Days until our next trip

Morocco 2009

Written by ralph on 01/01/2010. Posted in Trips and journeys

In March 2009 we set out on an organised tour of Morocco.  The trip turned into the worst few weeks of our lives as we encountered one mechanical (and electrical) problem after another.


This is an edited and re-ordered version of the blog we kept at the time.

I have added additional photos and some extra wording at key points.  The full blog can still be found here.

tried to maintain a sense of humour throughout the trip and I hope this is reflected in the blog entries.  However I can assure you that it wasn’t funny at the time.  We had spent 18 months preparing for this trip, which was (we thought) a once in a lifetime opportunity for Alan and I to travel together with our wives on an adventure.

Anyhow, here is the blog:

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Trip

On the 28th March 2009, two Land Rovers will set out on a driving holiday to Morocco.  The first is the Defender 90 of my brother Alan and his wife Morag, the second is my Discovery  with me and my wife Belinda.

We will travel to Portsmouth and catch the P&O ferry to Bilbao in Northern Spain.  After two nights at sea we arrive on the Monday morning and set off on our journey south.   We will take three days travelling to Algeciras at the Southern tip of Spain where we will catch the ferry to Ceuta in Morocco.  We will spend two weeks in Morocco crossing the Atlas Mountains and on our way to the Sahara Desert.

Our journey home will take us through Spain once again but this time will continue driving north through France and cross the Channel at Calais.

To enable family and friends to keep up to date with our progress it is intended to try and post to this blog when we can. The availability of Internet cafes etc. will no doubt be erratic at best and when we get to Morocco itself, probably non-existent. However we will do our best.

The Vehicles

The two vehicles we are taking are a 1996 Land Rover Defender 90 and a 1995 Land Rover Discovery. Both vehicles have been modified to run on waste vegetable oil. We will be taking as much vegetable oil as we can fit in.  It will be in 20 Ltr Jerry cans and 2 Ltr lemonade bottles tucked into any available space.  Using waste vegetable oil as a fuel will allow us to drive at least part of the way with a low carbon impact.

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Saturday, 28 March 2009

We’re off

We finally got on the road at about 14:00 after frantically squeezing way too much into the car at the last minute.  We stopped (too) briefly to say goodbye to my Mum and set off rather sweaty and uncomfortable to meet Alan & Morag and catch the ferry at 20:00.  It would be a stressful journey against the clock.

Here is a piccy of the finished car including a few showing the sardine tin we planned to call home for the next few weeks.

04a Sunday, 29 March 2009

And so it begins

The ferry was delayed due to bad weather and Alan & Morag were due to board at 22:15.

When I last spoke to them they were enjoying a hot chocolate and packet of crisps courtesy of P&O (compensation for the delay).

We unfortunately were not so lucky.

Also you will see a picture of the recovery truck which brought us home.  All the way from Thickthorn (for those that don’t know its 20 miles from Gt. Yarmouth).  Yes thats right we didn’t even make it out of Norfolk.

It would seem that the fuel injection pump has finally given up the ghost.

We will be sitting outside the local 4X4 garage at ‘crack of spanners’ in the morning to see if they can source a replacement and get it fitted as soon as possible.

If we can get on the road sometime on Tuesday we can still make it to Algeciras (1600 miles away) to meet up with Alan & Morag before they cross to Africa.

They were hoping to use my laptop to keep this blog updated so if we don’t go this could have an impact upon the number of updates posted.

They should be arriving in Spain at 08:00 in the morning and I will be ringing them then.

I shall post again tomorrow to let you know what’s happening.

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Monday, 30 March 2009

Off to the garage

The car was picked up at 9 this morning to go and be fixed at the local 4×4 garage.

The owner seemed quite optimistic that they had a pump which could be fitted or they could get one in time for us to achieve a reasonable departure time.

Fingers, toes and anything else are all firmly crossed.

Meanwhile when last heard from Alan & Morag were negotiating a Spanish tollroad, trying to figure out how much it was going to cost them.  I believe the plan was to head for a camp site just south of Madrid. So at the moment everything is going well (for them at least).

Phew

We are finally on our way.  Our friends at JSF worked all day to repair the fuel injection pump.  We left Norwich at 17:30 and we are currently at Amanda (our daughter)  and Toms in Chatham. The car worked faultlessly.

Thanks very much to Steve and Jamie for all their efforts.

We have booked the 8:50 eurotunnel tomorrow which is about an hour away from here.

150 miles down, 1500 to go.

The last I heard from Alan & Morag was that they were in Toledo. The rain had stopped and they were searching for a campsite

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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Tonight’s episode

Hi all,  we have stopped at a town called Angers (just south of Le Mans).  So that we can get away quickly we have decided to forgo camping and stopped at a basic roadside hotel.

It is simple, clean and cheap :-).

We have just enjoyed a lovely meal and we will probably be in bed and asleep very early. I’m sure we will sleep well after the last few frantic days.

Thanks to Amanda and Tom for putting us up at short notice last night.

After all the problems, the car has performed well, cruising at 70 virtually all the way.

We caught the 08:50 chunnel (which was quick efficient and painless) and have made excellent progress on virtually empty roads (although the toll charges may explain that!).

We hope to be up early in the morning and get well into Spain by tomorrow evening.

Alan and Morag are too far ahead of us for us to catch them until Thursday but at least we will all be together for the Morocco leg of the trip. TTFN.

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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The long way down and across the border

530 miles today, and boy do we know it……

Driving over the Pyrenees is okay if you don’t have a wife that suffers from vertigo!!!

Anyhow, we left Angers at 08:00 this morning, stopped for lunch at Bordeaux, had a cup of coffee on the Spanish border and we are now snuggled in a hotel about 100km north of Madrid (hence the internet connection).

The roads have been truly amazing, we have managed to maintain 60-70mph virtually all the way.  The only downside is the fuel consumption; at 876 miles I finally had to admit defeat and actually pay for some diesel. Up until then it had only cost me £7 🙂

We have used toll roads most of the way, which has speeded things up but, of course, costs.

We still have a fair way to go tomorrow (probably 8 hours of solid driving) but at least we will get there.

I would like to post a nice picture of our tranquil campsite but instead this is where we are laying our heads tonight.

TTFN

17 Thursday, 2 April 2009

Latest update

Belinda and I arrived at the camp site at about 19:00  after another 500 mile slog across Spain.

The views were stunning although Belinda had a few hissy-fits as we came over some of the mountain passes.

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Friday, 3 April 2009

As I type this the ferry is just pulling away from the quay. Although I will send it from Africa.

Alan is telling salty sea stories about the good old days in Gibraltar and Creamy bear iis sitting safely in the car in the hold.

Unfortunately we are not able to go out on deck to take photos but I’m sure we will make up for it later.

TTFN

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Together for such a short time

We landed safely in Ceuta and after much to-ing and fro-ing between various booths collecting forms, filling in forms, getting forms stamped and then giving the forms back again we were finally allowed into Morocco.

Morag was reprimanded by 6 Moroccan policemen when she tried to take a picture of creamy bear.  She managed it once they went away!!

I wasn’t so lucky, once through the border I stopped to take a picture of Alan coming through.  A policeman took exception to this and confiscated my camera in order to remove the film.  After 15 minutes of negotiation in very bad french I finally convinced him that there was no film in my digital camera.  However I did have to delete the photos of the border.

We then headed south towards Fes.

En route we stopped at a supermarket much like an Asda or Tescos (it even sold scooters!) And filled up with fuel (diesel is about 2/3 rds the price here)

Unfortunately we didn’t make it without incident.  We planned to stop at a town called Ouezzane but my car had other ideas.  The constant hill climbs took its toll and it overheated.  Dave (our group leader) had to tow me to the town where the worst was diagnosed.

27 It is either a blown cylinder head gasket or a cracked head.  Either way it was un-driveable.

After a lot of discussion the rest of the group (including Alan & .Morag) have continued on.

The discovery was last seen being attacked by about 10 Moroccan mechanics who have promised to get me back on the road before Monday (sooner if they do not have to skim the head).  In the meantime we are staying in a small hotel just down the road from the garage.

Hopefully we can catch up with the others before the desert crossing.

Only time will tell. ……….

28 Saturday, 4 April 2009

A lazy day

I have not heard from Alan & Morag so I can’t report much there other than the fact that they stayed for 2 nights in Fes rather than 1.

Not too much progress today as it is a half day here.  The head was removed from the engine and the mechanic drove it to Kenitra (the nearest big town) to have it ‘skimmed’.  It is back now and the engine block is being prepared.  The mechanic is now off to Rabat or Casablanca to source a gasket!

I will have another update in the morning.

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Sunday, 5 April 2009

Trip to the Medina

The car is nearly back together but everything is shut now until tomorrow.

In the meantime we took a trip into the town this morning with one of the motel staff that can speak english.  He took us to the medina (old town) and showed us the souk (market) and the flea market.  He even took us to his home and got special permission for us visit the palace.

I wish I could post some pictures to show you how special this all was.  It was like a cross between a star wars town, the magic shops from the first Harry Potter film and something from the hobbit!

We saw weavers, embroiderers, blacksmiths, carpenters and cobblers all working by the side of cobbled streets in small workshops.

We bought a hand woven blanket from a 75 year old weaver who works in a 10 X 10 room with barely any light and no electricity.

The people were friendly and very welcoming.

Although we planned to visit Fes and Marrakech, Ouzzane is not a tourist centre so we feel that we have had a chance to see the ‘real’ morocco and experience something very special.

With every cloud there is a silver lining.

TTFN

40 Monday, 6 April 2009

She breathes again!!!!

Yes the disco is running and sounding very good. Unfortunately the pre-heater relay was fried by the heat.  So as I type this the mechanics are in town trying to source a suitable replacement.  If they can’t the electrician will create a ‘manual relay’ system to allow us to continue.

They are also keen to do a complete oil change to be on the safe side.

Lunchtime is now looking a distinct possibility 🙂

More later (hopefully from a place further south)

43 We’re off again

Finally away at 13:40 and the car is running fine.  The electricians ‘manual bypass’ worked perfectly.

As I type this we are sitting in a campsite just outside Marrakech after a 500+km dash down the coast.

We have made contact with Dave and the group have just arrived at the Todra Gorge having crossed the high Atlas mountains via off-road tracks.

We are approximately 250-300k away and we hope to meet up with them tomorrow as the original plan was to stay 2 nights at Todra.

Then it’s the Sahara……..

I hope the next update will see us sitting with Alan & Morag again

TTFN.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Enough is enough

We set off this morning to try and meet up with the rest of the gang at the Todra gorge.  The original plan meant that they would be there for 2 nights so we should have got there easily this evening.

Unfortunately because they stayed an extra night at Fes they have set off today for Merzouga.  They will stay there for 2 days and then do the desert crossing.

Dave has sent a text this morning to say that we shouldn’t attempt the desert crossing.  After this and several failed attempts to stay in touch, there seemed no point in rushing to catch up only to watch everyone leave again.

So we have turned around and we are heading home.  We are now on the main road from Marrakech heading north.

Although you may think that we should try and make the most of where we are, without a guide that is very difficult. The roads are manic, hotels and campsite are not signposted.  All other signs are in Arabic or French and we feel completely uncomfortable.  We wanted to complete this holiday as a group.  Travelling completely on your own constantly chasing to catch up is not what we had in mind and is not enjoyable.

We will keep you informed

46

Another few miles another problem

As I type this we are sitting in a back street of a town called Settat.

77k from Casablanca the engine started making a load banging noise.  We managed to pull off onto some services but it was obviously serious and un-driveable.

Using very poor French and even poorer Arabic we managed to get recovered on the back of a very tatty truck to this garage.  Once they stripped off the cover it would seem that one of the bolts holding down the rocker arm has stripped the threads in the head.  Using Alan’s AA French phrase book, I have asked them if they can fix it and the answer is Oui!

Apart from that I can’t figure out much else.  We have been sitting here about 45 minutes and one of the guys has run off somewhere with the bolt.  We have no idea how much it will cost, how long it will take, when we will be on the road or where we will sleep tonight…..!

We sent a text to Dave our (so called) guide to ask for some guidance when we first broke down.  We recieved a response asking us to find a land-line!  Not the easiest of things to do when you have no idea where you are and don’t speak the language.  By the time we got this response we had already managed to get recovered to the garage.  This was the last message we ever recieved from him.  We didn’t know about the satelite phone until we got home and we never had the number.  However, he did have ours?

Who needs Eastenders when you can get all this excitement?

I bet you can’t wait for the next thrilling instalment. …..

…..Neither can we!

47 Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Another 24 hours of ups and downs

When we left you, oh intrepid reader, we were pondering our fate in the backstreets of a small town in the middle of nowhere.  Since then there have been highs, some major lows and a lot more miles.

By 21:00, Sebo (the mechanic) and his motley crew of about 8 had managed to drill, re-tap the head and fit a modified stud.  The rockers were replaced, cover fitted and she started first time and was running lovely. Total cost 600 dihrums (about £60).

We then headed into town to find a hotel….

What a mistake it was like driving into a washing machine full of people.  Having run over several donkeys and goats and crushed a few market stalls we beat a hasty exit and headed for Casablanca.  There had to be a hotel there?

But (there’s always a but with us) we had just paid the toll to enter what they call a motorway here when the car suddenly died.  Just on the slip road in total darkness.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, appeared the most enthusiastic and insane breakdown recovery man you would ever want to meet.

He proceeded to pull wires and hoses and tweak and probe everything in the engine bay.  Once I mentioned the word fuel, he seemed to go into a frenzy of sucking the diesel hose from the filter and spitting it onto the floor.  This seemed to go on forever, however as he was having his 3rd pint of diesel to drink I discovered the blown fuse which had caused the problem.

5 minutes later (having reconnected all the things he undone) we were away with crazy repair man following.

But (there it is again) we managed to travel about a mile onto the even darker motorway when the same thing happened.  I immediately went to replace the fuse again (30 amp) which blew as soon as I put it in.  This indicated a major electrical problem somewhere.  We were not in a safe position

Just then in a blaze of amber beacons crazy diesel drinking repair man arrived and insisted on by passing the fuse with a bit of wire.  I stopped him quite sternly.  He tried to tell me how unsafe things were.  I pointed out how an electrical fire could be Slightly worse!  At this he decided to leave, wishing us “bon chance” and leaving us with 3 bollards to protect us.

It took me another 15 minutes to figure out that the ‘manual bypass’ fitted by the electricians yesterday had shorted out.  10 more minutes with the wire cutters and crimpers and a ‘bypass’ bypass was fitted.

Casablanca here we come…

48 We were in luck as we drove into Casablanca. On the main road was the Ibis hotel.But (here we go again) the receptionist took one look at Belinda and said they were full.  I had to sit outside as I couldn’t switch the engine off without a set of wirecutters.

So off we went again into the maelstrom that is Casablanca traffic to find another hotel.  Easy.

Actually, not easy at all.  We drove around for over an hour trying to find somewhere with no joy.

In the end we set off north, back onto the motorway.  At eleven we finally stopped a service area, parked up with all the trucks, got out the sleeping bags and slept in our seats.

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Thursday 10 April 2009

Beyond Casablanca & the dreaded border crossing

This morning was a brighter day.  A chance to make the ‘bypass bypass’ more sound, a nice cup of tea and we were off bright and early.  We stopped and made ourselves a picnic breakfast and all was well in the world.  We should be in Ceuta by early afternoon and in Spain by early evening.

But (sigh). Moroccan signs are not as good as we would have liked once the motorway ran out.  We ended up missing a vital sign (if it was ever there!) and travelling about 25 miles on roads which look like they had been strafed by a bomber!  To make it worse they went high over them mountains with shear drops on either side and very (very) steep climbs and drops.

The views were stunning over the med and over the mountains.  Unfortunately Belinda spent most of the time braced rigid with her eyes shut.

Anyway, we eventually got to the border which was chaos incarnate.  2 hours to travel 200 yards!  Belinda did a brilliant job.  Fighting her way through the mass of people on foot, finding the correct window (not as easy as you might think) and getting the passports stamped, while I sat in the car queue edging slowly forward wordering where she had dissapered too!

In the end it worked out perfectly with me arriving at the head of the queue just as Belinda reached the passport window.  We got the car importation form signed by a, completely uniterested, man in a uniform (we assume he was allowed to!), drove through the gates and we were in Spain, yippee.

Out of courtesy we sent another text to Dave to let him know that we were through the border and to ask if the ferry tickets were ‘open’.  We recieved no response.

50 The ferry was leaving at. 17:30.  At 17:05, with squealing tyres we arrived at the terminal keen to board.

But (sigh again), like Philios Fog we had forgotten the 1 hour time difference and we had missed the boat by 35 minutes….

As I type these last two post we have been sitting in the queue for the next ferry. We are at the front (surprisingly) and we will sail for Europe in the next 15 minutes.

What happens next, is anybodies guess…..

TTFN

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Friday, 10 April 2009

And what next?

Things took an uncomfortable upturn in Algeciras.

Having arrived late we decided to aim for the nearest hotel (that would let Belinda in off course).  We ended up at the 4 star Hotel Olympia. From truckstop to 4 stars in less than a day, not bad.

The uncomfortable part was that we didn’t actually check the price.

The hotel was fabulous; huge room, marble bathroom, minibar, etc. etc.  We slept like babies (with a niggling doubt about the bill in the morning).

Result 🙂 only 100 euros so we were well chuffed.

Bright and early (well 11:00) we set of to try and make the most of the journey home.

Because Belinda was so uncomfortable with the high mountain passes, we decided to try the coast road along the Mediterranean and then drive up directly through France.

53 We stopped at a little cafe and had a coffee and croissant (as you do) and poodled along through Marbella and on to Malaga.  Things were looking good, the scenery was stunning and the weather was beautiful.

But……..

The downward spiral

It was obvious that the last few days had taken their toll on both of us.  The erratic sleeping and eating, the constant rushing combined with the worries about the car was too much for us to enjoy anything.

For Belinda it was worse.  The high mountain roads with shear drops meant that she was unable to relax at all.  In the end there was only one thing to do.

We drove to Malaga airport where I booked Belinda on the next flight to Stansted.  She flew out at 17:30. It was probably the lowest point of the trip (or so I thought).

54 This just left me with the 1200+ mile drive home.

Still the car was running fine, the weather was good, I had an iPod with 3000 songs on it and enough baked beans and tinned food to keep me going for months.

So with Tom Tom set for home, warp engines engaged, Robert Plant on the iPod, off I set…….

55 The last, very last and ultimate straws

100 miles, that’s all I managed.

50k north of Granada, Sebo’s repair failed and the rocker arm came loose again (post blog note.  Sebo’s fix was okay it was a different stud).

I managed to pull over onto the hard shoulder of a slip road on the A44.

I must confess to feeling a tad ‘down’ at that point.

Looking at the map I don’t think I could have picked a more isolated spot if I’d tried.

Still there was always Brittannia Rescue.  So warning triangles in place, hazard flashers on, exact location written down I made the call.

A very nice lady in Bradford informed me that their European division would be in touch very shortly and I would soon be sorted.

Of course, as an avid follower of this blog, you know that wasn’t going to be the case, don’t you?

You are of course correct.

A case of mistaken identity?

I waited an hour before I rung again, I though an hour was fair.

The nice lady in Bradford said “that’s strange, they should have called you by now, I’ll chase it up”

So I waited.

I waited another hour before I rung again, I though another hour was fair.

The nice lady in Bradford told me that they had received a fax, some 50 minutes earlier, from their European colleagues to tell her that my car was fixed and I was on my way.

I pointed out that I was still sitting in the car, on the slip road, with 2 triangles out, a hi-viz jacket on, hazard flashers flashing, bonnet up and that it most certainly was not fixed, nor had anyone contacted me.  She said “that’s strange, I’ll chase it up”

I waited yet another hour before I rung again, I though yet another hour was fair.

The nice man in Bradford (the nice lady had gone home) said that his European colleagues had the wrong contact phone number and when they called it, it turned out that that person has broken down as well, so they sent the assistance to him.  Where, in Europe, that person was I have no idea, but obviously there must be two unreliable orange automatic discoveries being driven by someone called Hardwick driving around Europe.  At least I shouldn’t feel that I’m the only one suffering.

Eventually the European colleagues did contact me to ask me my name, colour and type of car, if it was automatic or manual and where I was.

Through gritted teeth I informed them.

I waited another hour before I rung again, I though another hour was fair.  Just as I rung a recovery truck arrived with 2 cheery souls on board who took me to one of the most isolated villages in Spain.

After an extremely difficult (at an other time amusing) conversation in worse Spanish than my previous attempts at French and Arabic I finally discovered that it is the Spanish fiesta, so no one will even look at my car before Saturday.

Eventually a hotel was organised and a taxi took me back half the distance I had managed to travel so far to my bed.

Or so I thought…..

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And so it goes on

Remember that fiesta thingy I mentioned.

Well my hotel was right in the centre of Granada, on any other occasion, ideal.  During the fiesta not ideal.

The police had condoned off the entire city centre and would not let the taxi driver in.

He could speak no English so he wrote down the name of the hotel, waved his arms about a lot as if giving directions that I understood and left me to walk the last kilometre into the shear turmoil of packed streets, brass bands, fireworks and what looked like parades of klu klux clan members clutching giant silver crosses and wailing a lot.

Still after what I’d been through this was just childs play.

It took about 45 minutes but I got there in the end, eventually getting to the hotel at about 23:30. Which turned out to be rather nice actually.

I was starving so I set off into the wild streets to find food.

It’s amazing how the kebab has become the universal food constant throughout the globe.  Macdonalds may have the name but the kebab has been fighting and undercover take over for years.  Anyhow I digress.

The plan was that I would sleep tonight and a nice man from Bradford would ring me in the morning to sort out my flights home.

Off course you know it’s not going to happen like that, don’t you?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A new day, a new dawn (some hope)

Bright and early this morning Ross (for that is the name of the nice man from Bradford) rang and confirmed all the details and said he would now speak to his European colleagues to sort out all the details.  They would be in touch shortly and he would ring back in 2 hours to make sure all was well.

He rang back in 2 hours, all was not well. I had heard nothing.   It was now 10:30. He said he would chase it up as we had requested his European colleagues to book a flight and contact me.

5 minutes later one of his European colleagues finally decided to contact me (perhaps they had learned of my extraordinary language skills?) to ask my name, passport number and few other bits.  I told them that I was prepared to fly to any UK airport at anytime during what is left of this rapidly diminishing day.

The sounds of room service were getting closer and closer and I would soon be evicted from my room.

Ross called (remember him) to check that things were progressing. He assured me that he had already complained to his European colleagues and would chase them up regularly.  I didn’t hold my breath!

At 11:30 I buckled under the ongoing pressure from room service and vacated to the sitting area downstairs.

At 13:30 I was approached by the receptionist who informed me that my room had been extended for another night and was I happy about it.  I was bl**dy delirious.

I called Ross.

It turns out he had done his as a contingency and that he is waiting for confirmation of a flight from his European colleagues (woopie, I thought).

So fans, here I sit. It is 13:35 I have managed (as you can see) to get my laptop connected via wifi and to fill the time I have decided to share with you all.

The toll so far:

2539 miles under own steam, 3 recovery trucks, 2 tows, 190 litres of vegetable oil, A lot more diesel, 1 rebuilt fuel injection pump, 1 cylinder head skim, 1 cylinder head gasket, 1 pre-heater relay bypass, 1 pre-heater relay bypass bypass, 4 30 Amp fuses, 2 Moroccan garages, 2 nights actually camping, Several nights in various hotels, 1 night in a car park, 3 countries, 47 different languages and….

….1 marriage

41Still after all this the sun is shining, Alan and Morag seem to have had a good time and we have seen some amazing things.

Once you have seen live cows on a roof rack, the world is never quite the same again (yes you did read that correctly!).

Hopefully my next post will be from my blackberry sitting at the airport.  Of course once I’m back in the UK I will still have to sort the car out.  It shouldn’t be a problem as I have all those ‘European colleagues’ to help me……..(sigh)

And so at last; the end is near… …or is it?

Having spent all day waiting for those ‘European colleagues’ to contact me I finally exploded down the phone at the nice man in Bradford.  Who then told me that it can take up to 24 hours for them to confirm any flights.  However, if I wanted to make my own arrangements I could and any receipts would be reimbursed.  You may think that the phrase “you could have told me earlier” would be my first expression.  You would be wrong. It was actually my second, I can’t print the first!

I knew that I had missed all the available UK flights from Granada but there were plenty from Malaga.

So I gave those European colleagues one more chance to redeem themselves.

I asked Ross to get them to book me a hire car so that I could drive to Malaga.  If I didn’t hear back in a reasonable time I would get a taxi.

You can guess what came next can’t you?

After the 180 euro, one and half hour taxi ride to Malaga I finally got a phone call to tell me that it wasn’t possible to hire a car from Granada to the UK (sigh).

The next step was to find a flight, it was now 17:30;

Good times: there was a flight to Stansted at 20:30.

Bad times: it was with Ryan air.

Now I’m not an airline snob. I’ll fly with anyone as long as the seats on the inside.

But Ryan air, well they are amazing.  You cannot book tickets at the airport, you have to do it online or by phone. No problem!

Yes it is!

After trying 5 different numbers I finally found out that there was a flight at 20:30 (really!)  And they there were seats available but you had to book them at the airport.  See where I’m going here?

I tried to explain to the nice lady in a call centre in Reykjavik, that I couldn’t book them at the airport as the only Ryan air desk here is for the (presumably) mountains of lost luggage they have.  I assumed may day had come early based upon the number of times we went around this one. Until my battery went flat (in my brain that is, not the phone).

The nice lady at the lost luggage desk said the only way to book a Ryan air flight was on the phone, although she did finally suggest I tried an airport travel agent.

Good times: Aha! I thought a way forward.

Bad times: The travel agent was just locking her door as I arrived.  She was, however, very nice and explained to me the brilliant Ryan air system.  Which is…..?

You can’t book flights on the day of departure!

Yes, you read it right. If you don’t believe me, try it on their webpage.

So there I was; at the airport, with flight leaving within 2 hours, there seats available and I had the money for the ticket….

You would think that before they considered making money by charging you to go to the toilet, they would allow you to buy a ticket, wouldn’t you?

Anyhow, I am now booked on the 22:35, Easyjet flight to Stansted arriving at 00:30.

One of those nice European colleagues has just rung me to say that a taxi will be waiting to take me home. We shall see……

I’ll finish this post with a final bit of good news (shock horror).  They have confirmed that the discovery will be repatriated and will be delivered in 2 weeks.

Funnily enough, that’s about the same time that we had planned to arrive and when Alan & Morag will get home.

Life is full of little ironies like that, isn’t it.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The closing act?

It’s one o’clock in the morning, the plane took off late but landed on time.

Guess what?  The taxi was waiting.  Perhaps there’s hope for those European colleagues after all.

I’m desperately hoping that I will doze off in the taxi and walk out of the shower tomorrow with Belinda telling me it was all a dream……Cry

58Sunday, 26 April 2009

Epilogue

With yet more inefficiency the disco was delivered to a car park three quarters of a mile away from my house.

Thanks to Alan, who had arrived home the day before, for towing me home.

The discovery is now parked on the drive after a lot of pushing and shunting.

The final end to a very sorry tale.

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