A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Monday, February 13, 2006

Always remember to read the small print

This afternoon around 3:30, after lazing around for the better part of the afternoon, I decided to take Molly off to the beach for a long refreshing walk. We parked up in the mobile home summer caravan park where Andy always used to take me in the summer and off we went. We left the car at approximately 3:50. Although it was slightly overcast, there wasn't a breeze, and the water was very calm, which made for a gorgeous stroll on the beach. After romping in the water, losing our ball (and thrower),and clumsily playing with two extraordinary huge dogs whose only threat of hurting Molly was the fact they might slobber her to death, we made our way back to the car. I was feeling refreshed and looking forward to a nice relaxing evening but as I pulled off the grass parking area and made my way around the bend in the road I was stunned to see the park gates had been shut with a small notice stuck to it saying that in January and February the park gates are closed and locked at 4:00 p.m. and wouldn't open until 9:30 a.m. the next morning. For the second time in this country, I had the pleasure of finding myself behind locked gates.

Luckily, I had my phone with me so that I could call the number on the sign to have a warden come and release me for the extortionate fee of £30. I also rang Andy to see if there might be another way out of the park but unfortunately there wasn't as far as he was aware. I took a drive around just to make sure and along the way encountered a lovely retired couple who were out walking and tried to help me find an alternative route out of the park. (They had known to park there car on the other side of the gates.) Leaving the car behind and walking home was not an option as a) I live too far away and both Moll and I were wet and it was fastly becoming dark, and b) the car might not be in the same condition when I got back to retrieve it the next day as vandalism is high in the area.

The phone call to the council was a bit ridiculous as the guy on the other end, although slightly sympathetic, kept insisting I'd have to pay the fine and did I have the cash to do so. Of course I didn't, I was walking the dog, not shopping. He then moved on to ask if I had a credit card. Let me see, I don't carry more than a fiver on me while out for a stroll, but yup, I keep my credit card in the back pocket just in case I need to make a transaction from a tree. He then moved on to ask if I could give him a number of a relative to verify who I was. At this point I got pretty incensed and said 'look, I know I have to pay the fine, I should have read the puny signs, but I didn't so here I am, alone in the dark in a deserted caravan park and your worried about the fine. Send someone to get me out and you can send me the bill, you have my registration number in case you don't believe the address I will supply is legit.' He asked me to wait while he called a truck and then informed me it could be 30-40 minutes. Naturally, I would wait, where exactly could I go?

fter half an hour, 3 vehicles pulled up on the other side of the barrier. An official looking man in plain clothes walked over and asked me what happened and if I was waiting for the warden to let me out. I conceded. He walked over to the gate, undid it to let other cars gain entry, then waved me through without another word. Will I receive a bill in the mail? Or will it prove lucky that someone other than the warden let me out? Probably not, the council still has my info, but we shall see in a few days time.

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