The Trip — 2016: Part 20 — Heathrow to Oxford

Trip - Old Bank Hotel and Quod Restaurant
Old Bank Hotel and Quod Restaurant

Only a dozen people or so were left in the baggage area and I was only able to find three of our four checked bags (Di’s scooter, however, was there and I unfolded it for her to ride through customs and to our taxi). After waiting for the remainder of the flight’s bags to be unloaded, and not finding Bag #4 containing Di’s extra shoes, sandals, knickers and everyday clothing, we filed a claim with BA. We were assured the bag would be delivered to our hotel the next day. (It is now 9:22 pm the next day and the missing bag has still not shown; BA’s phone line has been too busy to speak with anyone.)

Trip - Don, Kathy, Di and Joe - University College, Oxford
Don, Kathy, Di and Joe – University College, Oxford

Helen was taking a train and bus to her home in London while the rest of us went in a hire car, think taxi, to take Trish home in Newbury and us to our hotels in Oxford.

Trish had Peter, our driver, get off the motorway a bit early to give Don (his first time in England) and Kathy a tour of a bit of English countryside.

Trip - Shelly
Shelly

We dropped Trish at her home only to find that the neighbors who were keeping an eye on her place had not placed the key where they had said they would. Eventually, we had to leave as it was getting dark. Trish said she’d be OK — turned out the neighbors were in another backyard garden and hadn’t thought Trish would be home so early.

We went on to Oxford and Don and Cathy landed at their B&B, and we checked into the Old Bank Hotel. The room’s a bit small and cramped but looks nice. It has some handicapped accessible features and Charlie can use her scooter to go outside for a smoke. It took me three tries to get some ice so I could have a drink and there is no fridge (there is a stocked mini-bar cooler), nor microwave nor tea/coffee maker — hmmm . . . there is an attached restaurant and room service.

Trip - On to the Ashmolean Museum
On to the Ashmolean Museum

I took Di out to smoke in the parking lot behind the hotel and then had a couple of drinks (Trish and Helen had gotten me a bottle of Cardhu at Corfu Duty Free) and some of Di’s Twiglets before turning in for the evening.

The hotel delivered a London Times and Daily Telegraph this morning and I read parts of them before Don and Kathy showed up about nine. We went to the Quod Restaurant next door for coffee, tea and breakfast. The service was slow, and we weren’t even asked if we’d like a second cup. No, I didn’t get any breakfast.

Trip - Egyptian exhibit at the Ashmolean
Egyptian exhibit at the Ashmolean

About ten-thirty we started to walk to see Shelly’s memorial (who, ironically, did not graduate from University College) and then walked in the other direction to take in some of the Ashmolean Museum. Don and Cathy wanted to split up to meet us at the Quod for High Tea at 3:30 pm. (Liliana, the librarian from Charlie’s former school was in Oxford with her husband for the summer and was also going to join us there.)

I asked Charlie if she wanted to see the museum and she said no. I asked why we were there and she said she wanted Don and Cathy to see it or, at least, have the opportunity to do so. Therefore, I wandered through the museum until after one when Charlie wanted to go outside for a smoke. I came out after another ten minutes and she now wants to go shopping for some skin moisturizer and knickers.

Trip - Tea
Tea

We do this and return to our hotel to wait for her friends and guests to show up for tea. I go next door to make reservations and am told they are taking no more, just show up — great. Everyone arrives and there is no room for us in the restaurant. We have to go to the “library” in the hotel. Eventually we arrange the furniture to suit ourselves and open windows that seemed to have remained unopened for decades to get some fresh air and cooling.

Trip - Kathy, Tricia, Di and Lilliana
Kathy, Tricia, Di and Liliana

Tea is served and we remain talking for some hours; Trish joins us; plans are made and changed; a round of Pimms is shared. Trish eventually takes Don and Cathy to a pub where they’ll meet her son and have a drink. Liliana and her husband have already left and Di and I head back to our room.

(to be continued)

The Trip — 2016: Part 19 — Villa Andonis to Heathrow

Time to take a swim before the day gets too hot to go out in the sun; after all, I’m not an Englishman.

Don and Kathy took the bus to Kassiopi; Becka walked to the harbor to do a little swimming in the bay (and maybe a bit of shopping); Di and her sisters are in and out of the pool and I’m reading the “local” papers online.

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Eirini, Di and Dora

Being as this is our last full day at the villa, the sisters who own it came to say goodbye to Di, and the rest of us, this morning and brought her a few small gifts. They’re good people as Di has gotten to know them quite well through two years of email communications and frequent conversations while we’ve been here.

Dinner was a home-made affair of chicken, pasta and salad provided mostly by Trish and Helen.

Our last day, Friday, dawned just as beautiful, with promise to be hot, as most of those in the previous three weeks. I had my swim about nine and then went in to shower and finish packing. Di and her sisters swam later and sunned until after one in the afternoon. By that time I had most of Di’s stuff packed, including the items she’d purchased on Corfu for herself or for gifts.

Trip - Villa Andonis on the day we left.
Villa Andonis on the day we left.

Our taxi was late and arrived about two-fifteen. We loaded our belongings, Charlie’s scooter and ourselves and we were off. The drive to Corfu airport took about a half-hour.

At the airport we went to check in and all went fine until we came to Charlie’s scooter. First the security had me load it on the luggage belt to go through the scan — it wouldn’t fit. Later they decided that it had to have its battery attached — contrary to what had been AA and BA policy on our two flights previous. They had me wait in an out of the way area until the scooter was brought out from the luggage loading area.

Can you see me getting ticked off at both BA and Corfu security?

Trip - BA A-320, Passenger bus, wheel-chair loading truck.
BA A-320, Passenger bus, wheel-chair loading truck.

Then they came and got me and told I now had to go through security with the rest of my party, who had also been held up, and go to “6” just past Gate 5. (Gate 1 is where the rest of the passengers on our flight were to board.)

Di and I were hurried through security and to “6” at the end of the Departure level of the terminal. We were taken outside into the 90°+ heat of the day and I had to attach the battery to Di’s scooter. It was then wheeled off to be loaded onto our A320. The gentleman who had taken charge of us wanted Di and I to wait in the chairs there to be taken to the plane in about “5 minutes.”

NO, we were not going to wait in the heat and sun for him to return, so he reluctantly brought us back into the terminal with its minimal air conditioning. And, no, Di did not have time to shop in Duty Free. Yeah. Fifteen – twenty minutes later our guide returned to get us to the plane.

Trip - Passenger loading/unloading stairs.
Passenger loading/unloading stairs.

Now we were a bit ticked off but the next part was actually neat. Di was wheeled down a long ramp and to the back of rather large truck, but it wasn’t exactly a truck. The back end had a lift gate which we all got on and it lifted to the passenger area of the vehicle. The airport worker opened the door and pushed Charlie in. There was an identical door in the front to the right of the driver and another lift.

We drove to the front of the plane and parked just inches from the plane. The entire passenger section of our vehicle was then lifted to the level of the plane’s door and Charlie was wheeled forward. All she had to do was walk a step to the plane and then another fifteen feet or so to her seat in Aisle 1.

Trip - Lunch
Lunch / Dinner

After we were seated the buses from the terminal carried the rest of the passengers out to be boarded. A weather delay over western Europe caused a half hour delay of our takeoff, but the plane was cool and it wasn’t a problem.

The flight itself was smooth; the Jack Daniels plentiful and the prawn dinner tasty. We had a twenty-five minute wait until a wheelchair arrived to take Di into the terminal at Heathrow. A longish walk and a two-stop tram ride brought us to the baggage area . . . Problem.


Trip - Back over England
Back over England