Set off from home at 2.00pm when Dwight drove us to Air Canada cargo to drop off the pooches and then around to drop us off. Our first day started out OK with us being allowed three bags on our flight along with being 4 lbs over on one of our bags with no additional charges. The flight itself was uneventful apart from the guy across the aisle sniffing back snot at full velocity every 10 seconds for the 8 hour flight – oohh! It took us over 1 ½ hours to get through immigration which was a drain but then again we were not in a great hurry as we knew it would take four hours for the pooches to get through their quarantine process. We tried to sort out the SIM card along with our data stick at the airport but not a lot of confidence in the staff at the SIM Central shop so opted out of that. We then made our way to the bus that took us to Europcar to pick up the vehicle. This is where things started to go annoyingly wrong.
We get there and there are multiple people wandering around with clip boards in high viz jackets smiling and asking us if they can help us and showing us how to push a button to get a number to wait for our turn. There were more professional meddlers than actual booking clerks. We finally got called and then we got the booking agent from hell. She seemed more intent on asking us about our lovely drive up north and anything else but get on with the job and just book us through. Three times it took her to get our details and then she wanted to create profiles for us which went on forever. We then began to lose patience as at this stage we had been there over 1 ½ hours. To add insult to injury she informed us that our hire commenced from the moment we got our ticket to get in the queue – sorry, but we went into meltdown at this stage. After throwing a tantrum and stomping my foot they conceded that maybe their process had flaws in it. We got the car and then proceeded to find our way to the other side of Heathrow to get the dogs.
Now many of you know that there has been a lot of preparation that has been undertaken to make sure that everything went smoothly for the dogs getting into the UK. As they say, all good plans of mice and men go astray and astray they did. We discovered on our arrival that the documentation regarding the rabies information was incorrectly completed by our vet. The significance of this meant a Johnny Depp, Boo and Pistol scenario though we were not trying to forge paperwork. We had to wait for our vet in Canada to open up (7 hour time difference) and then get them to complete the correct information along with it being signed off by the vet who did the original vaccinations. It took four hours plus three phone calls to our vet to finally get it all correct. Even with all this done they still marked the documentation as having “failed” – eek. The long and short of it is that we were allowed to bring them in but with raised eyebrows.
Whilst all this waiting was happening we made a trip to a little town called Staines so that we could get our bank account sorted along with the phone number and data stick set up. This all worked rather well though the young girl with the detached air of nonchalance thought she was dealing with a couple of fossils. So, phone and data worked out and then head back to Heathrow – hmm. This proved somewhat problematic. When driving in England you need to know which lane to be in and drive with authority but not aggression. In our learning process of this technique we ended up circumnavigating the entire Heathrow airport – tis a rather large airport.
Got back and finally they brought the girls out to us and we were absolutely stunned as they were totally non-plussed and calm considering what they had been through. The owners on the other hand were total nervous wrecks. Toque who is very raucous when she has not seen us for a while just looked at us and then proceeded to do her business on the grass. They were both pretty tired though and our trip up to Stone saw two pooches zonked out in the car. Our original plan was to leave the quarantine facility by 2.00pm so that our arrival would be at the boat by no later than 5.00pm. We did not end up getting away from the quarantine station until 6.00pm. It was still a nice drive up to Stone as the countryside is magnificent with what looks like a fresh tin of very bright green paint thrown over it. We arrived in Stone at the Canal Cruising Company at 9.00pm and the owners kindly came down and let us onto the boat. It was just a matter of crawling into bed as not having slept for nearly 36 hours was catching up big time.