FINALLY, after all the endless foreshadowing, we have arrived. Tuesday June 24th. The Day Disaster Struck. Well, Disaster really struck the previous evening, but it was Tuesday morning before we realized Disaster had struck. Let me set the stage.
It is Tuesday morning, and I am setting off for Marlborough all by myself, because Baker B isn’t feeling well and Kim is working on a job application. She’d been trying for ages to get a job at the VA (Veteran’s Administration) Hospital, which had been posting a lot of new positions. But there’s only a 2 week window to apply and their (government created) applications are ridiculously complicated and full of red tape. She was afraid a job would post as soon as we left and she would not have time to get her complicated application in before it closed. And one DID post, so she was glad she lugged along her laptop.
ANYHOW, I set off for town by myself to get Baker B some medicine (he’d come down with a cold, which was actually not a bad thing as he learned that catching a cold does not mean that you will DIE and it will also not ruin your trip. And that drugs are good) and to buy us all some coffee at Costa. And OH, I was SO happy to be by myself for a bit!!! Kim is the best traveling companion ever (Ummmm, well, usually ) and Baker B had shocked us both by being calm and even-tempered and not neurotic and an excellent traveling companion himself, but…. but…..
He’d been whining because he didn’t feeeeeel good, and he wanted this and he wanted that, and he was bitching and moaning and WAAHHHHH, and Kim couldn’t figure out her VA application and kept needing me to help her (and I wasn’t a lot of help- the site is horrifically difficult and her laptop was new and had Windows 8 which was really annoying and made NO sense at ALL, and exactly nothing was working like you’d think it would but she isn’t very computer savvy and I do at least do a lot of work with forms and stuff in my job) and I was trying to wash a load of clothes and tend to them both and I was seriously starting to feel like I had two needy children. Two annoying needy children that I was ready to escape from.
SO, with a light and happy heart, I spend an hour or so roaming the streets of Marlborough, not only free, but planning a little hike all by myself when I returned with the supplies. You could walk right out of the cottage and into a field that goes up a hill behind the farm, and then walk all the way to… well, anywhere really; there are a zillion places to walk to, including the Ridgeway Trail , 87 miles of trail across that part of England. ANYHOW, how happy I am! How glad to be on my own and planning to just drop off the medicine and supplies I get from Boots and Waitrose and the Costa coffee, and take off on an All-By-Myself hike!
I head back to the cottage with the drugs and supplies and coffee, and am met in the doorway by a slightly distressed Kim. Who says, “Is my purse in the car? I’m sure it is!! I KNOW I left it in the car last night! That’s where it is!! That’s where it has to be!!!! ”
We look in the car. No purse. We start searching the cottage. No purse. However, it IS a teeny little wallet-on-a-string, which would be terrifically easy to throw something on top of, or knock behind or under something without noticing. Kim tries to control her rising panic. Because aside from her money (30 pounds or so) and her credit cards (two), know what else is in her purse?
Her passport is in her purse . Which has vanished into the ether. And no matter how we search (and she had already torn apart every room except the one where Baker B was still blissfully asleep), no purse emerges.
Before I go on, let me just note that I also had been carrying around my passport. Why??? No.Idea. YES, you are NOT supposed to carry around your passport. On our first trip, I did a whole lot of research on that, and although the reviews are actually kind of mixed (if you are staying in a place where you don’t feel it’s secure, carry it with you) the general consensus is, for fuck sake, <em style=”box-sizing: border-box;”>don’t carry around your passport!
Let me also say right here that Kim can be very very disorganized and careless. I already felt like I’d been following her around for a week and a half catching things as she dropped them, and I was SO not surprised that she’d finally actually lost something. Something major. I also had a wallet-on-a-string, and I kept mine hooked to my bigger bag that I was carrying my camera and all the other necessities in. And I kept suggesting that she hook her little string purse to the keyfob clip in her bigger bag, like I did. And she kept not doing it. She was wearing hers around her neck in London, so it wasn’t as much of a problem there, but she carried it loose in Wiltshire since we were in and out of the car a lot and not walking all day long like in the city.
To be fair, I am used to carrying around a bunch of stuff with me. I always carry a bag loaded with all kinds of crap, and a separate little wristlet for my phone and money so I don’t have to carry the big bag into shops, and I am used to making sure they stay together otherwise. Kim isn’t used to it, and isn’t used to keeping up with stuff like I am. And she’s even more prone to distractions and not paying attention to what she’s doing than I am, if that’s possible.
But. OMG. The purse was GONE. And the near-hysterics commenced. I kept telling her that I was SURE it wouldn’t be THAT big a deal to replace her passport!! I’m SURE people lose their passports all the time! Or have them stolen! How hard can it be to replace it???
She and I drove back to town while Baker B continued to sleep on blissfully, We checked with the Post Office, where we’d stopped in fairly late the night before and bought some wine and ginger beer and a few other supplies (on a side note, how cool is that?? Our Post Office just sells mailing supplies. Theirs is a one-stop-shop for everything . And is open late.) We checked Waitrose which I thought we’d parked near the evening before, and we checked with the pub in between and everywhere else on that side of the street. Because that side of the street was where we’d been. We even walked all up and down the center of the street where the cars park, in the HIGHLY unlikely event that it would still be there 12 hours later. Everyone was really really nice and sympathetic and took her name and number, (the pub guy even called the girl who had been working the night before) … but no purse.
We went on back to the cottage then, with poor Kim wailing all the way and berating herself and me trying to calm her down and tell her it could happen to anyone and it would be fine , we’d sort it out!!! Still thinking that, at worst, we might have to go to Swindon to get a replacement for her. Baker B was up and feeling better by then, so we all looked around some more and Kim got online to cancel her credit cards (which had not been used; a good sign) and started trying to figure out how to get a replacement passport. And wept and wailed and berated herself while we both tried to reassure her.
We tried to call the local police station but oddly couldn’t get through (we had weird phone service out there- Baker B’s Mobal phone was the only one that consistently got a signal, and still the calls wouldn’t always go through) so we just drove over to the police station in Marlborough and told the very very nice policewoman what had happened and gave her all our contact information.
Then we went back to the cottage. And tried to figure out what the hell to do. And let me just say right here that it is a NIGHTMARE trying to figure out via the US Embassy’s website how exactly you go about replacing a lost passport. We were all trying to figure it out; following links that went in circles, following links that were entirely wrong (I actually thought once I’d found the answer… and then realized I was on China’s embassy page for Americans) and looking at message boards to get suggestions, and trying to call the emergency number (which didn’t work at all – we couldn’t get through, and honestly I have NO idea why now. The phone did work, but there was some reason. Don’t remember. It was a … stressful … day.) Kim wept and wailed. We tried to reassure her. About all we could deduce was that we’d not be able to just pop up to Swindon for a replacement – London, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cardiff were the options – and you had to have an appointment at the Embassy via, apparently, magic. Finally, FINALLY after what seemed like DAYS, she found something that said to send the embassy an email with EMERGENCY in the title.
So she did. And at that point we decided we REALLY needed to get away from the drama and panic and do something fun. We’d done all we could about the passport; Kim had sent the email; there was no more we could do and we were all in A State and exhausted and ready to get away from the computers and the embassy. It was probably 4:00 by then. Mark wanted to walk up to a stone formation nearby called The Devil’s Den, and that sounded great to me. Try as we might, though, we couldn’t get poor Kim to go with us. She was SO SO SO upset, and insisted she wanted to just stay there by herself and calm down and also work on her job application some more. So we left her to decompress and we went on a small hike.