Tag Archives: French bureaucracy

(I’ve decided that) Life isn’t fair!

OK.  I know that it isn’t news – I’ve been told this ever since
I can remember, and it seems that I’ve spent almost as much time telling Mo the same thing. But I don’t have to like it, do I???

Tens of thousands of people all around the world have been caught up in the travel hiatus caused by a recently active Icelandic volcano with a seemingly unpronounceable name (at least by non-Scandahoovian-speaking people).  We were expecting – no, we were hoping – that we would be too.  We nearly were, but we weren’t.

Graham was planning at least an additional week at Les Terraces courtesy of the travel chaos caused by Eyjafjallajokull’s eruption.  He had mapped out the “to do” list.  He was monitoring the situation closely – as closely as a self-confessed news-junkie will (I might be tempted to say “ad nauseam”, but I won’t) and the list grew longer.  After a couple of days we were banking on the delay.  However, we hadn’t factored in the airline’s policies to carry those passengers scheduled on flights that could take off ahead of those who had been waiting for 5 days.  We had thought that a version of  FiFo was the way that they’d play it.

Our first priority was getting Mo back to school as  the following next week he had the mock exams that will influence his university placement offerings .  As Mo really wants to read natural sciences at Cambridge he has his work cut out for him and being at school for revision seems to be better than the comfort (and lack of discipline) that the Studio of Les Terraces has offered for the past fortnight.

Ryanair advised that the best they could do for him was a rescheduled flight (maybe) on 26th April.  That was no good as that’s when his exams were to start.  Not only that, but we couldn’t leave before Mo did, so we had to get him sorted out first.  It took me 4 hours of research on the Internet to find a workable solution.  By getting the entire family out of bed by 05:15 in order that Graham could drive Mo to catch the 07:06 TGV from Libourne  (while I tackled the laundry) we were able to get Mo back into London Victoria only 24 hours late for school.  The remainder of our day is best described as “checkered”.

There’s a lot of work that goes into ensuring that the house is
a) left as we wish to find it and,
b) putting all of our stuff away so that “our” flat (the second floor) is ready for guests.
Even an uber-organised control freak  never has quite enough time to do things exactly right.  I always need several more hours than I have, even when I think that I’ve thought things through carefully.

In anticipation of flight cancellations the day before we flew, I zipped down to the Gare SNCF in Ste-Foy to see what we could do about catching the later (last) TGV from Libourne to Paris.  Sadly,the train was reported as “complet”.  So we had no choice but to take the 13:49 TER from Sainte-Foy-La-Grande to Libourne and the connecting TGV to Paris CDG.  Graham was of the view that we ought not to take the train as he was sure that our flight wouldn’t take off.  My concern was that if we weren’t in place to take the flight and it did takeoff, it could cost us THOUSANDS to get back to the BVI.  I prevailed and we ran around like the proverbial headless chickens and arrived at the station with maybe a minute to spare, only to be told that there was an “interruption de service” and that the TER upon which we were scheduled to travel (tickets for which had been paid for less then 3.5 hrs previously) wasn’t running.??!!?

It was at this stage that I discovered how much my (still execrable) French has improved in the last year.  40 minutes of polite argument later I emerged from the station to inform Graham that we were now rescheduled on the 17:39 from Sainte-Foy to Libourne and thence the 18:22 from Libourne to Paris Montparnasse.  I really don’t know that I have actually absorbed enough French to argue with a fonctionnaire (and “win”) in France’s notorious bureaucracy!  I think that I’ll ascribe the success to luck.

To cut a long story short, lets just report that we departed on our scheduled flight (albeit an hour late) and arrived in the BVI as originally planned. Now, please may I go back again?