Our Year-Long Adventures have started!

…But not in South Africa, Angola, Brazil, Argentina, or Iceland, all of which are places we’ve had tickets to in the last few months before our hopes were dashed by the relevant airline, foreign government or our own government due to Covid 19. Oh no! After years of planning our trip, we’ve ended up somewhere that to be completely honest with you, a few days ago I’d never heard of. We are in Kalkan, Turkey. Until a week ago we were off to Iceland with Ginny whose hopes as well as ours were dashed due to FCO advice….all set and with thermals packed we had to completely change our packing from somewhere cold to somewhere hot. Ginny was very understanding and recommended Kalkan…so here we are!

We nearly didn’t make it though and the last couple of days were full of hiccups and hinderances….

The previous night, after moving our funiture which is kindly being stored by Chrissie and with supreme help from Paul with his removal skills, we had visited Southampton Houshold Waste Recycling Centre to get rid of some old furniture and they had refused to let us in. Due to covid restrictions a strict booking system was in place, so we duly booked our slot and informed them that as it was a hire van, we were unaware of the registration number at the time of making the booking. But we did tell them it was a van! Our van was loaded with two sofas, two arm chairs, a table and a couple of vases (don’t ask). There were height restrictions in place, so we couldn’t just drive in, we stopped and spoke to the staff.

“You can’t bring that in here mate”

“Why not, we have items for recycling, and this is a recycling centre, no?”

“Yeah but it’s a van.”

“And?”

“No vans allowed”

“Really?”

“Not on a Monday, weekends only”

“Even though we booked a slot, and told you we would be in a van?”

“You’re not coming in”

“Ok, goodbye :(“

“Hang on, let’s see what you got in there” “Hmm, two sofas, two arm chairs, a table and a couple of vases” “I could probably take them off you”

“That’s great, please do”

“Cost you £150. Give me your phone number and I’ll let you know when I can do it”

“No thanks, goodbye :(“

So, off we went, complete with a still full van load back to Woking. I thought we could probably get the van back late the following morning, and if we had had to extend the hire, or face a fine for late return, it would still cost considerably less than £150. It was a concern and we were never going to get back before the 8am, so at 8am sharp we were on the phone to Kendal Cars to see if we could extend the hire for a while. We couldn’t. The van had already been booked by someone else and they wanted it back. Now! We were at the entry to Woking tip at exactly the same time, and the doorman (you’re not on the list, you’re not coming in from our previous drop off yesterday morning) was asking for our van permit number. “I don’t know mate, it’s on my phone, and my wife’s using the phone right now making a call to try to extend the van hire”

Phone call ends, I give him the permit number, we are allowed in.

We unload the van, and up pops Sarah Moore from Money for Nothing “We’re filming, do you fancy being on telly?” “Not really” we reply. It was 8am, we were already filthy dirty and battered from all that moving house entails, and we were in a hurry. “As soon as we’ve finished here, we’re leaving the country. We really don’t have time” “It takes ten minutes” she says. “Think about it”. We didn’t..

The guys at the tip were so friendly and helpful. “This bin for the vases, that one for the arm chairs, because they have a metal reclining structure so it goes in metal”

We were done and out of there. Sorry Sarah, we forgot to get back to you, but in the unlikely event you read this, “Thanks, but no thanks” 🙂

Luckily the cost of this extra trip was £27.45, including a van permit for £8.50 we had to buy from Surrey County Council online. The hire van was back by 9am, so they only charged a late fee…phew.

My daughter Caitlin was an absolute star. She came to our house in Woking to see us off before we went on our travels. We still had quite few things to do before we headed off to the airport, and our transport options were down to Carol’s contract hire car. A contract which was due to end that very day, (these things don’t happen by accident you know, a great deal of planning had gone into all this) and was going to be collected some time between 8am and 5pm.

“We’ll just crack on and get all the jobs done early on, hopefully before they come to collect the car” said I, optimistically. At 9am, Mr Car Collector rings and dashes these hopes by saying “I’m at your house, and I need to take your car from you now”. So after an hour-long inspection, to see what they could charge us for at the end of a 3 year plus contract, another transport option was taken from us.

Enter Caitlin, the heroine of the hour. She turned up to see us quite early, and was unbelievably helpful. She took me to the post office to return our Virgin Media equipment, to the currency exchange place to pick up our Turkish Lira, and then took Carol to the doctor’s (where she waited patiently for an hour) and the pharmacy as well for a last minute prescription pick-up. We then went for a meal together at a lovely pub, The Bird in Hand, the food was damned good too, especially Caitlin’s eton mess. We were so grateful for all her help, the least we could do was buy her a dessert. After the meal, Caitlin kindly took us off to our airport hotel for our last night in the UK for some time.

We had to be at London Gatwick Aiport, LONDON Gatwick, how ridiculous is that? It’s over 50 miles and over an hour’s drive from Gatwick to central London, so it would more accurately be named Crawley Gatwick Airport, but apparently Crawley doesn’t have the same international appeal as London… anyway, I digress. We had to be at the airport for 5am, yep apparently there are two separate 5 o’clocks in each and every day, though I rarely witness the early version myself. When it’s for a treat, such as the start of a trip of a lifetime it’s easy to rise and shine, though in this case it was long before the sun rose and shone, so to make things a little easier for ourselves we checked into a local airport hotel. Acorn Lodge Hotel is not a luxury airport hotel. Nor, as you may expect from an aiport hotel, is it open and manned 24 hours a day.

The front door of the hotel was has a key code system, but we didn’t know the code, so we went outside for a breath of fresh air at 4.15am via the back/fire escape door. Backpacks for a years worth of travelling left in our room along with our coats, and we were outside in t-shirts. It was dark, a little chilly, and not another soul was in sight.

When Carol left her job, her wonderful friends and colleagues gave her a few leaving gifts, including some beautiful flowers and a bottle of champagne. We took the French Fizz with us to the hotel and drank it all, stylishly too, out of the hotel coffee mugs. It was a really good drop of fizz too, so thank you all! The flowers are still going strong too and have been left with a friend. Taxi booked for 4.45am. Alarm set for 3.45am and we woke up breezily.

It was now 4.30am. 15 minutes before the taxi was due to arrive. As we stood outside, contemplating the adventures that lay before us, a sudden gust of wind blew up, and locked the hotel door behind us…….We tried, we rattled the door but could not open it. We tried the front door. We guessed the code, unfortunately incorrectly. It was now 5 minutes before the taxi was due to arrive, we were outside and our bags were inside. What were we going to do?

Simple, “Carol, just use your phone and call them, get someone to let us back in”

“I can’t, it’s the middle of the night and everyone’s asleep”

“We’ve got no choice, we’ll just have to hope someone answers it”

“Ok” “Shit! My phone’s in the room too”

Luckily, I had my phone on me. I rang the number, would anyone answer?

Ring ring, ring ring, ring ring.

“It’s not looking good!”

Ring ring, ring ring…

“Hello, Acorn Lodge Hotel”

“Good morning 🙂 I’m in Room 10, only I’m not in the room, my bags are and our taxi’s here now, but I’m outside and the door is locked”

The phone is slammed down.

“What happened, is he coming to let us back in and get our bags?”

“I don’t know, he hung up on me”

A few moments passed and Carol and I stood staring at each other, frowning with worry.

The door behind us creaked open. Despite not being best pleased with his bright and cheery early morning call, the owner had dragged himself out of bed and, still in his pyjamas, came to let us back in. We ran in, grabbed our backpacks, headed out to the waiting taxi, and made it to Gatwick Airport, Crawley, right on time.

Hmm, I’ve just reminded myself how easily distracted I get. This is supposed to be a travel blog, but the last few days have been soooo hectic it feels good to get it out of my system and write about the trials and tribulations of preparing for such a (hopefully) monumental trip.

We both just want to say thank you to everyone for all the help, support and good wishes for our trip. There are too many to mention but you know who you are. We are really grateful to all of you.

Enough for now, I’m off for a mojito 🙂

Join us for the next episode, where normal service will be resumed featuring far fewer words, and many more photos of strange foreign lands.

Much love

Nigel and Carol xx

3 thoughts on “Our Year-Long Adventures have started!”

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