Thursday, 24th November. Poki is back!

On Tuesday we went to collect Poki from Rotterdam. It all went very smoothly, although it almost didn’t. Dennis had set his phone alarm for 4am. It didn’t go off. Very fortuitously Dennis woke at 4.30. Our taxi to take us to Gatwick AIrport was due at 5. It was rather a rush.

Our Easyjet flight was on time and arrived at Amsterdam Schipol Airport a bit ahead of schedule. Getting through immigration was rather slow, as there was quite a queue. A short walk brought us to Schipol railway station. We bought tickets to Rotterdam Central from a machine. It told us there were 2 types of ticket. One required a supplement for a fast, nonstop train. 

When we arrived at the platform there was a train waiting. We didn’t know if it was a fast train, but jumped on. Of course it was a fast train and the ticket inspector wanted us to pay a 10 Euro supplement. We tried to act like uncomprehending tourists and the inspector said we could pay just 2 Euro’s by buying online.

At Rotterdam Central we changed for the Metro. We arrived at Vlaadingen Central at around 1230. Our shipping agent’s yard was a short walk from the metro station. I expected to have to provide documents proving who we were and Poki’s ownership. As we walked through the gate a gentleman was crossing the yard. He stopped and said “You must have come for the Land Rover”. He pointed inside one of the buildings and there she was patiently waiting for us. 

She looked exactly as she had done when we left her in South Africa. We were concerned that the stormy seas may have broken her strapping and she might move around and be damaged, No, she was well loaded, not like when we shipped from Lome. She started first time too. 

Driving her outside we had to stop for Dennis to perform a minor repair. When we left Kloof to take Poki to OneLogix yard outside Durban, we had discovered the light switch was broken. Dennis had ordered a new one when we returned to the UK and it was just a short job to replace it.

While Dennis was changing the light switch, my job was to reinsure Poki. I had asked for a quotation to cover her for one week. Just while we are in the UK. Once we return to New Zealand next week she will be off the road, locked up and covered up. The quote was horrendously expensive £340 (NZ$700). I then asked for an annual quote, for comparison. After a long wait, I was advised by the insurance company who have covered her since 2012, that this was not possible. Land Rovers are the most stolen car in the UK and so insurance companies don’t want to insure them. Reluctantly I paid the one week rate. I will have to address the issue again when we return to the UK next May.

Our next task was to find fuel as there wasn’t much more than fumes left in the tank. Once we had filled her up, at great expense, a full tank cost 129 Euros (about NZ$225), we set off for the shipping agent’s office. We needed to collect our Carnet de Passages. We need to return it to the UK issuing office for a refund. 

By this time we were starving, breakfast having been a very long time ago. We headed for Hook of Holland and found a restaurant overlooking the port. The port of Rotterdam is huge and the area very industrious. Vessels of all types passed by. A constant stream of activity. We had some typically Dutch fare, including a very rich, creamy cake with extra cream, which we really didn’t need.

We then headed for the ferry terminal. It’s an overnight service, leaving at 2200, so we had a long wait. I tried to book online, but there was an issue with putting in our birth dates. We decided to find Stena Lines’ ticket office. A very helpful lady advised if we booked with her, there was an extra administrative charge. We showed her the problem we were having online and she also tried to put in our dates of birth. There is a system issue, so she waived the admin. charge. Paying in Euros was still slightly more expensive than paying online in Sterling.

It was also mandatory to have a cabin on the overnight ferry. Another additional expense.  At 19.45 we checked in and sat in a queue of cars waiting for all the trucks to be loaded first. The number of trucks going on was incredible. It’s a pretty large ferry and took a while for all the trucks to be loaded. Eventually we got on board and found our cabin. Very cosy with bunk beds, TV and a shower and toilet. We had a fish and chip dinner and retired. It was a very quiet crossing,  arriving in Harwich early. At 0500 a recording of birdsong followed by a lady advising us breakfast was being served and that we would be disembarking at 0600.

Back on British roads

Driving home from Harwich took us about 3 and a half hours. Traffic was heavy and there were many roadworks. The rest of the day was spent unloading Poki. I started washing everything. All our bedding, towels, clothes. It is amazing how much dust and dirt there is. It’s going to be 2 day job, at least 6 machine loads! I’ve also unpacked all the left over foodstuff and washed all the pots and pans.

Dennis is going to be busy over the next few days repairing the damage we did internally after our overturning incident. There is much to do before we leave. Packing, saying goodbye to family and taking the Mini to the garage for some maintenance. We’re stopping in San Francisco en route to NZ. A quick catch up with my son James, daughter-in-law, Sarah and grandchildren Jasper, Anna and Siena. It’s that time of year again, so also have to organise Christmas gifts. 

Once we get back to NZ, Christmas will only be 3 weeks away. It will be good to be back. It’s nearly a year since we started our trip and last Christmas was spent in the French Pyrenees.

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