July 31 – Monday

Said a quick goodbye to Neil before he left for work as I’l be gone by the time he gets home this afternoon. Did another pack-up, and updated my maps a bit with green highlighter showing where I’d been in Italy.
Left for the Limoges airport around 1:30 – took just over an hour to get there so I had plenty of time. I’d already ‘checked in’ online, so I went thru security as soon as I could which was 2 hours before my flight. Colin waited to make sure my bags were ok and everything I was taking was acceptable. Set off the metal detector even after removing my shoes – forgot about my moneybelt. Passed both of my bags thru the machine, plus my ipad and liquids – the security guy said that my saline solution was too big – they have a 100 ml limit for any liquids, and they have to be all together in a clear plastic re-sealable bag. I indicated that the container was almost empty and he still said – too big, although he didn’t make me remove it. They did search the bag I had my camera and a bunch of other stuff in, and didn’t like my bike lock. It’s a long cord with a combo lock attached so I had to give that to Colin via a door that another security guy unlocked for me. The bike pedals and tools, however, were ok, so once I was cleared Colin left.

Went thru passport control – he asked when I’d arrived in France and I had to think about it – the last 3 weeks have seemed like months since we’ve seen and done so much, but at the same time it seems like yesterday. I think I guessed right when I said around July 11. He didn’t seem to care how long I’d been in Italy or anywhere else before that, so that’s good to know regarding the stupid 90-day rule.

The waiting room was way too small – just as Colin had said. Another flight before mine was delayed an hour, but finally boarded so I got to sit down. A couple of English men sat beside me and one commented on my Cdn flag – I said it’s so everyone knows that Donald Trump isn’t my fault, ha ha. He thinks the same as everyone else I’ve ever spoke with about it – Trump is a joke everywhere but in his own mind and the minds of his brainless followers and the desperate-for-power Republicans that don’t give a shit about their own people or the rest of the world they’re just so happy to be in power.

My flight was also delayed almost an hour, although we made up some time during the flight. It was cloudy almost the whole way, except that it opened up right before we got to the north coast of France – I could see the coast, the channel, some channel islands, then the English coast and some fields before the clouds closed in again.

Had to fill out a ‘landing pass’ to get thru British security at Bristol and he asked me a bunch of questions about why I was there and how long I’d be staying, but was very nice and no problem getting thru.

Went as quickly as possible to get a shuttle bus to the train station, and ran as fast as I could to print my pre-paid ticket, but was a few minutes too late. The train to Cheltenham, where I need to change to another train, was on another track and I watched as it pulled out – there was no way to get down stairs, over 4 tracks and up again in time. I phoned Colin’s other friend Neil (young Neil, as he’s known to Colin) from a pay phone to let him know I’d be at least 30 or 40 minutes late into Worcester, depending on the train schedules, as he’s supposed to be picking me up.

Got the next train 40 minutes later, but it took an hour to get to Cheltenham. It didn’t actually matter, as those trains only go every 2 hours, so had an hour wait. Asked a train worker if there was a payphone and he said yes – they’re just outside the main entrance. Passed a vending machine and tried to get some chips (hadn’t eaten since noon and I was very hungry) but it kept spitting back my coins. Made sure I was feeding it pence, not cents – yes, right coins, but no go. There was an awesome golden sunset happening, but, very unusually, I didn’t take a photo.

Went outside to find the phone booths – booths were there, but phones weren’t. There were gaping holes where the phones had been ripped out of the booths, but the nearby ATM was intact so I got some more BP (Colin had given me some that he had before I left his place in France). Went back to the train worker and was told there should be a payphone just across from the side exit, so went there. No phone, but did see a pizza place so thought I could get two things done at once – food and phone call. They only sold whole pizzas, so I went next door to a fish and chip place and got some food – they also let me use their phone for free. Called Neil again and told him how late I’d be in – I had told him I’d happily take a cab to Colin’s house from the train station as I knew it wasn’t that far and I had a key. Neil has to work in the morning so thought that would be fine, and he did say he’d come over before work to make sure the water, etc was all working for me.

Finally arrived in Worcester around 10:15 (UK time – 11:15 France time). Considered walking to Colin’s house, but got a cab instead – it wasn’t that far a drive, but would have been pretty far for a walk with two bags and I was getting very tired so I’m glad I got the cab

Found Colin’s house no problem – then tried the key he’d given me. No matter how I wiggled it or which way I turned the handle the key wouldn’t budge. I tried to find a way to the back of the house to try the other door but the high, solid wooden gate was locked. I then tried the neighbour, who has kind of been looking after the place for Colin, but no answer to the doorbell, no lights on, and no car in the driveway. I considered trying to sleep in the courtyard, since Neil would be over around 9 in the am, but didn’t really like the idea, so went to the nearest house that still had lights on.

Rang the bell, and a very nice fellow opened the door – I explained my situation and he very kindly let me in to use the phone to call Neil yet again. It was by this time after 10:30 UK time, but he said he’d be right over. While I was waiting a very cute white and black cat with a bandana around it’s neck came over thru the neighbour’s garden and waited with me while I petted and cuddled him/her (not sure which).

Neil arrived in under 10 minutes and used his key to get in the front door – no problem. He tried my key and it definitely was the wrong key – I was a bit relieved since I would have been so embarrassed if it had worked for him. We went inside and he gave me a back-door key and a gate key so I’ll just come and go thru the back. The house is wonderful, and has a really nice back courtyard with a bench and lots of lovely bushes and flowers.

Neil made sure the water was turned back on and then tried to show me how the tv works but no luck with that – he thinks the satellite is off or something so I told him not to worry as I was tired and if I got bored I’d read a book.

Fairly late night by the time I settled down – after 1 France time.

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