Saturday, June 27, 2015

England Vacation - Journal - Part 1 - Outward Journey

Thank you all so very much for leaving my father-in-law all those kind and cheerful messages.  They meant more than I will ever be able to put into words.   

Now onto my holiday journal.  

May 30th, 2015

This is an exciting day as this afternoon we leave for England to meet up with my niece and her husband.   They will pick us up at the train station near my home town in South Devon.  Son will be picking us up this afternoon at around 3 o'clock.  Our plane should be taking off at 5.30 p.m.  

It is 2.10 p.m. and we have just left the house.  We are on our way.  The ride to the airport went smoothly.  We said goodbye to our son and told him we would be sending lots of photos.

A short while later in the waiting area before boarding our plane, we talked to a lovely young man from London.  He had just finished a semester at a university in Wyoming.  The three of us talked for an hour or more about his experiences.  He had had a great time making lots of friends from all over the world.  We enjoyed listening to him.  His mother was waiting for him in London and he was eager to see her, a delightful young man.

5.51 p.m. and we are on the plane.  We went through security quite quickly.  We had an hour-and-a-half wait and once on board saw that the plane was 100 percent full.  

6.35 p.m.  We have been on the plane for a while and the pilot just told us we were returning to the gate because they were having mechanical difficulties with one of the engines.  Not sure what this means.  Hope we are not too late but certainly safety comes first.  We occupy ourselves by reading.  Look what I brought along Cloudia.  I hadn't read it in a while and I wanted to take another look.

7.10 p.m. and still at the gate waiting for the maintenance crew to fix the problem.  They can't turn on the air-conditioning.  It is becoming very humid.  The flight attendants are bringing water around.

7.37 p.m. they tested the engine and it appears to be okay.  They are closing the doors and waiting for the okay papers from the maintenance department.   Well, that's good!

7.39 p.m. the captain says it is a go.  Now if only they can hurry up with those papers.

7.41 p.m. we are backing out of the gate.

We are leaving the ground, forgot to take a note of the time.

9.45 p.m. we have 4 hours and 40 minutes to our destination.

These seats are great.  Gregg got Row 30, over the wing and near the bathroom but there are only two of them so we don't have to worry about sitting next to anyone, and won't be climbing over if anyone falls asleep.  Plenty of leg room in front also and you don't feel like a sardine in a can.  It's a bigger plane - the 777-200, yes with only two engines but nice to know they are both working well!!!    This is a very comfortable flight and there is no moaning from me about the tight squeeze, there was none.

At 12.39 a.m. we have 1 hour and 45 minutes before we got to our destination.

Almost there!  I took several photos as we flew over London.  I can just make out the London Eyethe Shard and the Gherkin.  That is the Thames River of course.

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

10.13 p.m. and what a lovely day it has been.  We touched down in Heathrow at about 7.30 a.m. UK time, 12.30 p.m. American.  I did not sleep the whole flight but it seemed to go quickly. 

Horrendously long walk through Heathrow to get to the customs area.  Horrendously long time to get to see a custom's officer, but for the amount of people that go through that place (there must have been well over a thousand people in line) they did very well and were very polite when it was our turn.  

Horrendously long walk to get to the Paddington Express.  We waited at Paddington for about an hour-and-a-half for our train to Devon.   

The operative word here is "horrendously".  By this time we have been awake for 24 hours and feeling it, but happy I might add.

We got on the train and the journey took three-and-a-half hours.  There was a group of young adults heading to a wedding, as far as I could make out.  They were all excited and giggly and sitting right in front of us.  I was painfully tired but could not begrudge these young people their fun, and they were a very nice group, just very talkative, giggly and loud, and happily off to a wedding which I heard all about.

Once the train track reaches the coastline this is when I know I am nearing home, and that little shot of adrenalin hits me.  It is a wonderful feeling.  I love that part of the journey where all of a sudden you can see the water.  It is hard not to reflect on all the times I made this journey, so many times over the years, with this exact same feeling.  I would soon be home with my family.  

And there they were.  They had reached the end of their journey a few hours earlier, having driven all the way from Germany.  Our niece and her husband met us at the train station and it was a great reunion.  We were so tired we forgot to take photos!  It has been 19 months since the last time we saw them but as always happens with those you love, it was like no time had passed, and it is so much easier to keep in touch these days isn't it, what with Skype, Facetime, texting and all?  

They took us to the cottage they had rented and we were delighted.  It had it's own private little garden behind a big gate, a lovely old place with so many neat features.....

a walk-in fireplace was one of them.  A small wood stove occupied this space.   I loved the look of the front door.  

We talked and talked and talked.  In the evening we went to the local pub and had a delicious meal.  

Here are my lovelies.  That first night was very, very special.

It was a perfect evening, one of many.

When we got back to the cottage we were all ready for bed and oh boy, did we all sleep well.  I took this photo of our bedroom the next morning.

More to come.