As I type this, I am six hours ahead of my normal time zone. Nothing exciting happening six hours ahead 😉
We have arrived safely in the UK. Paul, Brian and I are visiting friend ‘bat and Dunc, who live up in Chester, near the border with Wales. I suppose I could post a link to a map to show you where it is, or to a site that has information about the town, but where’s the fun in that? You can figure that part out, right?
Our trip over was relatively smooth. Got to the airport with no problems and the flight left on time. Used to be back in better days that adult beverages were complimentary on international flights. Well all the airlines are in enough trouble where that is no longer true. Made it much more difficult to sleep! Additionally, the food on international flights used to be much better as well. Now that they don’t feed you at all on domestic flights in the US, the food on international flights is garbage. Actually, it was so abyssmal it was difficult to believe they were putting it in front of us. We had to come over on a 767, which is not as comfortable as the newer 777s. The seat doesn’t really recline enough, so we were all a bit tired when we landed at 9 am. Found a Starbucks in Gatwick airport while we waited for our flight to Manchester. We had checked our bags all the way through to Manchester, and we were assured there would be no problems. When we arrived in Gatwick, we went to baggage claim anyway, just to be sure – and our bags didn’t come out. When we checked in to go to Manchester, they double checked our baggage receipts and we thought for sure there would be no problems, but as we were walking towards baggage claim in Manchester, Paul and I heard our names being called over the intercom to go to the baggage help desk, where they informed us our bags had been left behind. We never got a clear answer as to why, but Brian’s bags made it.
When we landed in Manchester, the first thing we saw was one of the Concorde aircraft, which is on display at a little observation area near the runway. Despite it being very windy and cold, we went over to have a closer look at one of these very beautiful aircraft. Bat, of course, had to remind us all that he had flown in one once (on the decadent occasion of Dunc’s 30th birthday).
Bat had managed to have one of his driving friends, Neil, pick us up. It was probably a good thing that our baggage was lost, because it wouldn’t have fit into the car. The motorway had been backed up in the direction of Chester, so we took a series of backroads to go the 30 or so miles to Chester – which was quite a lovely drive.
Bat and Dunc live in a building that was build in 1884 and was once the police station. They have the first flat (there are 3 more above) which also gives them the massive front door, the courtyard, and the basement – which used to be the cells. They are the only friends I have who have their own prison cells in their home.
We ran off to have a bite as we were all starving. We got to know the very sweet Neil a bit more and relaxed a bit since we were no longer in transit for the first time in several hours. Back to the flat to wait on our luggage (and Dunc). Naps were taken and then we went out again for a late dinner at a tapas bar – the food was really excellent. Back to the flat and we chatted for a while and finally collapsed in bed about 3:30 am.
This morning we all got up around 11. Bat (yes, I was shocked, too!) made us a big breakfast, complete with ham and sausage and Mimosas. One should ordinarilly be suspect of meat prepared by a vegetarian, but it was yummy. After we all had showers and coffee, we felt human again and headed off to see what Chester had to offer. I visited once about 2 1/2 yrs ago, so it was nice to just kind of look around without feeling the need to photograph everything. Besides, Brian and Paul were taking plenty of photos, so expect to see some soon. Chester is a bit of a tourist town, the type where Brits go. The draw is that the Romans built walls here around the city some 2000 years ago. Later in the 1400s, new walls were built on the foundations of the original walls. I find it absolutely amazing that the locals here refer to something built that long ago as “new.” As we passed an old house somewhere on the road yesterday, bat pointed at it and said “oh look, that roof is older than your country.”
Tried to do some geocaching, but the GPS isn’t cooperating currently. It can’t find more than 2 satellites and needs at least 3 to triangulate its position. The whole time we were out, it never found them and I began to wonder if it would work here. When we got back, checked the site and learned this is a common problem. The GPS works worldwide, but it “thinks” that it is still in Dallas and is expecting to find certain satellites. It needs to sit stationary somewhere with clear exposure to the whole sky for about 30 minutes. Well, it is now sitting out back in the courtyard trying to find satellites. The courtyard is all walled in and surrounded by buildings, and it is quite cloudy, so I’m not optimistic that it will ever figure out where it is. Oh well, geocaching was not the reason we made the trip, but the others seem eager to go find a cache, and I’d like to have a couple of UK caches found on my “list” so I hope it works.
We are relaxing with warm beverages now before heading off to dinner later, and Brian is downloading photos from his digital camera. Then we have been promised a trip to see what a provincial British gay pub is like, should be interesting. Tomorrow, the three of us are heading off to London and we are staying at a Hilton near Kensington Gardens. Not sure if we will have internet access after tomorrow, so the remainder of the trip may have to be summarized after we return, which is Tuesday afternoon. Monday I am meant to work…I’ll attend a conference in the morning, have lunch at my office at International House, which is directly across the street from the Tower of London, then an afternoon meeting with a broker who has promised to take me over to the Lloyd’s building.