a corner, they flew off and shattered into a zillion pieces.  Sigh. Do you know how hard it is to find someone who welds odd pieces of an un-nameable type of metal together?

Ignoring the fact that three windows were without screens and I had no spare tire, I decided Memorial Day weekend would be her maiden voyage. I was as excited as a five-year-old with a new toy.  Husband has not been all that thrilled with my mid-life crisis-itis so I planned the trip with my friend, Mary.

Homicidal Maniac

Peeping Tom

I was to arrive at her house by 9:30 so we could fill the water tank and tackle the last project preventing me from camping – installing blinds to keep all the Peeping Toms away. Yes, I’d be parking in the center of 130 acres of remote family farmland, but you never know who might be out there.

I got a bit of a late start because I needed to bring my entire home with me, including the two-year-old cowboy hat that’s never been worn. Everything but the kitchen sink

Then I had to hook up the camper by myself, which is no small feat, let me tell you.

Finally, I arrived on Mary’s doorstep at 10:30 am. I dragged eight roller blinds out of the car and onto the driveway.

“Uh-oh,” she said. “The cordless screwdriver isn’t working.”

“No problem.” I said, too excited to care who’d see me in my wrinkled birthday suit. I tossed the blinds in the back of the car and off we went.

“Uh oh,” Mary said, halfway to our destination.  “We forgot to fill the water tank.”

“No problem.” I laughed and pulled into the Home Depot where my niece, Kim, works.

Gettin' 'er done.She convinced them to let us use their garden hose to fill my little eight gallon tank. A small crowd gathered. We stood around talking and laughing while we waited for the tank to fill.

“Ha, ha,” Kim said. “It sure takes a long time to fill such a little tank.”

“It sure does!” I laughed.

Wait. It doesn’t take that long.

I ran to the other side of the camper where the tank was located. Water cascaded from under the cargo door.

“Uh-oh,” Mary said, handing the hose to Kim.

“No problem.” I hurried back to the side of the camper with the fill cap and snapped it shut. “Let’s just go.”

Mary and I climbed in the car and headed off to the farm. Thirty minutes later, I pulled off the road and onto the grass choked path that leads to a hill overlooking the entire property and miles beyond.

No peeping Toms here.Weirdly, the magic camping fairies had not prepared our camping site, so made an emergency call to brother Rick and nephew Jordan pleading with them to come out and mow a patch of grass for us.

While we waited for them to arrive, I opened the door to the camper. Water ran across the floor and out, onto my shoes.

“Uh-oh,” Mary said.

“No problem?” My confidence wavered.

We examined the source of the water and discovered that there wasn’t a leak. Evidently, back at Home Depot, we’d been overfilling the tank by several gallons and the water shot out a pinhole-sized air vent in the tank – sending water, not just out the cargo door, but all over the floor of the camper.

Grass WhistleFortunately I’m a germaphobe, so had everything packed inside plastic tubs. We dragged the contents of the camper out to the grass, but not before we set up our tick trap. Mary is a bug-aphobe and insisted we lay a white sheet down so we could see the ticks as they marched over to attack us. This would have been easier if the grass weren’t three feet tall, but we managed. We sat around in the sun making grass whistles, flicking creepy black ticks off the white sheet and waiting for the interior to dry.

I closed my eyes, tilted my face toward the bright sunshine and, sighed with contentment, knowing all my problems were behind me.

“Uh-oh,” I could hear Mary say. “This is Crazie Town and problems are never behind you.”

Tune in next week, for the rest of the story.