Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Long Road Home

Sunday we woke up in Bournemouth to a chilly day. Uncle Ian got us fixed up with some breakfast & tea. The family was having their regular Sunday, Great-Nan was getting picked up from the home and they'd have a nice dinner at Nan's house. We were going to have to leave early, but we did get to see Great-Nan. This time I learned that she sent the kids to Scotland during World War II. Also, she'd take Marc to the school yard, "And he'd run round & round."

We, Marc, Jordan & I, got on the road heading back to North London. The drive was pretty quick. We listened to Jordie's CD's. Duffy was one and the other was the girl that sings, "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot & Cold". Good stuff.

Back in North London, we dropped our bags & little brother and got back on the road heading to Marc's father's for a traditional English dinner. Mr. Cohen wanted one last visit with his son. We did had a wonderful meal of Lamb, roast potatoes and veg. After dinner we had traditional Christmas Pudding which was fantastic. When I got home, I had to go look up a recipe. It sounds like I'll need to make them in October and then tend & soak it until Christmas. Should be fun! That and I'm going to need a steamer - I have to steam the pudding.

Dinner was great. We did some post dinner Wii Fit and then headed back to North London. By then we were exhausted and both had a bit of work to do. Thankfully there was ample tea and shortbread cookies.

Monday we were back about London. We did a social and retail whirl. We were going to see Westminster Abby, but when we got there, we found it was nearly $15 to get in. I was so horrified that I refused. This is the Church a very well funded organization. There have been taxes levied on the citizens of England for centuries to support it, to fund the building of their churches and now the see fit to charge visitors entry. Vile.

So we went into St. Martin in the Field. Which was a nice church, very clean & plain. I did feel compelled to step into at least one church while in Europe. Almost every trip to Europe involves a church - one that I had studied and had not yet seen.

After our brief bit of holiness, we were across the street to the National Portrait Gallery. There we caught the Annie Leibovitz exhibit that I had missed when it was here in San Francisco. I really enjoyed it. However, some photos were a bit blah. I didn't care for her family photos - they could have been snapshots of any family.

Also showing was an exhibit of prize winning portraits from through England - a fitting viewing before the onslaught of kings, queens, princes, princesses and countless nobles who hang on the walls above. What stood out - portraits of Queen Elizabeth, and a painting by Boldini of Lady Colin Campbell, Gertrude Elizabeth Blood.

Next was the National Gallery - and I should note, that going into the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery was free. Seeing St. Paul's is not. Disgusting!
But we did a run through early Modern art - about 6 or 7 rooms - the Gallery is SO very rich and we had only limited amount of stamina, having already viewed the Portrait Gallery. We were hungry and found a nice Lebanese restaurant for a light snack, seeing as how we had a monster dinner that night, we opted to be moderate. We did visit Pinks and I got a shirt for Marc, he bought several others.

We made our way home on the tube and got picked up by Marc's Mother. We dropped his mother and then headed to Tesco for a shopping spree of goodies one cannot get in America - like special Cheddar and chunky Kit Kats. Got to the house, grabbed Jordan & Mum and then set off to the restaurant where were ate a Chinese feast fit for twice the number of guests. Once home we started packing and paused about 1 AM.

Tuesday we were up about 4:30 AM, scrambling with the packing and trying to fit everything into our cases - which was a challenge. We did get the spice rack home, gifts and books and cheese and so much. Ron had generously agreed to take us to the airport. It was a 45 minute drive in sub freezing weather. Thank you Ron!!

Heathrow was much easier to manage. We were stuck with middle seats, as we wanted to sit together and we're able to get an isolated pair on the window side. But our flight was delayed and we got books in the book store - like we need more reading material. I got a book about the year 1000 in England. It was broken up into Calendar sections and I really enjoyed it, got to November before we landed. Traveling with Marc is unbelievably easy and fun. Never is there tension; he knows how to navigate airports (better than me!) and is just pleasant the entire time.

We watched "Forgetting Sarah Marshal" together on the way home along with "Ghost Town" and some other things. I got a few hours of sleep. We both ate too much food. Premium Economy is the way to go - seats that aren't distractingly cramped, decent food and TV/entertainment for the entire flight.

We got home, got into the car, drove to the City House to get a few things, went on to Dad's to get Tsunami and then headed out to the Country House. I think we ate a burger for dinner... so strange to wake up in England and dine at local joint at the other end. But collapsing into the big, soft king bed with my own pillows as best.

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