Monday, 11 March 2013

132 Scotland and Ongar

Whilst we were in Scotland we had an invite to attend the local village 'Burns Night'. Mum and Sandy were already going and two people had dropped out. It was a posh affair so we had to go out and get some new togs and appropriate Tartan ties etc. It was a great night and it was hosted by the guy that bought Mum and |Sandys farm, Jock Roam. The only small glitch was that the tickets we were allocated had also been given to someone else but that was soon sorted out. It was a brilliant evening with pipers and a burning haggis being sacrificed !

Something we discovered whist here was the need for an American Visa. We had assumed that the 90 days we were allowed without one would re-start every time we re-entered the USA from Canada. We were wrong, Doh!
An electronic application and  £200 later we had arranged n interview at the US embassy in London for next week.
Our stay in Scotland came to and end and we had had a wonderful time. Mum and Sandy are still getting to grips with their new place but the stress of moving is now in the past.

A slow drive in Gromit back to Bob and Liz's place and we set up camp in their garden (again), this time not in the sheep shed but just outside it. The new caravan was extremely comfortable compared to the old one but it took a while to get all the systems up and running. Once done we settled in nicely and set about preparing for our upcoming trip.

Our per-arranged trip to the US embassy went well and  our visas were granted. It was strange getting on the train to go back into London after all this time. It's still crap. The Passports/visa's arrived a couple of days later.

We got Wallace back from the tuners and after paying a small fortune for the tune up, Wallace was like a missile. The difference was incredible. It was very quick but crucially, it was smooth at low speed which is what we need.

Next on the list was the inoculation merry go around. As we were going through the Amazon, the list of jabs was like a small phone directory. At least our arms thought so. We have had 5 each so far and still have 2 more to go.

We needed to buy some new bike gear and attended the Excel bike show in Docklands. We bought 2 new helmets, a couple of heated jackets, some soft panniers and some bottle carriers for the rear of the panniers.
Once home, it was a marathon task to set Wallace up for the long trip. The headed clothing needed wiring into the bike and I also added a 12v supply to one of the panniers to charge the laptop whilst on the move. I fitted a few switches to turn off the microphones and another to turn off the communications system. I also installed the soft panniers to the front of the bike. It started to look like a barge. It was massive but looked real cool. Or so Benjamin thought as he asked to be picked up from school to show off to his mates. It worked. When I was at his school kitting him up for the trip home all his mates were swarming around and a Maserati car drove by. One boy pointed it out and I asked which he would rather be going home on. Wallace won. Ben was made up.

Another problem that reared it's head was our driving licenses. Liz had seen an article somewhere stating that an international driving permit was required for America. A trip to the post office revealed that Karen needed one and I needed two, an extra one for Brazil !

Whist in the UK we decided to bully Trula into getting her driving license. She sorted out her theory test and once that was out of the way, she booked a practical for the 6th of March. Fingers are crossed. After many I mean driving lessons, both from me  and her instructor the test day arrived. I took her for a short lesson beforehand and then a bacon butty at the Cornish Cafe in Harlow. It was then all over bar the tears and I drove her to the test centre in Penny - as named by Rosie, our 1996 blue Ford Fiesta. Trula drove the last couple of streets to the test centre and reverse parked into a bay. Ten minutes later, she was off and beyond help.
The expectant father paced up and down and 30 minutes later I watched Trula drive back into the centre. My fingernails were getting shorter till I saw her lean over from the driving seat and give the tester a big hug. Phew ! Turns out he was also a retired Met Police officer. :)

Well done Trula. First test and only 2 faults. At least she did not give me a hard time for the bullying.

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