Planning the Planning – By Pip Helix (Davin’s Den)

Mr. Helix and I are trying to plan a vacation to England for early this summer. There is so much involved in trying to get this done, I feel like major troop movements are involved.
First, there is the simple problem of trying to figure out how much sausage you can shove into a 5 pound casing.  Since we want to experience a vast number of things in a short time period, there is the tendency to try to stuff the proverbial ten pounds of sausage into the itinerary, to really mix metaphors here.
Long-time listeners to the show will understand that Steve Winwood was the catalyst for this trip in the first place.  When I first heard that he would be on the bill with Eric Clapton and Santana in Hyde Park, London this July, I casually mentioned it to Mr. Helix.  To my surprise, he was excited by the idea of the concert and really wanted to go!  I had not even thought of going, I was just mentioning that they would be playing together, but he was enthusiastic about seeing them play in the same place as the famed first concert for Blind Faith.  That same night, long after he’d gone to bed, I found tickets online for the show, and taking a big gulp of air, plopped down an unreasonable amount of money, sealing our fate.  Now we’ve done it.  We actually have to do this.
Having one event to center the trip around was apparently not enough for us, and Mr. Helix found that Mott the Hoople (or the remaining members thereof) would be playing a festival around the same time, and now we have two shows anchoring our trip, and the laundry list mentioned before of the possible sites.  Being a pair of eccentrics, we have some odd things we’d like to see, as well as some touristy things that we’d missed on our trips there previously, so now it is a matter of narrowing down the list and coming up with a reasonable path.
Passports don’t seem to be too much of an issue, as mine is still good and we have time to renew his, but there are so many other technical aspects to cover, my mind is boggling.  We’ve discussed renting a car for a portion of the trip.  In order to get an idea of what that is like, I did a little research.  Most of England drives manual shift cars – did you know that?  So, while it is possible to rent (“hire” is what they call it) an automatic, we will probably be renting a manual.  Luckily, I’ve only ever owned manual cars, and so to this day, so I am well versed in the “standard H”.  What I didn’t realize is that the entire wheel and petal setup is exactly the same here as it is there, which is a huge relief.  It will be weird enough to learn to shift lefty, but I don’t think I could get the handle of the clutch on the right.  Buoyed by this knowledge, I watched several videos on youtube, including a tutorial on driving signage (not always easy to make out, I’ve found), and managed to pass a test on what the signs mean.  I also watched several videos on driving on the left, and how to negotiate their traffic circles.  We have them here, but there they go clockwise, and each lane has a specific function.  It was really eye-opening.
I think I can manage driving there, but there will be other times that we will need to take trains, and then taxis or hoof it with our luggage.  I just bought some rolling luggage that will make this so much more easy, but I have to remember that I will be dragging my C-Pap machine around as well, so there will have to be careful planning.  Not to mention getting a battery backup for the machine, getting adapters for plugs and voltage, and figuring out how to use it on the airplane.  Then there is figuring out how much cash to bring, whether it makes sense to exchange currency here or there, what insurances we might need, what paperwork we need to have with us, how our phones will work over there, I guess I need to buy a surge protector strip for all of our chargers and things, and whether there are any places we want to visit that need prior tickets to be purchased.  And we haven’t even started on booking the airline tickets.

I am exhausted from planning the planning of the trip.  This will be a great experience, but one for which I need to beginning training.  Off now to watch some more videos of driving on the left side of the road.

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