England - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 190

Stoke-on-Trent

Thursday 18th September

I was eager, this morning, to get to an Internet café as soon as possible to try to learn more about the potential contract job in Heerlen. It sounded almost too good to be true and would mean an immediate halt to our current travels. We drove back into town and over to the same car park that we used yesterday and then went in search of an Internet terminal. We stopped in at the tourist information office to ask where we could find one and were given a couple of options. With the extremely looming deadline of the start date for the position, I wanted to get onto the Internet as quickly as possible but everything seemed to conspire against us. The first place we tried was quite a big place with some fifty or more terminals but due to problems with their database, none of them were in working order. The busy systems administrator did send us to an alternative that was supposedly around the corner but after ten minutes or more of searching, we couldn’t find it. We even went back to the first place to get more precise directions. When we eventually found the place, their two terminals were also down. The guy there was going to send us to another place but it was clear across town and neither of us was really up to the energy expenditure. Sandy did one of her brilliant sob story acts and the guy eventually buckled and let me use his terminal for a few minutes. When I scanned my e-mail, I found the message I was looking for from the consulting company that I exchanged e-mails with yesterday and the day before. Alas, it was not good news. The position had now been filled. This left me feeling somewhat dejected. For the rest of today, I’ve been kicking myself for letting this one go. Could I have been more receptive earlier on in the process? Might I have given the wrong impression about my ability to be back in time to fill the role? Could I have done anything else to secure the position? I’ll never know and will probably be kicking myself for the next few days as a result.

Sullenly, we walked out and strolled around for a bit. For some reason, the travel bug seemed to have left me. I felt as if the wind was knocked out of my sails. I started to think about this leg of the journey and the terms that we had set ourselves at the outset. The idea behind purchasing the brick was going to be to use it to explore the British Isles and Ireland whilst the good summer weather was still in full force. We’ve had a good time touring around in the campervan but the weather has definitely started to turn on us. Both of us are slowly tiring just a little and it just seems to be the right time to inject another break into the overall travel schedule. The missed job opportunity was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We decided to bring an end to this round of travelling and made the conscious decision to turn back South and head home. Once there, I could turn my full attention to securing some temporary employment in order that we beef up our funds before setting off again into the great unknown.

Since leaving Glasgow shortly after noon, we’ve travelled just about halfway home and are now parked in a retail car park in Stoke-on-Trent. This is where Sandy’s Pocket Dragons are apparently designed and manufactured and she is keen to get a look in at the factory that is supposed to be here. We’ll make this the first thing we do tomorrow morning before completing our return back to Leigh-on-Sea and our cupboard under the stairs.

I spoke with Jacqueline this afternoon but did not let on that we were returning. She tells me that the final package that we sent to ourselves from Africa (Kenya this time) has arrived. Once again, we will be arriving home to greet the memories of a previous leg of our grand tour and I am looking forward to unpacking it and sorting everything out.

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