After going through immigration COMPLETE chaos ensued! First, the car we thought we had reserved at the airport was actually in London about 40 minutes away. We looked a sight with 5 kids and about 25 bags and no way to get anywhere. Honestly, I wanted to cry and jump back on the next flight home. We looked like pigs on roller skates trying to maneuver 3 "trolleys" full of luggage down these ramps and keep track of all the kids. Rather quickly we found a car to rent that would fit all of us but not with our bags. We had to get an additional small car and then we were off to Portsmouth to catch the ferry.
Mark and I were completely exhausted and now were trying to drive on the left side of the road. It was scary but hilarious. Even crossing the street on foot is a challenge because you keep looking the wrong way for the traffic. We got to Portsmouth with no problem and got to the ferry but it was SO expensive to cross with 2 cars we decided to spend the night and consider our options in the morning. Found a cheap, decent hotel then slept and slept and slept.
Next day worked things out and booked online to save money for the ferry. We were feeling much better after a good sleep. Once we crossed to the island we felt we were making progress. We headed to the rental office to immediately begin looking for a house to rent. Next we headed to a recommended inn to spend a night or two. It was a beautiful drive around the island to get there. When we arrived they had no room for us but let us use their phone and phone book to find something. There was NOTHING available. I was just about to panic when the manager took pity on me and offered to try to squeeze us in. We spent the night in one double and 2 single beds with kids hanging from our heads and some on the floor.
The next morning Mark and Sam had to ferry back to return the small car. I had no phone service so we couldn't call each other. He left about 5 am and we arranged to find each other in the town of Newport at the tourist center. I said 2 rosaries over the next few hours. I was so nervous to separate with no way to contact each other. It all worked out and we met up as planned. I was never happier to see Mark and hug him.
We had no idea we were arriving just in time for a big festival and most places were completely booked. I guess it would be a bit like arriving in New Orleans around Mardi Gras. After many failed attempts- I was beginning to feel like Mary and Joseph with "no room in the inn"- we happened upon a nice bed and breakfast with the kindest people in all of England. They have treated us like family. We have a full English breakfast every morning which means, fried egg, toast, sausage and ham with beans and tomato. These people put beans with everything!
The house hunt has been quite frustrating so please keep us in your prayers. Mark will be gone for two days to London and I will be without a computer. No posts until Wednesday... Miss home but I am enjoying getting to know the culture and people. Everyone we have encountered so far has been helpful and friendly. I wasn't expecting them to be so warm. I think we Americans think of the Brits as rather cold and stand-offish.
GO TIGERS AND SAINTS! It was tough to spend Saturday and Sunday with no football. :-(