Greetings from the UK where I have been this past week and will be for a couple of more weeks. As you last heard, my arrival, albeit late was the best of all worlds and this week has been one of work and fun. My first three days were filled with meetings and meetings and more meetings, but most were quite good. As you know me for planning travels to Europe mostly, but I do handle the rest of the world also, it was very important for me to attend this conference with a focus on Latin America, yes Latin America and I do cover that region of the world among others. I met some amazing people from all over South and Central America and the offerings they had from tours to hotels to cruises, so when you are thinking about your travels, I can handle places beyond Europe and America. I have many amazing partners across the world and as these are people from these countries, they share the passion for their homes and the services they offer and are very proud to share. Many of the travels I arrange for you are from working with the amazing partners I have worked with over the years, be it South America or Europe or Africa which I will mention again.
The highlight for me and the reason for coming to Hull, however, as I noted was to see my birds. Now you must know that getting to Bempton, the hamlet with a train station which is closest to the reserve itself, there is nothing really there. Of course, when you get to the train station, there is a sign, saying 30 minutes away walking you will get to the cliffs. I was hoping there might be a taxi waiting for any trains coming, but no, so I off I started, not far, but on a hot day and the summer here in the UK has been hotter than usual, I walked. It is a little over a mile mostly a slight uphill to the reserve and many a car passed by in each direction, and even a taxi but by that time, I was close enough, so onward I went until, about 30 minutes later, I arrived.
I am writing this latest edition of the WP from London where I arrived a few short days ago. My time in Minnesota, 3 ½ weeks of time there ended. Has that chapter of my life finally ended? Not yet and not really. I came there to clean house, as it were, and to downsize my life, which I did and went from three different units of stuff down to less than one unit of stuff. Three units, as you remember due to the frozen pipes and resulting flood. I am glad that I returned to take care of the business at hand. I realized with some clarity that Minnesota is not home. Is the job done, no, not yet. I will return later this year to take what is left of what was once a ton of stuff and take it east with me, but that is for months from now. The best part of returning was not just cleaning out the past but re-connecting with friends and clients. Admittingly, the base of my clientele and most of my friends are here, so while I have moved on, I have fond memories and a successful return.
The week ended with my departure for the UK, this past Friday and it was not without its challenges. It was interesting flying out of MSP as Logan Airport in Boston has become the home departure airport. The usual process was in place and while I had Clear and TSA Precheck, Clear was not the choice this time and took longer. I also was randomly checked as I went through and all they wanted to check was my mobile phone. I found that interesting, but as I am well-traveled, it was not a big deal and I always leave myself enough time. I had forgotten to get some foreign currency in advance, not needing much, so purchased some at the airport, and for those traveling, don’t get a lot and don’t do it there. The rates are not great, and the best is to draw from a local ATM in country.
The highlight or should I say the lowlight of the departure was that we were delayed. Not unusual for an airport anywhere or for any airline. It is part of the life of a traveler, and we should all be prepared for such events. I did say this was a lowlight, but it actually, was handled in the best possible way. I was not in a hurry and delays happen. After everyone boarded the aircraft, the pilot came on to say that there was a mechanical issue, and that maintenance was working on it. Some time went by and he came on again to say that the delay would be about an hour. Some people opted to get off the aircraft to stretch, which was allowed taking their belongings, again, not unusual. When they thought the issue had been resolved, everyone boarded again. I had stayed on board, as I was watching a movie to pass the time.
Consolidation is also something I do in my business, as many of the air tickets I do for my clients are tickets done through air consolidators or wholesalers where contracts have been arranged behind the scenes and I can, much of the time, get better fares that are is out there on many of the websites including the airline’s own websites, and if I do the air tickets for my clients, then I am in control to handle the nasty schedule changes that occur more often than not and many which cause misconnections we have all become very used to. Many of my colleagues don’t touch air as it can be a hassle, but for me, as a full-service travel advisor, it is part of what I handle in the overall big picture. And, yes, it is a money earner for me as part of the whole service. I also, explain, that if a client does their own air, regardless of price, they are responsible for any and all schedule changes, cancellation and other issues that arise, but if I do it, whether it is a published airfare and yes, I charge a small fee for this coverage of potential inconvenience or it a consolidated ticket, which saves them money in the end, it takes a load of their mind.
I arrived on the afternoon of May 22, so some two weeks ago and as you all know, I had a mission. Well, that mission is being accomplished and the things are sold and trashed and given away. This past week, I sold almost 25 boxes of books and DVD’s and while I really got very little for them, it was nice to get rid of that heavy burden and years and years of moving stuff from place to place and not having a chance to truly enjoy it. When I did have a place over the years, yes, it looked nice to have bookshelves full of books and many I had read, and many I had the intention of reading, but most of the time, they simply collected dust and, in the end, getting rid of them was a burden off my shoulders, literally and figuratively. Not all of course as I held on to what amounts to a box, so yes, when I have the chance to read one of those, I do and usually this happens on my long flights or train trips, so they are there and, as now, rather than simply holding onto them once read, I will sell them, as well.
This is the same with all the other items that used to be in the storage unit and units, when everything was spread out and last week, I thinned things out even more and there is still work to do and I will be here in the Twin Cities for another 11 days to take care of this and other loose ends like getting the hitch and ball put on the vehicle and securing a parking place for my vehicle for the summer and early fall, as well as reserving the trailer upon my return going back to New England. As I go through everything, and honestly, I know I will run out of time doing this, I have found some interesting things, good and bad, which I either put into a pile to be dealt with later, when I have a real block of time or simply throw away from past relationships. Those are easier to throw versus the items collected from my travels around the world and over the years. As these have some sentimental value, some may be kept, but most I will toss realizing that they are simply dead weight, and the things represent experiences and memories that have made me who I am but are simply things.
Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin