Where I return to Farnham after a mad dash across four countries
Letter from Farnham by Gary (not Alistair) Cook
Letter dated 30 July 2021
So, I made it back to Farnham. I am currently sitting in my garden office, enjoying the English weather while I wait for my self isolation to end. I say ‘enjoy’ but it’s almost as if it hasn’t stopped raining.
I am, otherwise, quite well, regardless of my recent mad dash across four countries. I was tested before I left Sweden and have had tests since I’ve been home. I remain negative.
There was the anticipation as I waited for my initial PCR test results, half hoping they would be positive so I could stay in Sweden but, no, I do not have Covid 19. The test van in Trelleborg told me so.
It wasn’t just me who had to visit the doctor either. The UK insists that dogs have a worming treatment before arriving. I booked them into a vet in Trelleborg, where our ferry was leaving from. They were wormed by a lovely, chatty vet.
She met her husband while backpacking in Australia. Then, having married, they settled in his home town of Preston in Lancashire. She then worked there as a vet, for five years. Then came Brexit.
She returned to Sweden and her husband is selling their house before joining her. As I said, we had a lovely chat. Possibly because we had so much in common.
It wasn’t just the vet though, our dogs were responsible for another long and thoroughly enjoyable chat during the journey home.
On the Stena ferry from the Hook of Holland to Harwich, I sat on the dog toilet area for around five hours, chatting and laughing loudly, with a wonderful group of fellow dog owners who, along with me, didn’t like putting their beloved pets in cages as Stena requires.
Of course, they’d started off in one of the cages but I soon freed them to sit in the tiny area specifically set aside for the dogs to use for their relief. Apart from the kennels, it’s the only place the dogs ARE allowed to go.
I feel I should mention that the TT Line and Brittany Ferries both have pet friendly cabins on all their ships. And some routes serviced by DFDS also have pet cabins. It does make me wonder whether Stena is the only dog hating ferry company that services Europe.
Mind you, had Stena not insisted that dogs go into cages, I wouldn’t have had nearly as nice a crossing.
I met some wonderful people on the dog deck. Mother, Helen and daughter Liv, who live in The Hague. Liv is going to study at Leeds University and Helen was making sure she settled in properly. They had two dogs, Ninja and Cookie. And Helen is a dab hand with a squeegee when it comes to moving dog pee around.
Then there was the young woman who is studying medicine in Bulgaria. She’d been caught on CCTV by just about everyone, telling her Chihuahua how much she loved him and how sorry she was about leaving him in a cage. She was quite embarrassed but everyone assured her, they felt the same.
Then there was the mysterious couple from Hong Kong who were escaping the tyranny. They were in fear of their lives after the democracy riots and decided to leave. Their dog was an odd mix of breeds. He was also rather keen on the other male dogs.
The Polish woman and her father with the beautiful Pomeranian were incredibly funny. The father, who spoke very little English, feeds the dog from his own plate, chicken with a spoon. We all saw the video that proves it. He is unashamed.
All up, it made for a wonderful ferry ride across the North Sea.
At any rate, it was a lot more interesting than the drive across the Netherlands. Originally I’d planned to stay a few nights but the risk of the country turning red was too great so I just went for it. I woke up in Germany and just drove straight to the ferry.
Mind you, I didn’t exactly spend much time in Germany either. I left the ferry in Rostock then just drove all day until I reached a hotel close to the border. Pity I didn’t stay there longer as the hotel was pretty good with an excellent restaurant.
And so, here I am sitting in my garden office, missing everything I discovered in Sweden but realising how much I love and have missed, Farnham. As soon as I am cleared to leave the house, I’m heading into town for a much needed visit with Sue and the gang, at Starbucks.
But for now, cheerio