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Cambridge Park & Ride

What not to do when you're touring

by Syd Harling

We arrived in Cambridge nice and early in the morning hoping to "do" Cambridge and still get to East Harling with enough time to explore. After parking the rented Ford in the Park and Ride we rode the bus into the city and spent a lovely morning exploring the sights of this historic university town.

When we arrived back at the car I realised that we'd left our passports and plane tickets in the suitcase tucked away in the boot of the car so, thinking that this was a bad idea, I opened the boot before even opening the car to remove the important documents and pop them in the backpack which we carried with us.

Having tucked the passports and tickets safely in the backpack I slammed the boot shut. In the last split second before the lid reached its resting place I spied the car keys lying on top of the suitcase. They must have jumped out of my pocket and into the boot when I wasn't looking.

Do you know that sinking feeling you get when disaster strikes? Well I felt it that day. Luckily my mobile was in my pocket so I decided I had best call the hire company for help. The problem was that the car was based at Heathrow and so was the spare key I guessed. I couldn't get a reply from the Cambridge office so phoned my son in London. He got nowhere as the London office said we had to call Cambridge. In my ignorance I had thought, "oh what the heck, some kind fellow will pop along with a skelton key and open the car for us, just a temporary setback." Little did we know that we were going to become intimately aquainted with that carpark that afternoon, every bush and kerbstone.

Eventually I got through and the helpful chap said he'd send the RAC to help.We waited and waited in that hot car park for 3 hours during which time I searched for something I could use to burgle the car but, unlike South Africa, one doesn't find a lot of rubbish lying around car parks in England let alone car thieving tools. Well maybe in some carparks but not that one.

Several more calls to the hire company asking them to chase the man from the RAC didn't help. He dutifully did his rounds, helping little old ladies with flat tyres, forgetful people with empty fuel tanks and many other emergencies before eventually arriving at our (by this time we almost regarded the car park as ours) car park.

Using nothing more than a screwdriver, car battery and  2 cables he had that Ford's boot open in 30 seconds much to my wife's relief - and mine of course. We were happy to see the back of Cambridge that afternoon and sped off in search of my roots in East Harling.


Syd Harling


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About the author Syd Harling

I am an unapologetic Anglophile and Royalist. Born in SA of English parents I am now British officially. A Quality Engineer by profession I look forward to one day retiring in England. Now that my dear wife is no longer with me that may happen sooner rather than later.

Articles by Syd Harling

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(This article was added on 20th June 2011)