Friday, February 25, 2011

When You Realise How Great Your Friends REALLY Are

Happy Friday! Another week down, another week closer to Europe! 105 sleeps to go, and Friday means it's time to update you on our plans. If you're not interested in house-sitting, ferries, poor customer service or cougars, feel free to skip this post, I won't mind!

First things first, our animals now have loving homes to (temporarily) go to while we are away, hence the title of this blog. The wonders of Facebook. Oh how I love and loathe thee all at the same time. We had quite a few people say that if their circumstances were right at the time, they could help. Thank you, to each and everyone of you, for reassuring me that I had options, if I didn't find anything more suitable. Although it was a great relief to know we had people willing to help, the greatest relief came in a resolution.

Our dear Movie Night hosts, Monty and NurseB, have offered to take Toby in, while Izzy (the cat) will head to Soul Buddy's house for awhile. In a perfect world I wouldn't want them separated, but I think they will be OK. Monty and NurseB already have a dog, and he is only just getting used to their cats (blended family bliss!) so it's not really a great idea to throw Izzy in the mix. Toby has been around Monty since he was a pup so there is a lot of trust there, and having another dog to distract him won't hurt either. It also works really well because Monty and NurseB are off on Safari for the month before we leave, so we are going to house sit for them. The fact that we will be with Toby in his new house for the first month he is there is awesome, we can help him transition so it isn't so hard on him. The whole thing couldn't have worked out better, and we are eternally grateful to our friends for helping us out.

Meanwhile, Izzy is going to stay with his Aunty SB. SB has three cats of her own so while it will become a bit of a full house, at least he will get a lot of attention! My only worry is that SB and her husband are off to England for 2 weeks at the same time that we leave (we're all off adventuring this year! Even Squish and her Lobster are off to the US of A) and Izzy wont understand all the changes. He's going to head to her place when we move to Monty's so he has a month to get settled before they go away so I am sure it will all be OK. Either way, I couldn't ask for a more trustworthy and loving person to look after him when I cant.

OK, so with that out of the way - the fun stuff! We're really just trying to focus on getting accommodation sorted at the moment, so we've recently booked Paris, Athens, and Avallon, a stop between Nice and Cherbourg which has replaced Clermont-Ferrand on our itinerary. It's really close to an awesome experimental building site that we plan on visiting - a castle is being built, using only medieval resources. No cranes or jackhammers, just chisels and pulleys.

We've also booked our ferries between Poole, England and Cherbourg, France, and our ferries between Athens and the island of Santorini in Greece. Even though it is still months away, its really exciting to see the pieces come together. This is actually going to happen! After 10 years of dreaming and googling and dreaming and brochures and dreaming and ideas, I'm actually going to make it happen. It still doesn't seem real.

Silly things are exciting. I had a few dollars left over last pay day so I bought fresh stocks of hair ties, clips, toothpaste, soap, 2-in-1 shampoo and even Marmite and stowed it all away in our rapidly filling Things-for-Europe drawer (we're on our second one, luckily they're small bedside table drawers or I don't think we would get it all on the plane!). I told you I'm super organised! I just like doing these things because each one takes me a step closer to being there.

Our only disappointment has been the International Youth Travel Card. The IYTC is a card that costs $25 and acts as proof of age (you have to be under 26 to get one). It then qualifies you for discounts all over the world. The STA website has a database of all the places you can get the discount, and although there were very few that appeared useful to us, it showed we could get a discount off our Disneyland tickets that would be almost equal to the cost of the card. We reasoned that this essentially made the card free, and so if we did find a place to use it, it was a bonus.

Only thing was, the database was wrong and we couldn't use the card for the Disneyland discount. It only applied to Student cards, which wasn't noted, and the database was so out of date the ticket prices weren't even correct. After an argument with a very rude travel agent over her demands that I email the complaint and that there was no-one I could talk to (I wanted it reversed before the charge came off my credit card so didn't want to leave it up to email), she passed the phone to the very person I'd been told to email. The lovely Rhiannon realised that the website wasn't clear, and arranged a refund for us. While I wasn't too happy with STA originally, they can thank Rhiannon for taking ownership and proving that their Customer Service isn't all bad.

Lastly, I am very excited for tomorrow night. Its the 40th birthday dinner of my Mum's best friend Blondie and not only do we get to celebrate with her but we get to do it at Mexican Cafe, my favourite restaurant on earth. Happy Birthday other-Mum, thanks so much for welcoming my sister and I into your life as family members before you barely knew us. Thanks for putting up with us, loving us unconditionally, and for being my Mum's Soul Buddy. You make us all very happy and I am proud to call you my other-Mum. And to point you out to everyone I know and tell them your real age after they comment on how hot you are. No more dirty thirties! Love you xx


Linaire said...

Lovely blog Penny, True friends are always there, even if they can only do the tiniest thing to help. And as for SB's, they will be SB's no matter how far apart we are, in time, distance, or even opinions. Soul Buddy's are priceless, and I am truly thankful to have found mine x

Julie said...

OK, now that Ive stopped crying and can see the screen!! I love you two girls like you are my own and am thankful that you are in my life too - your mother isnt half bad either and I lucked out when I first met her ironically at a Mexican restaurant! And now for the important stuff.....who thinks Im hot?? lol

Penny said...

Aw shucks :) Love youuuuuuu!!! And EVERYONE omg

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