Terrible! And to think, the UK is America’s “cousin”. I get it, I really do. There are so many people around the world trying to get into either the UK, Canada or the US, seeming innocent, and then disappearing into the landscape as illegals.
I lived five years in mainland China. Even though Hong Kong was handed over to China in the late 90s, it’s still where a person can go to renew their visa stamp for China — strange I know. I can’t recall how many trips I made “over the border” to…China? to renew my visa.
About the seventh or eighth time, I got stopped attempting to come back in. Even though my passport was FULL of China stamps, this nimrod held me up because the edge of my page where my photo is was a bit puckered; this was before they issued the new digital ones. So I sat, and sat, and sat. After a few hours, I went before the desk an started yelling for someone to come over. A different man approached, seemingly oblivious to who I was. I spent the next several minutes explaining to him what had happened. He disappeared for about 30 minutes, came back and asked me more questions. By now I had been there in limbo for about three hours. I decided to look through my wallet for specific cards I was sure I had to show them. Fortunately for me, I had followed the advice of the American Consulate General in Guangzou (Canton), where I lived. He told me to always keep his card on my person in case I had any trouble. After I handed that over, the guy looked at it carefully (the opposite side is in Chinese), he left abruptly. Within five minutes the FIRST GUY showed up (I think he went to dinner and didn’t tell ANYONE about me, prick) with my passport, and said “You may enter, thank you for being patient, although you should get a new passport so you don’t get stopped again”.
Your story is very typical I have to say. I had a real working visa for China, but many people I knew did not. Everyone who was working illegally simply said (and they were from various countries mind you) “Just tell them you’re on holiday mate!”. I knew of at least six individuals — two Americans, one Brit, three Canadians — who lived in country for several years with no legitimate visa to work.
I think you should give the UK another try; don’t miss out on seeing your husband’s family’s homeland (my last name is Scottish, and I would love to go!). If not, at least you mentioned you had traveled to other places in Europe, so you can still do that.