Friday, 3 August 2018

NO18 - Day 1A

Dropped Reggie off at the Kennels...

Back a little. Took the car to Fairway's in Dymchurch and phew. Lee brought it back. Checked over and all present and correct

Set off and dropped Reggie at the kennel and were on the M20 just gone 3pm.

Heavy traffic and at 5.40pm gave up and needed a pee at Winchester Services.

Caffe Latté and a millionaire slice.
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Saturday, 28 July 2018

NO18 - Less than a week to go!

I have gone over the paperwork so many times it has left copy marks on my retina!

My last job was ordering some Norwegian currency from Thomas Cook. I did it online and arranged to collect the cash today. Only £60's worth.

There wasn't much choice as all the other companies had very high minimums. My usual source, the Post Office, the minimum was £400!

Norge dosh

As we are on a cruise with pretty much all-inclusive food and drink I didn't want too much cash. We have plenty of cards to use if we buy anything.

We have stops in Stavanger, Olden and Alesund and so we might need a few krone in the pockets in case of a coffee or maybe a postcard. Do people still send postcards?

We have been to Stavanger and Olden before so we can be a little more relaxed and choose where we want to go rather than going at it like tourist bees.  . Alesund is new territory. I have a Rough Guide to Norway booklet I bought a while back to look at and also there will be Tripadvisor.

We are due in Bergen again on August 9th. The last time we were there in 2013, we moored way out in the boonies and had less time to look around the city. We had to wait for them to conjure up some coaches and then take us into the city. A lot of shore time was wasted. 

This time we are hopefully going to be mooring close by the city centre where we can get easy access to Bryggen and the funicular, known as the Fløibanen, to see the view over the city and the fjord.

In anticipation I decided to book the Fløibanen, in advance. This would also mean I could use my Halifax Clairty credit card and not incur bank charges for using it for foreign currency or purchases. Unlike some other MasterCard and VISA cards that add a fee plus a percentage commission on to transactions.

Fløibanen -

The other little job is to get the batteries together for the Canon 1100D DSLR. I have a few. I bought a couple and "lost" them and so bought another pair of pattern batteries. Then I found the first pair. I now have four spares to get charged up plus the OEM Canon battery. Hopefully enough teamed with 16gb and 32gb SD cards.

It was near the end of the last cruise that my old 300D stopped working when an unobtainium spring broke controlling the shutter.

This morning we had a shopping trip into Canterbury to get some t-shirts and a few medical supplies. Ostensibly, the trip was to get some bits and pieces for Claire and well why not?  

Next get in the loft and pull the cases down.

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Wednesday, 25 July 2018

US19 - Where to?

At the moment it looks as though the destination for our 2019 main holiday will be the US and probably/possibly Florida.

Now we are stuck with having school holidays along with the hordes and their kids to get two weeks together can only be Easter or Summer. On top of that there is the airfare to consider. Whilst I still have the timeshare I need to make the most use of it and the US gives the best value for money.

It's a balancing act, one the one hand the higher airfare but far better resorts, or lower airfare (or drive) and lower standard but expensive resorts.

What the Americans consider low in value at home would be much higher priced in Spain! Last year we stayed in Pompano Beach, disrupted due to the hurricanes,. but the studio was far better appointed and situated than most we have tried in Spain and that cost considerably more.

Currently I am looking at airfares to see what deals there are. So many airlines are rogering us with added payments. Basically all you get for your airfare is the seat on the plane.  Luggage is extra. Food and drink is extra. TBH I don't mind the food if I can take my own, but hand luggage is allegedly restricted- until you see what some of the bags are like people take on and get away with.

If it doesn't fit in this bugger....

.... it goes in the hold.

And most airlines have a similar rack by check-in so you can check the size of it before getting to the aircraft!

In fact we took hand luggage with us to Spain as we intended to avoid the queues for the luggage carousels but in both directions they took them off us (free of charge!) to put them in the hold "as there was limited space in the cabin" so we ended up hanging about.  Then when you see the shite and oversized bags wedged in the overheads!!!! Red mist time.

Anyway, back to to the tale. I read that Aer Lingus have some decent fares that involve a layover at Dublin Airport for a few hours for those travelling from outside the Republic  - us in other words.  

There is also a US Immigration facility there where you can go through the process and when you arrive in the US, at selected airports, you can wander off into the country side after being already vetted.  Marvellous.

Better get checking.....

Thursday, 19 July 2018

NL18-B Assen BSB?

I had originally planned the trip to the Assen round of BSB  as a weekend away for me and Claire in the car but since the disappointment of the MotoGP at Assen it has got a little bigger.

We have Claire's hip operation hanging over us and until we get a firm date or even a hint of roughly when it will be, it is difficult to start making to many hard plans.

I had booked a twin room in hotel we have stayed at a few times before (in 2009/2010) before at De Wapse.

Claire and I will still need to go in the car and Neill may still want to ride his BMW "Ginny" up there. So with three of us we need another room.  De Wapse was oddly full on the Friday night and I had booked Sat/Sun nights.  

Neill has booked two rooms elsewhere from Friday to Monday, three nights.  

At the moment it all hinges on the hip op.  

Of course, Reggie still needs to go on his holiday and that will complicate things a little and at £14 a day I'd rather not have him there longer than necessary.

To be continued.

FR18 - Centenary of First World War Armistice 2018

With the uncertainty about when Claire will get her hip replacement operation I decided to cancel our booking to attend the Australian commemoration at the  Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, in France.

The closing date for tickets was way back last year and I had entered the ballot for both Claire and myself. We were successful,

So that they can re-allocate to someone else I decided to cancel now. It would be one of those events that will never be repeated, but there you go.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

??19 - Where to?

Being stuck with school holidays, and being told by our manager to be "more creative" when looking for somewhere to go doesn't really help. All the other "creative" types are also looking and on top of that, airlines and resorts are adept at pricing their flights and accommodation at a premium to catch the people with kids.... and us silly bastards that work in the Education field.

So I am currently looking for places to go where the airfare won't be too terrible and the timeshare "points" will get us a couple of weeks away.

Europe apart from Hungary and Finland is way too expensive.  Airfares are about 35-50% of the US fares and for around 25-30% the distance at most.

As for RCI. the weekly points costs in Europe is way too high. All the places we have stayed at in the Florida or Arizona have been way less than the shittiest place in Spain.

Once again it is a weigh-up job.  Higher airfare to the US but cheaper when you get there, unless that nice Mr Trump keeps piling on the tariffs and a trade war breaks out across the globe.

I am currently looking at Las Vegas. Not that I want to spend two weeks there, heaven forbid, but for the exchange fee it does make for a base to use once the glitter of the strip has faded. 

I have found a really cheap (I can't believe it's true) airfare (wait until I book it!) to LAX. Okay there's a drive up I15 to Sin City but that will be part of the holiday.  I'm sure the freeways of LA are simply marvellous.

So let's see where this takes us.

Friday, 1 June 2018

SP18 - Day 9

Reggie collected from the kennels. We arrived at 11.29am just as they were going to close the door as they close at 11.30am and not Noon as I had thought.  

He was really excited to see us and jumped up into my arms and couldn't wait to get out. He even jumped into the car without being asked!

Another holiday over.  Better start planning the next one....  Norway cruise in August....

The next one for me is:

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SP18 - Day 8

Up, packed and breakfast had before we set off at around 10am for the 332km drive back to the airport hotel where Centaur have their rental office.

Unfortunately, I had a dickhead moment getting the car out of the parking space and bumped the rear into a concrete post. The underground garages are a forest of posts and some of them quite large to hold the building above up off the ground!  I was just rolling back and "bang".  

There was a  minimum of damage, just a little paint chipped off the bumper. More my pride was hurt. It is lucky I opted for the "smart" all inclusive insurance. I hope.

The 1.0L Polo seemed very economical to run. Admittedly it is a little underpowered on the autovia but cruised at 110 to 120km/h okay.

It was supposed to be full when we left last week but this might have been the gauge rather than the actual level of fuel.

I filled up in Badajoz and it took 8.78 gals to the "click" and we had done 313.5 miles. That comes out at 35.7 mpg.

Remember the "click"? On the way back today the trip meter had 129kms on it before the gauge dropped from full!! It's calibrated in 8 "bars" between empty and full.

Having to return the car "full" looks like a bit of a con. I stopped a few kms before the check-in and it only took 5.18 gals for 283.5 miles or 54.72 miles per gallon.

Driving conditions pretty much the same. But a lesson learned. Leave the ignition on and watch the gauge creep to Full and stop there in future. The difference is too startling to be driving differently.

Anyway. The car was checked in and we arrived at the airport way before the flight appeared on the board to say what check in desks we needed. We had a McCafe con leche and a couple of the little "magdalena" cakes from the hotel breakfast to fill the lack of lunch hole in the belly.

The info boards suggested a good choice of desks,few of which were actually open. After about 20 mins of queuing at Iberia we were told to go to British Airways check-in as we had bought the ticket through them, even though the flight is operated by Iberia..... . Another 20 minutes and we are told to go back to Iberia as it is their flight and BA only has the flights they actually fly on their computer.

In the end we managed to check- in with a different staff member at Iberia who seemed bemused when Claire told her the tale. 

Security checks took a little longer as I set it off when going through the scanner. I had my belt on but so did all the other men.  After a thorough pat-down search I was released air-side. Claire often gets stopped due to her metal and ceramic hip!

And so to the gates shown only as HJ.  with the best part of an hour and a half to wait we settled down on some seating.  It's always annoying when there is minimal seating that people stretch out and lay across the seats taking up two or three to themselves.   

Waiting for a gate we decided to have something to eat and drink. As there is no (free) food on the flight so we had a Starbucks coffee and a Iberico Jamon baguette. Very nice it was too.

On the way back from the loo I checked the board and it was showing our flight at gate H8.  It was easily a fifteen minute walk down there and Iberia operate a "group" system on the boarding card.  A lot of airlines load up by row.  We were Group 3, the last group.  I had already booked seats before we came out and so wasn't in any hurry.  Our two small suitcases had gone in the hold, which was good as the overhead luggage bins were already full with similar sized (and some dubiously larger) cases so that I had just enough room to squeeze my laptop bag in, but no room for Claire's little backpack.  We wanted that out anyway, so it could go in front under the seat.

Despite warnings about switching off electronic gear and setting phones to "flight mode" people around us were tapping away sending texts and emails even as we taxied to the runway.  WTF?

In the end the flight left about 10 minutes after the rescheduled 1840 timing. It has been moved from 1805 to 1835 before we left UK, and we hadn't been told it was changed again.

But Iberia Express claim to be the most punctual budget airline and we landed at London Gatwick a good ten minutes before scheduled arrival.... Pretty decent going.

After another long walk we retrieved our bags and headed through the green channel "nothing to declare" in the customs hall. Despite not carrying anything elicit I always feel guilty!

Outside the bus to the car-park had just pulled up and we got straight on.  Some ten minutes later we were back at the car and getting ready to leave for home.  The ANPR worked this time and we were soon heading home.

Despite the at times chaotic driving in Spain especially around Madrid and the number of cars with little dings and knocks the M25 seemed far more dangerous! A stop at an almost deserted Tesco and by 9.30pm I had the pizza we bought in the oven and we could unwind.  

Tomorrow we'll go and get Reggie back from his holiday in the kennels. 

Posted from Bloggeroid
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Thursday, 31 May 2018

SP18 - Day 7.2

After siesta we started to check on the packing. Claire replaced a pair of shoes in Mérida at Decathlon and so that is a straight swap. I am actually hoping that the cases go in the hold. It will save messing about with sponge bags and the liquids in see through plastic bags.

I got TomTom from the car and set tomorrow's route to the car hire place with a petrol fill up as near as possible. The rental is full to full.

The My Drive app seems to work really well and it can be set as the default from to save more faffing to set routes to the hotels.

Dinner. Another restaurant in Plaza Mayor. Los Portales.

Firstly a beer and tapa. Then the €12 menu.


The menu is three courses and includes a drink. Tonight we had the red wine. Another smooth one.

From the restaurant it's walk off the dinner. Final packing and beddybies.

Tomorrow the 300kms drive to the airport or at least to the car hire place. TomTom reckons three hours.
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SP18 - Day 7

Another morning of pavement/cobble pounding after a decent breakfast in the hotel. I do like the coffee made with 50/50 strong coffee and warm milk.

We had the map of the old town again and filled in most of the blanks from yesterday afternoon.

Quite a walk again and my 6000 steps up before lunch.

Pix again on Flickr -
Convento Sta. Clara

Lunch. Yes. Some pizza type slices from a hole-in-the wall bakery. Very nice.

Whether it is just me, but prices seem much cheaper here. Plus when you order a beer or even a coffee there's a free tapa included.

Once we had eaten we finished off the old town. Another UNESCO Heritage Site ticked off.

I do wish I was on the bike though.

Most of the PTW's here are if the scooter persuasion. Although occasionally a real bike appears.

Just down from where we are parked in the hotel's garage there is a bike park. One of the Chinese Benelli's was there and looks okay. Guess time will tell if they are any good.

Back to the room and siesta. It's hard work being a tourist.

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