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First trip we lost a car, this trip we lose a lady >)

First trip we lost a car, this trip we lose a lady >)

Old Jun 16th, 2014, 05:10 PM
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Thanks, Janisj--glad to get your feedback. We heard St. K docks was pretty safe, too. Will keep your Madison suggestion in mind for terrace dining!
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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<B>Sunday, our last day in London - More retail therapy and the V&A; Monday train to Newcastle, collecting our car, discovering the 'navigator' actually can't, Hadrian's Wall, and on to Alnwick.</B>

Today is the last day in London and B1&B2 want to chill, do laundry, have lunch in the Marina and rest. So I have another day to myself. Circle Line still mostly down so I took the #15 and then #9 to Harrods. There must have been some sort of regimental events going on (I should have searched for info when I got back) because there were masses of men around Hyde Park and in Knightsbridge - all in lounge suits (business suits), many in derbys and all wearing various what looked like regimental ties. Lots of groups standing outside a few different restaurants/pubs. Maybe there had been some commemoration and then regimental lunches or something?

The new 'export shopping' at Harrods is a royal pain. At F&M you take your items (or for larger things - staff takes them) to the export desk and they do everything all at once. But Harrods new & 'improved' process is slooooow and quite inefficient. You first go to the export department, get a green card/booklet and when you want to buy something the sales staff rings it up, but doesn't take payment, fills out a short label, places a sticker from you booklet on the item, puts it aside for collection later, and staples your 'suspended' receipt to your green card. Then you go to another department and do the same thing for your next purchase - I bought things in 5 departments and not one of the staff members knew how to do it (most had to call on supervisors and a couple of the supvs were a bit lost as well). By my third stop I was the one walking them through the process. I was actually going to look at some high-ish end handbags but the enamel box, Lalique candle, various teas/sweets/stuff took nearly two hours so I gave up - probably saved me some big bucks in the end. I did get a lovely enamel box of the Royal Albert Hall (the only ones I've seen before were quite large and had music boxes, but this is a just a small box shaped like the RAH). After you've filled out your green card and have all the suspended receipts - then you return to the Export department, wait for an agent and they finally take payment and arrange shipping. What a hassle . . .

Took a champagne and canapés break half way through, and suitably fortified I was able to slog through

Then I walked up to the V&A and spent about an hour in a couple of galleries I hadn't visited in my last several visits - mostly Asian/middle eastern sections.

Walked up to Hyde Park and had a snack at the Serpentine Bar watching lots of folks in boats out on the lake.

Headed back 'home' about 6:30 to see if the girls wanted to go out for dinner. They had brought lunch back to the flat and were in their pajamas and mid-packing so I did some preliminary packing (mostly tossing extra bags/papers/stuff) and went to Cafe Rouge for dinner around 8:00. We have to be at Kings Cross early tomorrow morning for an 08:30 train to Newcastle so I finish packing and hit the sack about 10:30.

<B>next: Train to Newcastle/Hadrian's Wall/on to Alnwick
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 08:58 AM
  #103  
 
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So glad you're still posting this! Sounds like London was wasted on the Bs!
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 09:22 AM
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" bought things in 5 departments and not one of the staff members knew how to do it"

Kind of thing that never (well hardly ever) happens in John Lewis.

Why DO you tourists insist on shopping with these incompetent, overpriced, amateurs? The foreign dictators who own dumps like Horrids have no interest in running proper businesses: they just want to show their trophies off to the kleptocrat in the emirate next door.

Why waste money training staff, since the tourists come anyway, is their motto.

Don't encourage them.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 10:04 AM
  #105  
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Sheepish grin on - I do prefer John Lewis Sloane Square - but I knew which bus to take to Harrods and didn't have my iPad w/ me (it was charging back in the flat) to check so Harrods it was.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 11:22 AM
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'John Lewis Sloane Square': ahem, ahem - Peter Jones, Sloane Square to be precise (Part of the John Lewis chain of course)

To be fair Flanner, although I agree with you, and HATE giving my money to Harrods (under this and pervious ownership), it does have the most incredible selection of goods under one roof in all of London. I am John Lewis shopper, and love it, but when sister comes over looking for a pair of gloves in some bizarre shade, or for incredible overpriced attire for the grandchildren, this is the best place.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 11:34 AM
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Hi Janis:

Thanks for continuing. It seems not so bad at this point - at least you are getting time on your own. Ladies must have packed light, as they seem to be spending a lot of time in their PJs!

When I travel with others, its with my family, and it generally has to do with long lunches followed by long dinners, and there is always champagne and wine involved, and we are all in agreement about this.

Regarding the 'early start': that can be a problem with the family, as I am generally out the door at 9am, and family prefer to putter around. Last trip to New York, we agreed that I would do my own thing in the morning, and they would call as soon as they were ready to start their day. Sometimes, it was meeting for lunch. By that time, I would have spent three hours in a Museum.

Best ... Ger
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 01:16 PM
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I would like to read the Bs' trip report.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 01:53 PM
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Belinda...
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Old Jun 18th, 2014, 03:42 PM
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Loving this. I just went back to read your older one and couldn't stop laughing (and noting tips). Looking forward to the next installment!
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 08:19 PM
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I've been busy and just now getting back to your trip report. Great report. I want to say thanks for a couple of things you mentioned. Another reason for trip reports. I now have Southwark Cathedral on my list for my next visit late July. Haven't been in years but usually pop in W.A. to revisit favorite spots. It has become very crowded in the last ten years so looking forward to Southwark. I think it'll be a nice change. Also helpful was your information on the export process at F&M. Now an even better reason to pick up some things. I've avoided doing so in the past because I thought it'd be like Harrods.it wasn't easy 10 years ago. I no longer shop at Harrods for a number of reasons, but I still enjoy the Food Courts.

I believe Cote Brasserie is a chain. I ate at one just off Kensington Road. It was pretty good but, if you're wanting Indian or something else, it just doesn't seem to be as good as what you anticipated.

Regarding B2's argument, I try to remember something Mark Twain said, to paraphrase "never argue with fools, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference" it's interesting how quickly one can become an expert on London geography. maybe too much caffeine!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 06:21 PM
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Sorry for the break -- just wasn't in a <i>mood</i> to finish . . . I sent D a check for the bits of B&B deposits I calculated she should get back. ($115 of the $245 total). But she is absolutely insisting on refunds for the car and train ticket. She ain't getting anything for the train ticket period - it was a discounted, non changeable non-refundable 1st class fare. The bigger problem is the car ($440 pre-paid to autoeurope @ $110 by each of us) would mean each if us would have to send her a check for $36.66 which isn't fair to the others. It is a small amount - but unless B1 & B2 agree, D is SOL . . .

Anyway: <B>Train to Newcastle/Hadrian's Wall/on to Alnwick</B>

When we were first shown around the flat, I mentioned to David, the on site mgr, that we'd be booking a car service to take us to KingsX early Monday morning. He said "Not to worry, I'll take care of it. I'll either arrange a car service or drive you myself for £17" (When will I learn to worry when they say "Not to" )

A few days later we finalized arrangements w/ him to pick us up at the bollards down the block at 07:15 Monday AM (8:30 train). Well bright and early we are at the bollards waiting . . . and waiting. This is in a semi remote part of the marina w/ next to no vehicle traffic -- no parade of cabs flowing by. we wait until 07:40 and the girls are looking at me expectantly to 'fix this'. None of us had a working mobile - and we had locked up the flat and put the keys back through the letter box so we couldn't get back in to phone. So I said 'follow me - and hurry!' (which was easy for my w/ my little 21" rollie bag but a bit harder for them w/ their large and very large suitcases). We essentially ran over to the Tower Hotel since I assumed there would be a queue of taxis there . . . and there WAS - Yay! Hopped in a cab about 07:50. Just like a movie "Kings Cross and Hurry!". He got us there w/ about 10 minutes to spare so all was well . . . and the fare - £15.

The girls had no idea I was scared spitless - I hid it well . They just assumed I had things under control (well, didn't I? )

The train ride north was terrific - 1st Class is wonderful. Full cooked breakfast, papers, wifi, etc. Minor todo - as we approached Newcastle I suggested we move closer to the car end so we'd be near the luggage when we pulled in to the station. As we were walking gown the aisle - and I have no idea what she was thinking - B2 stopped at an empty seat and picked up an unopened bottle of water (?). I didn't actually see her do it - except just then the occupants of the table/seats returned (I guess that had been in the Lounge) and the woman said "Nice - I guess she needed my water more than I did!" and I looked down and B2 is popping open a bottle of water which she hadn't been carrying before. Jeeze Louise. As we got to the luggage B2 turned to the 2 of us and said - "Well, if she wanted it she should have opened the seal. I thought it was just there for the taking" . . . (Who <i>does</i> that?)

Our car was through EuropCar at Kent House Gateshead (essentially downtown Newcastle across the river from the station) we took a cab and were there in about 10-ish minutes. We ended up in a very nice Audi hatchback (much nicer than the Skoda 'or similar' we had booked).

I had brought a road atlas from home . . . but on the train ride north both girls fessed up that they really aren't 'map people' and navigating might be an 'issue'. Okaaaay I'm doing the driving AND the navigating (been there, done that but usually only when traveling solo)

B1 said she'd be willing to try though so that is what we decided. The agent at EuropCar attempted to give me directions out of town . . . but I knew enough to realize he was sending me all the way through central Newcastle and a LOT of construction I had seen on the cab ride over. I said - "Isn't there an easier way sort of straight west to the A1 w/o having to go all through the city". And there was - Yeah!. Easy Peasy - three roundabouts and about 1 mile and we were on the A1 heading north.

But (and you guys are going to think I'm whining <i>again</i> ) B1's heart was in the right place but as a navigator she flat out sucked! I suspect she was better than B2 would have been, but that isn't saying much. Luckily, most of the time - every day - I knew where we were and where we were going - but having <i>someone</i> else in the car who could at least read a map would have been nice.

But the biggest problem wasn't the map illiteracy . . . it was B1's panic - continuous panic. "You're too far over!", "Move Over", "Oh no!", "EEK!" . . . a regular narration every time we were in the car. Now -- I have driven tens of thousands of miles in the UK and I generally know what I'm doing. I tried to allay her fears. I even explained I might bump a kerb (curb) once or twice the first day while getting used to the outside dimensions of the car but not to worry. But BOY did she worry!!!!! In fact at least once a day (and three times day 1) she actually reached over and grabbed my arm and tried to steer the car. Cripes - the first time I was so shocked I almost did run up on a kerb. I told her that was a very bad idea - I was in control of the car and if she grabbed my arm again I might lose control of said car. But she couldn't control herself and I got to the point if I saw her hand moving out of the corner of my eye -- I stop her w/ "Don't you dare!" It got to be a joke between the two of us . . . but Good Lord!

I had originally thought we'd head up to Lindesfarne this day (since we couldn't check in to out B&B in Alnwick til late afternoon). But last night I checked the tide tables and it wouldn't work. We arrived in Newcastle and the causeway closed at a little after noon. So I asked if they wanted to see Hadrian's Wall? "Oh Yes!!!". So we take a detour west . . . and the nice weather turns worse and worse. By the time we get to Chesters it is very threatening but still semi-dry. B1 and I wandered around most of the site -- the grass was very wet but the paths weren't too muddy. But B2 stayed in the gift shop since she was wearing heels.

Then we all went in the museum . . . and the skies just opened up. A real downpour. We were sort of trapped in the museum til it let up.. It did - a little- so we dashed into the gift shop - and it opened up again. We did have a nice (long) visit w/ the two staff members talking about the Wall, and Alnwick, and California, and a lot of other topics. Eventually it let up enough so we could dash to the car.

We drove over to Housesteads but the girls thought the weather was just too iffy to risk walking out to the site (and it was)

I tried to find a good view point so they could at least see a nice bit of the Wall from the car but it just got darker and wetter and we turned around and headed back to the A1 and north to Alnwick.

We stayed here - a nice B&B on the main road into Alnwick from the A1 http://www.alnhouse.co.uk

Only problem . . . I had sort of etched the directions onto my brain and felt I could find it no prob. And then the exit from the A1 was closed due to construction. <B> Damn!</B>. Drove farther north and took the detour route from a different direction into the town . . and don't ask me how but I found the place. It did take one pass - sort of figured out I should go away from the town centre and I saw the sign on the other side of the road. I assumed there would be a roundabout somewhere ahead and there was and around I went and back in the opposite direction and we pulled in to the car park right at 4:30 (I had told the B&B we'd probably arrive between 4:30 and 5PM) just like I knew what I was doing

After settling in and having tea and biscuits in the lounge, we walked downtown to look for dinner (the weather had turned quite nice as soon as we left "Wall country" and it was a pleasant walk). This was Monday and several restaurants were closed. We did find the Bistro in the Plough Hotel - it was open/busy/and had a decent menu - but most important, open . I had lamb and something I can't remember now and a special ale. B1 had fish and chips, and B2 had mushroom soup and tap water.

We window shopped a bit and headed back to the B&B and finished unpacking.

<B>Next: Tuesday - Alnwick Gardens and Castle
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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 07:59 PM
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Non-refundable ticket is exactly that non-refundable. Sheesh

Still following along.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 09:05 PM
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B1 would have been (a) hitch-hiking ,(b) wearing plaster on her broken arm, or (c) sitting manacled in the back seat, if she'd grabbed my arm while I was driving! Good Grief!

As to the refunds - I wouldn't budge on the car, which was rented in good faith to accommodate 4. Or on any other costs that you didn't receive a refund on.

No reason why the rest of you should absorb her cost, when she didn't have the decency to tell anyone she wasn't going until the last minute, when all the bookings had been made.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 09:16 PM
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"B1 would have been (a) hitch-hiking ,(b) wearing plaster on her broken arm, or (c) sitting manacled in the back seat, . . . "

Don't think all of the above didn't cross my mind.

Last edited by Moderator1; Jun 28th, 2020 at 12:16 PM. Reason: removed broken html
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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 10:56 PM
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wearing heels to visit Hadrian's wall

on the water issue, did you check her for cutlery as well?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 01:23 AM
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Funny you should say that.
I was in a tea shop next to a table with four middle-aged American ladies. I said to one, "Oh, a cake fork seems to have fallen off the table and got stuck in the top of your boot". I watched, smilingly as she removed it and replaced it on the table. Of course, it probably did get into her boot by accident.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 03:07 AM
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Even if your no-show had cancelled earlier, how in H does she think she should get a refund on a non-refundable train ticket? Bizarre.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 07:48 AM
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What no Starbucks ?

What does one not understand about a non-refundable train ticket.

I think you made the most out of your day with a trip to Hadrian's Wall even if the weather didn't cooperate. A visit to UK isn't really complete unless one experiences some inclement weather.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 09:45 AM
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I'm with everyone else on the non-refundable ticket and the heels!!!! (In fact, I wouldn't have been nearly as generous as you with any refunds)
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