Posted by: glenswatman | June 29, 2007

200706 -1- June England. USA


FRIDAY 1 JUNE 2007 – Usual routine of 3 meals
with swims in between.


SATURDAY 2 JUNE – There are a few more people
on site for the weekend but unfortunately no other children so we end up back
at the pool overseeing the kid’s swims.
Donna & Luke call round for a chat late afternoon. Our planned
evening at the bar is cancelled as the kids want to watch lots of programmes on
TV and there are few people in the bar.


SUNDAY 3 JUNE – Andy organises a boules
competition but both Steve & I with our respective partners are knocked out
in the first round pleasing the kids as it means they can have a swim! In the afternoon they enjoy themselves
“cleaning” Grandma Enid’s car with no worry about getting their clothes
wet. I have the pleasure in finishing
off after they get bored. There’s time
for the 4th swim of the day before Andy, Chris, John & Maureen
come round for a drink and for us to look at their Morocco photos. The kids are pretty tired and settle down
around 8pm, think the swim tally of 15 for the week has finally taken its toll!


£87 for the caravan for the week

MONDAY 4 JUNE – I get up at 7am and finish
packing a few bits away before gently disturbing everyone else. By 8.30am we are packed and ready to roll
and have an easy journey to Wakefield with the kids sleeping in the car most of
the way. Auntie Pamela and Mum have
enjoyed their cruise but weren’t so keen on the sleeping arrangements for the
first couple of nights as they had been allocated a double instead of a twin
cabin and had to share a bed! The car
is well and truly loaded up with the kids and I squashed in the bag with Mum’s
baggage on top and surrounding us.
Luckily it’s only a sort drive to Bingley where we call in on Mom &
Dad. After a very brief visit we rendezvous
with Claire who is home on her lunch hour.
Steve & I visit our solicitor to sign the sales forms for Parkwood
Street to enable the deal to proceed once we are away. Once Daz has returned from work we set off
for Manchester to visit David and family.
He has lots of tales to tell about his experience at the Liverpool match
in Athens and has added more memorabilia to his Liverpool shrine. Our final leg of the journey gets us back to
Drayton around 6pm and I soon have a joint of pork roasting in the oven. It’s then just a question of what to deal
with first, phone messages, mail or unpacking.


TUESDAY 5 JUNE – I join Mum for a drive out to
Newport in the morning then Steve & I spend the afternoon at Netty’s using
the Internet. Bobby follows us back to
Mums for a second evening meal and seems to have hollow legs, as there is no
filling him. Only 10 more sleeps until
we go.


WEDNESDAY 6 JUNE – Spend a bit of time
wandering round the market with Mum.
It’s a lovely sunny day and Steve is sat out sunbathing when we get
back. England are playing Estonia at
football tonight so we go to Netty’s where Steve watches it with Bobby and I
order an inverter and new computer battery on E-bay.


THURSDAY 7 JUNE – George and Nicole, from Adelaide, are over on holiday and
they come round in the morning and stay for 3-hours whilst we catch up on each
other’s news.


FRIDAY 8 JUNE – This morning Mum ‘s friends
Anne & Tony call round, we know Anne so stay to join in the
conversation. Netty & Nick call
round in the afternoon, Netty with the good news that her boyfriend Ian is
moving in with them in August. Late
afternoon we drive to Pete & Carol’s in Newport to be joined by Paul,
Elaine and Matthew. It’s another nice
afternoon so we sit in the garden drinking wine and chatting. They are all off on holiday tomorrow, Scotts
to France and Evo’s to Italy, so everyone is in high spirits. Next stop Kevin & Sandra’s where Netty
& Mark join us and we sit in the garden to eat our Indian take-away. With 3 of the 4 Swatman children together we
end up reminiscing. Netty begins to
tell the tale of when Lisa went missing on a beach in Wales. She is nearing the end of the tale when
Sandra chips in “did they find her?”
Bearing in mind that Lisa is alive and well and living in Yorkshire we
all crack up laughing uncontrollably and end up with tears streaming down our
faces. We all know exactly what she
meant but it doesn’t help stop us laughing over the question and it’s quite
sometime before we manage to compose ourselves.


SATURDAY 9 JUNE – When we get back to Drayton
Mum is already out. Our friends Claire
& Malcolm arrive from Cheltenham having driven up in their motorhome. We’ve not seen them for sometime and are
soon sat out in the sun catching up on news.
Receive a phone call from Netty with the shocking news that Bobby was in
a car crash in the early hours of this morning. He’s OK but he was trapped for 40 minutes and the fire brigade
had to cut the roof off to get him out of the wreckage as the steering wheel
was pinning him down. Amazingly he was
discharged from hospital with just cuts and bruises. Dad David took him home as Netty & Ian were at a hotel in
Shrewsbury following a wedding reception.
Netty is now on her way to pick him up from David’s. I drive round to Netty’s and arrive just as
she and Ian get back with Bobby. He’s
still got glass and dried blood on him but is able to tentatively hobble
upstairs and into the shower. On the way
back Netty and Ian went to look at the car, a total write off, and the pictures
show that it ended up in an almost “v” shape.
They also returned to the crash site and saw that he narrowly missed
hitting a tree when he went off the road having lost the car on a bend at
speed. They found his mobile phone in
the bushes. Needless to say this has
left them very shaken up and unable to believe how relatively unscathed Bobby
is. I stay with them for a while before
returning to Mum’s to tell her the news but at least I can tell her that I have
seen Bobby and he is OK. Sitting out
again at the back I notice that part of Mum’s guttering has a gap so Steve
& Malcolm end up getting the ladders out and sliding it on along to fix it
up. It’s unbelievable what a bad job a
rogue labourer did on it, reckon Steve & Malcolm could set up in business
and do a better job! After lunch, in
Claire & Malcolm’s van on Drayton baths car park, we take the car for a
drive to Hack Green “secret” bunker.
£6.50 gets us into the underground nuclear bunker where the rooms have
been laid out, as they would have been during operational status. It’s very interesting and takes us a good
couple of hours to get around. Stop at
Audlem on the way back and with a drink from the pub we stroll along the canal
in the hot afternoon sunshine. Mum had
her main meal at dinnertime so I cook up a pasta dinner for the rest of us
before we retire to the conservatory.


SUNDAY 10 JUNE – Netty & Ian need to go
out early this morning so I have volunteered to go round to keep and eye on
Bobby. Arrive just before 8am to find
Bobby fast asleep on the lounge floor.
His accident is reported on the front page of the Shropshire Star so no
doubt I will be fielding a few phone calls and visitors this morning. Steve, Claire & Malcolm walk round to
join me late morning. Bobby remains
asleep until lunchtime when I disturb him to see if he wants anything to eat or
drink, painkillers and water suffice before he makes his way up to bed. David arrives to drop Nick off and goes up
to chat with Bobby. He’s very subdued
and obviously in pain. Netty & Ian
arrive back along with Ian’s son Dan.
Steve picks Mum up to join us for a BBQ, eaten in the garden in the hot
sun. A couple of Bobby’s mates turn up
and he cheers up a lot and begins moving around a bit more. He’s even got his
appetite back as he manages to demolish almost all the jelly and fruit that Mum
made him along with a whole can full of squirty cream! Mum walks home after we have eaten and we
linger as Leslie & Max call round to join us. End up back at Mum’s chatting in the conservatory until late.


MONDAY 11 JUNE – We’ve been invited to join
Claire & Malcolm in the motorhome for breakfast and it’s like old times
when we used to park out van there.
After her pupil has left Mum joins us for morning coffee before Claire
& Malcolm head off. I begin to sort
out what we need to take to America as opposed to what we would like to take as
our baggage allowance of 20kg includes hand luggage. I loosely pack a couple of bags and find we are already near that


TUESDAY 12 JUNE – Claire and Daz are planning
a family trip to London and have enlisted “Swatours” to find a cheap hotel so
an Internet session at the library is in order. I quickly drop on a deal with Holiday Inn and Claire is
delighted. Mum catches up with me and
we wander to Lidl where they have lots of luggage on special this week. I can’t resist a large rucksack with a small
daypack attached as it is 3 ways with transformation into a carry bag or
trolley and at £30 seems like a bargain.
Mum sees this as an ideal opportunity to buy lots more groceries without
having to carry them home! The new
inverter arrives and is faulty. We must
have a 240v one to take to America so I traipse around Drayton and strike it
lucky in Argos where they have one at £39.99 reduced to £29.99. Now the company can collect and refund the
other one and I can cross another thing off my list of to do. Steve and I are both full of colds and
feeling bogged under with chasing things up and very much ready for off.


WEDNESDAY 13 JUNE – After my ruptured Achilles
tendon operation I was told there was no need for physio but 9 months down the
line I feel the movement is still restricted and my ankle aches. On Paul & Elaine’s recommendation I have
book an appointment with the sports physio at Lilleshall Sports Centre. By 8am I am chatting to Nikki who then
examines my ankle. She says the
operation looks to have been a good one but the site is still inflamed and the
area tethered making it stiff. She
recommends ice for the inflammation, deep tissue massage and special stretching
exercises to make my ankle more flexible.
To get me off to a good start she does a massage and it is very intense
and almost painful. I had been
massaging it myself but much too gently.
She does warn me to expect it to be quite uncomfortable tomorrow! I call back at Mum’s to pick her up for our
day out. There’s a regular bus service
to Shrewsbury and it’s free for Mum with her pass, £4.40 return for me. It takes an hour and drops us at the bus
station where the escalator takes us up into Darwin shopping centre. After a quick orientation walk we stop for
a drink then head to the hearing centre.
Mum’s having problems with her aids and is pleased to find out that
things can be improved, the man who fitted them at home didn’t tell her how to
clean them are they are clogged up. At
the “Hole in the Wall” we have the Wednesday special rump steak dinner before
splitting up. There’s nothing I need
from the shops so I wander the streets admiring the fantastic old wonky
buildings until rain forces me into the shopping centre. The 3.15 bus gets us back in time for Mum’s
pupils and with luck the whole trip will have inspired Mum to go off on the bus
again on her own. Steve is still in
bed; he’s not feeling well at all. I do
a re pack to make use of the new bag I bought yesterday. It all works out really well until my test
drag when I find that one of the wheels has gone wonky. Luckily they still have some in stock at
Lidl and I can just swap it over and pack for the 3rd time.


THURSDAY 14 JUNE – Wake to torrential rain and
to find that the guttering that Steve & Malcolm fixed has come adrift. I’m
not confident our shower proof bags will stand up to this kind of downpour so
re pack them with the contents within black plastic bin bags. Pop round to Netty’s to use the Internet to
reconfirm our flights and accommodation with our host for tomorrow night. Back at Mum’s I make a start on cleaning up
the area where we have been staying.
She has a large duck shaped ceramic soap dish and I am cleaning it when
it slithers out of my hand, dives into the bathroom sink and pecks a huge crack
in it – a real ducking mess. Mum’s out
up town so I contact the insurance company and luckily they have a system where
someone comes out to look at the damage and make all the arrangements for the
replacement. There’s £50 excess to pay
for which I shall leave a cheque for Mum.
Now I realise that the cheque book is in the bag that I have already
packed 4 times but I’d rather delve in there than walk up to the bank! I am ultra careful with the rest of my
cleaning up. The house sale is going
ahead and should be complete within the next couple of weeks and all other lose
ends are tied up where possible. So now
we can concentrate on our trip.


FRIDAY 15 JUNEI have a surprisingly good
nights sleep and wake to find that the rain is dying out. I scurry round gathering the bags together
and doing a final clear up before Netty arrives to take us to Crewe
station. We are catching the 0956hrs
Virgin train to Glasgow Central, £12 single, running 10 minutes late due to
flooding on the line. Booking on the
Internet we chose to sit in the quiet zone with window seats so must find
carriage “F”. With limited time at the
station we elect to hop on board and then find where we should be. Easier said than done as the carriages are
poorly signed and doors between them have a hand operated opening button but
with bags in every hand they are difficult to use. We finally locate our spot with seats opposite each other and
table with power point for me to use the computer. The train is fast and quiet the journey passes uneventfully
entering SCOTLAND and arriving at Glasgow station just a few minutes late. It’s stopped raining so rather than paying
£20 for a taxi we walk about 200 metres down Waterloo Street to catch the City
Link airport bus for £3.50 each. It
runs every 10-minute and takes about 10 minutes to get us to the airport. We are flying with Globespan and booked our
one-way ticket on the Internet,
for £180 each including tax. Prior to
check in we have our passports and visas logged on the computer and are asked
the full address of our first nights stay in America. There’s only one person in front of us so we are soon checked in
with no problems about our baggage weight.
Find some seats to bide our time and consume the last of our drinks and
a bit more food. It’s a comparatively
quiet airport with plenty of shops so it’s rather pleasant. Proceeding to security we are told we cannot
take the empty water bottle through with us but don’t get asked to remove the
liquid toiletries stored in the obligatory zip lock plastic bag! In the departure lounge we catch a snip of
news on TV about the flooding in Britain today. We have been lucky to get away as the railway line between
Birmingham and Wolverhampton is now closed and looks like a river (ours was
probably the last train to pass through).
In Bingley they show a car washed away down the river whilst crossing a
bridge and more rain is forecast. There
are just a handful of shops in this area but I pop into Boots the Chemist as
they have a sign saying all food and drink bought there can be taken on
board. For £2.99 you get a meal deal of
a sandwich, wrap or salad, a choice of drink plus a snack. I make my selection and send Steve to pick
his deal. At the boarding gate I
realise there are going to be delays, there is no plane to be seen even 15
minutes before departure time. I ask
one of the staff who says it has just landed and they will do a quick turn
around and we will only be ½ hour late.
Needless to say our 1600hrs departure ends up being almost 1730hrs! There are only 80 passengers on board this
new route and the plane is a 737 with 3 seats each side. The lad sharing our row opts to move
elsewhere giving us the 3 seats between us.
Globespan is a budget airline and all extras must be paid for, and
preferably booked in advance, such as £12 for a meal and £8 to watch films on a
mini computer. There’s a menu of food
and drinks for sale on board including sandwiches, soups and hot drinks. I buy a cappuccino to go with my “duck
wrap”. After they have distributed a
few meals to those who have paid they come back through the cabin with complimentary
economy meals – sausage, mash and veg.
The steward explains that on the flights to and from America they are
not allowed to carry dairy produce so can’t sell sandwiches and instead of this
they give out the free mini meal plus a cup of coffee. It’s a very short flight of around 6-hours
and we make up a bit of time and land just 1-hour late at Logan Airport, Boston
MASSACHUSETTS in the USA. 1900hrs local
time, 5 hours behind England.
Immigration is reasonably quick and processing seems to be going
well. We have our finger prints and
photograph taken and our 10 year 6 month multi entry visa is fine but at the
last minute the officer calls another man over and we are asked to follow
him. We are taken for a secondary
immigration check and led to a strange room with rows of seats facing a raised
platform where 4 immigration officers preside over you. No one else is waiting so we are soon
called. Suspect it’s the fact that we
have no return ticket and are vague about our departure point and date. We know we have nothing to hide but still
feel under a bit of pressure as they can refuse you entry without reason. Reckon we must be Ok though as they allow
Steve to make a dash to the toilet – unaccompanied. Basically they want to know of our plans, see our bank statements
to show funding and then detain us for about ½ hour telling us all the things
we should see and giving us a history lesson about the Alcan highway to
Alaska! One good bit of news is that we
may not have to pay to extend our visa to stay for 1 year as the border
controls have it within their power to renew them. By the time we get to the baggage carousel it has been completely
cleared and we find our 3 bags forlornly stood in a corner. One bonus is that the queues to get through
customs are now short. Again we are
stopped and hit with a short burst of questions at random, mainly about what
type of motorhome we are buying, how we bought it and why we don’t work. Satisfied with our answers we are free to
enter America. Make a swift withdrawal
at an ATM (almost $2 = £1) before heading to the taxi rank. We’ve arranged a host through and need to get to the
suburb of Jamaica Plain. Tina has given
us directions for the driver, good job too as he isn’t sure of exactly where we
want to go. Wayne is very chatty during
our brief trip. Journeys less than 20
miles are done by the meter and we knock up a £29 fare and add on $3 tip. Parkton Road is full of magnificent old 4
storey apartment buildings made of clapperboard and each with a traditional
balcony. Tina takes us inside and
shows us to the 2-storey apartment at the top that she shares with 1 friend and
with 2 more soon joining them. It’s
fantastic inside with old style ornate radiators within huge rooms with sash
windows. She’s made up a sofa bed in the
lounge for us but first we want to chat to her whilst waiting for a take away
pizza to arrive. We’re thoroughly
enjoying talking to Tina but are exhausted so she packs us off to bed around
11pm (4am our time).



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