Lara Jones is back! And what a journey!!

It has been three years since I last wrote for this blog. In these 3 years I had 2 jobs, 2 boyfriends (sequentially, not in parallel) and candida in my digestive system. For those not familiar with it, it is pretty much like having the mushrooms in which the Smurfs use to live camping in your stomach and feeling as if Azrael were chasing them.

Right now, I have one new job (congratulations to me), zero boyfriends and zero husbands (just clarifying it as there are two main ways to get rid of a boyfriend: dismissal or promotion to the husband position), zero mushrooms in my tummy (hopefully) and a new city to live in: Granada, which takes me into the topic of reversing the process and becoming a true Spaniard again. And obviously, my blog is in English now.

I have to say, once I signed the contract to move back to Spain it felt great. It felt great, that is, for about 15 minutes (5 of them spent in the loo). My mental peace was broken by googling up ´Eurostar Pets.  Because one of the things that is constant in my life is Jones´s cat and one of the things that Eurostar doesn’t do is to transport pets. Not even hamsters. So, what do you do with a cat that looks as if he has eaten the world population of hamsters and is such a drama queen that he will merrily be grumpy on the first cold day of autumn till you cover him with an electric blanket¨. Yes, oh dear… Mental peace out of the window.

After a lot of research I concluded that there were two main options to deal with the fact that the UK is the only country in Europe where you cannot fly with animals in the cabin (drama queen not suitable to fly as luggage…): pay 1,000 pounds to get him in a pet taxi from London to Paris or do it myself adding 8 hours to my return trip. Because 1000 for a 5 hour drive sounded to me more like extortion than business, I decided that driving to Paris and catching a flight from there to Madrid, where my mum would kindly lose her mind while fighting the fur balls of Jones´s cat would be best. What could go wrong?

Well, for starters, the night before departing, just as my handyman was telling me off for having drilled on the wrong edge on the window which resulting in complete destruction of all the plaster around it, migrants were taking over the Eurotunnel railway. The result¿ trucks were delays by 6 hours the following day and blocking the entrance to the Eurotunnel to car… It was 10 am when I made it to the terminal with a very upset cat and just enough time to check in. If the British side of the Eurotunnel was complicated, it got even better at the other side: ´dear passenger, we cannot let you out because there are migrants running on the railway´. And there were! However, in my mind these so called migrants were Syrian refugees. To my surprise, the ones I saw were black as coal. I know that according to the British way of doing things, I could be sued for saying this, however, please, note, I am not saying it in a bad way, I am just describing the fact that they were clearly Africans and not from North Africa. I would merrily use a more accurate term of their race but the first time I had to sign up for a GP (general doctor for those not familiar with the UK terminology) I spent around 15 minutes trying to determine my race. Other than being clear that I wasn’t black or mixed race, I found very confusing to have to choose among 20 different options. What is more, 6 years later I haven’t still worked out what is the difference between White Irish, White British and White Other (which is the one I chose as I didn’t feel I was Latino). Does bacon and suspiciously orange baked beans create an exclusive set of feature that grant different illnesses to white British people_ Please, email me if you know the answer. I am really curious.


When I finally made it to Paris, I offer my super stressed cat a tray with dirty cat litter, which is what blogs about moving cats advise you to do. My cat, which occasionally seems to have more common sense than cat lunnies, looked at me as if I were completely mad, which seen from the outside would have been a fair assessment (carrying dirty cat litter for 500 km, anyone?).

Checking in the cat was also a super interesting experience: it took 3 people to check him in only to send me to pay for his ticket to another desk where the assistant had gone for a coffee and came back at French pace (she would have been sued, fired or both in the UK for making me wait for the whole of 10 minutes).

The flight itself was as expected: I went through an excruciating process to check my cat in, spent a whole morning trying to find a cage that was allowed in the cabin (thank you Amazon, physical stores were hopeless) and how do I end up? Sitting by a crying baby (no cage here, no complicated check in, no silence at all).

When we finally arrived at my parents, I opened the cage and… I just managed to see the back legs of my cat disappearing underneath the bed ottoman. I always wondered where the Tweety´s drawers found inspiration to make the cat super flat when jumping out of window or being run over by a car. After seeing my 7 kg cat flattening himself to fit under a bed that was 4 inches (10 cm) high my doubts dissipated. Flattening is part of a cat reality!!

The way back was equally colourful: The boarding pass that the 3 french people finally managed to give me in Paris for my return flight didn´t work (they had checked in the cat again by mistake, so much effort such a poor result); I realized way too late (after checking in) that I was flying to a different airport to the one where my car was parked (oh dear…), 4 migrants crossed the motorway in front of me as I pulled to take the Eurotunnel exit (again, unknown race but black like coal or like the 3rd of the 3 wise men 2000 edition as the once in the 80s, with no real Africans in Spain, they used to lose the painted black as the parade progressed) and just to put the cherry on the cake and after passing successfully the two passport controls I was pulled to a side as part of a random control. They said random though I suspect they deliberately chose the blondie in the British car with the puffy eyes (10 hours of travelling on that day so far) to have some fun.

The random control consisted basically in challenging me to see how far away I would stretch without being rude. It all started very well: ´passport, please´ and then the odd questions started: where do you work, what are you doing crossing the Eurotunnel, why were you going to Paris. It all got amazingly complicated as I explained the whole story about the cat and being unable to fly him in the cabin from the UK. Could I proved I had flown? Well, only as long as I managed to figure out where the boarding pass was in the sea of fried corn (God bless French gas stations and their fried corn), make up, wallets and cups I had on the side seat. Could I prove I had parked at Paris Airport? Hmmm, where are we going with all this? Am I accuse of anything? Is the car alright? The custom officer reassured me that everything was fine just to continue asking: did I have the V5 (car document proving the ownership) with me. Well, no? I have always been told I shouldn’t carry it with me because the resistance of British people to have a personal ID means that anyone could sell it on my behalf if they got hold of it. But, and this is a big but, he had an answer for that: isn’t it a legal requirement in France? Well, hon, let me make this clear to you: I spent 16 hours the day before transporting my cat, I had spent another 10 hours on that day coming back, I am smelly, sticky, hungry and so tired that I am starting thinking that a night in the police station for slapping you may not be such a bad plan after all so please refrain yourself from being a know-it-all or I cannot guarantee your personal safety. Needless to say, instead of saying that I ended up just wanting to go to a corner and cry, especially when on his second attempt to be super clever and push me closer to slapping him he proclaimed: well, if you don’t have the document I can check it on the computer. Well, why don’t you just do it, make yourself an English breakfast tea and get cozy in your office? Gosh, after paying all those taxes for years, all I get is an idiot with little to do who thinks that rather than preventing migrants from crossing unsafely the motorway, it is better to stop the blondie with the dirty cat litter in the boot (so difficult to justify without being sent to a mental health institution).

At some point, he decided that he had enough ticks on the boxes to justify what he had been doing for the day and let me go. And I decided to go to a Costa coffee to get the biggest portion of caffeine my body could deal with, which is your drug when you had suffered from mushrooms in your tummy and you cannot have muffins, cakes, cheese or anything remotely satisfying to eat.

I finally made it safely at 9 pm, 12 hours after leaving my parents´ and with my life expectancy reduced by 5 years.

Lara Jones
P.S. Dedicated to Babul, all your fault if I am writing this in English 

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