Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Uk vs France Episode #2

Something's really gone wrong here. I seem to have lost all of my second post about the Uk trip. I've had comments on it so I know I did it, but I can't find it anywhere on the blog. What follows is the recreation.

After our early morning foray to the beach the rest of the trip to the Uk was fine. We had checked out of the hotel the previous evening so went straight off to Calais & the tunnel. I must say that although expensive compared to the ferries the tunnel is slick. Fast & smooth, no problems.
We did have one little classic bureauocratic delay. When we went to the separate building to get the dog's passport, chip & shots checked it was 08:30. His worm treatment which had been signed off on at 09:00 the previous day ( has to be between 24 & 48 hours prior to travel.) We waited for the 30 minutes before the 'official' would sign off. If we treated terrorists the way we treat dogs seeking to enter the Uk they wouldn't stand a chance.

The trip over to Stroud was uneventful, a little nostalgia as we passed Newbury where we used to live, but we did really notice the heavy traffic. The roads were crowded! We had a nice visit & dinner with the kids & grandkids then the next morning set off for Wollerton in Shropshire where the cottage is. This was our half of a house swap. Patricia & family had spent two weeks at our place & now we were going to spend two weeks at 'The Pound' their 17th century cottage.

The drive up was pretty as we avoided the motorways & drove up via Ludlow & Shrewsbury. As we arrived at the cottage the owner's parents & the handyman were there getting the AGA going & making sure everything was ready. Very nice & we ended up with a dinner invitation for the next week. The cottage was lovely & was surrounded by a walled garden much to Rupert's delight. We also found that there was a disused railway line nearby so he could have leash free walks; lots of rabbits to chase as well!

Couldn't linger long as we had to shop. L's sister & family are coming for the weekend & we're hosting a birthday party for her. Off to Waitrose we go. Such a beautiful supermarket. High quality, huge selection, far more 'international' than our French Hypermarkets. Things do seem expensive though. We do our shopping, just for the weekend; not much wine as we've brought quite a lot from home. At the checkout we find that we've spent nearly 200 pounds! 300 Euros! Ouch! This is real sticker shock. Its at least 35-40% more expensive than France. We've bought nothing special.
Wow! Subsequent shopping over the next two weeks confirm that general food shopping is about 30% more expensive than France. Waitrose is more expensive than the other big chains, but their quality is closer to that in the French Hypermarkets. (In France we buy very little fresh produce from the Hypermarkets, its mostly from the local farmer's markets.) How do people afford this? We also notice the huge (comparitively) range of pre-prepared foods. And we notice that they get bought a lot. They seem even more expensive.
As we get into buying wine we discover that its roughly double in price compared to France. The selection is great with wine available from all over the world, but the prices suck. We'd have to change our drinking habits if we lived here. We now understand why so many English people take the day ferry trips to Calais to stock up.
Next I have to buy diesel fuel for the car. Another shock; diesel is not only more expensive than petrol its 40% more expensive than in France. This is awful; thank god we get nearly 50 MPG.
Finally, on the cost front we found that cafes & restaurants were considerably more expensive. The comparisons are hard to make, but in general we can get to decent multi-course lunch with wine in France for 15 Euros. We couldn't get a similar lunch for anything close to 10 pounds in England.

Having got the rant about prices out of the way I must say we're having a good time. Beautiful countryside, nice towns and lovely people. We drive into Wales to have lunch at a friend's who lives near Denbeigh, we have dinner with Patricia's parents & have a good time in general.

Now we're off to Scotland to stay in the glens! This turns out to be a highlight of our trip.

Next installment very soon.

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