The Flight Centre – No compassion

Last month I got a call from home to tell me that I had to return to Canada because my Dad was in intensive care and that it was serious enough that the doctors had asked that the family come back to see him. When doctors say that, you know its serious and I knew that I needed to book a flight right away. There was a slight problem in that I had no valid passport, so I waited up from when I got the call at )3:00am, and spoke with the French consulate in Edinburgh and they were able to get me an appointment later on in the afternoon which meant that I could fly next day.

In the meantime, I had to go and get passport photos, pack and sort out childcare for the kids because they couldn’t come with me and I also had flights to find but wasn’t about to book until I had a passport in hand. I was scared that if I booked, that something would go wrong and I didn’t want to tempt fate. So after getting the train into Edinburgh, got information sent to me from the hospital to justify and explain that my Dad was very ill, I had a temporary passport issued and I was on my way home to book my ticket.

I was speaking to the flight centre, as this seemed to be the cheapest flight available and unfortunately my usual company Air Transat, did not fly on a Saturday so they were the next available and earliest flight to book with. I was put under a bit of pressure as we were also liaising via email, and as I was paying with my husbands bank card, we had to provide various forms of identification. It was mentioned at one point that I may need a visa due to flying from Edinburgh-Newark-Toronto but I said that I wasn’t sure but that I would bring my Canadian birth certificate with me. I was also told to “just tick all I the boxes”. The staff member informed me that she would check and if I needed one, that she would get back to me.

I didn’t hear from her. I arrived at the airport the next morning with my e- ticket and when in line awaiting book in for my flight. When i was approached, I was asked if I had my visa or ETSA to which I replied “no”, I wasn’t aware that I needed one. I then burst into tears because I was stressed and didn’t know if I was going to be able to fly out to see my Dad. I was told not to worry, to go over to one of the computers and apply on line which would take a few minutes. Every time I typed in my details though, there was an error. Time was ticking by and I then had to get an employee of the airport who asked me why i didn’t have a visa. I explained the situation and she called the American Immigration dept and was told that I couldn’t fly in, although on their website , in black and white, there is information stating that America and France (amongst other countries) have an agreement and there shouldn’t have been any issue.

It was too early to call the travel agent at this point and the lovely staff at United Airlines , went out of there way to track down other flights for me to book. I had paid over £600 for the first flight and I really didn’t have anything else to buy a new flight apart from my credit card which had just been cleared. When I was able to finally call the Flight Centre, I spoke to a very nice member of staff who empathised with me but couldn’t help me. He said that I would have to buy a brand new ticket and contact them later about trying to get a refund. I explained to him that this was very difficult but I feel that because they knew how important it was for me to get home asap, there wasn’t much more to do. What made me even more angry was the fact that a manager was obviously in the background but didn’t even have the decency to come to the phone and speak to me.

I asked for recordings of the original call to which I was told that “not all calls are recorded”. very convenient. I emailed quite a few times and was told that it was unlikely that I would get a refund because I had ticked the boxes about understanding flight requirements i.e., visas but I tried explaining to them the pressure that I was put under(she was about to finish) as well as having the member of staff tell me herself that she would get back to me if I needed a visa.

I find it absolutely disgusting that a company like this can take full advantage of someone who’s travel was a necessity. I had medical information from the hospital explaining the situation and it added more stress onto an already horrible situation. I will never forgive them for their lack of professionalism and I will never use their “services” again. I have yet to hear back about where they are in the process of obtaining my refund… I urge you not to use their company especially if in a situation where you might be more vulnerable due to their uncaring nature.

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Spooky Happenings Call for Spooky Snacks!

The lovely folks over at Sykes Cottages, are hosting a competition – “Happy Halloween Treats”, and they asked myself and some other bloggers to take part. Being a bit of a healthy foodie lover, I thought I’d try my hand at creating some and seeing how they went down with the kids!

For some inspiration, they sent over this really amazing cookbook which the children love, and we have already tried our hand at creating some of the tasty recipes. Our favourites so far have got to be “candy coated pencils for sucking in class” and “plushnuggets”.

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My excellent assistant – the lovely Thunderpants turned zombie -cheerleader, wanted ghosts, ghouls and all things slimy… Which hopefully we achieved with this;

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We made banana ghosties with raisins for eyes, pumpkin patch mini’s with cucumber as stalks and parsley as the “patch”, a witches cauldron which was half an avocado, a graveyard setting with green gooey grass made with mashed avocado and cucumber as tombstones, celery nut bars with raisins as aunts crawling along and had grapes as slimy eye balls.

Thunderpants doesn’t like celery or cucumber but she ate it all up because it looked interesting and it’s given me more ideas for how to present her food. It makes it more fun for me too, to come up with silly ideas and I know that it may take a bit of work but it’s getting the right amounts of nutrition into her.

Do you dress up foods for your kids? What kinds of combos do you use?

*Thank you to Sykes cottages for sending us this lovely cookbook, the opportunity to be part of the competition and for compensating us for the ingredients.

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Kept in the Dark … Abuse and The Catholic Church

I have a little bit of an internal conflict going on with the local council and the department of education… You see, the thing is.. my daughter attends a Catholic school which has obvious church involvement. The priest who deals with the school on a regular basis has recently been suspended due to allegations of historical sexual abuse and there has been no letter from the school board or a meeting for parents and carers, to explain matters and how we are supposed to explain things to our kids should they get wind of it and ask questions.

As a former volunteer for a rape crisis centre, I personally feel ok to handle any questions but it might not be the same way for other parents within the school. It’s also concerning as there may be people who have been affected by abuse and this could set off triggers for them due to lack of support and warning of the story coming to light.

The other “issue” that I have was , with the requests that were made before the story appeared in the papers, to pray for the priest. Now, whether he is innocent or guilty, I feel its incredible that the members of his congregation weren’t even told why they were praying for him and that they were led to believe that he was possibly sick or had come to harm! I feel that the way in which the catholic church has conducted itself in the past, that this is another fine example of sweeping things under the carpet and not making an issue of the allegations – which are very serious. 
I do not blame the head teacher of the school or the staff as I’m sure that they will have been instructed not to say anything (maybe they only know as much as we do?) but someone needs to be telling parents what is going on and what steps are being made to protect our children. I think its absolutely despicable and some kids already have an idea of what has happened which has resulted in stories being spread around the school yard. Luckily for me, my daughter hasn’t heard any of these but I’m sure its only a matter of time before this happens.
Despite having had dealings with survivors of sexual abuse , rape and childhood sexual abuse through volunteering, my role now is that of a parent who wants to safeguard her child. I feel that I will be forced to explain things to my daughter that I didn’t ever think that I would need to at the age of 7. Yes, its good to be able to have that open dialogue with kids because abuse isn’t dependant on age or profession but I guess maybe I was a bit naive in thinking that it wouldn’t happen for a while. However, there needs to be a talk and it needs to be done now in order for her to know the dangers out there or in some cases, closer to home.
Have you had to have a similar talk with your kids? Do you think that school board and council aren’t acting in the best interests of the children?

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Silent Sunday

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When I’m bored

On weekends when the night draws in, sometimes I literally have nothing to do. There are times when I really look forward to a break, and when I get one, I’m left with nothing to do. Of course there are multiple ways I fill in for the ‘Me time’. I work out, blog, talk with my hubby, occasionally read (dusty books that are lying in my cupboard eagerly waiting for my attention), and also once a while indulge in a game of bingo!

Yes, I too have joined the bandwagon and I’m not ashamed to admit a sneaky game of bingo tempts me. I don’t particularly have any fond memories of bingo halls, so I rather shun them. What I do instead is play bingo online. I remember this one time while surfing the internet I came across a site New Look Bingo. The name did ring a bell and I thought to give a free play. I was drawn to their scintillating offer- ‘£10 no deposit bonus’. Thus, I signed up and got started. That’s how my bingo journey began.

Just to wile away the evening, these days, I enjoy playing online bingo. Never really thought I would win anything substantial. On the contrary, I did. Giving bingo a go is perhaps the best thing I ever did. It adds entertainment to my rather monotonous day. Instead of simply blobbing in front of the idiot box, I actually do something that makes me happy and takes my mind of the everyday niggles. It also allows me to socialise. I have made some good friends ever since online bingo happened to me. If you doubt the social aspects of bingo, the likelihood is you haven’t tried it yet.

A lively banter and a casual gossip really elates me. For me bingo is not about making quick money. It’s just that love the fact I get to meet people without any geographical constrains and share a cheeky natter. It fills up for my evenings when I’ve got absolutely nothing to do. To check out my favourite bingo site click here.

Give online bingo a go. You will definitely love it!

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