The Trip — 2016: Part 29 — Arriving Home

Once again our plane is a Boeing 777-300, very comfortable and smooth. We took off about three-thirty — a delay of about an hour and a half with arrival in LA scheduled to be about 6:10 pm.

I got a copy of the Wall Street Journal and The London Times and read through the taxiing and takeoff until it was time to eat. Well, at least, until it was time for a Jack Daniels or three.

The meal consisted of:

Starter — Prosciutto and Mozzarella with melon

Salad — Spinach and frisée with strawberries and blue cheese and yogurt dressing

Entrée — Seared white halibut with beurre blanc sauce, champagne risotto and grilled asparagus

Dessert — Gourmet cheese plate of red cheddar, blue cheese stick and Montero farmer white

It all tasted quite good. Filling but not stuffing.

Di watched movies on her video screen, and I worked on my Trip photos for most of our very smooth flight. Toward its end we were served another light meal, salad and sandwich and dessert. I also drank several glasses of ice water — no more Jack.

Touchdown at LAX was 6:20 pm. We waited until everyone else had deplaned before leaving. The scooter, despite the best efforts of the crew was not delivered to the plane’s door but a wheelchair was there and the scooter was waiting when we exited the boarding tunnel. A minute to put it together and we were off to Immigration and Baggage — it was, again, a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g walk and a couple of lift rides, as Di’s scooter cannot negotiate stairs or escalators.

Note: The elevators/lifts in this section of LAX only have access to two floors: the floor you are on and the floor Immigration wants you on.

Immigration was extremely busy as several planes had recently landed, including the three hundred people from our flight. We were allowed to use either the automated processing or Special Assistance and after a glance at the long lines opted for Assistance. A few minutes later we were through passport control/immigration and headed to the Baggage area.

We were passed on the way to baggage by several young (18-22) men who had been on our flight and had exited at the opening of the plane’s doors. They had waited in lines long enough for us old slowpokes to catch up and pass them — chortle.

Our luggage carousel (3) was just beginning to unload baggage from an AA flight just in from Mexico and a few minutes later began to disgorge the baggage from our flight as well. Wonder of wonders, less than ten minutes later I had all four of our suitcases and onto our last check by Immigration.

I handed him our customs declaration, a quick glance and we were out. Up the tunnel and into a sea of faces and name cards from drivers — ah ha, the driver who had taken us to LAX in June was right there. I called to Charlie, who was ahead of me and the driver took my cart. The time was 7:40 pm — an hour and twenty minutes after touchdown and we were out.

Because of the crowds and construction, our driver had to park in a lot several minutes walk away from the Tom Bradley International Terminal — that walk and a smoke for Di had us in the car at 8:00 pm on the dot. There was still a good deal of traffic on surface streets and the 405 Freeway, but we pulled up at our driveway a minute before nine. Home.

I walked Charlie to the bench outside our front door and then helped the driver with the rest of our luggage. The house key was actually in the carry-on where I remembered leaving it and I soon had the door open, the alarm switched off and Charlie deposited in her garden room.

The cats said “Hello” and “Where the heck have you been?” I brought in the luggage, put the scooter in the garage, made Charlie a cup of tea (decaffeinated Earl Grey) and sat down exhausted. Time enough tomorrow (or Saturday) for emptying the suitcases. “Zzzzzzz . . . ”

(to be continued / concluded?)

The Trip — 2016: Part 28 — Leaving England

We checked out of The Swan at Streatley at nine-thirty this morning and rode to Heathrow with the same driver who took us to Newbury yesterday and arrived at Terminal 5 shortly before eleven. Our itinerary told us to go to Terminal 5; however, BA said that our flight (actually on American Airlines like our flight to London) was leaving from Terminal 3. We are currently waiting for a Special Assistance bus to take us to Terminal 3.

Trip - Di and luggage in the bus

Di and luggage in the bus

Well, at slightly after noon the assistance bus arrived. The driver lowered the ramp in the back and then stopped traffic so that Di could drive her scooter into the back of the bus. He then loaded the luggage and we were off. The trip to terminal 3 took about ten minutes, without any stops or hang-ups along the way. We were quickly unloaded and . . . Di needs a last smoke before going into the terminal.

The AA desks are to the right of our entry and there is no one in line ahead of us. We are quickly processed except for the scooter. After about ten minutes the clerk finally clears things dealing with Di’s scooter and up into the lift we go to go through Security.

Again, Di’s scooter gets us the short line, which really isn’t too much shorter than the long line. Five or fewer minutes later we are through Security and into the shops and headed for Lounge H — AA’s Admiral’s Lounge. It’s a small lounge but there is warm food and cold drinks. I have a bit of lunch and a drink. Di has a cup of tea and a couple of pieces of chocolate cake and some bread and butter.

Our flight appears to be delayed a bit, but I don’t know how long a delay.

Just checked at the entry to the lounge and it seems as though the two o’clock flight to LA is now the three-fifteen flight to LA and should start boarding from Gate 27 about two-thirty or in about thirty-five minutes.

Well, I went shopping. First I went to a couple of book/magazine type stores and tried to get a crossword puzzle book — but, they only have British style crossword puzzle books. And, second, I went to buy some whisky. That took me to World of Whiskies. I found some that the clerk told me were not exported to the US — maybe, maybe not, but they are not generally available in Britain. I bought two bottles of Auchentoshan which I had enjoyed at the Quod Restaurant in Oxford. I hope they’ll taste as good in the US.

Trip - View from the lounge

View from the lounge

Returning to the AA lounge at about two twenty-five, I found that our flight was already boarding at Gate 27 — Di didn’t know because the announcements did not reach the part of the lounge in which I had found seats.

Gathering our stuff together, we ventured out into the Heathrow pathways and slideways to Gate 27. Upon arrival we were given assistance and shunted, after passport checks, etc., to the front of the line into the aircraft. Di drove her scooter to the aircraft door, escorted past everyone else, of course, and put on board. I brought our hand-carry items to our seats — garnering some comments along the way about her riding and me having to carry both her and my carry-on luggage — and then went back to fold up the scooter so that it could be stowed in the cargo hold and brought to us at LAX without delay. (Of course, they wouldn’t let me off the plane to go some six feet and fold up the scooter until they got an OK from Security.)

After stowing our gear in the overheads Di had some OJ and I some champagne while we waited for everyone else to finish boarding and the flight to begin.

(To be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 27 — Shopping and St. Thomas of Canterbury

P1010079bsmall
Trip - No Fishing

No Fishing

This morning I made Di tea and went to the front desk for some coffee and milk which were delivered ten minutes or so later. Finally figured out how to use the coffeemaker in the room, Magicmix. Coffee isn’t very good but it does put caffeine into my bloodstream to start the day.

It’s cloudy but not raining and Di is able to have tea, smoke and read on the patio. We’ll be heading into Newbury for some last-minute shopping later in the morning.P1010051bsmall

P1010062bsmall

Toward the altar

Pryors picked us up at eleven-fifteen and deposited us at the edge of the pedestrian shopping area in Newbury at noon (and to return at three). Oh, goody, three hours of following my wife shopping and carrying her purchases.

We visited a number of shops looking for four things: a suitcase to replace the one lost by BA, a fruit bowl for Helen to brighten her new kitchen, books, and, of course, candy.

P1010067bsmall

Altar window

I found a bowl for Di in John Lewis (designed in Britain and made in China), found a suitcase in another shop (no I didn’t get the one going for £695), purchased a dozen books in WH Smith and candy at Tesco‘s. Picked up the suitcase after the books and candy and loaded them into said suitcase. Then returned to John Lewis and purchased the fruit bowl — in a lot of bubble wrap.

We then found a café in a quiet courtyard and Di had a pot of Earl Gray tea and I read The Daily Mail. Just before three we headed out to where our car should be waiting and there it was. The return route was the reverse of the morning’s and again we passed Tricia’s home in Hampstead Norreys.P1010069bsmall

Upon returning to our hotel room we discovered that our room’s phone still was not working. Helen showed up at four to have tea with Di. I helped Di to the restaurant and then went for a walk through Goring and went to look at a church I had noticed earlier in our stay.

P1010070bsmall

To the back

The church turned out to be St. Thomas of Canterbury. I walked around the church and through the attached graveyard and memorial to the local dead of WWI and WWII. The interior was simple with a beautiful stained glass window high on the wall behind the altar.

Di and Helen were demolishing a second pot of tea when I returned to The Swan and so I retired to the reception area to read and blog. After two hours of tea, Helen and Di returned to our room and said their good-byes.

Tricia arrived a while later and we moved to the restaurant. We found the same low table and comfortable chairs we’d had the previous night ordered drinks: Pimms, whisky and gin and tonic. Starters, dinner, dessert and conversation. In all it was a nice dinner and company for our last night in England.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 26 — The Swan at Streatley

Trip - The Swan from the Streatley bridge.

Di and I went to lunch in the hotel’s restaurant. There is no way to get Di’s scooter safely into the main area of the restaurant; the ramp into the area is both too long and too steep. We ate in the area adjacent to the deli and the bar. The chairs are hard and uncomfortable, and we sat at the “picnic” bench on pillows in the corner.

Trip - Our room from the entry hall.

Our room from the entry hall.

Di had a Pimms and both of us had a salad, shared chips and bread, and I also had an order of mussels. The food was good but slow and it began to rain while we were eating.

Upon returning to our room, the electronic key did not work. So we trekked to the office and we got a new key. Di asked if our phone and light had been fixed and was told that they had.

We returned to our room and I found that, although the light had been fixed (they changed the light bulb), the phone still did not work and walked back to the office to so inform them.

A few minutes later the clerk I had spoken to earlier this morning knocked on our door and told us that the hotel’s staff could not fix the phone and that they would have to call in an outside electrician — tomorrow or later.

Trip - Shower

Shower

As I was closing the door, the clerk asked me to hear him out and offered to move us to the next room, a mirror image of ours. I asked Di and she said OK. I returned to the door and told the clerk that we would switch rooms and he proceeded to tell me that he couldn’t do it because he had just been informed that the people next door had extended their stay and that the room was no longer available.

Tricia came to pay a visit after work and while she and Di conversed in our room I headed for the comfortable chairs in the reception area to read. A few chapters later Tricia found me and suggested a drink and, maybe, dinner. The bar in the reception area was closed so we collected Di and headed to the bar/restaurant.

It was raining so Di couldn’t use her electric scooter without getting wet. She sat in her “wheelie” and I pushed her to the bar area, carefully going down the steep and long interior ramp — and then she still had to get up and walk to navigate some steps.

Trip - The loo

The loo

We found a nice sitting area with sofa and chairs and Tricia and I went into the bar to order drinks (Pimms, sherry and whisky and some crisps and nuts). We talked and drank and ate, decided on a second round and went into the restaurant to have dinner in what was really a waiting area — comfortable sofa and chairs, low table. Di had a chocolate dessert of some kind and Tricia and I enjoyed fish and chips.

Following dinner, Tricia returned home and we returned to our room. Although it was still raining, Di put on several layers of clothing to have a last smoke before turning in. It was wet outside but there is a slight roof overhang on the patio (from the balcony above) so she didn’t get too wet.

(to be continued)

Signs

Sign - Next to the loo in Corfu

A SIGN IN A SHOE REPAIR STORE IN VANCOUVER THAT READ:
“We will heel you.
“We will save your sole.
“We will even dye for you.”

Sign over a Gynaecologist’s Office:
“Dr. Jones, at your cervix.”

In a Podiatrist’s office:
“Time wounds all heels.”

On a Septic Tank Truck:
Yesterday’s Meals on Wheels

At an Optometrist’s Office:
“If you don’t see what you’re looking for,
You’ve come to the right place.”

On a Plumber’s truck :
“We repair what your husband fixed.”

On another Plumber’s truck:
“Don’t sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.”

At a Tyre Shop in Milwaukee :
“Invite us to your next blowout.”

On an Electrician’s truck:
“Let us remove your shorts.”

In a Non-smoking Area:
“If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and will take appropriate action.”

On a Maternity Room door:
“Push. Push. Push.”

At a Car Dealership:
“The best way to get back on your feet – miss a car payment.”

Outside a Muffler Shop
“No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.”

In a Veterinarian’s waiting room:
“Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!”

At the Electric Company:
“We would be delighted if you send in your payment on time. However, if you don’t, YOU will be de-lighted.”

In a Restaurant window:
“Don’t stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.”

In the front yard of a Funeral Home:
“Drive carefully. We’ll wait.”

At a Propane Filling Station:
“Thank Heaven for little grills.”

In a Chicago Radiator Shop
“Best place in town to take a leak.”

And the best one for last…
Sign on the back of another Septic Tank Truck:
“Caution – This Truck is full of Political Promises”

By the way the sign at the top is real. At our villa in Corfu there was one in each bathroom next to the loo. Although I did not ask the owners, I am going to “assume” that the villa, which was on a hillside, was not connected to a sewage system such as most of us are used to but to an on-site septic tank.

And, yes, there was a small covered bin next to each toilet for the used paper.

And, no, the bathrooms did not smell — and, after the first day, accidental paper flushing was uncommon.