Sunday, 2 March 2014

283 Home at last

Having finally arrived back in the UK I take this opportunity to thank all those people that made this trip worthwhile, be it with simple goodwill or a bed in your fantastic houses. We will not forget and hope that one day we can reciprocate. You know who you are. ;-)

Friday 8th February 2014
Miles today....who cares ....  not me..... we're home now....
The flight to Madrid was horrible. For some reason neither of us could sleep and when the plane landed after about 16 hours we were knackered and to London could not get our boots back on. My left leg was huge (having had DVT some years ago) and I was worried that it may have come back. We did however mange to tuck away some films and therefore saved ourselves a few quid on cinema visits.
The window views leaving South America were pretty impressive though.

This is by far the best example of a storm 'Anvil' I have ever seen.

It's not often you see a weather front this distinctly.
Our connecting flight to London was a couple of hours so we bimbled about aimlessly and ended up supping coffee when we heard the last call for flight 3162 to London. Oops.
The second flight was more basic than the first with no entertainment but we did not care, we just wanted to be home - whatever home is ?
Our daughter Trula was due to meet us  at Heathrow airport and as the plane was early and our bags were out first we were a little early and had to wait a while. We again got got a cup of horribly expensive coffee and as we sat down to drink it there was a 'Tannoy' call for Raymond Hall to go somewhere, the location of which I missed.  Oh my God, what have I done this time ? It took a while to figure out where I needed to go, some airport information people do not know what a 'Tannoy' is. Eventually I went to the airport control office and asked what they wanted. It turned out that they wanted Raymond Hall but not yours truly. Apparently, there was another Raymond Hall in the same coffee shop as us waiting to pick up his son. What are the odds of that. Pleased that I had not been arrested I went back down to join Karen just as Trula and Jim came into the coffee shop.
It was great to see her again after 10 months and it was hugs and kisses all round, except for Jim that is, I am not like that ! He just got shakes and man hugs.
We set off around the worlds largest car park (the M25 London orbital highway for you Americans) and it did not disappoint us with its reputation. The 40 miles took about 3 hours. Nice one and welcome back to London !
We arrived in Harlow at about 1pm and went to the Cornish Cafe where we met Paul, the proprietor who I have known for years. He served us all up the biggest fat boys ENGLISH breakfast. It was fantastic. No other country in the World does a breakfast like the British.
After a very late breakfast we went to Billy Kingsbury's place and collected the Landrover. We now had transport - wohoo. Billy, my brothers best mate had taken it out that morning and put it through its MOT roadworthiness test.  I like to look after my vehicles and this one, despite being 18 years old and having sat for a year sailed through with no problems. Thanks Bill.
We then drove to the 'Green Man' at Old Harlow that had a small hotel tacked onto the back of a great British pub. Another Wohoo.

Saturday 9th February 2014
Todays job was to dig the caravan out of storage and set it up at Hertford site. We went to the site to book a place and were given a Spanish inquisition from the new site manager as to how long we were going to spend there. Apparently they had and still have people living there permenantly and the council busy-bodys didn't like it.
Once that crap was settled we picked up the caravan and gave it a quick was, it was in interesting shade of mildew green. By the time we got onto site it was dark and the only real priority was to set up the bed and the satellite dish for some  English speaking TV. The night was finished off with a smelly but tasty kebab and a few tins of strong, room temperature, English Abbot ale. I have craved this falling down liquid for many months !

Sunday 10th February 2014
A serious sort out day. Whilst being away the roofing felt came off our garage during a storm and a good portion of our worldly goods were stored in there. The roof was repaired professionally by a neighbour but in the mean time a lot of water had come through and soaked the inside. The floor was carpeted and there were 2" diameter mushrooms growing through it. It was horrible, soaking wet and stank. We are luckier than many in the UK at this time, some have water to chest height in their houses. It has apparently been raining in the UK  for about 3 months. It took me a while but I extracted the Wallace's trailer and put it back together. There was a lot of horrible work to be done in here. Hopefully most things will be OK as I wrapped most things in plastic to stop damp over the winter. We live in hope.

Monday 10th February 2014
I have been tracking Wallace's flight progress on the Internet and saw that he had landed over the weekend. So, it was time to hitch up the trailer and drive back to Heathrow to pick up our trusty steed that had looked after us for the last 10 months. I arrived at the British Airways cargo terminal only to be told that they have the bike but I will need to clear it through customs first. Not a problem I thought. It is my bike, it is registered and tax paid here, this is my country and I speak the language. After all the madness of Central and South American countries this should be a breeze. Wrong.
Customs, it turns out has been moved to Manchester, 150miles further North. This is the busiest airport in the World and it has no customs post. Whaaaaaaat !!!
Luckily, the BA staff took pity on me and helped me with the paperwork and faxing of it to Manchester. The customs officers too were helpful and turned the paperwork around in two hours instead of 12 as is the norm.
Once the clearance had been sent through I waited my turn to collect Wallace at the cargo bay. When called forward and I first spotted Wallace I got ridiculously exited, much to the amusement of the cargo handlers. They were watching a 57 year old acting like a 7 year old at Christmas. They let me down gently by saying all us bikers are the same when we are reunited with our bikes. You can take the biker off the bike but you can't take the bike out of the biker.
An hour later and newly reassembled Wallace fired up first flick as usual.
I got him on the trailer, tied him down and got a call from Arun, the Indian guy from last week. After telling him my tale of woe with customs, he hired a cargo handler to do the customs in about an hour. He had just finished clearance and his bike was being wheeled out so I stopped inside the cargo area and helped him put his bike back together. Remember, he had never taken a wheel off a bike so it was logical that he had never put one back on either !
That done, it was back in the Landrover to take on the worlds largest car park again and on to our very humble abode.

We spent the next 2 weeks visiting relatives and generally sorting out admin crap that had accumulated over the last 10 months.

One of the problems was sorting out our garage that the roofing felt had stripped off in a December storm. The roof was now completely fixed but the volume of stuff and the carpets inside, kept the place very wet and damp. We took a lot of stuff that had been damaged by water and hence mildew to the rubbish tip. Fortunately I had previously covered much of out furniture etc in plastic to protect it from damp, it kept the water out too.

We managed to borrow a box trailer from a old friend and took a lot of the furniture and perishables to our lock up in Scotland.

It was good to meet up with Karen's Mum and Dad. They were keen blog watchers and were complaining that we have not posted for a while. Fair one.

The weather in the UK has been absolutely horrible for months and everywhere is completely waterlogged if not under water. The rivers have virtually all burst their banks and many people's houses are under water. This is the local river Nith where the river meets the tidal estuary.

There is usually a 7 or 8 foot drop here.