On Friday friends Des & Steve along with their friends Brett & Mary Kay were in London for one night on their way through to Croatia so we decided to go in to town to meet up with them. I found out where we could park near a tube station for the cheapest way to get there. We drove to Richmond, found the car park (that's parking lot in American English), and took our credit card over to the pay machine. That's where the trouble started. The machine rejected our credit card so we stepped back to dig out some cash and let another customer use the machine. He pulled a paper stub out of the machine and asked if it was ours. We took it and thought, well, maybe our credit card did work. Then we saw that no, it showed the last 4 digits and it wasn't our card but hey, it was only a few minutes prior to when we got there so we thought someone else had paid and then left their stub in the machine. Happy days for us right? Free parking! We put the stub on the dashboard and skipped off to the tube station. There we were confronted with another payment machine. We put our card in and were just getting ready to push the buttons to get 2 travelcards but before we did the machine spits out 2 tickets. Well, we couldn't figure out how it knew we wanted 2 but off we went. Robin sailed through the automated gate but I would put my ticket in the slot and then slam up against the non-opening gate. I showed my ticket to an attendant who informed me it was only a receipt. Doh! Okay, back to the machine to get another travelcard. By the time we got into central London my brain had started asking "was it possible that our "free parking" ticket back in Richmond was only a receipt???" Not only possible but it actually was only a receipt as confirmed by the 60 pound "penalty charge notice" on the car when Robin returned several hours later. Ouch! Okay, if we pay it within 14 days it is "only" 30 pounds (still over $60!). Needless to say I am appealing using the "we are stupid American tourists" defence. Keep your fingers crossed - this could be the difference between good english ale in the pub vs yucky tasting tap water at home for the next month!