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Halfcrown

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About Halfcrown

  • Birthday 19/05/1962

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  1. I'm finding it a bit of a pain... we are booked to travel back from Spain on the Etretat this coming weekend (9/2/2019), but I am going to have to fly back in a couple of weeks to collect my van, which is currently in bits at local garage here in Spain. Looking at how I'm going to get the van back, however, it rather looks like I'm going to have to do the full schlepp through France
  2. So - this is going to be interesting.... The van developed a fault as we were approaching Dénia on the way to Ibiza. It kept on going into limp-mode - but we limped on and caught our ferry to the island. It turned out that it has a cracked exhaust manifold and it is not going to be ready in time for us to drive it home. The lovely people at AA European Breakdown have agreed to get us a hire-car to collect at Dénia and drop off in Bilbao. But here's the really interesting bit... BF have come up trumps and have managed to obtain special permission from the port authorities at Bilbao and Portsmouth, and DEFRA to allow us to board the Etretat with a dog as foot passengers so we can travel home as booked. Well done BF!
  3. And now we are being disembarked - after a 40 minute delay.
  4. I’m on board at the moment. She arrived at the berth dead on time at 9:15. I happened to be watching her being backed up to the linkspan from the Planets bar at the stern. I saw a bit of panic going on with the ropes. From what I could see, the winches on the port side were jamming and this is now delaying everything. As I write this, we have been alongside for 40 minutes and the ramps still have yet to be lowered,.... I’ll update further if I get any more info.
  5. I have to admit that I was always a bit reluctant to choose the Sunday departure of the Cap because of the extra 8 hours spent on board. And then it occurred to me, that it did not actually increase my overall journey time - it just meant that my second night of the journey was spent on board in the same bed as the first, rather than at a campervan park or an Airbnb en-route to Valencia, Gandía or Denia.
  6. So - we already have ticket-less travel (the document which BF sends us that is called a "Ticket" has no validity itself, it is merely an itinerary. There is no need to print it out - the only information on it which is relevant to BF is the booking reference, which if you don't have when you check-in it means that they have to search for your booking by name or reg no.). However as we know, at check-in each passenger is provided with a unique boarding pass, and one is provided for each vehicle too. The vehicle boarding pass (the hanger) is used to make sure that the vehicles being loaded are being loaded onto the correct sailing, and have the correct number of people inside. So first problem with going paperless - how do BF make sure that these checks are possible? Balearia may have a partly workable solution for this. With them you have to check-in for the crossing online before reaching the port, and one option is to load the boarding passes onto your phone (as opposed to printing them out on your printer). When you join the queuing lanes, a member of staff checks your passes, and if they aren't right you have to go to the desk in the terminal to get them sorted. I will be trying out my mobile phone boarding passes on 1 November, and will report back (if anyone's interested!). The issue of cabin keys is not applicable to Balearia however - if you have bought a cabin, you have to queue up at the information desk on board to collect a physical key, which you have to return on arrival. Then again - Balearia tend to sell something like a couple of dozen cabins on their sailings, as opposed to the hundreds on BF.
  7. As someone who used to develop exactly this kind of software and its interfaces with external booking systems, I completely get what you are saying. When you have an unspecified number of connections (including not just website users but also tour operators, travel agents, in-house booking staff, freight handlers, and even check-in staff at the port) querying and reserving availability on any of up to 70 weeks worth of sailings (at how many sailing per week?) - and that available is expressed in terms of pax numbers, vehicle length, high-vehicle length, kennels, cabins of various types, and even berths in single-sex shared cabins (for freight drivers) - and... whenever the availability is reserved it needs to be held until a booking is confirmed, but if it is not confirmed then the reserved availability needs to be released when the sailing dates are changed, or the customer decides to ponder a little longer... then yes you can indeed see that it is all a bit complicated.
  8. I started this thread to highlight and discuss the hopefully remote, but all the same real, risk that trips already booked will have to be cancelled in the event of a no-deal Brexit. I didn’t want to have a conversation here about the merits of Brexit, the merits of using kennels or whether or the merits of allowing dogs onto vessels. To be clear, the risk is that it might not be possible to comply with the new post-Brexit regulations sufficiently in advance to have the necessary work done by when it is needed for travel already booked. For travel booked for after August 2019, there will be time to arrange the necessary - even in the worst-case Brexit scenario. As for not cancelling the travel and using kennels instead, I can see why that might seem like a sensible suggestion - however the reality is that kennels book up even sooner than the on-board pet accommodation and for travel between April and August 2019, it is far too late to expect to any space at kennels.
  9. I have two replies here: a) space at good reputable has to be booked 12-18 months in advance - so even less practical for those who have already booked their travel for 2019 b) pre PETS passport days, we (and I suspect we are not alone) simply chose not have a dog because of the difficulties of travelling to continental Europe. Others simply chose never to leave the British Isles. Personally, I would not want to back to either of those arrangements.
  10. [Note to moderator - I have put this here as information and comment on that information - I really do not mean to start a discussion about the rights and wrongs of Brexit. That discussion already exists elsewhere on this site] The government published advice on taking pets abroad in the event of a "no-deal Brexit". The consequences for those of us are potentially a bit awkward, and might result in not being able to use bookings already made. Here is a link to the new advice: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/taking-your-pet-abroad-if-theres-no-brexit-deal/taking-your-pet-abroad-if-theres-no-brexit-deal The really worrying bit is if the UK ends up being treated as a "unlisted 3rd country". In this case, preparation for travel needs to start 4 months in advance, and will include blood-tests as well as paperwork. The 4 months for a booking made for travel on 30 March would therefore start very soon, in November, and they are advising consulting vets now if you have travel booked. Unfortunately it seems that vets know nothing about this! It seems quite possible that by the time it is worked out what is needed, it might already be past the deadline for actually carrying it out - and so trip would have to be cancelled. I have asked my travel insurance about this possibility, and they tell me that my cancellation insurance would not cover cancellation in these circumstances. I put the same question to BF Customer services, who assured me that if they were unable to offer the travel booked, then I would be refunded. (Although is a failure of government the same thing as an operator failing to offer service?) All in all a tad worrying.
  11. Well - it's OK, but it could be a lot better.... The existing site is based on the assumption that you know pretty much when you want to travel, but you don't mind too much what accommodation you have onboard. It does give you alternative dates, and prices them up, but in order to find out if that sailing has the accommodation you want you have to book the car and pax onto it first. This is fine - except when it comes to those of us who need a specific type of cabin, which is in short supply on each sailing. For example if I wanted to book a pet-friendly cabin for as early as there is one available in September 2019, I would have to start to make a booking for the first acceptable date for me - and if there was no PFC availability, I would have to go back and start again with the next sailing, and so on and so on until I hit on one that happened still to have unbooked PFC's. It is long-winded, time-consuming and really awkward. It would be much better if I could enter what my requirements were: eg. PFC, vehicle height between 1.83m and 2.6m and 5m long and 1 pax and 1 pet - and then it would list the sailings on which I could book. The Beta site does not include any of this - it's just a face-lift. Not a bad face-lift, but no more than a face-lift.
  12. Actually the term "Beta site" is a bit of a misnomer - what it is is a new version of their web site, which they are "beta testing" before they replace their current site with it. With any new system - be it a web site, a new version of your mobile phone software or what ever, it goes through two distinct phases of testing. The initial testing is all done by the people who are working alongside those developing it. They will go backwards and forwards with new versions as many problems, bugs, design issues and so on are ironed out. Once they think it is entirely ready to go live, they then put it out for "Beta" testing, where the end-users (that means people like us) can put the new system through its paces, but only if we want to do so. That way if we discover any issues which eluded the development testing, they can fixed and tested before the existing version is removed. Once enough people have used it without more problems being found, there will hopefully be enough confidence to "release" it - and replace the existing version.
  13. I hear the arguments against a second referendum - that it would damage trust in democracy, that it would create more divisions, that it would lead to civil unrest.... However, I fear that not having a second referendum would have exactly the same consequences - only it is also my fear that they would potentially be worse. I have to say that I have a vested interest in Brexit being quashed. I stand to be liable for an additional €198,000.00 bill for inheritance tax in Spain if Brexit goes through -not to mention my wife's view that she will not want to live in post-Brexit Britain (always assuming that she could actually get permission so to do in the first place). However, the situation we have at the moment is unimaginable, and not without reason public opinion is swinging in favour of abandoning the Brexit project. To go through with it, in whatever form, will alienate, inconvenience and be devastating for so many people. And to do so without having the chance to say "No, now we know more about what will happen, it is plainly a bad idea" is hardly protecting democracy or healing divisions - or even avoiding civil unrest
  14. I have been a frequent user of Airbnb, in France, Spain, the UK and in the US. I have also been an Airbnb host for a flat in London for a while. I think there is a problem of perception of exactly what Airbnb is, and I think Airbnb are at fault for allowing this perception to go uncorrected. When everything works well - or even reasonably well, which has been my experience as a guest - then all is good. However, it is when there are problems and guests expect Airbnb to do something about it that this comes to light. The reality is that expecting Airbnb to resolve an issue with a trip is nor really any different from asking AutoTrader to resolve an issue about a car bought through its website. It is really the responsibility of the host to ensure that the space is fit to be used as described - and as a host, I have experienced guests who make legitimate complaints when the toilet seat breaks, or the internet router fails, or they cannot work out how to use the TV remote, or the cleaners have not prepared the place in the way that I had instructed, such as discarding any unused food which previous guests had left. Not all complaints are legitimate, of course - I had one guest who complained that Elephant & Castle was not as salubrious as Mayfair, and was horrified that I should point out that there was reason why my space at the Elephant cost a quarter of what a similar sized space would cost in Mayfair...! Airbnb is of course quick to take credit for all the successful trips - which are actually down to responsible hosts taking their responsibility to their guests seriously. But the reality of poor experiences is that it is not Airbnb's. As with everything in life there needs to be as much caveat as there is emptor...
  15. Am I missing something? I had a look at it and the processes to make a new booking and amend a current one. The look of the page and the graphics have been updated and indeed look very smart, but I noticed no improvement - or indeed any changes to the site itself. It seems just as laborious an clunky as it did before, just with a more up-to-date look. Or is there something I missed?
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