Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The British Isles

By Claire
OK, I knew being in a big city like London would have its challenges; but this is getting ridiculous. I am either expanding my mind, blowing my mind, or losing my mind.

We left London and spent almost 2 hours on their Orbital Road. We call it a ring road but hey, orbiting around a city sounds kind of fun. Finally getting off, we stopped at our first service station. We thought fuel was expensive in Europe—oh no, hold on, it is NOTHING compared to England. £1.22 per liter. That’s in POUNDS. That makes it €1.43 or $1.76. Appalling. The most we ever paid anywhere else was €1.31 and that was on the autobahn. We were horrified at that price.

But, my rant here is really about web sites and mobile phones. So far, we have spent £15 on pay-as-you-go time for our new mobile phone. It’s all gone and we’ve barely made any calls except to T-Mobile to deal with some problems. This is exactly why we did not get phones for Europe. The only reason we bought this one is to make reservations at campgrounds throughout the British Isles during high season. So far, today—a planned day of taking it easy, kicking back and reading—has turned into an all-day attempt to make reservations at a few campsites ahead. I’ve managed to make one and that was with the help of the campground warden, who had trouble herself. What’s up with technology? I thought life was supposed to be easier. Just go on a web site and take care of everything. Yeah, right. Oh, and the British Museum web site? Worst I’ve ever seen. Some of the words even overlapped the photos so you couldn’t read them. Forget trying to plan out your time there. Impossible. Did someone’s nephew create this site? But I digress.

Coming back from the reception with a successful booking was great. I decided to go ahead and do one on my own with the other camping club we have joined. However, after entering all the data, pressing all the “next” buttons and finally coming to the “Reservation Summary” page, I pressed the final “next” button only to be returned to the beginning. “Want to make a booking? Press here!” I gave up after Chuck tried and we went over and over it. Calling the Club I was told that it wouldn’t continue because they only have one site left and since we might want to use an awning and this site doesn’t have room for that, it just stopped. Huh? In the meantime, I received yet ANOTHER text message from T-Mobile letting me know that I am down to £.46. No way is that enough to make a phone call to the actual site to convince them that I’m OK with not using the awning (this was the suggestion from the woman I talked to at the Club’s main number--apparently it's a space issue). So, Chuck is walking to the post office to top-up once again.

I think summer is going to be more challenging that I imagined. We will have to stay several steps ahead of ourselves and be completely planned out, something we really don’t like to do. What if we want to stay longer? Nope, can’t do it. Not if we’ve already booked our reservation for the next place. The deposit is £25, gone in a heartbeat if you don’t show up.

Chuck is playing with the money right now trying to learn it. He’s tired of holding out his hand and letting them just take what they need. How are you supposed to tell them apart? They all have the same face on them (Her Royal Self).

British coins in descending order

Oh, and just so you know, here is an explanation of where we are currently traveling:

England is in the southeast part of Britain
Britain is the name of the island.
Great Britain is the political union of England, Scotland, and Wales.
The United Kingdom adds Northern Ireland.
The British Isles (not a political entity) also includes the independent Republic of Ireland.
The British Commonwealth is a loose association of possessions and former colonies (including Canada, Australia, and India) that profess at least symbolic loyalty to the Crown.

Technology makes it possible for people to gain control over everything, except over technology. ~ John Tudor


Diane said...

Maybe this last leg of your trip is a metaphor for having adolescent children . . . it will be easier to let this life you have been living go. I'm feeling your technology pain Claire, having just replaced our Vista operating system with Windows 7--everything has changed. Do these techies smack their lips at the thought of making us crazy while raking in the money? Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Carol said...

Hmmm, and I thought England (or the British Isles) was going to be easy because they spoke English. Hang in there you guys. You'll settle in and roll with the punches.


P.S. Love the picture of you on the blog Claire. You look my cat when she's royally p$#%ed off (hope you like me working royally into the sentence for you). :)