Photo by caruba…or 3, depending on when you are celebrating Christmas in your country/region. Days that is, and frankly it is all speeding up here in Frankfurt. Little things happen, or you go to certain events and you suddenly realise…It’s Christmas.
The Christmas market and annual Feuerzangenbowle consumption is a pretty good clue…along with attending (the first half at least) of a Christmas choir concert featuring ST (she has a fantastic voice…despite the choir leaders best efforts to fuck it up with the composition choices…), some bad acting and cute German kids singing english christmas songs with German pronunciation (sometimes)…they even did the whole sound of a storm with just their bodies…was really good. I was just too tired to enjoy it properly and had to bail at half time.
Peoples inability to drive in the snow…and CW building the worlds smallest and cutest snowman..then carrying him for a mile to place him on the windowsill of the apartment. He almost didn’t make it though…I think she made him out of that rarest of stuff…Lemming Snow..as he tried to leap to his escape from her hand, and lost his buttons. Still, he seems happy on the windowsill…and his suicidal tendencies have deserted him (for now at least.
Also, I got a text from my daughter last night telling me how many days were left until I see her :D
Anyway, onto the main reason for the post…you see, I had it all planned out…my passport was due to expire on the 31st of December. I had known this for a while and decided to book an appointment for when I was in the UK and get a nice spangly new one by using the same day service they offer. All fine, all dandy..no need to panic. That is..until CW actually checked my passport on Friday and informed me that the date of expiry was the 16th of December.
Cue huge panic and phonecalls to the Consulate, Ryanair, the Consulate again and various others. My conversations went something like this:
Consulate: How can I help you?
Me: Helpelphelp!!! I need you to save me from my own stupidity (explains story)..can you do anything for me?
Consulate: It is perfectly legal to fly into the UK on an expired UK passport.
Me: Really?? That’s fantastic!!
Consulate: Who are you flying with?
Me: Whaddya mean..ah??
Consulate: Yeah, we always have problems with Ryanair…I would call them and check.
Me: OK, I will call you back asap.
Ryanair: How can I help you?
Me: Explains story, explains that Consulate advise that travel with an expired UK passport TO the UK is fine, is that a problem for Ryanair.
Ryanair: That’s illegal, you cannot travel on an expired passport.
Me: It’s perfectly legal, the Consulate Passport office themselves have told me. They also told me that pretty much all of the major airlines will accept it.
Ryanair: No, it’s illegal and you may be arrested for trying to travel with false documents.
Me: I would be impressed if they could..it isn’t false..just expired. It is still my picture and details…just the date is wrong
Ryanair: Well, we don’t accept that for travel
Me: That’s all I asked..you may want to read up on the law regarding this area…also, I will assume that Ryanairs aspirations to become a “Major” airline are non-existent. Thanks
Consulate: How can I help you
Me: Ryanair won’t allow me to travel, what else can I try?
Consulate: Get here for 9am Monday morning and we will sort your passport out for you…we don’t normally offer a same day service..but in an emergency like this, we will do what we can.
Me: A passport? I thought you would just give me an emergency travel passport..
Consulate: Naah, that’s 102 euros and only gets you into the UK once..I will look to get the full monty for you.
Me: Fantastic, see you Monday
CHECKS INTERNET FOR RAIL PRICES
Me: Aaaaaaargh!!! How Much!!!!!!
LA: Hiya, how are you?
Me: Not great…TELLS STORY…is your car up and running and available for me to steal on Monday?
LA: Sure, no problem
Me: Lifesaver, thanks :)
Work: Hiya, what’s up
Me: You know how I have Wednesday onwards booked as holiday?
Me: Can I swap Wednesday to Monday please? TELLS STORY
Cue Monday’s slovenly and snowy arrival and we begin our journey at a very unsociable hour.
- Passport forms – Check
- Passport photos – Check
- Car keys – Check
- Sat Nav – Check
- iPod and Cassette adaptor for car – Check
- CW – Check
- Me – Check
- Money – Cash.. (you see what I did there?)
We arrive at the car, clear the snow from it, start the engine and wait for it to warm up. Everything seems fine and we head off once the Pratt Nav finds a signal. Once we hit the motorway, all the snow, salt and other assorted crap starts hitting the windshield…no problem thinks I, a sharp squirt of the washers and sight will be restored…
PUMP WHIRRING NOISE, WIPERS MOVE AND SMEAR WINDSCREEN
We are now driving with what appears to be a sheet of dirty paper on the windshield..another pull of the washer lever results in more smearing and less visibility…
Arse, thinks I
We pull into a service station and try to clear the blockage – Needle in jets…nothing, Hot water poured over jets…nothing, pulling lever back for a minute or so in an effort for it to clear…nothing. So, undeterred, we head off. Repeat this every 15 to 20 minutes and the 250+ kilometers journey did seem to take a lot longer than it should.
A few things to note about yesterday…
#1 Düsseldorf must be a very healthy city, and full of superheroes..seriously, they appear to not even have heard of salt. The motorways surrounding the city comprised of the sort of snowy mush normally reserved for small villages with little or no traffic and the pavements were designed for a city full of people that can fly…as all of the snow that had been forced off the road…had moved to the bloody paths…that didn’t have salt on them either.
#2 I get all patriotic when in the British Consulate Generals office…don’t ask me why, I really don’t have an explanation. I told CW on at least 3 occasions that she was standing on British soil now and said “Gawd Bless ‘er” to the picture of the queen. Additionally, German reception staff with English speech inflection is genius…
#3 I hate snow…my dodgy ankle hates it more. CW learned all about Karma when having a go at me for almost falling over…She almost fell over herself less than 2 minutes later (no…I didn’t trip her)
#4 I was told that I was a big strong lad and would I fancy clearing the snow..by an old woman walking behind us.
#5 If the option is getting on a tram like a sardine in a can, or wandering aimlessly around…I will wander aimlessly around..despite my previously mentioned ankle issues.
Most importantly of all, the British Consulate General Passport Office is full of absolute genius, friendly and helpful staff..yes yes, I realise it is Christmas and no, I wouldn’t recommend stitching yourself up to test out their helpfulness…all I know is that they could have handed me an emergency passport and a bill for 102 euros…..but they chose to get me a full passport issued in a little under 4 hours…
Gawd bless ’em
Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone…no doubt I will post a repeat of this in 10 years when I forget to renew my passport in good time again…