heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Visiting England . . . or not

So I wondered about maybe one day going back to visit England for a few days. As much as I like being in France, there are certain things that don't exist around here - a garden centre with a restaurant... or, pretty much, any "garden centre" that doesn't cater for a bloke with forty head of cattle - I cannot for the life of me find a Japanese style "Sakura" (pink flowering cherry), but buying a tonne of maize? No problem!
How about a Marks & Spencer food hall? When I am at work I eat a little frozen microwave meal that is white fish chunks in a creamy/lemon sauce on top of rice/veg. It is quite nice, but having it nearly daily for months and months, I'm bored of it. I am not overly keen on many of the other flavours. I say many, there are... let's see... Carbonara (worn out that last year), chicken on pasta (the year before), moussaka (ugh), something Moroccan (ugh), and a sort of chicken curry one that wouldn't be bad if it had edible bits of chi.... Look, France just doesn't do ready meals.
Eating out is not so much fun either. I've been to McDo three times this week (it is my holiday week) because... God, I'd sell internal organs to find a place that can do an all-day-breakfast, or how about a baked spud with beans and cheddar? Cock-a-leekee soup followed by beef stew with dumplings? You know what the big deal is around here? "Moules" for the seafood and "Andouillettes" for the meat. Neither of which belong to any known food group as far as my intestines are concerned. So it's another piece of dead cow with some poor excuse for cheese slapped in between two bits of bread. Again. Yawn. Well, at least McDo's "double lattè" is nice.

For my international readers - a typical all-day breakfast is something like this. I'd eat it as a lunch. Some people eat like this in the morning, although that amount of grease bright and early doesn't do nice things to your insides!


[public domain image from WikiMedia, photo by Jrv73; now I'm hungry!!!]

Then there are the bookshops. One of the reasons that I really like Amazon is that they are fairly language agnostic. You want a Haruhi Suzumiya light novel in English in France? No problems! I have some basic Japanese phrase books, but the useful ones came from Amazon. In the Leclerc bookshop, I saw a lovely National Geographic guide to Japan. Looked it up on Amazon, bought the English one. I am capable of reading French, but when I am learning about a language, or reading for pleasure, I much prefer to read in my own language. I am a fairly fast reader, so it is no fun at all to take ten minutes per page trying to figure out complicated verb tenses, or that bizarre (to me) style of French quoting where it is hard to work out who said what. When I'm on a roll, I can finish a book in two afternoons. That's how I like to read. Anything that gets in the way of the story would be a distraction. And, so, to a book shop with books in English. How great would that be?

But, alas, it is not to be. I looked up Brittany Ferries. We are St. Malo or Caen to Portsmouth, same in return. It isn't cost effective to drive across the country and back for the Calais-Dover route. The cabins were not expensive, about €28. I got pricing for late September as the time I'd think of going (mid-Spring) was not available (too far in the future). Total price? Around €500, with a hundred and fifty downpayment. Just to get there and back.

I remembered from those adverts with Lenny Henry that what I would think of as a "travelodge" seems to now be called "Premier Inn". Pricing from twenty-nine a night? Well, a twin for two adults worked out closer to £50 a night [note - we're talking "UKP" now]. So add in another £160ish for accommodation (and that's picking Farnborough as it was cheaper than other nearby ones). I'm sure I could nudge those prices down by doing some extensive Googling closer to the time (late March), but I think it would need a budget of around €1K to even be feasible.

Sorry.
That's a month's pay to me.

 

If I win the lottery, I'll visit the UK. Otherwise, I hope to try to save around €500 per year (don't hold your breath, that idea has been running a while now but there's always something that comes along to nibble at savings). Anyway, maybe by the time I am fifty, I may be able to plan a visit to Japan. Probably on my own. I'd love to go with Mom, but I'm not sure if it is financially possible.
There's good news and bad news. The good news is that air flights are cheaper than I was expecting. In an interesting twist, I can with some judicial searching on JAL's website, get a flight from Nantes to Narita (don't ask me what sort of aircraft - the hell kinda long haul plane takes off from NANTES!? - I would imagine it's a short-haul Hop! to Orly and then on a jumbo to Narita) for about €110 each way (early April, random choice of date that ought to be in Sakura-season). It looks like you have to pay for fuel separately which is kind of weird given that the charge to Europe is the same as the charge to Australia. At any rate, it comes in at €826,26 there and back, which is less than I was expecting for going one way.

But that's still expensive, but at least I'm going roughly halfway around the planet. Wheeee! And I have no idea about places to stay. To be honest, while I would like to "do Tokyo" (especially Akiba), I'd be quite happy to stumble off of the plane and negotiate the JR network until I end up on a dinky train in an equally dinky train station in some rural part of Shimane. But, please God, somewhere with mobile coverage so I can attempt to get Google Translate working. (^_^)

[Steam! EPIC!!! This is at Tsuwano station (Shimane).
Photo from WikiMapia, by Paul65, licenced CC-BY-SA]

If I end up in some tiny little room, please let it not be with these guys:


[Rokujōma no Shinryakusha]

And probably best not with these guys either, at least, not in their zombie state:


[Sailor Zombie]

 

PS: I should add, before anybody asks - I'm not "homesick". This is home.

 

 

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GAVIN WRAITH, 14th July 2014, 14:19
A trip to England? You could learn from Des Esseintes' trip in Huysman's "A Rebours".
VinceH, 14th July 2014, 14:59
Have you looked at flight prices to England? Depending on what airport(s) are best for you, and what airlines fly to/from them, you might find that a lot cheaper than the ferry prices you found.
Rob, 26th July 2014, 18:38
flightchecker.moneysavingexpert.com has direct Nantes to Aberdeen return from 191 in October.. They don't seem to gave flights to anywhere else in the UK! Is Scotland close enough though?

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