So, before I even begin talking in detail about England so far, I feel like I need to dedicate a short entry to the journey to the airport and the two flights I took to get here.
We left my mom’s house in Horse Cave, KY around 12:30 so we could meet my dad for a goodbye lunch in Bowling Green at 1pm. Bowling Green is about halfway between my mom’s house and the Nashville airport I was flying out of.
So we’re chugging along and everything had gone smoothely so far that day and we get on the highway, Four miles before our exit, a pickup truck in front of us clipped a large chunk of tire that was lying on the road and it subsequently was thrown up and hurtled towards us, smashing into the windshield of my mom’s car.
After the initial shock and scream, mom sped up, caught up with the driver and flashed her lights for him to pull over. He turned out to be a very nice older African American gentleman who later joked about hanging out with two nice white ladies on the side of the road.
So, the state trooper came and documented the incident and then my mom, having brushed all the small shards of glass off herself and the driver’s side of the car, drove the car the last four miles to Bowling Green and to where we were meeting my Dad for lunch.
Now, the car was reallly not in any shape to then continue driving me to Nashville, so we needed to figure out an alternate plan. After much discussion, we ended up calling my uncle Helmut who had just gotten back to my mom’s house, and he drove my car to Bowling Green, so we could take my car to the airport and he would drive my mom’s car, behind my dad, back to the house.
The whole thing was actually pretty hilarious, but being on a tight schedule, we didn’t have time to dilly dally around. I drove us the rest of the way to the airport and then me, Mom and Vanessa had some coffee while we killed some time before I went through security.
My first flight was from Nashville to Chicago. It was on a small regional jet and the pilot actuallly asked for two volunteers to move to the rear of the plane to balance the weight. So, I volunteered and I and some business man walked to the back of the plane. The flight attendant thanked us for being helpful, and when the drinks came she gave us free alcoholic beverages and we toasted “to the back of the plane.”
My layover in Chicago was just long enough to get to my gate in time to ask for a seat change. I was in an aisle seat but I really wanted bulkhead seating. And I got it. Which meant I had a lot of extra legroom for the eight hour flight. But the legroom was also very enticing to another passenger, who noticed I had a seat open next to me. She kept walking back and forth in front of my row, as if to switch aisles but I knew what she was doing. I had more patience than another lady in my row, who finally said, “You NEED to stop doing that! You can’t keep doing this.” There was a glare-off and then no more trouble.
The flight itself went by pretty quickly and I was pretty excited to be in England when we landed. That was before I went through Customs and Immigration. I understand that with the Olympic Games being very soon in London, that security is at a much higher level. However, I did not appreciate being baraded with questions about why I was staying in England for 8 weeks. This woman was not a happy person, and was very patronizing and rude, telling me, “Well you must understand that you are entering this country for an extended period of time and I have the right to ask you why and what you are doing.”
Apparently for her, I didn’t have enough paperwork printed out. I told her, smiling through my teeth, that I kept everything in my inbox on my iPhone but that according to their new rules, I couldn’t turn on my phone in the customs area. She expected me to have the addresses of the places I was going and to have memorized the flight number and time of my return trip in September. And according to her I didn’t have enough proof of my internship and what I would be doing while I was here. I think she finally gave up because I just didn’t have any more information to give and I think it was pretty clear I was no a terrorist, but in fact just a college student interested in old churches. So she emphatically stamped my passport and didn’t even say good-day.
As you can imagine, this put a very sour taste in my mouth, and this wasn’t helped by the fact that when I did finally get my luggage and got to the Tube station, I ended up getting off one stop too soon, and had to lug my suitcase up I don’t know how many flights of stairs to switch tracks. My arm is actually still sore today….
But then I made it to my hotel and took an hour long nap before striking out on the town. First I went to the Natural History Museum, which was overrun by children, so I didn’t stay long. I ended up next door at the Victoria and Albert Museum for two hours or so, taking advantage of their cafe and free wifi. And then I took a long walk up Exhibition Road to Hyde Park and visited the memorial fountain for Princess Diana. It really isn’t impressive. It’s actually quite dull. But I could to see where they were setting up the things for the rowing competitions on the lake in the park. By the way, the city is crawling with security people…
After my walk I took the Tube to Notting Hill Gate and found the restaurant I had picked out in advance: The Mall Tavern. I ate at the bar, and then headed back to the hotel. I crashed early, but woke up at midnight completely wide awake….and homesick. So I called my mom and talked to her for a half hour and then watched a bit of TV before going to sleep.
This morning I woke up and packed everything together again. I walked to the grocery store and got a few small bits for breakfast and then checked out of the hotel. I navigated my way to Paddington train station, bought my ticket for the 11:06 train to Castle Cary and waited to find out what platform I needed to board at. The train ride itself was quite comfortable, and the countryside was beautiful outside the window.
I arrived in Castle Cary just after 12:30, and Dr. Rushton picked me up and took me to Glastonbury. And that’s where I’ll stop this entry, because I’m about to head out for dinner. But I will type up an entry about the rest of my day tonight, if not tomorrow morning.