Friday, April 16, 2010


Finally, a new post. But first, some public service announcements:

Is Melissa (Smitten by Britain) among the missing?

She recently switched her blog from Blogger to Wordpress (Don't get me started.) Anyway, in the process, she lots, oh, lots of followers; let's say about a quarter million. If you want to get her back, or want to start following her (which I highly recommend) here's what to do:

To make sure you are seeing her latest updates, re-follow her by adding this URL:

If using Blogger:

If using Google Reader:

In other news:

Someone else bought my book (thanks, Erren), and here's what she had to say:

I just bought the book 'Postcards from across the Pond' by Michael Harling. It arrived today. I stole a couple of minutes to flip through it and laughed out loud twice. I can't say enough how validated I feel by this book. How wonderful to see someone else put down on paper some of the same struggles I've experienced being an American living in the UK. I can't wait to get the time to read it properly!

Thank you Michael!

So there you have it. If you still haven't bought your copy, you are obviously down a few laughs, so to keep up, you really, really need to buy one (or several) right now.

Now on to the post:

It has just occurred to me that I am, at this time, virtually stranded on this island. It’s not so bad, really; currently I’m holed up in a sixteenth century pub sipping a pint of ale and sitting on a deacon’s bench with a nice warming fire nearby. It’s the sort of pub with beams in the ceiling sagging so low even I have to duck.

But I doubt the thousands of stranded passenger—both those trying to get out and those trying to get in— aren't feeling so complacent. As for me, I’m just glad we visited Iceland when we did; it might have been a nice place, but I doubt I would have welcomed being stranded there for a fortnight.

Now I know that, technically, I could take a train or ferry to get out of Blighty but, having just seen the news, I wouldn't want to try. The ferries are packed to bursting, and I don’t fancy swimming the last fifteen miles to France. And the last I heard of the Eurostar, it wasn't running because it was too cold. Granted, it has warmed up over the months since I heard that, but no one has contacted me to tell me the trains were running again. And even if they are, I doubt I could get a ticket.

No, a plane is the only viable option. Except none of them are flying. The TV news showed footage of the runways at Gatwick and Heathrow; never before have the runways been so continually empty. I hope they are at least taking advantage of the down-time by sweeping the tarmac.

I don’t doubt that the airlines are being over-cautious, but who can blame them. Sure, the planes might not crash, but who wants to be responsible for making the decision that results in a jumbo jet with three hundred and thirty people on if falling out of the sky? And while the stranded passengers might wish they wouldn’t err so heavily on the side of caution, would you want to be among the passengers of the first flight testing the theory that the air was clear enough to take off?

Actually, I think they are being overly optimistic about starting flights as soon as tomorrow. The last time this volcano starting misbehaving, it spewed volcanic grit into the air for eighteen months. I just hope it stops in time for us to go visit my grandchild before s/he graduates from college. (Did you know I’m soon to be a grandpa? Well, I am, and you heard it here first.)

Otherwise, life is good. The grim job reaper hasn't visited, my writing is going well and spring appears to be, albeit grudgingly, showing her pretty face.

On the other hand, it now occurs to me that I am stranded in this booth. My pint is empty, but if I go to the bar to get a refill, my kit may not be here when I return. And if I pack everything up and take it all with me on the twenty foot trek to the bar, I might not have this booth when I return. (These olde worlde pubs are very popular, even among the locals.)

So here I sit, stranded on a deacons bench, with an empty pint glass in front of me. But I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not so bad.


  1. Anonymous10:28 PM

    Thanks for your help Mike. Half a million? If only! You're the one with 12,746 devotees!

  2. I returned on Tuesday from a job interview (which my current supervisor did not know I was attending) in the UK. Thank god I got on the plane on Monday . . . I'd hate to have to explain how my two-day "personal leave" turned into a week -- or longer -- absence!

  3. My mum is stuck in England and she was supposed to be having a short break to see family in Ireland. Not happy. Neither am I as she's phoning and texting me with updates. Aarrgghh!

  4. My boyfriend's mom went over to Spain for vacation and was supposed to return home to Bristol earlier tonight but due to the volcanic ash, she's stranded in Spain for a few more days. She's hoping to come home on Sunday, though.

    I also just bought your book and can't wait to read it! :)

  5. Lis: Thanks! I mailed it out this morning, but I'm afraid my books are stranded here with me for now. It may be a while.

    I see you are from Seneca Falls; we were practically neighbors ;)

  6. Melissa: Glad to help!

    Kurstin: What a hoot that would have been! I mean, years later, when you could look back on it and laugh.

    Expatmum: My in-laws just had their holiday in Spain cancelled. But at least they are in their own home. We somehow managed to arrange all of our holidays this year without the need for air travel. Good thing.

  7. Thanks, Mike! I think there'd be a wait, volcano or no volcano. I really hope it just gets here at all. Anything and everything my boyfriend has ever mailed has never gotten to me. We finally got so fed up with Royal Mail, that he used FedEx instead when he sent his Valentine's package. That never got here either. But he gets most of the things I send over to him. I don't get it.

    And yes! Seneca Falls. I've lived in this area all my life. My parents live in Auburn, and when I moved out, I went to the Seneca Falls/Waterloo area. It's a very nice town.

  8. Lis: Wow, that's a bad record, even for the Royal Mail! If the book doesn't arrive, drop me a line once you get here and I'll send one through internal mail; they have a better hit ratio with that ;)

  9. Mike, you've won a blogger award - the sunshine award. You can go here to claim it: Of course I had to share it!

  10. Ok, Mike. Thanks. :)