Day 7 of UK Trip
July 11, 2009

Today never went as expected.  I really hope tomorrow doesn’t go the same way.  It started off ok except that we had to get up at 5:30am this morning to ensure we got to the station in time to catch the train to Edinburgh.  We had decided to take the train up rather than to fly and in fact it was slightly cheaper to take the train.  As we left the apartment a taxi was going past so we didn’t even battle to find a taxi, despite it being 6am.  The train left from King’s Cross.  We got there with sufficient time to get a coffee before boarding. The train left precisely on time and we were due to arrive into Edinburgh at 11:35am.  It is a scenic journey and you only stop a few times at major centres such as Leeds & Newcastle.  The good thing for me was that the train had free Wifi access so I could get some CBD work done on the trip.

The plan was that when we got to Edinburgh we would have some lunch first and then go to pick up the mobile home.  We had been told that pick up time was 3pm but that they would have it ready for us to collect at 2pm.  So we need to kill about 2 hours before taking a taxi to the collect the mobile home.  They had told me that if they had it ready prior to 2pm they would call me on my mobile.  We found a Cafe Nero (or Cafe Nerd as Chloe calls it because the name is sign written in capitals and the O looks like D).  We had a sandwich and drink and were doing quite well in killing the time when my mobile rang at about 1:15pm.  It was the owner’s mobile phone number (I recognised it) and so I was expecting him to say we could come and collect it.  It turns out (after taking awhile to adjust to his broad Scottish accent) that the previous renter had someone damaged the door which was now broken and therefore the van was unsuitable to rent.  He said that they had tried to get a new door but the agents had said it would take 8 weeks to get a new door.  He said they had tried all the other motor home companies and they didn’t have a free van either.  He said they were trying to repair the door but that they had to send one of their staff to Glasgow to get a glass panel and only when he returned would they know whether it would work.  He offered that we either take a B&B for tonight (at his expense) and get the van tomorrow or he would refund us the entire rental.

Really not the type of news you want when you are looking forward to a quiet 7 days driving around Scotland!  My view was that we should wait as long as possible to see if they could get it repaired today still but if they couldn’t we would take a B&B and then pick one up tomorrow.  We settled in to Cafe Nerd and promptly spent another 2 hours there!  4 hours in a coffee shop is quite some feat and Helen and I were really proud of the kids for how patiently they handled it.  I was extremely frustrated, annoyed and bored out of my mind so I can only imagine how they were.  I remember that Rob Smith once remarked in a sermon that you could not learn patience unless your patience is tried – well today we all had our practice.  Eventually at 3:15pm they called to say they definitely couldn’t fix the problem today and that they would pay for us to stay in Travelodge for the night.  They made the booking and told us the address – we eventually left Cafe Nerd and took a taxi to the Travelodge.

When we got to the Travelodge, of course, they had no booking for us at all.  I called the owner, he swore they had gotten one of his staff to make the booking, they denied having one for us and they said all the family rooms were taken.  The owner spoke to the manager of the hotel and that also didn’t resolve the problem and so it went on (in repeat iterations for about 10 minutes).  I eventually said if they had any free rooms I would take them and pay for them myself.  Just at the point the manager found a reservation for ‘Gemple’ in the system and sure enough it was the one made for us (though they had no payment details).  I called the owner and told him I was paying and they had to reimburse me tomorrow am.  He agreed to do that and we took the 2 rooms.

Immediately we got into the rooms I was reminded why I shouldn’t stay at a Travelodge.  No aircon (and it is quite warm), the window can’t open more than about 3 inches (I assume that it is like that in case you can’t take the room anymore and want to jump out), no telephone (if you want something from reception – like bedding for Michael & Chloe – you have to go down to reception and ask), a TV screen the size of my laptop, one bath towel (for three of us – we’ll follow the British tradition and not bath tonight), a badly stained sleeper chair (which Chloe has to sleep on in our room and Stephen is sleeping on in their room), and a host of other things which remind me that for £75 per night (that is R1000 per night) I could get a really nice hotel in South Africa.  Helen was irritated by the continental breakfast costing £7.50 – I hope it’s better than the room.  I think I may just sleep on top of the duvet tonight.  Fortunately I brought my own pillow along with me …

This evening we walked into the centre of Edinburgh and it really is a beautiful city.  Both the boys said they we could move here if we wanted.  We are staying on the west side and it took about 20 minutes to get into the centre (Princes St).  We found a nice family restaurant for dinner and it was a nice meal (even if the day was a little frustrating and wasted).  We walked back again and enjoyed the lovely evening at the sun still out at 8pm.  In fact it is now 10:30pm and it is just getting dark.

Everything that didn’t go as planned doesn’t really matter actually.  What is important is that we got to spend the day together as a family.  We also accept that things like this don’t just happen and that it was purposed by God for a reason.  We don’t know the reason but maybe it was (for example) to protect us from having an accident if we had picked up the mobile home today.  We don’t know but it doesn’t matter – we accept life isn’t perfect and we make the most of what we get.  Today was a day like that and I am going to bed tonight (and now literally!) still content.

Hopefully when I write tomorrow it will be from the bowels of a whale … no that’s not right  … that was Jonah who had to learn that God controls everything … let’s try that again – Hopefully when I write tomorrow it will be from the bowels of the motor home and I will be testing out using my mobile phone to login to the Internet rather than the hotel Wifi!

Good evening 2 y’all

From the “patience learned & practiced” Temples

Leave your comments...