A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a plane to England to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and their new baby daughter, in Oxford.
It sounds so simple when I say it that way, but actually getting on that plane was the culmination of a lot of work and preparation. Researching flights and prices took up a fair amount of time some months ago, when we first planned the trip. Fortunately I found there’s a direct flight from Raleigh, NC, an hour’s drive from our home in Greensboro, to London Heathrow. Direct flights cut down on worry and hassle so much, it’s worth an hour’s drive each way to get one.
I’m so compulsive and such a worrier that I’ve developed a pre-trip checklist that I do faithfully before any trip. I’ve learned that if I follow the list and check off each item, I don’t have to spend any time away asking myself, “Did I turn off all the burners on the stove?” and “Am I sure I locked all the doors?” I also have a packing list that ensures I have all the basic things I need (though I once managed to forget the toothpaste anyway).
All that behind, we got on the overnight flight in Raleigh at six p.m. and landed in London seven hours later at seven a.m. The “night” had lasted all of about four hours. I’ve never been able to sleep on planes, despite trying various combinations of pillows, blankets, etc., making the next day feel really long.
Nonetheless, we dragged our heavily laden suitcases through Heathrow terminal three to the central bus station, where we got the Airline Bus to Oxford. The bus (the English call it a ‘coach’) was great – comfortable and smooth-riding and we actually dozed for a bit.
We arrived in Oxford and were met by son, daughter-in-law, and new grandbaby. After a stop at Tesco’s, first in the coffee shop for a much-needed blast of caffeine, then picking up some groceries, we headed for their house.
A few observations about the flight. I’ve flown British Air a couple of times and it’s a much nicer experience than American. The only advantage this flight has is that it’s direct, and that one’s big enough to make the difference. The seats (in the regular section) were narrow, cramped and not comfortable. They recline about three inches, which is pretty much useless. There are no personal entertainment units, just drop down screens along the center ceiling. They showed two movies, both moderately family friendly. The first one, Captain America 2, I’d already seen, but watched again anyway because it’s just fun. The second one The Tourist, is a lackluster movie with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Angelina’s only job is to look beautiful and Johnny’s only job is to look befuddled, roles they can–and mostly did–perform in their sleep. The plot has a clever idea but most of its twists are telegraphed early on.
Fortunately I’d loaded my Kindle with a number of books I’d been waiting for a while to read and those didn’t disappoint. (The Kate Andrews series of “Magic..” books. More on those later, I hope.) Surprising to me, the food was pretty good as well, though the free wine they offered probably helped make it more palatable.
In the next few posts I’ll talk about what we did during our stay and muse about on cultural and linguistic differences.