Commentary and pictures from our trip to the UK.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A long, long road to travel...

Long trips are tough on kids. Heck, they're tough on adults. Everyone always starts off in a really positive mood. As the miles and, more importantly, hours accumulate, moods turn sour.

We checked in at the Charlotte airport around 6:00 PM on June 28th. We made quick progress through the ticket counter and through security. For the first time in recent memory, I wasn't "randomly" selected for the additional search before boarding. They must have abandoned the practice as I was previously at 100% for the "random" selections, and had the searches still been going on, I would no doubt have been selected again.

Once inside, I waited in a nightmarish Burger King line for a family meal. I've never seen such ineptitude. I do actually believe they could hire better staff even if the pay is minimum wage. The food was edible, but waiting in line to be seated at the slow food restaurants would have been better (and not much more expensive) than this supposed fast food restaurant.

After supper, we browsed the duty free shop for a new, black purse for my wife. We'd identified yet another hole in her wardrobe that we thought should be filled for our travels. It was nice and not terribly expensive, though I doubt the savings were extraordinary.

The kids played in the gate area while Shireen and I shifted about nervously. It is a big, long trip to live in another country for quite a while, after all. I franticly played with my Blackberry knowing that in a few hours it would cease to function as the hub of my mobile, digital world. Shireen sifted over and again through her documents.

We finally boarded and left the ground around 8:30 PM on June 28th. The flight was uneventful. At least I think it was. I've found that having a few adult drinks helps me deal the stress of travel. The kids were thoroughly unimpressed with air travel. I think they were expecting something on the order or a rocketship. Modern airliners endeavor not to provide that sort of thrill.

We landed around 8:00 AM on June 29th at London's Gatwick airport. We made our way through the passport lines and to baggage claim. We waited for our bags. And we waited for our bags some more. Finally, familiar luggage came down the converyor belt. Unfortunately, not all of the familiar luggage came down the belt. Shireen's suitcase full of all of her clothes was missing. We filed our claim at the service desk and found the driver waiting for us.

The drive to Cambridge was not too bad. It was stifling hot around London (most cars and buildings don't have air conditioning, which is always hard for us southerners to fathom). Fortunately, we were only passing through as we made our way to Cambridge with its milder climate.

Once in Cambridge, we found our flat. It's posh by British standards. It must be 1100 square feet. We then ventured into Cambridge's historic City Centre for a look around, a bite of food (pizza, of course), and some provisions for the flat.

It's going to be an interesting time here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Last Boarding call for USAir Flight 95 to London...

I had hoped to add pictures today. We hoped we'd be doing fifty other things today in addition to the things we've actually done. C'est la vie. There will be no pictures today. Neither Shireen nor I are especially photogenic today with our scrambling around and all that other jazz.

There is a lot to do before leaving the country for an extended period. We had to get traveling cash and travelers cheques. We had to clean the house so our house sitter will have a decent place to stay. (We hope the house sitter reciprocates on our return.) And, gasp, we had pack.

Packing was a chore. This is not a simple weekend trip with a well defined list of events. This is a 7 week gig with many plans yet to be made. First, we had to identify the holes in our wardrobe. I needed shorts, casual shirts, and casual slacks. Shireen needed a broad spectrum of things. This lead to shopping. I normally prefer BR, but given the other expenses we're juggling, I got my duds at Old Navy. Shireen got some at Old Navy too, but she did a lot of other shopping for which I was not a party. The shopping then lead to the mini fashion show. It in turn lead to more scrutiny. Then we pre-packed. Then we found yet more holes in our wardrobe (I needed socks, flops, and new black shoes). Finally, after a few more mad dashes to the store, we actually put clothes in suitcases.

Now, we're hours away from actually getting on the plane. I must run as there are more unfinished errands around the house. Hopefully, we'll be online again soon with pictures of our travels and new living accommodations.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Here we go...

This is the first post to what I hope will be an active blog. My family and I will be living overseas in Cambridge, England for the next 7 weeks. We're pretty excited. We're pretty nervous. We're pretty well ready to get the trip underway.

The Big Adventure is the place where we'll chronicle our time spent traveling. We'll put some pictures here, but most will be here.