Monday, January 23, 2012

Chaotic Last Day in London!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Up, Up and Away--Not:

Afraid I would miss my wake-up call, I also set my I-Phone alarm; but I needn't have worried. I tossed and turned all night and was up long before 5.00 pm, having kept my bags packed and ready. When I went down to the lobby at 5. 30 am, I found more than half of the group there already. Before long, we were piling into our coach under the watchful eye of a tour escort named Robert, and making our way to Heathrow along quiet, pre-dawn streets.

And then, at Heathrow, pandemonium ensued. Our 10.25 am Continental Airlines flights to New York City had been cancelled "for mechanical reasons" with not so much as an apology from the airline. My students who had connecting flights to Boston from NY were panic-stricken. They airline dispersed our lot of 20 students through three different flights. There were a couple of harried hours during which our fate hung in the balance. I don't want to bore with details, but suffice it to say that we were given vouchers for a meal (with a limit of five pounds--five pounds, I tell you! In which world do the folks on Continental Airlines live--in the 1970s? I mean, what can you possibly get to eat at Heathrow for five pounds!?!?!?!?)

View of Windsor Castle:Anyway, I was placed on a flight that left at 12. 30 pm, i.e. two hours behind scheduled departure. I suppose it could have been worse. Nine students were placed on my flight and after a meal at Pret a Manger, we made a despondent lot as we boarded the flight and left the city. The redeeming factor for me was a nice view of the country as we became airborne with a truly splendid perspective on Windsor Castle for we flew directly above it. It was thrilling to see the Round Tower, St. George's Chapel and the formal gardens from the air all snuggling up to the banks of the Thames--and then, of course, just a few feet away (at least form the air) was Eton College with its beautiful red brick Tudor buildings that I so adore. Soon we were up in the clouds and I settled down to watch a few movies and do some writing on my computer. In fact, I actually finished writing one of my syllabi for the coming spring semester as well as one installment of my blog! Very productive time indeed. As for movies, I saw Contagion with Matt Damon and a really hysterically funny one called The Hangover Part I--so comic I think I shall rent Part II and see that too.

Back in the USA:
My car service was waiting for me at Newark airport in New Jersey when I arrived--Nabeel was keeping vigil over incoming flights and he drove me back to Connecticut, keeping a lively chatter along the way. Alas, I was tired and sleepy and a couple of times actually dozed off and then awoke as I was talking in my sleep. Really embarrassing! By the time I reached Southport, it was 7.00 pm local time. I made one call to let Llew know I had reached home then threw myself on my bed and went right off to sleep.

Highlights of my Travels--January 2012:
So I guess if I were to enumerate some of the best parts of my trip this time, they would be (not necessarily in any order):

1. Meeting my former student Elise after 10 years in her Kensington flat.
2. Laying eyes upon the portrait of the Kirkpatrick Children by George Chinnery at the Asia House in London.
3. The Beatles Tour in Liverpool which was superbly accompanied by a Blue Badge guide named Paul.
4. Dinner with my friend Bande Hassan at the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli in London.
5. Lunch with my friends Loulou and Jack at Ottolenghi's in Islington
6. Seeing Lenny Henry in Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors at the National Theater.
7. Seeing Robert Lindsey and Joanna Lumley in The Lion in Winter at the Theater Royal Haymarket.
8. Visiting Westminster Abbey as a tourist after about 25 years.
9. Incredible home-cooked dinner at the home of my former neighbors Tim and Barbara and a chance to see friends Elizabeth and Andrew.
10. Buying my darling sterling silver teaset from the Silver Vaults.

Until I am in London next...thanks very much for following me on my travels. I hope you have had as much fun as I have had writing my accounts of my trip. Au Revoir!

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