Wednesday, December 31, 2008

London Adventure End of 2008

Hey there everybody! Well, Brit Boy and I made it safely to and from London yesterday. This time there was no nail-biting coach trip…lol. We took the train this time. I love making the journey on the train. You get to see the countryside on the way, with all of the little houses that are hidden if you drive in on the highway. And also the train takes half the time so it is my favorite.

We headed out early. We got up at about 5:30am so that we would have time to get dressed, scrape the ice off the car, and get to the train station which is a few miles away. According to Brit Boy the train used to stop here in our little neck of the woods, but they by-pass us now. So we have to drive into town to catch the train. But it’s not too far :-) Anyway, we have been having some really wintery weather the last few days and yesterday was the coldest by far. So we scraped the car and headed for town in the dark. We were catching the 7:40ish train to give us enough time.

We got to town, parked the car and then walked around to the train station. We had pre-booked tickets, which cuts the price considerably. We sat in the waiting room for a few minutes with the other passengers and then our train arrived soon after. We whisked off to London as the morning light slowly grew. It was beautiful to see everything quiet and peaceful as we sped towards London in those early hours.

Our trip to London was so that I could drop by the US Embassy. I went so that I could get some advice about tax filing and stuff like that. It can all get a bit complicated, let me tell you :-) But they answered my questions and I was able to pick up some handy pamphlets before I left, so I’m all information-ed up ;-) This was my first visit to the embassy, so it was one of those things that I figure will go in my catalogue of life experiences. We figured that a visit on a semi-off week would be the best time to visit and we were right. I got in and out in less than forty minutes. I’m sure that it is a lot more hectic during non-holiday weeks, so I was so grateful that I didn’t have to stand in line and could ask loads of questions without holding up a line or anything. It was great. They were kind and very helpful to me. There were maybe eight other people there at the time and we all got our own person to speak with.

It was a very unintimidating experience and it just felt like any other government office here or back home…I’ve been to both and it is the great unifier that they are so alike :-) I had to go in alone, since only the person seeking assistance comes in, which we found out ahead of time. I didn’t have any nerves about going in on my own. I just wanted to get it over with so that we could go do other stuff. I’ve had to deal with so much stuff like this in the last few years that now it’s nearly normal to me to do my grand tour of the government buildings on both sides of the pond :-) So Brit Boy went to have coffee and hang out while I was inside the embassy.

Here’s where our comedy life comes in…there’s always a sequence like this in our lives. LOL. I wasn’t allowed to take in any electronic devices so I didn’t have my cell phone which made it hard to contact Brit Boy and tell him to come meet me on my walk back. So we decided to synchronize our watches and check back at our meeting spot every half hour. Our spot was between two telephone boxes, one black and one the customary red, on Park Lane which runs alongside Hyde Park.

So Brit Boy walked me to the embassy and then I went in and got all sorted out. When I came back out, I glanced at my watch, and I realized that it was about seven minutes until ten. So I trotted along down the sidewalk trying to get back to our meeting spot by ten. I thought, how good that would be to make our rendezvous the first time and not have to wait a whole other half hour. Let’s just say, I had a nice morning run and the air was like ice as I ran that two or three blocks with my purse bouncing. LOL. I made it back to Park Lane and kept up my little morning run. My cheeks felt like they had ice as their new skin. LOL. As I got about half way down the street I saw Brit Boy in the distance. I was too far away to yell and the traffic was so noisy he wouldn’t have heard me. Then he turned and headed back the other way. I thought, “Noooo!!!” LOL. So by the time I made it to the corner he was already down the block and headed across the street at a quick pace. It was a cold day so everyone was hustling along. Then he disappeared in the crowd. By this time I gave up my run and thought, ‘I’ll catch him on the next time around.’ And I just laughed to myself. It was like a movie or something :-)

So I headed to get a cup of coffee and to take a trip to the ladies’ room. It was so nice to thaw out my cheeks. And the warm latte went down my throat like a river of warm life replenishing me. Heaven :-) I sat at the window and looked out. I felt good at that moment. The chill had left my cheeks and I was rejoicing because I didn’t get out of breath really during the whole run and I don’t exercise nearly enough. So I figured that hey, that was pretty good. Also I felt good because since I’ve been living here, I don’t feel as independent because I’m learning my way here. But yesterday was the first time in a long time where I felt, ‘hey you’ve got this Dori’. It’s very easy to become very dependent on your spouse when you are the one away from what you know. London is a huge city and it can be kind of daunting to someone who was new to it like me. But we’ve been many times now and I’m to the point where if I ever got dropped there while blindfolded and then released, I could find my way around the city pretty much and get myself back home all the way out here to Wiltshire. So this was a turning point for me in my mind. This was when I realized that the independent person that I always was is still in there :-) What a great thing to realize as we head into a new year. Full steam ahead! :-)

I finished slurping down my coffee and then headed back to our meeting spot. Then in a few minutes, there he was :-) And I thought to myself, he came back and found me as I found myself again.

We headed off to the rest of our day. We went to have a bite to eat and went to the National Gallery. Before we went in though, we stood and watched some high school marching bands that were playing outside the museum. There were several taking turns playing. They were dressed up in their full uniforms and it brought back such fond memories for me. I was a marching band girl back in the 80s :-) They did a great job. I don’t know what was going on, but how cool is that to be a high school student who gets to go abroad and play.

Later we headed to Leicester Square and walked around. Then we ate again since we had walked the other food off hours earlier. We went to this place that specializes in fish dishes. It was really good. We both had crab cakes. It was so nice to get in from the cold.

We walked around and popped into places here and there and then headed to the tube station so that we could head to Paddington Station to catch our train home. Well, I got tested on my newfound comfort with the city. Brit Boy and I made it to the platform just as the train was about to head away and usually we jump on…no problem. Well, it was another one of our comedy moments. I was right with him, but all of a sudden a space came out of nowhere and he had hopped on and the door of the train closed :-) It was weird. So he mouthed, “I’ll wait for you”. And his little tube train sped away. I just shook my head and laughed. What an eventful day. So I hopped the next train and met him a couple of stations away. Thankfully the trains are close together.

It was cool. It just all seemed rather cinematic…two people…separated by the sliding doors of the tube…will they meet again in time….LOL. Classic Dori and Brit Boy! We reunited and headed to Paddington and waited for our train home to come. It was FREEZING!!!

Yesterday was a cold day and the night was even colder, but we huddled up with a warm drink and people watched. I love people watching at Paddington. A perfect winter evening.

When we got back to our car. It was frozen over with a thick layer of ice and it was only about 7:30pm. We scraped the ice off the outside and then scraped it from the inside of the window and it refroze. Now that’s cold!!! LOL. Then the defrost kicked in and we headed home…happy to see our little house and to know that there was a warm drink and a snack inside. It was an eventful and fun winter’s day and a great way to end the year! Happy New Year everyone! Many blessings to you all!!! :-)

20 comments:

Elizabeth Harper said...

What a great last post for 2008!

I loved the part about catching separate trains without wigging out. Nice job all around. It sounds like a great day.

I'm so glad you're doing all of this first. It's great having a friend who can act as a ready reference for tips on these transitions we go through for love.

Happy New Year to you and Brit Boy.

Mike Golch said...

Dori,great post.I hope that you and Brit Boy have a Happy New Year!

tahtimbo said...

That was a really fun read. Sounded a little like Sleepless in Seattle a few times:) I've only been to London once (stayed 3 days), but I do remember my friend and I getting lost. We hopped a bus a rode it to where we thought the transfer station was, but it ended up being the bus barn. The driver got off the bus and just left us there! So, we had to make our way from the bowels of London and try to find our little Bed and Breakfast. To make a long story short, we found the place at about 5:00AM the next morning. Yes, we spent the entire night on the London Streets. Here's hoping that you and Brit Boy Have a Happy New Year!!

A Valdese Blogger said...

I've never been in an American embassy. I went to the American Consulate in Munich on a passport issue once, so maybe that counts. I remember it wasnt so bad. Have a happy new year!

Alison said...

Your post made me feel homesick! Did they have the funfair at Leicester Square? I've done the train thing too, lol. I always make a pact when going somewhere like that, what to do in case of losing one of the group!

Cricket/Tammy said...

Sounds like a wonderful day! What a way to end the 2008 year end post.

Happy New Year to you!

Martin in Bulgaria said...

You have ended the year in a flourish, great post. Wishing you a Happy New Year now it's here.

Jacqueline said...

Hey Dori,
It sure would be nice to be able to curl up and read one of your books about your experiences in England. Hopefully, that's in the future.

I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Thank you for all of your encouragement. Happy New Year to you and Brit Boy! :-)

The Fitness Diva said...

Just dropping by to wish you and yours a Happy New Year!

Health and success to you in 2009!
Fitness Diva

Ivanhoe said...

What a trip :o) Some passages were totally like from a movie. It sounded like you're relieved being treated well at the embassy. You are u.s. citizen on u.s. soil. I would not expect anything less ;o) Me, on the other hand, before I became u.s. citizen... It's a long story about how non-citizens are treated in u.s. government offices.
Anyhow... Have a wonderful New Year, my friend :o)

Jodi said...

Dori, I hope you have a wonderful and blessed New Year!

Jodi

Dori said...

Elizabeth,
Yeah, with the train it was weird. I don't know how that happened, but it worked out and like I wrote, I figure it was a test :) And hey, I'm here to help however I can. I still stumble a bit, but it is getting to where I can handle things better :) So I'm ready to be the ready reference lady. LOL. Happy New Year to you too :)

Mike,
Glad you enjoyed my story. I wish you a very Happy New Year too :)

Tahtimbo,
Glad you enjoyed my story too. It was an eventful day ;-) It did get kind of movie-esque a few times. I'll have to take your word for it though, I'm probably one of the few people in the world who never saw Sleepless in Seattle...LOL. Your getting lost in London story is interesting too. Wow. I'm glad you finally got back to your B&B okay. Happy New Year! :)

Valdese Blogger,
Yeah, I think your Consulate trip counts :) The embassy was kinda quiet since it was during the holiday lull, so maybe that made it okay. It didn't look like I thought it would inside though :) You have a Happy New Year too.

Alison,
Yeah, they did have the funfair. The train thing was weird though, like a ghost or something got in the way. LOL. Happy New Year to you! :)

Tammy,
Yeah it was a cold, but interesting day :) Happy New Year to you and your family!

Martin,
Yep, the year ended interestingly. Happy New Year to you too! :)

Jacqueline,
It's funny you should say that...I've been thinking lately of doing that, so I'll definitely let you know :-) Thanks for the vote of confidence. Happy New Year to you too my friend! All the best for 2009! :)

Fitness Diva,
Happy New Year to you too! I wish you all the very best for 2009 :)

Ivanhoe,
Yeah, it was wild :-) I tell you, I was a bit relieved, even though I wasn't really nervous about going to the embassy. I guess that I have just developed this shield in anticipation of being treated weird since I have been going through the expat hoops. So I haven't let my guard down in that respect in a long time :) I think when you are outside of your homeland or comfort zone, it's a challenge no matter who you are. So we have solidarity there my friend :) I have some stories too ;-) I'm sorry that you have had such a tough time. Anyway, I just hope you have a great Happy New Year and that 2009 is wonderful for you :-)

Jodi,
Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful and blessed New Year too! :)

Mountain Woman said...

Happy New Year to you! It's wonderful to see how you are gaining confidence navigating a large, confusing city. I loved the story of the doors shutting and Brit Boy being carried away.
I can't even begin to imagine how complicated taxes must be if you are living abroad.
I loved the story of your day.

Dori said...

Mountain Woman,
Happy New Year! Yep, the sliding doors closing was a hoot. It was a wild day, but fun :) Those taxes are something else. I'm glad you enjoyed my story of the day.

Sarah said...

It would be so interesting to read your stories of your life abroad in a book. I feel I have so many to tell just from my short (but incredibly meaningful time) in Europe & some other travels. So I can only imagine how many you have to tell from living there. I look forward to the day when we can sit down together & share stories too. :)

Dori said...

Sarah,
Yeah, I keep a journal or sometimes just write down little things so I won't forget them in hopes that one day I can write about this experience in a book. It's great to know that someone is interested in it :) It will be a pleasure to swap stories one day! :)

Sarah said...

That is great you keep a journal to remember these things. I look forward to sharing stories one day. :) I keep a journal too as time allows, with school.It will hopefully provide the basis for the horse racing book I have been sporadically writing. I plan on an Ireland chapter since it is about how horses and racing have intertwined with my life.

Dori said...

Sarah,

I know you're gonna write a great book :)

Sarah said...

I know you will too. :)

Dori said...

Sarah,
Thanks! :)