Before resuming my story about house sitting and working from the UK, I want to acknowledge that while my posts are always tagged “Budget Travel,” I wouldn’t be able to call half of it that if it weren’t for Lynn. She paid for the cottage in Cornwall, the rental car, the hotel with the crunchy gravel in Shaftsbury. I do my best to pay for things when we travel together. I snuck down to the front desk and paid for our stay at the Fern Hill Hotel in Lyme Regis, and I would try to snatch and pay the bill for meals as often as I could, but Lynn is pretty good at snatching the bill herself.
We’ve discussed it and we’ll probably discuss it in the future. If you’re going to travel with a friend you’ve got to be able to talk about money or it could be kaput for the friendship.
But living in Eton for the month of July really was almost free of costs. I had sold my condo back home so I had no mortgage payment, association dues, or utility bills. Of course I had no home to return to, but I would figure that out later.
Second, housesitting for Sam meant a free place to stay just outside of London for a month. Sam asked me to pay the bills, which amounted to £100, or about $130. Of course I bought groceries and of course I wanted to eat in the pubs and restaurants and go into London which cost about $13.00 each way. I used the local Leisure Centre to lift weights a couple times a week and that was $13.00 per time. After a couple weeks I asked for and got a “prospective members pass,” which probably saved me a hundred bucks. I was honest. I said I would never be a member because I would be gone in a month. I think they felt sorry for me that I was paying $13.00 for just an hour of access to the gym.
I haven’t added up how much the month in Eton cost and I won’t bother because whatever it was, it was worth it.
Before I turn to describing the house and Eton and beyond, I just came across a list of annoying, mostly tech problems I dealt with while I was there.
The Internet in Eton was very, very, slow. This surprised me—I assumed a town with a world-famous school would have super-fast Internet and I’m not sure what the deal was. One theory I’ve heard is that Britain was one of the earliest countries to get Internet access to its population. Now that’s out of date and an infrastructure upgrade is called for, but no one wants to pay for it.
I was still after Expedia about screwing up one of my June flights and eventually they refunded my money and gave me a $50 voucher, but it took patience and persistence. I’m sure they count on most people just giving up.
When I booked a flight to Scotland on Flybe, they charged me seven times.
Delta came through with a $250 voucher for ripping my suitcase. They were the most responsive and least hassle-y of all the companies I dealt with.
My mouse died. Yes, I am mouse dependent. A new one was only 10 quid but finding one was inconvenient.
The closing on my condo went smoothly, but it was another story trying to cut the cord with my Internet provider back home. I am still battling them three months later.
A&T made me run a gauntlet to unlock my new phone.
My bank blocked my account access even though I had told them I was traveling.
Sam’s printer only worked about every fifth print job.
I couldn’t copy and paste anything from my remote work desktop.
A Skype “upgrade” left colleagues unable to hear me.
So if you have a fantasy about running away to live the simple life in another country, forget it. In fact first-world problems can be more of a hassle because you may not be able to make phone calls and you may not know where to go for help.