Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

9
Jan

Pounds to Dollars

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

the-final-purchase_23572682454_o

 

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Twenty.

The hardest day of all is the day you zip shut the suitcase for the last time.

We headed out very early (we were on a bus for the airport at 7:30 a.m.) and got to Heathrow with plenty of time to get checked in and through security before our gate was even announced.   We hugged Roxy farewell (Mandi’s flight was later, so she took a separate, later bus) and sat down to our last English breakfast.  We had managed our cash usage pretty carefully, so we’d be out of British currency just before we left. But, with “ones” being coins, it is almost inevitable that you end up with pockets full of jingly coins after very few transactions. So, we solved that problem by paying for breakfast with coins!  I’m not sure if the restaurant folks loved us or hated us!

By the time we finished eating we knew what gate to head to, and by the time we traversed hallways, and people movers, and escalators and elevators and a tram, our flight was boarding when we arrived.  The giant maze of jetbridges was amusing, and of course, the seats were small and storage was at a premium, but we were on board and headed home.

At that point, I have no defense mechanism against the sad, except to focus solely on the good things on the other end of the flight:  good friends many of whom are chosen family, the cat and the dog, and high on the list–our incredibly comfortable mattress!  I had already cried during the drive south from Scotland, and leaving London isn’t quite as hard, but still … Texas is never our favorite destination.

Luggage CarouselWe watched a couple of movies on the flight, had a couple of mediocre meals, read a bit–all those things you do to attempt to make the miserable time pass.  I am most decidedly NOT a British Airways fan. All in all it was, at least, an uneventful flight (just the way you want them to be) and our pass through customs and border security was, as well. The biggest hitch was a sizeable delay in luggage showing up at the carousel, but our dear Scott waited patiently for us, and delivered us straight to our favorite Tex Mex restaurant!

A couple of margaritas and some enchiladas and suddenly Texas is a whole lot more palatable. So, here we are … back in the Lone Star State. Bring on 2016!

~MB

 

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22
Dec

Happy Yule!

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Tuesday, 22 December 2015. Yule.

Arbor Low 10

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Six.

Our day started very early with an alarm set for 6:15 a.m. The plan was to be in the car on the way to Arbor Low by 7 o’clock. We wanted to have an hour or so so enjoy the site before the 8:19 a.m. sunrise, and there were ten or so winding miles between the Charles Cotton Hotel and the farmland containing the stone circle.

We all did great at getting up and out…and the drive was easy and traffic-free. So, we got there early enough to sit and relax for a few minutes before we started to see light in the sky and MaritaBeth got antsy.  About an hour in advance, we bundled up in our furriest, warmest hats and layered jackets and scarf and gloves and began the muddy trek up to the site itself.  We paid our 1£ near the farmhouse and turned on our pocket torches (flashlights). Today’s specific challenge also included extremely strong winds and a light rain. The next few minutes consisted of avoiding puddles and poo as we passed between cattle barn and hay storage, passing through a gate, and then trying desperately to remember which direction to walk uphill.  It’s amazing how much one forgets in three years’ time. We finally figured it out, crossed another fence line and climbed the berm that surrounds the ancient circle. The moment of cresting that hill and catching the first glimpse of the circle itself, never ceases to cause my breath to catch and my soul to fill.

There are no words to adequately describe the next hour.  We each took our own path, sometimes coming together as duos or trios, once or twice as the foursome we were.  But, most of our time there was solitary.  Just one small person and the wind, connecting with the earth, the stones, the history, the mystery.  The entire time we were there, we shared the site with no more than twelve other people.  The wind and rain must have kept many people away, but even so, there were offerings of flowers and symbols and candles left upon the most central of the stones.

Now, as might be expected from mention of wind and rain … there were clouds.  Nothing but clouds, really, and the sunrise itself … the actual fiery ball in the sky … never showed his face.  We watched the sky brighten, certainly, but, there was really no prayer of actually seeing the sun. The sun rises each morn, whether we can see it or not, though.  So, we were undaunted. I read aloud the Susan Cooper passage that I shared on Facebook last night, and my chosen family members all embraced in a group hug. And we stood there soaking up the magic.

We arrived back at the Charles Cotton just in time to get breakfast before it was too late.  Then, the Cheese Shop and post office, and on the road again! The first destination was the little town of Castleton which we’d only just learned about from some fellow travelers in the breakfast room at the Giffard House Hotel. It seems that there is a semi-precious stone, completely unique to this one area of England, called “Blue John” and it is mined in Castleton.  We were planning to tour one of the caves from which it is mined, but the weather didn’t quite cooperate.  What we did do was to purchase some beautiful little rocks (that we’re hoping Miss Allyson can make into pretty jewelry for us), have lunch in a great little pub called The Bull’s Head (which came highly recommended), and stop to take photos in a perfectly beautiful church cemetary in the neighboring town of Hope.

The rest of the day’s drive was done mostly after dark … it was the shortest day, after all … and despite some frustrating one way roads the GPS didn’t foresee, we arrived at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub in Nottingham, ready to carry on with Solstice celebrating. We then secured a place to stay (we’re at the St. James Hotel) and began the honorable job of visiting the pubs on the list we were given by our fireman friends the night before. We managed to mark three off the list of who knows how many, and came back to the St. James for a nightcap.

The last of the other three has just gone to bed, leaving me to finish my last few paragraphs.  Tomorrow, we finally face a day with no deadlines and the plan is to sleep until we wake!  Woo hoo!

Happy Solstice, my friends.  Happy Yule!

~MB

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17
Dec

Good Times in London

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Kyle at The Globe pub - Day One

Kyle and the Babes 2015.  Day One.

Day One is done! In what seems like the longest day ever (but was actually two days), we left Texas, came to the United Kingdom and spent a wonderful evening walking around the Marylebone area of London.

The time change and a long layover can really mess with your sense of time.  It seriously feels like we just left home this morning and it’s been a really long day, but the calendar is doing its best to dissuade me of that idea. On Wednesday morning we boarded an airplane at DFW, and took the short hop to Houston International where we had a multiple-hour layover in one of the most boring airports I’ve ever experienced.  Seriously, we had only one restaurant to choose from (a mediocre burger joint) and only two bars.  I believe there was a Starbucks for the non-alcohol-drinking set, and I specifically noticed a Hershey “store” that seemed to have bags of Reece’s Piecs as it’s only offering. The most elegant beer available to us anywhere was Goose Island IPA. We had to hunt pretty hard for electrical outlets and Flight Notification boards.  The facility felt new and modern, and there were signs indicating other things are coming, but right now it sure needs a lot of work.

We flew British Airways from Houston to London–an eight-hour exercise in discomfort.  I know, I know!  We’re spoiled by our years of flight benefits with American Airlines and our good fortune to fly first class so often.  After this trip I understand better why people who can, spend the big bucks to do that.  But, all the leg cramping and neck stiffening in the world cannot squelch our excitement about this trip!

We landed at Heathrow right around noon, and had a very simple customs and baggage claim experience.  From there, we caught a bus to our hotel nearby, settled in a little bit, and took the crucial nap that cures the jet lag.  About two hours later, even before the alarm we’d set went off, we were awake with enthusiasm and prepared for our London date night.  We caught a free city bus the short distance back to the airport where we bought Oyster passes for the Underground and boarded the tube on the Picadilly Line. And, I’m pretty sure it was the party-bound train, judging by the number of Santa hats and ugly sweaters that boarded it!  About forty-five minutes, one line change, and two stops later, we were walking up Baker Street toward our destination.  We had hoped for some pub grub for dinner, but it being Christmas Party week, every pub we encountered was full to overflowing, many with private parties. So, we opted for a healthy meal at a Pret a Manger instead.  The weather is beautiful — cool but not cold; a little bit misty — and there are of course, holiday lights everywhere. We even happened on a game store and gave it a pretty good looking over!  Our wonderful walk led us at last to the spot where we had a reservation at half past eight o’clock.  We were a tad early, so we grabbed a pint in the pub just across the street until it was time for us to take our booked table at Purl London.  This amazing little cocktail bar is a place we’d been wanting to visit since our last trip, I think!  On their wonderful menu it says: “The aim of the bar was to bring classic cocktails back to the forefront of London’s drinking scene, whilst adding new flare and creativity to forgotten libations from the prohibition era.”  Does that sound like our kind of place, or what?! Kyle had tried to contact them about reservations to no avail, and just the day before we left home, Terrill (who has also been there and loved it) heard us talking about it, got online, and made the booking on the spot for us! We are grateful for his magic, for we watched other folks with no prior booking be turned away. It’s a hot little spot!

We drank drink with names like Mr. Hyde, Il Ferroviario, Loggerhead N2, and Rock ‘N’ Cream (which, incidentally, was a concoction involving a white tequila infused with clay, Suze & Amaro Averna and their in-house-made tonic water, and was served with my own small vial of juniper scented handcream!) Another drink we saw served came with a ginger-filled balloon which was popped by flame at the time of serving to add flair.  Each and every beautiful cocktail came with a story– a theatrical presentation, if you will–and everything we tasted was unique and delightful.

Two on the Tube

 

One more pub stop on the way back to the Baker Street station, a ride on a much more empty train that it had been earlier in the festive evening, and a short bus ride and we were once again at our hotel.  As I sit here writing my first Daily Krumb post in way too long, I am practically vibrating with excitement about the coming days, despite the extreme lack of sleep.  It’s gonna be epic!

~MB

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