Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More 'Bucket List Trip' blog updates

As noted a week or more ago, (in 'Bucket Trip Blog Updates') I began to add more photos and edit some text in this series of blog postings. Today, I made such 'amendments' to two more previously posted blogs.

The first of today's amendments is to The bucket man does Swansea and Gower’ (initially posted on March 7th) and the second (initially posted on March 9th) is to Carrying the bucket around Swansea’.

Whether or not you have previously viewed those two, I think you'll enjoy seeing their updated versions. Be sure to add comments (to any of the blog posts) and 'share' with your friends.

There will be more updates to come.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bucket Trip Blog Updates

Now that I am back 'in my own pond' (on the west side of the big pond) so to speak, I have been going through the 1,800 (or thereabouts) photos I took on my trip and am selecting some to add to various blogs in this 'Bucket Series'. There may also be some updates to the text - if and when my memory becomes clarified.

I will dribble out these 'updates' over the next couple of weeks, so you may want to return periodically - I'll provide information as to which will have been updated .

To start with:

'Day 2 and beyond' - (initially posted on March 3rd) has been updated to include a whole segment that somehow failed to make it first time around. It is appended there as 'Bucket goes to Wales' and recounts the event in and around the day (February 26th) I headed to Wales from England.

'Buckets of new friends . . . ' (initially posted on March 5th) has been updated to included 'never-before-seen photos! You must not miss that.

More later . . . come back - often. Feel free to comment on these various blogs - and share them with you friends and social network 'peeps'.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Bucket tips

No, I don’t mean as in ‘The bucket got tipped over’, but as in ‘Tips (hints) for other would-be travelers to the UK – with or without a bucket’.

Currency Tips

Preface: I was in the UK, (February - April 2013) when the value of the British Pound (GBP) to the $(US) was approximately $1.52 to GBP 1.00

Tip 1 – buy as few GBPs as possible before leaving the US – I had to pay the bank $1.67 per GBP 1.00

Tip 2 – get your GBPs with your debit card at an ATM in the UK (a ‘hole in the wall’, they call it) – I got the $1.52 rate and was charged only a fixed $2.00 fee, no matter how much (or little) I withdrew. [Be sure to advice your bank that you’ll be overseas and to not then block your legitimate transactions.] If you happened to arrive in the UK with a fist full of dollars, you can get them changed into local currency at almost any branch bank or local Post Office in the UK. Good luck with that in reverse order here!

Tip 3 – don’t change your foreign currency back to US $ - either in the UK or in the US - you’ll only get about $1.37 per GBP 1.00 – a loss of about 10%. Best to either spend any left over amounts, or keep them until you make another trip.

Tip 4 – to minimize the Tip 3 dilemma, budget your expenditures and withdrawals.

Tip 5 -   Don’t be surprised in your American Express card is repeatedly refused. Also, UK-issued credit cards have a built-in chip (and you have to enter a PIN after inserting the card into a slot – like at an ATM) so many card-readers will only accept US-issued cards if it has a side-slot to ‘swipe’ the card. You may need to verify the establishment’s card-reader capability before making a purchase if you have insufficient cash on hand.

Tip 6 – note that all prices are inclusive of taxes (VAT) – so an item marked at $5.99 item costs $5.99 – not as it would be here, $5.99 plus 7% or whatever your local ‘sales tax’ amount may be. That makes it easier to ‘tot up’ what bank-notes (that’s what they call ‘bills’) and coins you’ll need while you are in line at the check out. Coins are heavy – the smallest ‘note’ is the GBP 5.00 – about $7.50.

Tip 7 – if you nip over to the Republic of Ireland, their currency will be the Euro and costs about $1.25.

Travel tips while in the UK

Travel in the UK can be EXPENSIVE, but there is so much to be seen in relatively short distances that it is worthwhile getting out and seeing the vast diversity of scenery and history.

Tip 1 – if renting a car, get a fuel-efficient vehicle!  Petrol (gas) is sold by the liter - there are 4.56 of them to a British gallon, but only 3.79 to a US gallon. When I was there, petrol was priced at about GBP 1.35 per liter. That works out to be about $7.67 per US gallon – and you think $3.50 a gallon here is expensive?

Tip 2 – be alert in town – or residential areas! Motorists in the UK don’t give a second thought to crossing the centerline, into the face of oncoming traffic, in order to park on the opposite side of the road if it suits them.  Parking in most towns (regardless of size) in the UK is a nightmare! Limited number of spaces and metered parking (even at many supermarkets) presents the usual problem of clock-watching and coin-finding. As I didn’t drive, I have no idea of exactly what it cost – but I did see some that were more than $3.00 for an hour.   

Tip 3 – learn the ‘rules of engagement’ to be applied when encountering one of the countries 6 billion roundabouts! Be sure to yield to traffic on your right and use your turn signals to let others know your intended direction – I know the latter is tough for many Americans to do.

Tip 4 - if travelling by train, check the internet for pricing which can vary considerably – depending if you plan to travel at off-peak or on-peak times. I got a one-way ticket for a 180-mile trip to Wales and it only cost $18.00; but had I gone at a different time of day, it may have been 4 times that amount. Some on-line train-ticket purchases cannot be made using a US-based credit card. For example, My Train Ticket  will not permit US-based credit card purchases, but  Arriva Wales will permit it. Further, if you are 55 or older, you can get a return ticket for almost anywhere within Wales for only GBP 17.00 ($26). It pays to do your homework on-line. Smaller stations may be ‘unstaffed’, but will have a ticket-purchase machine – but be wary of Currency Tip 5.  

Tip 5 – when inquiring about mass public transport between various places by road, be sure to specify ‘bus’ or ‘coach’. ‘Coaches’ go most everywhere and are intended for longer (20 miles plus) trips and ‘buses’ are for more localized trips. If you do not specify you want to go by ‘coach’, you may get information that gets you where you intend, but with multiple changes on ‘buses’. Routes, schedules and prices can be found on-line before you even leave here. It will help to do some research and planning – as I did, here:

Tip 6 - many local bus servers offer ‘frequent trip’ ticketing. For example, in Swansea, I bought a FirstWeek ticket for only GBP 20.00 ($30) that gave me unlimited (hop-on, hop-off) travel within the area. Had I not done that, I could have been paying $4.25 every time I got on the bus for the 3-mile trip into town. I had exceeded the face-value before the 4th day was half over. The ticket can be bought from the driver (cash only) on the bus – or online.

Dining out tips

Tip 1 – avoid it if possible, or get someone else to pay!  The latter applies wherever you may be of course and a good opportunity if you failed to follow ‘Currency Tip 2’. It can be expensive – almost always close to two times what you may be accustomed to paying for the same thing in the US. For example, at one ‘all you can eat’ Asian buffet, the weekday price was GBP 12.99 ($19.49). Haven’t we seen comparable buffets here for $8.99 (and only $2.00 more on weekends when lobster and crab legs are included)? See Tip 3 for more examples.

Tip 2 – Indian and Chinese restaurants are in abundance and entrees are usually in the $9:00 to $12:00 range - but there will be an extra charge for plain boiled rice – usually about $3.00, and $6.00 for fried rice. Indian dishes tend to be ‘hotter’ in the UK than in the US, so if you like it ‘hot’ here, a ‘medium’ may be fine there. Many Indian (and Thai) restaurants may be found in what once were pubs!  As is the case in the US, many pubs only ‘survive’ now because of their food sales. DWI and ‘no-smoking’ restrictions, coupled with grocery store prices versus over the counter prices, seem to have taken their toll on that once great institution – the pub!

Tip 3 – in small cafes or pastry shops, gas-stations, don’t expect to see ‘fountain drinks’ – sodas will be in bottles (or cans) - and as with tea or coffee will cost about $2.85 - $3.25. A small cookie, slice of cake or a pastry will knock you back about $3.00 or more. Be happy you’re in the UK; prices are even higher in Ireland and many Western European countries! Many small pastry shops will charge extra to have the pastry heated – and to sit down and eat it. Get it ‘cold, to go’ to halve the price!  

Tip 4 – don’t ‘do the American thing’ – sample the local cuisine; you may be delighted to have a crumpet, a scone, a custard tart, etc. with your ‘pot of tea for one’. But if you absolutely must, here is what you may expect to see at a UK McDonalds: regular sized coffee - $2.40; Sausage & Egg McMuffin - $3.15; small fries - $1.35; cheeseburger - $1.49; Big Mac - $3.75; 6-piece McNuggets (with medium fries and small drink) - $6.45; hot apple pie - $1.49.

Tip 5 – in the UK, the ‘accepted’ tipping percentage at restaurants seems to be about 10% - not the 15% or 20% we apply in the US; though many leave nothing! Credit card slips do NOT have a place to write in the tip – they prefer to have you ‘leave the tip’ on the table. I’m sure they’ll accommodate you if you want to add it to your charge card, though.

Communication tips

Tip 1 - check with your cell phone provider before you leave. I’m with AT&T and all I had to do was disable a couple of things in ‘Settings’ and I was able to make and receive text messages at $0.50 each. Making or receiving calls cost $1.50 a minute.  If you plan to make extensive use of your cell (‘mobile’ in UK) phone, you may need to consider some other options such as a ‘pay-as-you-go calling card’ purchased in the UK or maybe some temporary ‘international’ plan from your provider. Be careful if you plan to use internet features – it could cost a bundle in roaming charges!

Tip 2 – make sure you have the applicable plug adaptors and power converters for your iPhone, camera charger – also for most other electrical gadgets - hair-curlers, etc.). You won’t need a power converter for your laptop (no idea about iPads) - as they have their own built-in transformers. But, you will need to make sure your laptop’s power-cord (usually a 3-prong plug) will fit into your UK/US plug adaptor – usually only a two-pronged receptacle. If you get there and have the wrong cords, Curry’s is a big store (akin to Best Buy) that will likely have what you need.

Tip 3 - unlike in the US, where people will look perplexed if someone says ‘tomAH-to’, the British will know exactly what you mean when you say ‘tom-AY-to’!  

Tip 4 – try to avoid asking a Scot anything – you’ll likely not be able to decipher the response. You may also have difficulty finding anyone to give you directions to anywhere – there are so many foreign nationals visiting and living in the UK, they may be as clueless as you!

Tip 5 – if you get invited to tea at Buckingham Palace, please say ‘Pleased to meet you, you Majesty’ – not ‘Wassup, Queenie?’, else you may get an unsolicited trip to the Tower for a head-removal.

Enjoy your trip to the UK – whether it is for the first time, or as an Ex-Pat, making a return visit.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The bucket's last day

Wednesday April 3rd 2013

The day arrived. After embarking on my 'Bucket List Trip' on February 20th - it seems a life-time ago -  it was now time, at last, to return home. In a sense, the trip was a life-time ago. That was the purpose - to recapture memories of places and people from bygone days. In that sense, it was sucessful. There were only one or two 'unfulfilled' items on the list.

[Shameless self promotion follows] - Go back and look at each blog containing the word 'Bucket' in its title; they start with 'Bucket List Trip' on January 28th. See if you can discover which items on the list were not addressed in any of the blogs - a 'prize' will be awarded to each correct response. Now that I am back where I have a greater ability to more effectively tinker with my various resources, I expect to be inserting more photos (maybe even some URLs - to save you with the JFGI task), especially in some of the earlier 'Bucket Blogs'. So, check them often; else you may miss an odd update or two. If you have any comments (or requests - maybe for photos of something I mentioned in any of the blogs) just respond in the comment section of the applicable blog. Be sure to 'share' with your circle of acquaintances.

My flight (from Heathrow to Chicago) was scheduled to depart at 5:15 pm - or in the manner in which I had become accustomed in the past 6 weeks or so, to seeing the time expressed, 'at 17:15'. [Note to those unfamiliar with 'miltary' time (aka, the 24-hour clock) - if the digits before the colon exceed 12, subtract 12 and append 'pm' to see the 12-hour clock time].

I assumed the standard '2 hours before departure' rule would apply, so planned to leave for Heathrow about 2:30 pm (oops, I mean 14:30) in order to arrive there at 15:15. A last minute check on Heathrow's website revealed thyat for 'long haul' trips, they advise 3 hours advance arrival. So, a quick revision and we're out of the door at 13:30. I arrive at the ticket check-in at about 14:15 (are you keeping up? That is right on the button for the 3 hour advance for my 17:15 flight departure time). As Murphy's Law dictates, I was through check-in and security in 8 minutes flat! So much for needing 3 hours to get through! Oh well, better to 'twiddle thumbs' for more than 2 hours before boarding, than to be running late and 'sweating bullets'.

Wheels up on time; flight AAL 91 was headed westwards into the cloudy skies. I looked out the left window as we passed over Swansea, but could not see the hoards of tearful folk looking skyward, bidding me farewell. Some blydi aeronautical engineer had stuck a blydi big sheet of metal outside window 28B - I think its technical term is 'a wing'! Luckily, they had stuck one outside the right window too, so at least the plane was able to fly in a straight line. With only one or two course corrections, it made good time for a little less than 8 hours, arriving into Chicago's O'Hare airport at about 7:40 - that would be 19:40 in 'UK-speak', but was 00:55 on the clocks in the UK. [Clock seminar review: 17:15 + 7 hours and 40 minutes =  24:55; more correctly known as 00:55 - almost 1:00 am back there in Heathrow]. I had watched an inflight-movie, walked around the cabin every 2 hours or so - to keep the circulational in my old arteries and veins moving - tried to snooze (no luck), stuffed plugs in my ears to drown out the howling brat 3 rows back, and enjoyed the two meals - including a complimentary can of Amstell Light by the time we touched down at O'Hare.

Next tasks: collect my checked bag, go through Customs and Immigration, recheck that bag for the connecting flight to St Louis, and spend almost 2 hours waiting for my 10:10 pm (that's 22:10, right?) flight to St Louis. During that time, I searched for a way to spend almost $7 worth of 'soon to be useless' British coinage. Two small sandwiches, two candy bars and a 10 ounce (well, it was 500 ml) ill-fated container of milk took care of that mission.  Next, I had to re-enter security and watch a 'lard-ass' rifle through my carry-on bag (it had no such 'hands-on, remove almost every single item disruption or scrutiny' in Heathrow) and gnash my teeth as 'lard-ass' confiscated my 'more than 3 ounces' (it was now about 6 ounces) carton of milk.

A quick 'text' home to say, 'I'm in Chicago, make sure there's at least one beer in the house, see you at 11:15 pm'. I thought better of saying '23:15', lest I'd never get picked up at Lambert Field. We arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule; I gathered my checked bag and dragged my bags and my tired body outside. It was now 05:05 Thursday in the UK - I had been up since 06:15 on Wednesday and travelling since 13:15 - a long blydi time in 'anybody's money (or time)'.  20 minutes later, my son arrived - after having patrolled the pick-up zone at the wrong terminal - and we headed off for the 30 minute road trip along I-70.

It was almost midnight, when he carried my bags into the house - I had opened the gargae door and rushed to the 'fridge for a more-than-welcomed 10-ounce MBI - Milwaukee's Best Ice, 5.9% beer. I was home - and glad to be there. I could have drank a bucket of it - but was too tired. There's always tomorrow!

As they might say in Wales, 'Duw, but its good to be home, mun!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A penultimate Bucket Day

I didn’t make it to the Golf Club on Tuesday, so I must apologize that you have had to wait, with bated breath, for the ‘Easter Bucket’ missive. Well, now it is there, so on to the musings of what I did do on that penultimate day of the Bucket List Trip.

I did very little, come to think of it. I lounged around, watched TV, out more stuff in my half-packed bags and watched the birds and squirrels cavort around my brother’s garden. Later, I watched him cavort around it. He loves gardening, and in the summer time his plot looks very attractive with its array of colors and variety of plant species - and 8 or 9 varied seating areas from which to enjoy it. He spent a couple of hours, digging, raking, wheel-barrowing, leveling, kneeling, doweling, and planting onions. I just drive to Shop ‘n’ Save and buy the buggers!  

If I ever get a hobby, it will not be such a labor intensive one. As I lay on a recliner, watching this ant colony-like activity, I began to doze off under the warmth of the strange yellow object that lingered in the sky far longer than it had in the past couple of weeks.- even the wind had subsided significantly; though it was still several degrees below normal. My mind drifted off to my own garden and to ideas of what from his, I could inject into mine. Just the thought of it all made me weary.

I needed a break; so I took a walk around the subdivision; maybe a mile or so. My jaunt took me into a section of the woods in which I trodden two weeks ago. The footpaths were decidedly drier than on my prior trek. On my way back, I stopped at the village’s tiny ‘convenience store’ where I scoured the shelves for some small items of candy. I had a dual-motivation reason for that action: one, to placate my kids who would ‘hound’ me if I brought back no candy back at all (they’ll be disappointed with the paucity of the haul anyway – TS) and second, to purge myself of as much loose change as possible. The smallest denomination of ‘paper-money’ here is equivalent to about $7.50, so a strong belt and tough pants-pockets are needed; but that coinage is of no value if I bring it back. Best to ‘use it than ‘lose it’; even the paper money (the British say ‘notes’, not ‘bills’) will fetch about 8% less than face value if I exchange it at a bank – whether in the UK or in the US.

So, I returned back to the house, made a ‘cuppa’ and cut a slice off the chocolate-and-cream-rolled-cake that I bought and watched a bit more ‘tele’.

In the evening, I watched a football match (PSG v Barcelona) on TV, consumed my 2 remaining 440 ml cans of Foster’s lager and retired, to await the penultimate day – when I would carry my bucket back across the pond.

Farewell, UK. Who knows when, or if, we’ll meet again?

An Easter Bucket

First off was a trip to Tesco’s Supermarket to stock up on a variety of cheeses and crackers to go with the Branston Pickles, pickled onions and ciabatta bread – all the makings of a Ploughman’s Lunch; provided beer or wine is included!

Next was a walk in and around Merrist Wood College, an agricultural college in which animal husbandry, golf-course management and various sylvan (trees) management skills are taught.

It wasn’t lunch time yet, but why did lamb curry come to mind at this sight?

Unfortunately, it was too early in the season to see (in bloom) the acres of bluebells that are scattered throughout the woods. In one clearing in the woods, we saw where the students had been learning chain-saw handling classes. No severed limbs were found, but there were many remnants of milking-stools that had been carved with a chain-saw from the 9-inch diameter birch logs. 

Exiting the woods, near The White Lyon and Dragon (a pub, once a favorite with the college students) we looked in at Perry Hill antique shop briefly. In the 1950s, the establishment was a small confectionery where Queen Elizabeth II used to ‘hang out’ when she visited her cousin, Rev. Elphinstone. He was the Vicar at the church across the road, St Mary the Virgin, Worplesdon. The church’s first record is in the Doomsday Book of 1086.  I had an interesting chat with the church’s Rector, Rev. Hugh Grear. He is the son of Canadian and New Zealand parents; his father being a rugby referee and he once lived in Mumbles near my home town, Swansea. Two very unusual headstones in the graveyard in front of the church each had a two feet deep V-shaped notch in them.

I suggested that maybe the notch was to indicate ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me’. Rev. Grear was delighted at the suggestion and I released him to use the idea to subsequent visitors who may inquire the meaning. He had no clue prior to my visit.

Down the hill behind the church is a large country home called Marylands. From there, we walked back to Merrist Wood College, passing some of the wildlife that resides there. Some are so placid, they can even be safely petted:

I had walked 3 miles on today’s trip before passing the two coach-houses at the entrance to the road leading into Merrist Wood College; they mark the end of the Windsor Estate. So, there is quite a royal connection in the area – but to my knowledge, no cakes were ever burned here!


I awoke with a bit of a sore throat – not sure if the Mexicana hot cheese burned it last night or if I picked up a bug in one of the ‘sardine-rides’ in Croydon/London last Monday.

Off today for a bit more of what Britain does so well – history!

First stop – Salisbury (as in the steak of that name). It was built as a Roman town (Sarum) on the River Avon in Wiltshire, a County well known for its pork sausages. We hadn’t soon entered Wiltshire before the aroma of the pigs was noticeable!

Salisbury Cathedral is very ornate, but unfortunately (and contrary to what its brochure says!) no photography is permitted inside. So you’ll have to rely on the internet to see what the inside it looks like. The Cathedral’s foundation stones were laid in 1220 AD. It has Britain’s tallest spire – 404 feet tall – and houses the world’s oldest working clock – dating from 1386 – that has no face and only strikes the hours. I hope the remembered to push it one hour this morning (Easter Sunday) when the UK does its ‘clock-change thing’ that we did in the US 3 weeks ago.

Near the large cloisters on the south-side of the Cathedral is the Chapter House in which there is perhaps the best preserved of the four originals of the Magna Carta. Signed by King John in 1215 AD, it forms the basis for many foreign constitutions – including those of the USA, Japan and the former USSR!   I’m sure you’ll JFGI to learn more! I was not permitted to photograph it, but did see it. I must admit that my grammar school Latin has not served me well. Translations may be found online. The cloisters are quite impressive, as are the two large Cedars of Lebanon trees in the courtyard.

The town has many other fine old buildings and is definitely worth a visit – even if you don’t buy any sausages there!

Traveling eastward, into Hampshire, we next visited another historical place – famous for the song by the New Vaudeville Band way back in the 60s – Winchester Cathedral. In 828 AD, Winchester became the capital of England. It lies in the English County of Hampshire – about 12 miles north of Southampton, at which I conducted post-graduate research in the mid-1960s. Building started on the Norman Cathedral in 1079. In the early 1900’s, the Cathedral was in danger of sinking into the ground (much as the Leaning Tower of Pisa does) but its foundations were underpinned, single-handed, by William Walker, a deep-sea diver!  

The patron saint of the cathedral is St. Swithin; you should go online to read about legends relating to weather forecasts emanating on St Swithin’s Day (July 15th). He must have been a sort of British ‘Punxatawney Phil’. Jane Austen, one of Britain’s most favorite novelists is buried at the Cathedral. Apparently, the Cathedral houses the remains of King Canute; he’s the one who took up stance, sword in hand, on the East coast of England forbidding the sea to advance. Bit of a nut-case, you might say!

Photography is permitted inside Winchester Cathedral, but at an admittance fee of about $10, I gave it a pass. Besides, we had little time left. In fact, I was just 10 seconds too late in my effort to enter the tower of the nearby castle. I was able, however, to get inside one part of the castle that contains King Arthur’s Round Table. You cannot sit at it – not because no chairs were to be found, but because it is now mounted on the wall, about 15 feet above the ground.

Before leaving town, I went to see yet another statue to England’s most famous ‘cake-cock-up artist’ – King Alfred the Great. There is speculation that he may be buried in the Cathedral – far from the kitchen and any open flames, I hope!  Given that Richard III’s remains were recently found beneath a parking lot in Leicester, maybe they should look in a parking lot for Alfred too. Regardless of where he is buried, here he is overlooking Winchester’s town hall.

Easter Sunday:

I did the ‘clock-change’ thing last night and was up before (the new) 7:30 am anyway. After cooking a few sausages and bacon, I retreated to my bedroom to put the thoughts of the weekend together. One thought that has come to mind several times on this Bucket-List trip is this: I wish I had a penny for every daffodil I have seen over here, and a dollar for every traffic round-about I have seen. They range from 10 to 150 feet in diameter; some of the larger ones even have traffic lights installed at them – almost an admission to the failure of the ‘peculiarity’. I must have been around a thousand or more in these past 5 weeks. They’d never function in the US – far too few people there use turn signals or obey ‘right-of-way’ protocol. On the other hand, we do not (as they do in the UK) park on the side of the road that faces the on-coming traffic! By the way, the UK’s Motorway speed-limit is 80 mph – but take note: if you are going 85 mph, get in the slow lane – especially if you are from Ohio!

Much of the rest of the day was spent sniffling and coughing – darned head cold! Hope it passes before the long flight to Chicago on Wednesday. The sun came and went from behind the clouds, there was a bit of a cold breeze at times and on this first day with the later sunset (now about 7:30 pm) it was difficult to agree that March ‘Comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb’ – there had been some sort of hybrid creature here all month! While it had been a colder month than usual, it had also been unusually dry too. I had been very fortunate to have been unhindered by rain on my travels. Everybody here is ‘cheesed-off’ with the cold weather; it has been mostly about 2C, whereas it should be more like 15C.  

In the afternoon, I watched the Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race on TV. It is an annual event, going back more than 150 years, over a four-mile course on the River Thames in London; ‘my team’ (Oxford) won. I took an early night, not having slept too well the previous night. Easter weekend drew to a close.

Easter Monday

Nothing exciting happened today. Well, there wouldn’t be, would there?  It is yet another ’Bank Holiday’ over here – they had one on Friday, too. I didn’t even get caught up in any April Fools Day foolery; did you?

I ate the last two sausages in the packet, did a dummy-run on packing my bags for Wednesday, watched football (Man U v Chelsea) on TV, dozed off for a few minutes about 5 pm and yawned about 200 times. It’ll be Chinese take-away for dinner tonight and my last full day in ‘Blighty’ tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get this posted on the blog tomorrow - if I can get to the Golf Club for the WIFI. If not, it will have to wait until Thursday, back at home!

To be continued . . .