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06 March 2010

Wednesday, no Thursday, no wait, it's actually Friday!... well, whichever day it is!!!

So, in all this traveling, I seem to have lost track of the days. However, it IS Friday and Tate is finally getting some turn out to stretch his travel weary legs! Apparently, though, he spent most of the morning pacing the fenceline wanting a buddy, so Emma kindly rearranged the turnouts so that Tate could be turned out with Amelia's 12.2 hand white pony named “Don Juan”, more affectionately called Donnie. I wish he could have a big friend, but unfortunately, he plays so rough that I worry about his safety and soundness as well as that of his playmate (and their rugs, their shoes, etc!).


So, while Tate is enjoying the lovely sunshine, yes it can be sunny in England, I am bustling about to sort out my UK license with a trip to London and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. This should be an uneventul trip as I'm armed with a printed map from the RCVS website, a round trip coach (no, it's not a bus when in the UK) ticket from Cirencester to Victoria Station, London, and my original degree and passport.

As usual, nothing in life is quite as easy as it seems. My map of London was woefully incomplete and though I had an hour and a quarter to make the 10 minute walk from the Victoria Coach station to the RCVS, I still arrived only 15 minutes early for my 11 AM appointment. This involved several misguided turns down streets that changed names in less than a block (of course, none of these were on my map), a quick stop in an estate agent's office to ask for directions to the Belgravia House which houses the RCVS, the acquisition of a superb map on the back of an advert for some very posh flats in the center of London, and my ultimate arrival.

As I was unsure of the complete nature of my visit to the RCVS, I dressed professionally. However, it was a group meeting in which I felt VERY old as the only other applicants were recent graduates who were wearing clothes that were merely a step up from their pajamas. In the UK and most of the EU, a veterinary degree is obtained after 5 years of “University”. Consequently, these students “qualify” (they don't graduate necessarily) for membership with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons at 21 or 22 years of age. Thankfully, though, two older gentlemen arrived as well and were also attired professionally in suits with ties.

After my meeting, I met up with an old friend of mine (ok, we haven't seen each other in 15 years an reconnected via Facebook recently) for lunch. We dined at a cute bistro and then had a lovely walk about London all afternoon. We journeyed through several different neighbourhoods to the St James Cathedral, then along the Thames as the sun was shining and it was lovely to stroll along the river at high tide, and then back to the London Underground where I was to catch the tube back to Victoria Station. This is where it gets interesting, again... nothing is ever simple...

So, at this point, it's 3:55 PM, and I have plenty of time to get back to Victoria Station. My return to Cirencester on the coach is booked for 4:30 PM. The coaches depart every 2 hours for Ciren and I know that the 6:30 PM and the 8:30 PM coaches are booked as I was unable to purchase an online ticket for a later coach. My friend and I waited, and waited, and waited for the train to come to the station and it did finally arrive. I left my friend, boarded the train, a mere 5 minutes from Victoria Station at 4:10 PM. Ok, I knew I was cutting it close at this point, but really, I still had an additional 10 minutes upon arrival to the Victoria TRAIN station to hike the 2 ½ blocks to the Victoria COACH station for my 4:30 PM coach departure.

Well, once on board, the train moved about 100 yards into the tunnel and then stopped with the kind computer voice educating the passengers of a slight delay because of a “more important” tubeline crossing the tracks ahead. No worries, I can make it. After what seemed like an eternity, the train did finally move, complete its 4 stops before mine, and arrived Victoria Station at 4:27 PM. Yikes! Well, I couldn't miss my coach, so I started running. For anyone who has ever visited Victoria Station, it's HUGE!! It can be quite difficult in Friday afternoon London people traffic to negotiate one's direction, but to do it at a mad dash?!? Regardless, I managed to make it to the turnstiles where I popped my ticket into the reader and it was promptly returned with a message citing that I should “seek assistance.” Well, seeing as I purchased the ticket just that morning from an actual agent and not a machine, I figured the turnstile must be in error. So, I move to the next one, “seek assistance” greets me again; and I move to the next one, same story. Apparently I'm a slow learner, because I must've gone to at least 3 or 4 different turnstiles to have the same message appear while everyone else seems to have no issue with their tickets. Well, crud, I'm late, I've GOT to get to that coach, no one seems to be around for me to “seek assistance” from, so I just snuggled up to someone who apparently had a functioning ticket and pushed through the turnstile behind them. I'm pretty sure this could be considered a crime, but at that point, I had no choice!

So, back to the sprint. I bolted out of the station at a mad run, read signs on the fly and miraculously after what seemed like an eternity arrived at the Coach station where I asked about the gate from which my bus was to depart. Gate 9, of course, of only 10 on that side. I continued to run to the gate where the sign still displayed my coach number and route and their were numerous people in the cue. However, there was not a coach in the lane. Perfect, it's running late too! I must be living right... or not!

Moments later, the sign flashed the next coach and its number that departed at 1700. After some quick math, I realize that my coach must've already departed. That's right, I'm in the UK where everything runs on time! Grr...

So, of course, I do the next most logical thing knowing that the subsequent coaches are booked... I ran out the Emergency Exit and onto the road to find my coach. It must be there somewhere! Thank goodness for Friday afternoon London traffic! A mere block from the station, I found the coach marked for Cirencester, cheerfully knocked on the drivers' window and requested to board the coach. Stunned, he opened his door, made sure I knew where his coach was going, gave me a lecture about being on time, asked me why I was late (I felt like I was back in school!), made sure I held the appropriate ticket, and let me aboard.

Of course, the coach is full, so I hustle my way to the back where there is one remaining seat. I think every passenger on the coach managed to mumble something about my luck as I passed to nestle myself, flushed from running and red from embarassment, in the seat for the 2 hour journey “home” to Ciren.

Ah! Another day complete! It probably would have been smart to take my handy Sat Nav (no, it's not a GPS here either) for negotiating London, or to have downloaded a complete map of the area, or to wear comfy shoes to avoid the nasty bruises on my right lateral arch, but not so in the life of Kim. Live and learn, die and forget it all....

1 comment:

  1. Tate and Donnie look like the best of mates...very cute! What would you do without excitement in your life? By the time you have it all figured out, you will be coming back to the good old USA! Miss you!

    Debbie

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