Friday, July 1, 2011

In Which We Fret about Strikes, and Get Excited about Sweden.

The UK has long been known for their spectacular strikes. There has been periods of labour unrest on and off for years but things have been heating up lately and it looks like right now is “on”. The government has been threatening to do something with pensions – I’m not exactly sure what but apparently, it is unacceptable to the hundreds of thousands of civil servants in the UK.

And so they chose June 30th to cause a fuss about it.

Normally I wouldn’t care too much – just do your thing and have your say and then get on with it. But this time, they have decided to involve the UK Passport Control people, and we are flying tomorrow from Heathrow to Stockholm. You know who they are – there’s a row of them when you come off your 23 hr red-eye flight and they are there to make sure you are not a threat to the hedgerows. Trouble is, there’s only ever a few of them, and, as Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, there always seems to be about a bazillion people in line waiting to have their passports stamped or their DNA taken or whatever it is. The line is always atrocious and I’m pretty sure you could translate the Lord of the Rings into Klingon in the time it takes to reach the counter. And by the time you reach the counter,you are so disoriented and dehydrated that you have no idea what is going on, and you have invariably lost your passport while in the line:

Agent: Passports please

Me: Sorry just a minute…what?

Agent: May I see your passport please

Me: Are you speaking to me?

Agent (looking over my shoulder at the huge line): I’ll need to see your passport now.

Me: I’m sorry but I’ve forgotten who I am…

Agent: Are you having a lark? Are you taking the mick? Winding me up are you?

Me: Am I having a lark? No I don’t think so…Who’s mick? Am I mIck? …where am I?

Agent (into his radio) "We’ve got anufva one ‘ere, Ted, can you bring the bleach to booth #3”

Me: Who are all these people?

Agent (into his radio) “and hurry up, Ted, this one’s looking right bleary eyed. Gone all funny, she has.”

Me: Is this the way to the Underground?

Ted (holding the bleach under my nose): Just give it a moment, Lufv, and you’ll feel right as rain. We’ve had a lot like you today. Must be the wehva.

Me (indignantly, with bleach splashed down the front of me): What are you doing? Don’t you want to see my passport?

Agent (all steely-voiced again): What is the purpose of your visit to the UK?

So really, I am hard pressed to understand exactly how the progression of the line could possibly get any slower, but I guess I will find out tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes.

We spent our last day in Hay-On-Wye shopping – it is well known for having some very unique shops and I have not been disappointed. No H&M or M&S here.

I fuelled up for shopping with a delicious Ploughman’s Lunch. You can’t see them but there are two pickled onions beside the huge slices of Stilton, Brie, and smoked Applewood Cheddar. What else does one need?



I have never heard of Barry Trotter before. Apparently, he’s famous.


Then I found the best toy store ever. Love these rabbits.


And this wooden Noah’s Ark and all the animals.



But the Princess and the Pea was the best.

I bought a few things that I won’t bore you with but suffice to say we had to buy another bag to fit everything in.

Long day of travel tomorrow and not sure about internet access, so I will post next from Sweden. Or possibly the passport line at Heathrow.

Thanks for reading



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