Monthly Archives: August 2014

Doha the First few days

As you may or may not know, depending if you know me personally or not, I am not one for hanging around and wait for things to happen or to fall on my lap. I always feel it is better to hit the ground running rather than starting gradually, so, via various modes of communication (mainly Facebook), I set off on a mission to get a car, but first things first, other things happened before that!

First day of School!

After a lovely and relaxing Saturday evening the fun started on Sunday, as you may or may not be aware, working week in this neck of the woods is Sunday to Thursday (it is actually quite strange how normal it felt), Sunday was the first day on the induction agenda for Cathy (it included no teaching partners, hence why I tagged along), our instructions were to be by the bus stop at 11:30 (fortunately it is virtually outside our block, at these sort of temperatures you really don’t want to hang around for too long waiting). We arrived at the bus stop at 11:25 and waited, we were soon joined by another new arrival who also waited with us. After a few minutes a large white SUV arrived, it was one of the Assistant Directors of Primary apologising profusely but the mini bus had been and gone…… early! He told us to go back to our apartments and wait and he will sort something out. Some 10 to 15 minutes later he was back along with a mini bus. We drove around the compound collecting people and we were soon on our way to school. This was the first opportunity to meet some of the new arrivals, some of which had arrived a few hours earlier! most of the new arrivals are New Zealanders and Australians with a few Americans and Brits. We all arrived at school, soon after (it is only 2 km from our compound, it will make a nice change for Cathy compared to the 160 km round trip she was doing in Spain!). I like to think I have a pretty comprehensive vocabulary but quite honestly, there are no words to describe this building. The architecture, the design and the layout are simply beyond what I am capable to describe, awesome does not come anywhere near to doing this place justice.
We were guided to the cafeteria where there were very smartly laid out tables and the most amazing range of foods, as well as waiters and waitresses circulating offering everybody a lovely selection of juices (remember, no alcohol here! Before we could tuck into this succulent banquet, there were several very interesting speeches. Once the speeches were over, it was time to feast on this fine banquet and to mingle.
Sunday was to be a short day, by 2:15 or so, we were back home, next on the agenda was a shopping trip to Landmark Shopping Centre. Once again we were collected by the school mini bus and taken to this incredible shopping centre. We did all our shopping in Carrefour, we were delighted to see that generally speaking, prices are not much higher than Spain or even UK for food shopping. After our shopping expedition, we were taken back home where we soon proceeded to throw everything into its rightful place, grabbed our swimming gear and went for our evening swim.

Back at the Helm Looking After Katja

We are extremely lucky that Katja gets a place at school as school places in Doha are at a premium, not only that but she gets to go to an excellent school, however, the only issue is that she doesn’t start until 7th September and when she does, she will finish at 13:40 (we think), Cathy doesn’t finish until 15:00 hrs, which means me picking her up and then picking Cathy up, or something like that.
10372818_10204249798543386_3917128990925147435_oCathy went off to school happily and waited for the bus at 08:30, bear in mind that by that time the temperature is already around 38 degrees, this time the bus was late, but at least it came!
Kati and I watched Frozen, for the millionth time, had a lazy sort of start to the day before heading off to the club house to check out the games room and other facilities. we then returned home, had some lunch and Kati dosed off, Cathy arrived not long after.

Getting Mobile! 10473363_10204244529771670_9019754275757579588_o

I had arranged via Facebook to pick up a hire car, after all, we are in an amazing area and we really can’t wait to start exploring. It is also the penultimate stage of us feeling at home (the final stage is when our shipment arrives). Qatar has (and I say this in the nicest and most respectful possible way) a rather minimalistic approach to road signs and directions, I haven’t noticed too many signs or road names, in addition to this, I have been told that due to the quick expansion in roads, having a GPS isn’t that much help either. we booked a driver to pick us up from the compound, someone who had been highly recommended by people who have been here quite some time. Jamal (our driver) turned up bang on time to pick us up, he was unsure as to where we were going (not too reassuring but as we were on an agreed price it didn’t matter) so he range the car hire people for directions. We arrived in this most amazing building and walked along its corridors until we found the car hire company, oddly enough it is called Sydney Car Rentals, perhaps I was in the wrong country! Once again, we were greeted by incredibly helpful and efficient people who could not do enough for us. we had the contract explained, even offered a choice of car colours too. We did all the paperwork required and then it was time to pay. For some reason, the lady took the deposit as one transaction which went through no problems, however, she then tried to take a second payment from the card which of course set off some sort of security alert in Spain (Spanish credit card) and the card was blocked…..ooops. Paco or Pepe did their job in blocking the card for security reasons, unfortunately there was nobody at the end of the phone for us to speak to because banks in Spain shut at 2 o’clock…. marvelous. Fortunately, I had brought with me some Euros to change in to Riyals which was pretty much exactly how much the car hire was! However, this is not the Eurozone, next challenge was to change currency before the car hire guys shut shop. Because I wanted us to get back home quickly and not taking the scenic route via Yemen, I had asked Jamal to wait for us and then to drive back to our compound so I could follow him.  Jamal was a star and quickly whisked us around town until we found a currency exchange place. We changed money and were back at the car hire place before it shut for the day. We paid our money and were shown to the car. Having had several warnings about driving standards here, I was a bit apprehensive but soon realised that driving here is relatively similar to driving in Bulgaria, differences being that the roads are better but have far less sign posts!
We arrived back home quite tired as it all seems to be catching up with us so we popped over to the club house for a quick snack, the idea was for us to have a relaxing swim after tea but unfortunately, our little darling was being a pain in the proverbial so we decided to head home after tea and have an early night wondering what delights Tuesday would bring………..

 

 

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New Beginnings

When you go on this sort of lifestyle, one of the key things is to “take is at it comes” or to “just go with the flow” – For someone who can be deemed as relatively “highly strung” this can be a sort of challenge, however, in my old age I seem to be mellowing out a bit and learning to just take is as it comes.

Our experience when coming through arrivals could not be better, met by friendly and very welcoming people from school who soon put us at ease in our new environment. Before leaving arrivals they made sure we had SIM cards for our phones with a local number as well as sufficient credit.

The Sauna

We all took our laden trolleys and ventured outside, I can only describe the experience as walking into a room with a heated swimming pool or tropical gardens. It wasn’t so much the temperature which surprised me/ us but the humidity. Within a few minutes of being outside our suitcases had a layer of moisture over the surface, just like steamy windows in a car or house, it was simply mind boggling, uncomfortable, surreal and fascinating as I had never experienced this sort of phenomena.

The Long Drive Home

We were directed to our mini bus with Andrew and Katy who we had met on the flight, we all squeezed our luggage on board as there was no luggage compartment, it was such a relief to be in an air conditioned environment. As we made our way to our final destinations we admired the bright lights and skyscrapers beautifully illuminated. We had been warned of crazy drivers but it all seemed rather tame, then it dawned on me that it was Friday night so I guess this is a quiet as it gets. Gradually we left the bright lights of the city behind us and eventually after stopping to ask for directions several times we stopped at the first drop off point in a compound of smart and spacious villas but not for us. I have learnt over time that the best way to avoid disappointment is to have an open mind, after all, the mind is like a parachute, it works far better when open! We made our way out of the compound of smart villas and along partly made roads and eventually into a very nice compound with security barriers at the entrance and very polite security officers. After a lengthy conversation between driver and security officers we were on the move again. After going around the compound and back to where we started we were back to square one at the entrance. At this point I must admit I had a bit of a sinking feeling as I really liked the complex. The driver was back behind the wheel and we were escorted by a golf cart who guided him to a block a mere 200 yards from the entrance.

Welcome Home! DSC05291

Feeling very happy we were to be based in this compound I started unloading our luggage – Waiting for us was a very friendly lady from school who I thought was called Catherine (later found out her name is Sarah). I struggled to unload all our luggage and get it to the front door, only to be told we are on the second floor………………………..and there’s no lift (at least this part of the building has air con). The driver and Sarah very kindly helped in bringing everything up to the apartment. As an estate agent I was keen to wander around the apartment and see where we will be living and call home. I could not help but to be incredibly pleasantly surprised.

Entrance leading to a large hallway with very high ceilings, open plan sitting room and dining area to the right hand side, spacious kitchen with serving hatch with granite/ marble work surfaces, fully equipped with all mod cons as well as brand new still packaged cutlery and crockery! Bedrooms are all spacious with private dressing rooms, a spacious en-suite serving the master bedroom and a private shower room serving the second bedroom.

All rooms are air conditioned and have their own temperature control, even though I added this sentence towards the end, I think it should have been the opening line really as this is far more important than anything else!

In addition to this there is an ironing/ storage room as well as a laundry room, in other words, it is absolutely ideal for us or in plain English, we are chuffed to bits with the place!

The fridge was stocked with basics to keep us ticking over until the next day, it was a great opportunity to christen the frying pan and to have our first meal in the Middle East – fried eggs on toast!

The Morning After the Night Before

Saturday morning I woke up relatively early, OK, incredibly early, it was 5:20, but the sun was shining brightly and I had an new environment to explore! Cathy rather grumpily told me to go away and explore quietly without disturbing her, or Katja!

The apartment has Wifi throughout (I learnt the next day that there’s Wifi throughout the entire compound, even outdoors). I hooked up my phone onto Wifi and a million e-mails cam through, unfortunately, getting the lap top to play ball wasn’t quite as simple, but after a couple of hours of playing around with it, it seemed to be working.

Footbridge by our block leading to the club house.

Footbridge by our block leading to the club house.

Cathy and Katja woke up a little later, we had breakfast and started the unpacking process. Sarah who had been there the night before had very kindly offered to take us shopping if we wanted. We took her up on her kind offer. Bravely (or stupidly) I decided to take a short walk with Katja to explore our surroundings (it is easy to forget the extreme temperatures when you are in a cold apartment apartment from when you venture close to a window). we walked out of the block and that incredible heat and humidity hit us like once again like a wrecking ball bulldozing a large apartment block. Undeterred we soldiered on and started walking across the footbridge next to our block. It was soon obvious this wasn’t one of my wisest decisions so we headed back to our cool apartment. During our short walk we came across a few people, mainly workers who were all incredibly polite and greeted us with big smiles.

Not too long after coming back there was a knock on the door, it was a very pleasant chap by the name of Dom, or Don (after asking someone their name twice, it’s embarrassing to ask a third time, I have seen him a couple of times and I am still none the wiser). He lives below us and also works at school, we had a long chat which gave us the opportunity to ask a few questions at the same time. It was nice to feel we are making new friends! Once of the great things about new places is making new friends and hearing other people’s experiences and life stories!

Not long after Dom or Don left Sarah turned up, she drove us across the road (the other side of the footbridge by our apartment some 200 yards from home) and showed us all the facilities on site (swimming pool, full gym, games room, sauna (yes SAUNA!), restaurant cheap as chips as well as a program with all activities available, most of which are free) following this we went off shopping……we drove all of 300 yards to the nearest supermarket (there’s also a bank, dry cleaners, coffee shop etc there too) In fairness, it would have been very difficult to walk back with all that shopping etc etc so we were eternally grateful for this kind gesture. After shopping we returned home to find a bottle of wine by our front door…. we had no idea who from until a while later when we received a text message saying it was from Joneen (Primary School Assistant Principle) to say welcome home. She later too popped in with another new teacher to say hi and to welcome us to Qatar.

Later on that evening we met up with Andrew, Katy and kids, we all had a fantastic meal at the restaurant which was then followed by a couple of hours in the pool. This was a very surreal experience as to start off with, the showers before getting in the pool are incredibly hot………….and so is the pool! We can only use the pool when the sun goes down as it’s an outdoor pool. In future we can use the one at school which is indoors and only 2 km away, but more about that another time…………

Farewell Old Continent, Hello Qatar

I’ve never been one for good byes, sometimes my good byes seem a little cold and I may seem a little blasé about it, in reality I don’t like saying good bye, but then again, who does! Having chosen a life of traveling around and seeing new places, making new friends and learning new things about this wonderful world as well as ourselves, it is inevitable that there will be many good byes but also many “hellos, nice to meet you”  In this day in age, good byes are not permanent, it is only a temporary thing as we get to see friends and family in other ways.

Panic Before Flight

Thursday night, time for one last take away and to pack the car, but not before one last moment of panic!
Checklist:
3 x hand luggage – tick
3 time suitcases bursting at the seems – check
Ensure we are within our weight limit? hmmmmm, sort of checked, let’s look into this………… OOOOOPS! We are over, not just by a little bit but by a long way!
Weight limits: 
Hand luggage – 7kg (our weight average 11 kg)
Suitcases: – 30 kg (our weight average 34 kg)

Desperate times call for desperate actions, time to unpack, evaluate what we really have to take, what we would like to take and what we just cannot take.
Pack, weigh, get frustrated, take more stuff out and repeat several times until we are somewhere near the weight limits, after all, airlines are a bit lenient……. aren’t they?

Time for One Last Takeaway and an Early Night

Once the cars were loaded it was time for one last takeaway, after all, during our UK stay we hadn’t eaten enough! After food it was time for a shower and an early night.
I don’t know about you, but when I am traveling and I have to wake up early I suddenly become the lightest sleeper on the planet and sleep with one eye open monitoring my phone.

4 am Wake up Call

Time’s up, time to part company with a warm snugly bed, time to face a cold, dark and rainy morning. Hoped in the cars at 5am and headed off to Manchester, we had put Kati to bed the night before fully clothed so we could pick her up and put her straight in the car, inevitably she woke up as soon as we walked outside, she just chilled during the one hour drive to the airport.

Sorry sir you are overweight…. (and so is your luggage)

While waiting in the queue we met up with Katy and Andrew Bradshaw and their kids who are also starting a new life in Doha teaching at Qatar academy.
Qatar Airways check in desk was open when we arrived, being well aware that we were a tad overweight I put on my full Estate Agent charms which seemed to be working well….. until she weighed our luggage. Sorry sir but maximum weight allowance is 30kg for suitcases and 7kg for hand luggage and we are very strict on these limits. Oh dear. We were 10 kg over our limit. As we were concerned this may happen Andy (Cathy’s brother) had come in with us. We quickly started taking stuff out of suitcases and putting them into a rucksack we had brought with us (or I should say Cathy had the foresight to do this). OK, weight adjusted time for another check. Sorry sir you are still 7 kg over your allowance. Fine, we will have to pay for excess luggage then. While this was being sorted out, the check in lady proceeded to check our bags in. “Sorry sir, this suitcase weighs 34 kg, baggage handlers are not insured for anything over 32 kg, please re-distribute the weight between suitcases”. In the mean time, the queue was growing longer and longer, fortunately there were enough check in desks open! Luggage checked in, it was time to now take Kati’s car seat and her bike over to the oversize check in.

Time for one last bacon sarni

Kati was amazing and helped pull one of our hand luggage cases all the way through security (I have seen more organised security queues in Italy than in Manchester, now that is saying something!).
Found our departure lounge easily so it was now time to relax by having a nice cup of tea and a bacon and sausage sarni, this was followed by taking Kati to the play area to let off some steam before the 7 hour flight.

Qatar Airways

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Kati busy playing on the computer games

having done plenty of short haul flights throughout Europe we are more used to Easy Jet, Ryan Air, Whizz Air and those sort of airlines. It was a pleasure boarding Qatar Airways plane, everyone was so polite and friendly, leg room and on board entertainment which included computer games for kids (Kati managed to completely lock two of the screens up!) Food was OK, nothing special but the overall flight was fantastic, only encountering a bit of turbulence over Romania.

Hello Doha!

Arrived in Doha!

Arrived in Doha!

I think I can speak for Cathy too but after 8 months planning, working on the house week in, week out, day in, day out and perhaps one of our longest countdowns in our moving history, we were finally here, it felt completely surreal.
Wherever you may fly to in the the world, it is always the same thing, as soon as you land, everybody immediately stands up and opens the overhead compartment ready to disembark, regardless of how long it may take, leaving you standing in one of those awkward positions defending your territory so nobody gets past you, especially the person standing next to you (or is that just me?)
We disembarked pretty quickly compared to some flights I’ve been on and were greeted by the most amazing, well designed, signed and welcoming airport I have been to in many years, if not ever!
Not too sure as to what to expect we arrived at immigration which is before baggage collection. The queue was short and we were greeted by a very polite Qatari immigration officer who was more interested in talking to Kati and finding out all about her coming birthday than in even checking our visas which we had so carefully printed out!
We collected our luggage soon after, and then had a little wait before our oversize items, all in all, we were through in around 45 minutes (from plane to exit!).
We were greeted at arrivals by Qatar Academy representatives who immediately made us feel at home by helping us with a Qatari mobile number and guided us to a waiting mini bus to take us to our new home.
Mike, Cathy and Kati had arrived in Doha!

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Boats

I guess we started our sort of holidays already tired after having spent months working on the house and preparing for the move. We knew that our visit to Oswestry would be pretty hectic but it has really tired us out big time! Don’t get me wrong, it has been absolutely wonderful seeing so many people we hadn’t seen for a long time, having a chance to reminisce and to catch up.

Between the three of us in the past two weeks we have pretty much used most forms of transport, even though exhausting, I must admit, and I am sure I can speak on behalf of the three of us in saying that it has been fun!!

Days Out –

Park Hall Farm (Whittington)DSC05179 (Small)

We had several days out which were most enjoyable, the first one was Park Hall Farm in Whittington, we were joined by Mike and Ian who also seemed to have enjoyed themselves too!  We were incredibly lucky with the weather, Kati had a chance to groom a horse, feed the lambs, hold a rabbit, watched some pig racing (or race pigging as she calls it), we then had a go in the Maze which was good fun too. All in all, a good day was had by all.

Canal Boating (Llangollen)

Oh yes, once again, we were incredibly lucky with the weather, Mike (Cathy’s dad) rented a canal boat for the day, we all met up in Llangollen ready for relaxing day on the canal. We met up at 09:30 and were soon on a canal boat receiving instructions how to use it safely. For those of you who are not too familiar with canals, all I can say is that they are not all that wide and you need to have pretty good aim, steering it is also an art. DSC05265 (Small)Mike (Cathy’s dad) had a go first and did an excellent job, it was then my turn. At this point I would love to boast as to how good I was, however, anyone who was on board would completely disagree with that. Katja kept asking as to why was daddy crashing the boat from side to side. It became very clear, very quickly that I was not the best man for the job, or the safest one for that matter so I decided to do photos instead. Andy (Cathy’s brother) took over from me and did an excellent job, so, between him and Mike they took care of ensuring we didn’t crash (too many times or into anything too expensive, oh, apart from the floating restaurant which we nudged ever so gently), the rest of us had a very relaxing day. We chugged along at an impressive 4 mph past other boats and some of the most stunning scenery in Wales. The highlight of the trip is going over the Pontcysyllte aqueduct which was simply breathtaking. As you can see on the photo, there is a tow path on one side and a sheer drop on the other, going over it on a canal boat is a real experience! Cathy and I had made some sandwiches so after the aqueduct, we stopped for a spot of lunch before heading back. Kati decided all the excitement was too much so she made herself nice and comfortable and slept for an hour or so on the way back.

Brimstage Maze (The Wirral)

Brimstage Maze was absolutely fantastic, the day was split in two as in the morning we met up with Mike and Ros and two of their grand kids who are slightly older than Katja. It was great seeing them as we hadn’t seen them since they visited us in Spain in October last year. Brimstage Maze has loads of outdoor activities, most of them are outside, yet again we were extremely lucky with the clownweather, even though there were several threatening ominous clouds, we managed to dodge the rain. In the afternoon, we were met by Jenn and her daughters, Jenn is a friend of ours from Spain who very kindly gave Sophie (our dog) a home as she couldn’t come to Qatar. The girls had great fun playing on the inflatable giant inflatable pillows and outdoor laser questing. There was a clown on site and Kati even had a chance to do some tight rope walking  as well as try her hand at a balancing ball. After a fun packed day, a certain little lady slept all the way back to Wrexham where we stopped to pick up some birthday presents for Kati as well as to buy new shoes for school!

Steam Train Trip (Llangollen)

Our final full day in Europe arrived accompanied by rain, however, this was not a problem as we had a pleasant train ride planned for today along with Mike and Judy. But before all this could happen, we had to wash the car, drop some of our stuff off at Mike and Judy’s before dropping the car off at Malcolm and Emma’s. At this point I would like to say a great big thank you to them for letting us leave the car in their farm for the winter!

After doing this we headed off to Llangollen and before going back to the mid 1850’s we had a hot cup of coffee before setting off on our train adventure.

steam trainThe steam train from Llangollen is a most pleasant trip across the gorgeous Welsh countryside, it is a real opportunity to take some time out from hectic everyday life and try to imagine life a century or so ago. It is incredible thinking and imagining that the countryside hasn’t changed all that much since the days in which steam trains were the main mode of transport across the Welsh countryside.

Apart from seeing friends and catching up, these days out will be firmly etched in our memories for years to come, it has been great fun.

We are now all packed and I think we are all ready to set off on our next adventure, tomorrow we will head off to Manchester airport setting off from Ellesmere at some ungodly hour so it will be an early night for us tonight.

I would like to say a big thank you to all those who took time out from their busy schedules to meet up with us as well as to Andy and Tim for their hospitality. Tonight we will have one final take away (Chinese) before I go on a strict diet. When we were at Mike and Judy’s I thought I’d weigh myself, hmmm, not too sure it was such a good idea as I seem to have put on 10 Kg since the last time I weighed myself a year or so ago in Bulgaria I can’t believe I now weigh………………………..

Leaving Spain

Mike, Cathy and Katja

We have known since December 2013 that we were leaving Spain in August, the run up to us actually leaving seemed to take for ever, but little by little time was passing and when we least expected it, time was up, it was time for good byes and time to hit the road!

Everything that we were keeping was either packed and shipped to Qatar or loaded in the car and all set for an early start.

After one last visit to LBV bar and further goodbyes, I tried to get some sleep, yeah right, no chance of that happening! The alarm was set for 2 am, I kept waking up every few minutes, paranoid I would oversleep. Eventually, the alarm went off, it was time for a shower and time to get things into action. The car was fully packed, the air was warm and several drunks were trying…

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Leaving Spain

We have known since December 2013 that we were leaving Spain in August, the run up to us actually leaving seemed to take for ever, but little by little time was passing and when we least expected it, time was up, it was time for good byes and time to hit the road!

Everything that we were keeping was either packed and shipped to Qatar or loaded in the car and all set for an early start.

After one last visit to LBV bar and further goodbyes, I tried to get some sleep, yeah right, no chance of that happening! The alarm was set for 2 am, I kept waking up every few minutes, paranoid I would oversleep. Eventually, the alarm went off, it was time for a shower and time to get things into action. The car was fully packed, the air was warm and several drunks were trying to find their way back home. I chose to drive through the night as of course it’s nice and cool and also to avoid any traffic.

Traffic? What Traffic?

For one last time (for the foreseeable future) I drove on those roads I know so well, from Monda towards Alhaurin el Grande and then dropped down to Fuengirola past Alhaurin Golf. I then headed up the A7 past Malaga and onto the A45 (too cheap to use the A46 toll road). From the A45 I turned onto the A92 past Granada and the headed towards Jaen and Madrid. Cathy had written down some excellent directions for me which made life a lot easier. ever since getting horribly lost on the Germany/ Austrian border in 2011 and then again, hopelessly lost in Serbia last year courtesy of a GPS I reverted to old fashion technology!

Night gradually turned into day and I was making good time, there was virtually no traffic at all as any traffic on the road was heading towards the coast and not North.

I stopped for some fuel in Madrid, it was pretty dull and overcast and pretty windy, I got out of the car and felt like getting straight back in, it was pretty cold!

Should I take it as a Sign? images

Somewhere along the road between Madrid and Santander, a car carrying some bikes lost its warning sign (like the one on the right hand side), the sign hit the road, went under two cars, the second one lifted it and it flew straight into my car, damaging my bumper and bumper then going under the car making a horrendous noise of metal against metal.

I continued a couple of miles and paying special attention to any noises or signs of damage to the car but all seemed OK. I stopped at the next service station and gave it a more thorough check but all was OK.

I arrived in Santander in around 10 and a bit hours which isn’t too bad for a little over 1000 km. I managed to find the hotel I was booked into and checked in. Had a quick sleep and then went out to explore Santander, had some tea and an early night!

Playing the Waiting Game

IMG_20140803_105033The next few days were all about waiting and hanging around, whether waiting to board a ferry or simply waiting to arrive in the UK.

I decided to pop into the port first thing in the morning, the policeman at the entrance to the port thought it was quite funny I had arrived 12 hours before departure, he very politely told me to come back at 16:00 hrs.

I spent Sunday walking around Santander, I even managed to find the Sunday market I had been to some 14 or 15 years earlier which is set in a tunnel. Santander is a nice city, the number of homeless people and beggars did call my attention, but other than that I had a pleasant time. Had some lunch and after walking around for a few hours I decided to have a rest.

Waiting for the Ferry

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After what felt like an eternity, I checked in and then the next lot of waiting began! Cars, motorbikes, vans and trucks arrived and we all started queuing but no ferry to be seen. Eventually as we were about to give up all hope of being repatriated, she started making her way into the port.

Eventually, we boarded the ferry. The car was on the top deck, secretly I was hoping for some rain so the car would get a free wash, but the weather was quite good. As soon as I boarded I regretted having not booked a cabin, for the first time ever, I decided to be cheap and book a seat, oh, what a mistake that was! The so called reclining seats are as uncomfortable as it gets, the ferry company at least provides you with a blanket, this came in very handy later in the night.

I settled into my seat which fortunately was in front of a plug but also in front of a door leading to the deck. I connected my tablet and  started a Michael Palin Marathon (around the World in 80 Days and Pole to Pole.

At around midnight I sort of fell asleep, however, the constant stream of people going in and out and the massive draft every time someone opened the door kept waking me up. I then decided to put the blanket over my head, a little like a sheet covering a corpse.

I slept on and off for around 3 hours, eventually decided to go walkabout at 7am. There’s nothing more depressing than realising you still have 17 hours to kill on board and then a 5 hour drive after that.

We arrived in Poole (Dorset) at 23:30, by the time we disembarked and went past passport control it was now 00:30. Oh joy of joys, now for a 5 hour drive.

The Long Road home

As I came out of the port, I was most confused as to why road warnings on the road were written upside down, fortunately, I quickly realised I was on the wrong side of the road!

Unlike my Spanish directions, none of the roads coincided with my written directions, not what you need at this point! Eventually I found my way to London and then headed towards Oxford (not without taking a couple of wrong turns adding extra time to my journey). I arrived in Oswestry Travel Lodge at 05:30, fortunately they were expecting me so I quickly checked in and fell asleep. At 10am Cathy rang to let me know they were now boarding their flight, time to get up, have a fry up at Little Chef and head off to unpack the car. After unpacking the car, it was time to head to Liverpool to pick Cathy and Katja up. We drove in convoy as the girls were coming with a few suitcases, we arrived at pretty much the same time Ryanair landed so at least neither Cathy and Katja nor us had to wait for long.

Their arrival in Liverpool had completed our move, time to relax in England, and see friends………….