Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yay! We're in England

I finally managed to organise our trip back to the UK to see my brother and family. The plan was to fly on Monday 17th.

The website was down, so I booked over the phone. When the promised confirmation email didn't arrive, I got twitchy and phoned up Thomson. It's a busy time of year, so I was kept on hold for ages - and this was an international call. When I finally got through, the pleasant young man said that, yes, I was booked all right, and they'd send me an email, but meanwhile here was my booking reference which was all I'd need to check in.

The confirmation email still didn't arrive, but it didn't seem worth another long international call. We just went to the airport on Monday evening.

That was the first we heard that there was a problem with the flight.

The Thomson plane had left the UK very late, due to a problem with one of the runways at Manchester, so the crew ran out working hours and had to spend the night on La Palma.

That sort of stuff happens, and it clearly wasn't Thomson's fault, but I did wonder why they bothered taking a contact phone number and email when they didn't tell us this sort of thing.

Anyway, we had to book in, but keep our suitcases. So we queued, and I gave the booking reference, and they had my husband's name wrong.

Luckily the checkin clerk has known us both for years, and he managed to sort it out. But this is why I wanted a confirmation email - to check for this sort of thing good and early.

Then Thomson put us all up in the Taburiente in Cancajos, which is very nice.

We arrived at the room, and couldn't get the lights to turn on. I was in something of a hurry to find the loo, so I went exploring in the dark. I walked through a dark doorway and
the dark doorway turned out to be a full-length mirror. I felt really stupid.

I also got a lovely bump on my forehead. But then I found the loo and did what I had to do. And then I went down to reception and told them about the power cut in our room.

They said that the key card had to be kept in it's little pouch by the door to make the lights work.

We went back up and tried it. It worked. Good system. you don't lose the card, and they don't have to pay for lights burning in an empty room. But it left me feeling stupid again.

We also had a really annoying whine in there, which seemed to be coming from the smoke alarm. So on our way down for dinner, we mentioned this to reception. Maybe it was the low battery alarm?

Dinner was a great buffet, and much, much better than cooking myself. By the time we'd finished, we were pretty tired. So we stopped by at reception to ask if there was any news about the noise in our room, rather than going up to check and possibly having to come down again.

They said the maintenence guy would meet us at the room.

He did. He's noticed the noise himself when he was making up the third bed, and it seemed to be coming from one of the suitcases.

I checked. so it did. So I opened the suitcase and found that my alarm clock had got into a funny state, presumably from a odd combination of buttons being pressed. Turning the alarm off made no difference. I had to take the battery out to make it stop.

So I felt stupid for the third time in as many hours.

I set the alarm, had a shower, and we went to bed. As usual when I've got a plane to catch, I didn't sleep too well.

It was a rude shock when I woke up at 7:35, especially since I thought I'd set the alarm for 6:50. We had just twenty-five minutes to get to reception to check out. Obviously breakfast was a lost cause.

We ran around throwing stuff into suitcases, and made it downstairs for 7:50. Yippee, no checkout queue. So we checked out and had time for breakfast after all.

This was a good thing because the breakfast was another great buffet.

We were bussed to the airport at 8:30 on Tuesday. We finally flew at
11:30 and arrived at Manchester before 4pm. Then we collected the
hire car, just in time for the Manchester rush hour.

So we stopped for dinner in a pub that looked pretty good. It was good, and cheap, and we had a great conversation with a couple that were thinking of moving to Portugal, and wanted to hear my experiences of emigrating to Spain. You know how sometimes you just click with people?

We set off on a road across the Pennines towards Sheffield that looked
good on the map, but was very slow. And then there were vast
quantities of roadworks on the M1. We finally arrived at my brother's
house at 2 am!

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