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« Black Pudding and Tea -- £4 | Main | A List Of Things We Miss »

Where We've Been, And Where We're Going - Part 1

The other day Owen was talking about Magic The Gathering game strategy (it happens a lot these days), and he said, "Sometimes I don't like making a move unless I'm guaranteed success".  

Bob started laughing. "Owen - you're in the wrong family. A guarantee of success seems to be against our better principles".  

Owen was giggling. "We're From Here To Uncertainty, not From Here To Success"

"Yeah - we're From Here To... wait, where are we again?" Eleanor chimed in.

It went on a bit - our family laughing at our strange, meandering life without guarantee or, at times, even a loosely cohesive plan. In that vein I present you with the itinerary of which we are currently in the middle:

We left Germany in the last week of September and drove to Venice to spend a week. Venice was the perfect choice for two reasons: 1. We've just gotten the car that we're paying a fortune to have for the next few months, so of course the first place to go is Venice, to pay an absolute fortune to park it and leave it for a week. 2. Venice is half a continent in the exact wrong direction to where we need to be next. Still - it's Venice! It was really wonderful, and we'll tell you all about it and show lots of pictures in a post very soon. Promise.

After Venice we drove frantically across the continent to Amsterdam to catch an overnight ferry to the UK, with mere moments to spare before our Schengen Visa days ran out. This part was rather hairy and stressful, mostly because we accidentally booked the ferry traveling in the WRONG DIRECTION! As in FROM the United Kingdom TO the Netherlands, and we didn't realize it until I looked at the confirmation the morning we were supposed to board. As in the morning we were boarding the ferry that afternoon and still had half a continent to drive through, and the ferry office was closed and our Serbian cell phones with German Sim cards weren't working in Amsterdam anyway. What to do? Drive, and curse, and figure it out when we get there. Which is what we did. The best news is that we can't figure out who made the mistake - Bob or Brenna - so we both get to feel like idiots, and no one gets the guilt. In our defense - it was rather obvious when we talked to the ticket agent that we weren't the first passengers to have this happen. We went back to the website to figure out where we went wrong, and it's totally wanky, and defaults automatically to one passage (our wrong passage) every time you press Enter. We absolve ourselves of responsibility. It could have happened to anybody. Not our fault. But still, there's really no need to go around telling this particular story to your friends. We can just keep it to ourselves. 

The ferry crossing was terrific, if you ask the kids, very surreal if you're talking to Brenna, and absolutely, stupidly, maddening if you ask Bob. The population on board ranged from very amusing trollops teetering on their purple leather hi-heels while the ship rolled underneath them, to their total mouth-breathing thug boyfriends, with a bunch of high-school kids on a school trip thrown in. The food was spectacularly bad, and breathtakingly expensive. Our whole family marveled over dinner at a chefs ability to extract all the flavor out of a piece of chicken or a handful of peas, leaving nothing behind but a puzzling texture. We laughed at the audacity of that same chef to charge $150.00 for what was advertised as a burger, fish and chips, and two kids chicken teriyaki plates. Well - Bob fumed, and the rest of us laughed. To top it off, particularly high winds made the ship change route, extending our cruise by several hours. No one was even allowed out on deck that night. It was a pretty raucous sea out there. Course - it was a pretty raucous scene inside too. We took sea-sickness pills and went to bed early.

The next day we arrived in the UK. They drive on the left-hand side of the road here. We've leased a car designed to drive on the right-hand side of the road. Because we are brilliant! It is absolutely mind-blowing to drive on the left in a right-hand car through your first round-about. Mind-bending. It takes every ounce of concentration we have. We Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who has to get behind the wheel every time we go anywhere.

This one is Brenna's fault. Brenna was having a cavalier moment and said things like "How hard can it be!" and "It'll stretch our brains!" while Bob said things like "Are you insane!?" So now every near miss and harrowing auto adventure for the next 3 months is Brenna's fault.

And now for the piece de resistance: We don't actually have a place to live yet in Scotland. It's not that we haven't been looking! We looked on-line at 50 flats at least before we left Germany! Honestly - there doesn't seem to be a good reason why we didn't have place to live before we got here. It seems absurd! I mean - we did talk briefly about maybe getting a better price if we just showed up and hit the ground, you know, getting the lay of the land and all, but surely we weren't serious! Sigh. 

We've been here 3 days, and we're staying in a cottage this week in Linlithgow, which is close to Edinburgh. We're in love with Linlithgow. We're in love with Scottish coutryside. We love the Scottish people. They're so NICE. And they drink such good beer! And after another day of wandering into letting agencies and driving those nice letting agents crazy with our vague answers to their very reasonable questions...

“How long will you be staying?” and “What area would you like to be in?” They ask.

“We’ll be here between three and six months. Probably.” and “We can be anywhere really - we’re open.” THEN when they hear that we don’t have jobs, or local bank accounts… I wonder what they say when we walk out of the office? Well, after another day like that, a good beer at the bar across the street from our cottage, and a nice bartender to laugh with us instead of at us, is just good.

We've got another three days to find a place to live. No problem. And if we don't, there's always The Black Bitch on Main Street.

So all this is to say - sorry for not posting so much lately.  Let us find a place to live and settle in, and we'll tell you all about it, and send pictures of Venice, and the Ferry, and everything else.  Thank for your patience. 


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Reader Comments (13)

Say hello to the relatives in Scotland...we are related after all!

Oct 7, 2009 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRupert

Yeah, so are we...not! LOL

Oct 7, 2009 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRosalind

I drove from London to Stratford on the left side of the road. I planned the trip beautifully but forgot to plan the trip back. I could see the rental return building as I was trapped in a traffic circle.

Oct 7, 2009 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterIrvin Paik

Are you going to go to Inverness and Culloden Moor? All the reviews I've read about the battlefield site are glowing. If you go, you must post some pictures for us. Kecia and I are reading the recently released newest installment, An Echo in the Bone. Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures and more photos. The ferry trip sounds very amusing, despite the high seas robbery for the food.

Oct 7, 2009 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterKaren B.

Well I, for one, have tears pouring out of my eyes, enjoying your adventures safely from afar with the kind of laughing that could only come from this proximity. OH what good storytelling! So, so sorry you still don't have anywhere to live yet. Eek. Hopefully soon. So I can come visit you if/when I ever make it over there myself.

Oct 7, 2009 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterMelody

I remain enthralled at your wondrous adventure, and more jealous than ever. - Bob

Oct 7, 2009 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob B

Oh this post was really a good one. Exciting, funny, harrowing and just plain entertaining. Thank you, good luck finding a place to "live" for the next 3-6 months....probably! Look forward to all your posts.

Oct 7, 2009 at 8:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterpamela

Sounds like fun!! Just stay warm.

Oct 7, 2009 at 9:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterDora

Of course, everyone "back in the States" thinks you traveled to Europe just so you could spend your days sitting in front of your computer screen telling us all about it (and don't forget those links and visuals!). We know you're really holed up in a closet somewhere in Glendale and all those photos are postcards Photoshopped...You know, you really should charge...

Jim has ancestors and relatives at the ancient seat of Munro - and Wallis, of course - and Donal of Glencoe, too, I think. He's never to been to any of them, so if you're curious and close enough to check it out, you can then rub his nose in it. Did you save enough room in your budget for family kilts? Perhaps just one for Eleanor...(Adult sizes $600-$800!)

3 mos. and we still miss you!

Oct 7, 2009 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I am very glad to hear you landed somewhere! I had visions of all of you just boating around in Venis forever, or maybe deciding the dollar shock was too much so you went to Turkey. I wanted to send out a search party but thought that frantic grandmother and mother stuff might be a bit OVER THE TOP........... soooo I just waited. I should have known you would emerge with new and more funny adventures.
Bob can buy a kilt but unfortinately Brenna you have no family plaid. Even though our family dates back to 900 AD in Scotland.....we never were a klan.
Looking forward to pictures and adventures.. Very glad you are still on the planet.

Oct 8, 2009 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMOM

two things:
1) you know, you can always come to Serbia if things somewhere out there in Europe don't work.
2) i lost my other sock again

Oct 11, 2009 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterjulija

By the by, rushing to meet the departure time (boat, plane, train) is what really stresses me out about travel. I missed a connecting flight once and had to wait 11 hours for another flight - with 2 young children - not to mention the attendant made certain to inform me that it was not the airlines' "fault" so they were in their rights to charge me for the later flight, should they feel so inclined...enough to put me off flying, but with family in Hawai'i and London I'm kind of stuck.

Long way to say I can empathize with your frenzied race to the ferry!

Oct 12, 2009 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Well I hope you are settling in to you new home in Scotland by now.

You're at the halfway mark already? I just found your blog in the last month or two, and enjoyed reading the archive to get caught up.

The post that really stuck in my craw, and is worth mentioning now, was about what happens in "the middle".

You did a post about Manze Dayila and said,

"I want to know the part in the middle! I want to know the everyday grind of tasks and laundry and food. I want to hear about the small and constant decisions that lead her to her present circumstances. To me, the journey FROM young pregnant girl with teeth-gritting determination TO woman living a successful life as an artist is the interesting part. What happened in between???"

Yeah, it's tough documenting the middle in real time, I know. I'm not good at it all.

But you have at least one reader here who is very interested in your middle place.

The place between "here" (where you started) and "uncertainty".

Or maybe the uncertainty is the middle, and you'll end up....some where else?

Oct 15, 2009 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterLisa Sonora Beam

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