Archive for the ‘Train’ Category

***t happens

October 5, 2017

It was all going so well, we had the buses and trains all sorted by doing a dummy run on Monday so we knew how long we should allow to catch the Eurostar across to Lille on Tuesday. Tuesday morning, we were all packed and ready to go, Ian kindly dropped us off at the local train station to save us getting the bus and we were soon on our way to St Pancras station.

We had only gone through a couple of stops when we realised that Roy had left his phone on the table at home. Damn. A quick phone call to Ian confirmed that it definitely was on the table. We quickly arranged for Roy to get off at the next stop to return to the station where Ian met him with his phone. Meanwhile I continued on the train to Cannon Street Station where we change from train to tube and I would wait for him to return. It didn’t take him too long to return and we were back on the tube and into St Pancras Station.

View from the train crossing the Thames, with London Bridge in the background.

As alway, mind the gap!

We arrived in plenty of time, in fact we were early but we were allowed though passport control and inside to wait for the train. We had a drink and a bite to eat and soon we were off, whizzing through the English countryside before heading into the Chunnel. I tried taking pictures out of the window but at 296km/hr and with reflections from the window my photography skills were not great.

We arrived in Lille exactly on time and we headed straight for the car rental places. Ouch, they want an arm and two legs to rent a car for a few days but we inhale deeply, and go with it. We could not hire a small car and so had to go with what they had, a Nissan Qashqai, with all the bells and whistles. First problem….we could not work the inbuilt GPS. I managed to change the language preference to a English but it would not register where we were wanting to go, which was Langemark-Poelkapelle in Belgium. Roy went and got one of the staff to help, oh, we just have to change country option for the destination moving from France to Belgium. Sorted.

Take a deep breath Bernice and drive on the right, remembering to change gear occasionally, with Roy keeping an eye on the upcoming GPS instructions. We managed to find our way with only slightly raised blood pressure, sweaty palms, a dry mouth and a complete feeling of nausea!!!! Our Airbnb Host was waiting to let us into the apartment and after a quick guided tour we were on our own.

The apartment.

As we started to unpack and sort our gear, with sickening reality it became clear that Roy did not have his iPad, everything was carefully searched but to no avail…….oh no, where had he last had it? at St Pancras Station? he must have left it behind. We put in the call to the lost property department in the hope that someone may have handed it in, and sent email enquiries. Alex is also going to ring the station in the morning to see if it has been handed in. We tried doing the “find my iPad” thing but we could not work out what the hell we were doing so we gave up.

After a very restless nights lack of sleep, Roy was up at his usual early hour and went off for a walk. He was soon back, oh no, what happened this time? His glasses had broken in half straight across the bridge! By 9.30am he had found a local Optometrist who had a frame that would fit the not so old lenses, and he would have them repaired by the afternoon. Meanwhile he is wandering around wearing his reading glasses.

Just as we were about to head out for a walk around the village to check out the market, I had a sudden brainwave…..”Roy, did you check the car for your iPad as I am sure you used it to find the telephone number for the Airbnb yesterday”…….sure enough, there in the back of the car was the ipad! 🤦🏻‍♂️

As for the title, well sometimes things work out!!!

Yes, we did go and but a lotto ticket, it’s up to €190million!

PS. Yes, we have worked out how to locate our phones and iPads, simple really!!!

PPS. New glasses have been collected and look very swish!

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Landed in London

September 30, 2017

Oops I did it again, I accidentally swiped the publish button on the last post before I had finished writing it.

We eventually landed at Heathrow 30minutes later than scheduled, by this time we were both exhausted and restless but ready to disembark. We were one of the last off the plane as everyone else was in a hurry and blocking the aisles for a good 15minutes before we were able to retrieve our hand luggage and disembark. Then it was off on the long walk to immigration and customs, why is it that all our flights seem to end up at the gate farthest away from our next point of departure? I know we need the exercise but by this time we were shattered. Next we were to face the long queues of people lined up at the “other” passport entry, fortunately I travel of my British passport so it was straight to the UK & EU line where there was just one couple on front of us. A cheery passport control man welcomed us to the UK where we chatted about the length of our flight and the prospect of a good cuppa before we were through and off to collect our bags, then straight through the green exit line to where Alex was waiting for us.

It was close to 5pm by this time and the traffic on the motorway was a bit slow at times but it wasn’t that bad and we were soon on our way to her lovely home in Erith.

Erith is circled in red in the above map.

Erith is just a 40minute train ride into central London, and is right by the Thames. A very pretty area that we shall enjoy exploring over the coming weeks.

Alex and Ian have bought a lovely home which they moved into earlier this year and they have already done some decorating to put their stamp on the place. That evening we managed to stay up until around 8pm before bed was calling out for us to sleep. Oh what bliss to be able to lie down. The following morning Roy and I managed to get the bus into the village (well, I say village but the population is around 68,000 people) the bus goes right past the house and even though there is no official bus stop in the street you just hail the driver and they stop for you. Assisted by a very friendly and helpful bus driver, we got into the centre of the town where the bus driver told us this was where we got off then she made sure we knew where to catch the bus home again and which number bus we needed, extremely helpful.

We wandered around the local supermarket, Morrison’s, where we were like kids in a sweet shop as everything was so cheap. To top it all off, we got free wifi in the store so we could chat with Alex about various matters (getting UK/EU SIM cards for our phones tomorrow). We could not believe the price of food compared with NZ, especially the price of fresh produce, the store even has cheaper versions of fruit and veg if they are deemed “wonky”. The wonky veg looked perfectly fine to me, as well as the price the range and quality was good as well. For example, baby gem lettuces were two for 50p, raspberries were two 250gm containers for £1.50, tomatoes were similarly priced. They even offer a pack of wonky veg for £3 which they say is enough to feed a family of four for a week. We had to restrain ourselves from buying too much as we knew we had to carry it back with us so we just got the essentials…….including Melton Mowbray Pork Pies!! Of course essential supplies included rum and gin, all available at the supermarket and at prices cheaper than Duty Free!

and the variety of different brands was extensive and impressive.

We headed back home with our bags of goodies, again with the help of a very kind bus driver who stopped the bus practically outside the door advising us this was where we should disembark.

We have tried to reestablish our sleeping patterns with the time difference, it has taken a day or so but we are pretty well sorted now. I have to admit that I take the No Jet Lag tablets available at New Zealand airports, which does help me as I have suffered jet lag (nausea and disorientation) previously on one long haul flight when I forgot to take them.

Alex & Ian have of course been working all week, so now we have the weekend together to do some sightseeing and some shopping. This evening we are going to a curry house, a typical English thing to do apparently, for dinner and to meet Ian’s family which we are really looking forward to.

PS. The weather has been very good to us so far, quite warm with very still days. Let’s hope it continues.

Trains and netball

April 6, 2016

Wellington is a one and a half hour train trip from Masterton, earlier in the week Natalie had mentioned that netball was on in Wellington on Monday evening and would I like to go with her? Of course I said yes, so Natalie organised the tickets 

 

and I sorted out the train trip.  

The train left Masterton and 3.45pm arriving in Wellington at 5.15pm which meant we could meet, get a bite to eat, before getting to theTSB bank Arena on the Wellington waterfront for a 7.30pm start.  My return train left Wellington at 10.25pm getting back to Masterton around midnight….or so I thought!

I got on the train in Masterton and when the conductor came along to issue my ticket, I asked for a return ticket, oh no she says, that late train only runs on a Friday!!  Hmmmm, someone must read the timetable better!   OK, plan B then.  I quickly contact Natalie and say that I will now be staying the night with her, and then contacted Roy to tell him he will be home alone tonight! 

I duly arrived in Wellington rail station to be met by Natalie, we headed to the event centre to park and then went off looking for a bite to eat – Wagamama it was to be.  Funnily enough, Monday 4th April was 5 years ago to the day that we met up with Natalie before we crossed over to the South Island just after we bought the van. Read about it here

Then it was time to head to the game.  Neither Natalie no myself have ever taken a “selfie” before so after I tried and failed, Natalie had a go…. 

 this was the result!   We decided selfies were a silly idea.

  The teams warming up.
No more photos were taken as we were too busy watching and cheering.  A very good game of netball that went right down to the final whistle.

Then it was back to Natalie’s house for a few hours sleep before it was an early start the next morning to first catch the train into Wellington then the train to Masterton.  By 10am I was back at the van, where we quickly packed up and were on our way to Woodville to meet up with friends Brian & Marj.  

Books and Quinces

April 6, 2016

On our sleuthing around the Wairarapa, one member of the touring party saw that there was a book sale on in Greytown, so of course we just had to visit didn’t we?  I went along for the ride, and I admit that I could not help myself – the books were bargains with a reasonably good selection.  However, I was not buying for myself, I was buying for my niece Natalie and her two young girls Renee & Michelle, well can you blame me? Childrens books were 10 for $1!!!  On our previous visit to see Natalie, I had noticed that Renee (age 7) seemed to be always reading, and reading well in advance of her age as she was reading Black Beauty and White Fang so I thought it was only right that we foster that interest.  Michelle is 2 1/2 so picture books were more her forte and I had to get a few good books for Natalie as well as she is about to go into hospital for treatment so needs some good reading material.   

We visited the book fair on Friday and returned for another session on Saturday.  We then devised a plan on how we were to get the books to the recipients in Wellington.

You see a certain member of the touring party has one of those Gold Cards, it’s for those who are of a certain vintage, which means he can get free train trips. On checking the timetable we found that he could leave Masterton at 4.30pm, arrive in Wellington at 6pm and return on the 6.25pm train getting back to Masterton by 8pm.  

  The collection of books
He was loaded up with around 40 children’s books and a dozen or so novels for Natalie. 
  Off on the courier mission

Mission accomplished, and now they all have plenty of reading material!

Whilst we visited Garrick & Marguerite at Longwood, Margureite gave me some lovely big quinces from her abundant tree.  I don’t think I have ever seen such huge specimens, so  whilst Roy was on his courier mission, I set to to make some quince paste as well as bottle some of the delicious fruit. 

   
 Quince paste

I can tell you that it is the best and easiest quince paste I have ever made.  

  And the bottled quince segments are also delicious and will be a welcome addition to our menus over the coming months.