We made it home!

After the fiasco at the airport on Saturday, we arrived extra early on Sunday, were first in the queue to check in and also upgraded to premium economy with miles. We had great seats in front of the emergency exit, so loads of room, plus champagne when we boarded. Virgin have just about redeemed themselves.

I slept for 12 hours last night from 8 til 8 (thank you melatonin), but am still feeling a bit weird today. Willpower and happiness at being back in the UK will get me over the jetlag super quick this time though. Turned up at work to find none of the US stuff has arrived yet, so can’t do too much at the moment. In the meantime have lined up 7 flats to look at tomorrow. There’s loads on the market!

My car tyres had gone down, but the car tyre place I took them to couldn’t find any holes, so I’m guessing my car was just wilting from lack of attention.

It is SO GREAT to be home!!!

Dad brought me tea in bed this morning, and the weather is cold but not too severe.

Everything I look at is lovely – English countryside (gorgeous!), English licence plates (so neat and tidy!), English people (so pale and miserable looking!), English shops (full of stuff I know!). When I took the car to the tyre place, a 4×4 pulled up containing three dogs and a dead fox on the dashboard. Two men jumped out in wellies and gave the tyre man a deflated tractor tyre. Real English farmers!! How cool! :-D

Still In America

So… we’re still here.

We didn’t get on the Virgin flight.

Before that, I haven’t mentioned so far that yesterday was my birthday. The majority of which we spent scrubbing the apartment. Now, we did have a great evening once we finally got to the Valencia hotel – an hour in the pool/hot tub and dinner at Amber India (lush Indian food and margaritas, yum). And I had lots of lovely text messages and emails. And Steve’s mum even called and sang Happy Birthday :-) . But next year I’m booking an entire day at a spa, no matter what. This is absolutely the last time I clean a cooker and scrub a bath on my birthday. Let alone carry 15 bags of recycling to the recycling enclosure and stress about how I have to send yet another box home via surface mail because I just can’t fit everything in my suitcases.

This morning everything seemed to be going well. We got to the airport early so we could use our miles to upgrade and get checked in and relax. But once we got to the ticketing desk it all started to go horribly wrong. Our booking was buggered up and we weren’t properly on the system. Then we were told after about 20 minutes that we’d have to go on standby. With 29 other people. 8 days before Christmas. We were told we’d have to come back the next day if we didn’t get on today, and try standby again. And again. And again. Until we got seats. With no guarantee we’d go at the same time. Or in fact, any time this year.

So we asked if we could pay to change the flights to a different day. Which we could. So we paid the admin charge and then waited for 3 more hours while they sorted it out. We watched a man who had been on standby for 2 days and who seemed at his wits end, pay the upgrade fee of £800 ($1600) to first class after fighting with the ticket man to get on the plane today. We watched a woman throw a tantrum because her seat was miles away from the rest of her family, even though they were all seated together on the tickets they’d been sent. We watched as they requested volunteers not to fly (they were looking for 16 people to give up their seats), because the plane was so massively overbooked.

But worst of all we watched other people upgrading as usual, into seats that were blatantly reserved just for upgrades, but even though it was their fcuk up, they couldn’t put us anywhere on the plane. I went through a rainbow of emotions in 3 hours, from nonchalance, to anger, to frustration, to tears, to guilt at being mean to the woman who was rebooking us on tomorrow’s flight.

And after 3 hours I got a ticket that said I was flying from Las Vegas, not San Francisco.

It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if they had actually seemed like they gave a sh*t about it, but they didn’t. The chap who seemed to be in charge of ticketing even had the audacity to say “It’s business, that’s how we make our money”, when I asked him how they had managed to overbook by 29 people.

And I wonder how much of Virgin’s profits are made from people being told they have to go on standby and then paying to change flights so they have some idea of when they are actually going to get on a plane.

I went to the BA desk and apparently if Virgin can’t get you on a plane they can endorse the ticket and get BA (or someone else) to fly you home. When I went back to ask about this, the lady said they couldn’t do it because we had already “voluntarily” changed our flights to tomorrow. Ha ha ha. But had she mentioned this as an option before we did that? No she hadn’t. And neither had the “It’s business” idiot.

Jesus. What an utter nightmare. I got my Las Vegas ticket changed to SFO and then we went to get some food, as it was 4.30pm and we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. So now we are holed up in a Marriott hotel (a rather nice one at that), after standing in the pouring rain (yes, it does actually rain sometimes in this desert of misery), and getting on the hotel shuttle bus with 4 ton weight cases, 2 rucksacks, 2 laptops and 2 cowboy hats.

And yet again today I found myself wondering how much time I have wasted at airports, on planes, and moving house because of the labour of love that is working for the COC. So I thought I’d tally them up:

Days moving:
2 days original relocation to south coast
4 days moving out and putting everything into storage before going to US
2 days moving out of US flat to return to UK
2 days finding, emptying storage and moving in, to new flat in UK (conservative estimate!)

Days flying:
10.5 days (17 trips of 10 hours each + 5 hours each time travel/customs/check-in etc)

Hours of jet lag:
8.5 days (17 instances of around 12 hours in total, feeling like a zombie, spread over three or four days after arriving)

1 day (today)

30 days

30 days. And that doesn’t include all the weekends I’ve worked and the overtime I’ve done. Think of all the other stuff I could have done in 30 days!!!!! That’s a whole month of my life.

Man, I am NOT paid enough.

Monterey and More

Christmas lights look really pretty on Santana Row:

Santana Row

And we love the hot tub on the roof…

The Valencia, Santana Row

Monterey Aquarium is excellent. Five of us from work went to see it yesterday and it was better than I had hoped it would be. It had some amazing displays, full of hundreds of creatures, some of which you couldn’t even imagine actually existed. Seriously – some of the things they had in tanks looked like they had been invented as part of the set of a science fiction film.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

I had some serious problems getting Photoshop Elements to work today – a complete reinstall has still left it partially unusable. My hard drive is just completely full, so I’m hoping this is just due to a lack of memory and probably a hugely fragmented drive… Need to do some back-ups and siphon off some data, else I’m not going to be able to get any more photos on here.

I have however, enabled the streaming media server in my hosting package, which means, ladies and gentlemen, I will soon be able to share my handycam recordings and camera movies without you having to wait forever for them to download. Exciting huh? More on that shortly.

It’s been months since all of us from the UK have been together in the same place, so we’ve spent hours and hours gossiping like little old ladies about everything under the sun, up to and including what the vegetables were like at the UK Christmas party (I have inside information that someone was sick on the coach on the way home this year – lol, this makes me feel much better about my disaster two years ago, something else I will get around to talking about at some point in the future…).

Since Steve and I have shopped, played basketball with Richard (he has way too much energy), gone swimming with Richard (see?), lounged in the hot-tub at the lovely Valencia Hotel and eaten an enormous dinner with everyone before heading back to our apartment, we are exhausted. I am only just about awake enough to add in the pics I’ve taken and say we’ve had a fab weekend. Zzzz.

Holiday Notes

In Tenerife

Hurrah! – we survived the 28 hour journey there (and made our connecting flight 7 minutes before it was due to leave Gatwick, result!). Holiday photos from the gloriously sunny Tenerife and a quick wander down the Strip at Las Vegas are now available … why do holidays always go so fast?

They go even faster when it takes two days to recover from the jet lag and then you discover you can buy a tanker of beer for 70p.

Eating out in Tenerife is even cheaper than eating out in America (is this some global conspiracy to make me grow bigger?). We ate lots of lovely English food, including the most excellent scrambled eggs provided by Steve’s mum while feeding the hoard of people demanding breakfast. We listened to lots of karaoke (some very good, some… interesting) and generally wandered around feeling very pleased with ourselves for being there instead of at work. And Tenerife is HOT. Even in November it’s scorching in the daytime.

Tenerife Pool

As Miss Tipex, I’m not sporting a tan of any kind, but trust me – that’s not an indication of the weather, just the effectiveness of my 4 layers of factor 30.

For most of us, our days generally consisted of:

  • go to the pool
  • eat
  • drink sangria
  • blissful sleep
  • repeat

Except in Holly’s case, where sleep was replaced with bar/nightclub for the entire week. Am I the only one who thinks she has struck a personal deal with powergen? This is the same Holly who suffered no sleep problems when she came to visit us in America a few weeks back, and then travelled home on an 11 hour night-flight, continued on through the day and survived an all-night party before getting up to go to work the next morning. Incredible.

Tenerife was followed by a return to the US via a stoppover in Las Vegas, which is amazing. Oh it’s amazing. It’s really, really amazing. It’s all neon and fairytale-ish and everything. Unfortunately I was struck down with a random chest infection that left me thinking I was going to die, on top of the fact that we had just got used to UK time, so we were actually wandering around at the equivalent of 3am. In fact, if it wasn’t for the couple of pictures I took, I’d think I imagined the whole thing.

Las Vegas

The general consensus for both places is we have to go back for more. We want more! More holidays, more sun, more sangria, more neon. So that’s the end of a successful holiday season for another year, as the er…. other holiday season is rapidly approaching, and it’s time to start thinking about Santa again and dusty old relatives you forgot you had (oops, I mean that in a nice way, honest). So enjoy the pics – they make it a total of 1,000 photos in the database!

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