Janet and David's 2012 England Trip Log
Just got this started, there are a few details left out on the first day or two, but I'll get it caught up and corrected as soon as I get a little more sleep! Pictures (at least for now) will have to be seen on Janet's Facebook posts.
- Day Zero: Left Lubbock, Tx at 1:15 pm, arrived in Houston barely in time to rush to the gate for the flight to London, get on the plane with no food, no powder room break and wait on the plane for an extra hour and a half for them to fix what they found was broke at the last minute. This put all our tentative plans for catching the train out of London to Bury St. Edmund's out of sync. No problem right, Ha Ha Ha, read on!
- Day One (first half): After spending the night in the plane (watched three movies, didn't even try to sleep on the economy seats), arrived at London Heathrow, waited a couple of hours to get through customs and on to the Heathrow Express to Paddington Train station. According to Lyndsay's very brief instructions, it should have been no problem to figure out how to get from there to Bury St. Edmunds - Ha Ha Ha, read on! We get to the currency exchange window and the lady encourages me to use the ATM exchange down the stairs as it will be cheaper for me. So I go down the escalator to the ATM machines and my bank card, which I checked ahead of time and was told by a bank clerk would work fine in England, wouldn't work. Neither would Janet's. Can't go up the stairs to get back to the cash exchange window, so we are cashless. No problem, we'll just use a credit card to get our train tickets. Mine won't work, but one of Janet's does, so we have our tickets. "How do I get to where I get on this train?" Sounds like a simple question, right? Got a simple answer, "Go down the stairs ahead to the right and you will get on there." So away we go. Down the stairs, a million trains to get on, none of which appear to go to our first stop. No panic, ask again, right? Approach a train a couple of employees not doing anything else at the time except visiting with each other and ask the same question, "How do I get to where I get on this train?" "Simple, go up the stairs, all the way across the station and up the stairs to Platform 2." Sounds quite different from what the guy who sold us the tickets told us, but we are easy going, so away we go. About a mile down the station and up the stairs, showing our tickets to the train employee at the information desk and asking our simple question for the third time. "No train goes there for about an hour and a half. When it gets about ten minutes before it does, look at the board up there and it will tell you what platform it boards at." To which my response is, "You mean you don't know until ten minutes before which platform (of about 16 platforms, some of which are about a mile apart) to board at?" To which the employee's response is to look at me like I'm retarded and say nothing. So, we do what any ignorant American visitor would do and ask someone else. Another Train employee, who says "that's right". But she also told us where we could exchange our dollars for pounds and not be penniless anymore and she old looked mildly sympathetic at me when I asked such stupid questions. So, with pockets full of pounds, quids, pence and tuppence, we buy a cornish sandwich and proceed to wait. Well 11:50 rolls around, we still see no platform number up on the board, so I go back to my mildly sympathetic train employee and ask one more time, "What if the train I need to leave on ends up leaving from a Platform I can't get to in ten minutes?" To which she says, "Where are you trying to go?". I show her the same tickets and tell here the same town I told her 30 minutes ago (King's Crossing) and she says, "Oh, that's Platform 2 - Just down that way and to the left". Hum, I think, couldn't you have told me that when I asked an hour ago? But I just say, "Thanks!" and off we go. As we are approaching the platform, the train we need to get on is just getting ready to depart - the door is shutting but I don't panic, I just stick my foot in the door, assuming it will open back up like trains in Toronto or an elevator door. No such luck. I still don't panic, I just reach for the door and start pushing and pulling and find that the door is definitely NOT going to just easily open up. Still not panicing, (but maybe Janet is a little bit - I haven't told her yet that I can get my foot out of the boot and just lose a boot but keep my foot), but now some helpful Brits on the other side of the door are starting to push and pull with me and between three of them and myself we get the door open, at which point I holler at Janet, "Hop in!!" and I follow. Could people like me have anything to do with foreigner's opinion of Americans? Now, we are exhausted, not at all sure about just how this train eventually gets to Bury St. Edmund's except that we know a couple of towns it is supposed to go to on the way (Liverpool and Ipswitch) and that somewhere we need to get off this train and onto another one. So we finally guess at Liverpool, climb onto a train and I find Janet sitting at a very nice, roomy, comfortable seat in first class. I look around and don't see any other class and think, "How nice of these Brits to only have nice accommodations from here on out!" A little later, the ticket man comes by and kindly mentions that we are sitting in first class, but our tickets only say Standard Class. (This is the same man who looked at our tickets when I asked him if this was the right train to be getting on and he assured me it was.) So we start down the train until all we see is the kitchen. As we stand there looking confused, a kindly soul, who didn't want us to suffer the embarrassment of sitting down in first class and being asked to move again, points out that there is a skinny hall to the left of the kitchen and there is more train down that way! So we finally arrive in Standard class and can't find two seats together, but manage to sit one row apart. I once again find the friendly ticket taker and get instructions on which station I'll have to make another train change. An hour and 20 minutes later, we leave that train, find a lift (an elevator in England) and wait on the door to open. There are no buttons to push so it must open automatically, right? The people behind us didn't think so and one of the stepped up to the side of the bricks where you can't see that there are any buttons there and pushes on so that Janet and I and the half dozen people behind us and get on. Thanks! We get on the train that should take us to Bury St. Edmund's and have an uneventful trip the rest of the way. We arrive about 4 or 5 hours later than what Lyndsay was expecting us. We have no phones that work, there is no pay phone at the station, so, exhausted, we just decide to sit on the bench and wait. Eventually, Lyndsay and Justin and the girls arrive and we are finally in friendly, helpful Texas company again!! Hooray!!!
- Day 1 - second half (Wednesday, July 4):
- Day 2 (Thursday, July 5): We walk Britten to school and head back home and head for the Bury St. Edmund's tour. What can you say about this picturesque part of England. It is about 40 miles from Cambridge and London. It has an Abbey that has been the center of town since about 633 A.D. This area receives more rain in a month than Lubbock does in a year. It is beautiful, green, filled with flowers and is just breath-taking! We park in the center of town and walk the shops through blocks that are made to walk. We eat a heart English breakfast which includes baked beans, eggs, Suffolk sausage, English bacon, and tomatoes (thats to-maw-toes, not to-may-toes!). We spend a delightful time looking at the English shops and English people and listening to the English accents - delightful. We end up in the Abbey Garden which is beautiful beyond compare. The lush grass, trees, flowers, gardens and the combination of Abbey ruins dating back to the 700's along with some built in the 1300's and 1500's and just beautiful on a scale that is hard to find in our country. Inside the incredibly beautiful St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, we see stained glass and rock walls and marble and tapestries and I meet on of the
- Day 3 (Friday, July 6):
- Day 4 (Sat., July 7):
- Day5 (Sunday, July 8):
Went to church this morning at a Church of England congregation. Enjoyed it immensly! Watched Justin play in a rugby game today - it is, indeed a rough game. One player broke a foot, a kid on the sidelines got a tooth knocked out by one of the players getting knocked out of bounds, Justin pulled a hamstring and neither Lyndsay, Justin nor we had any idea of any rules involved in the game. But it was fun! Justin and Lyndsay have given me some driving lessons and practice.
Last updated on ... July 6, 2012
Created on ... July 5, 2012