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The Anglophiles Gathering

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England 2004 [Jan. 31st, 2005|02:24 pm]
The Anglophiles Gathering


Well, it's taken me quite a while, but I'm finally getting around to writing up my holiday experiences from November! I'll do the diary bit first, and then post some photos!

The flight over wasn't *too* horrible, considering you're stuck in a metal tube for nearly 7 hours. I'd lost some weight, so I fit in the seat a bit more comfortably. I was sat sitting in the middle, Grahams had the window seat and the bloke on my right was a rather nice gentleman with a bit of a posh accent. He wasn't a gabber, and I didn't bother him any more than necessary, so I'd say the three of us got on quite well! I did manage to spill red wine on his white corduroy trousers. He assured me that they were on their last legs, which immediately struck Grahams as quite hilarious - it took me a few minutes to pick up on the pants-on-last-legs bit, and to be honest, I'm not sure if the gentleman even knew he was making a funny when he said it. But then, the British do have a knack for deadpan humour.

We arrived at Heathrow at about 6:30 in the morning and had to be onboard a connecting flight up to Teesside - er, sorry - "Durham Tees Valley International Airport" - at 8:40 am. We managed to go the right way for flight connections this time and didn't have to walk the two miles or so (it seemed - took us nearly an hour to walk it) to the proper terminal, although I think we might have been meant to go through immigrations before getting the bus to the other terminal. That almost didn't matter, as we stood in line for about 1/2 an hour through immigrations.....only to find we'd stood in line for outbound (as in leaving the airport - not connecting to another flight) and were told we'd have to go through inbound immigrations. That was about 45 minutes wait and I was beginning to worry we were going to miss our flight, as it was already nearly 8am. After that we had to stand in line again to be processed for boarding. We just made it to the terminal - they called our flight to board just as we sat down by the gate.

I was determined to enjoy my Cumberland Sausage Panini on the flight to Teesside, but only ate about 1/4 of it - just too tired and the body wasn't really into eating. We arrived without incident and my sister-in-law and two-year-old niece were waiting for us for the drive to Yarm. The in-laws' Chocolate Lab, Brontë, gave us an exhuberant welcome when we got to the house, we had a bit of a nap and managed to get up in time to walk to the school to collect our four-year-old nephew, who was glad to see us. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and catching up with the family...reading to the neice, playing table football and Top Trumps with the nephew and enjoying some good food and excellent cider (or beer, in the boys' cases) and wine with the in-laws. Amongst the good food was a dessert my sister-in-law found at ASDA - "Summerfruit Brulee Baked Cheesecake" - absolutely delicious and we had to have it a second time before the holiday was over!

The next day, the first full day there, we went to Middlesbrough in the morning, as Grahams wanted to visit some of his old haunts. We incorporated a visit to Albert Park, and I was very pleased at my endurance - having lost some weight helped keep my knees from hurting too bad, and the chiroprator has worked miracles with my back, so I found I was able to do much more walking than on my previous two visits. Usually a half hour stroll would put me out for the rest of the day, and here we were walking around for a couple of hours and I was still ready for more. To that end, we planned a visit down to Yarm town for the afternoon. We set off, walked all the way down the hill and were talking about how much more walking I was able to do now that I'm fitter. At that moment, we were passing in front of the Yarm Police Office. It was then, in the midst of talking about how much more walking I could do, and how much I was looking forward to many treks around the countryside, that I twisted my ankle on an uneven piece of pavement. Down I went, banging a knee and scraping my palms on the way down. It was the ankle I'd twisted before, about 15 years ago and it was the same circumstance - uneven pavement. At first, I thought I'd be all right. We decided to continue on to the Hide for a cappucino, and that would give me a chance to recover from the shock a bit and hopefully walk off the ache. After the coffee, we went back out to the high street and decided it might be best to head back home as the ankle wasn't any better. My sis-in-law went down to get some treats for the dog and was going to catch us up on the way back. The more I walked, the worse the ankle got, so we wound up having to have sis-in-law go back on her own and bring the car down to pick us up. I was devastated - I thought I was going to be out of commission for the entire trip, and here it was only the 1st full day!

As it happened, I spent the rest of Thursday, all day Friday and part of Saturday with my ankle propped up, wrapped in a bandage and medicated with Nurofen. On Saturday afternoon, my brother-in-law drove Grahams and me down to Yarm where we spent a little over an hour walking around and doing a bit of shopping. I was back in the game! Not fully - but prospects were improving! We went into the little antiques shop near the town hall and I got some Royalty souveniers:

It was £10 for the lot, which I thought was reasonable enough.

Sunday, it was off to Whitby to stay with the parents-in-law. Bit of a walk on the cliffs, incorporating a trip to Cost Cutters and just relaxing, mostly. On Monday, we took the bus down to Whitby (as my ankle was still a bit dodgy) and walked around for several hours. We went to John Freeman's studio and I got to watch him paint for a bit. He was kind enough to share some of his wisdom, as well, so while I'm still slightly terrified of watercolours, I'm getting a bit braver! Monday evening was spent in the pub at the White House Hotel. Tuesday was intended to be our day to travel to Runswick Bay but the weather was ghastly, so we stayed in, mostly. Grahams went out in the afternoon to visit with his friend Edwin, and then the two of us walked down to the beach and back later in the afternoon...the ankle survived. Tuesday evening was spent in the pub at the White House Hotel. Wednesday, we managed to get to Runswick Bay. The weather was a *little* bit better - it was still gusty and drizzly, but we braved the elements anyway. When we reached the bottom of the bank, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make it back up with the wonky ankle. So, I didn't really enjoy myself as much as I might have. As it turned out, the walk back up was actually easier on the ankle than the walk down! Once back up at the top, we had a coffee in the Runswick Bay Hotel before heading back to Whitby on the bus. Wednesday evening was spent at the pub at the White House Hotel. Thursday was another trip down to Whitby town. We went with Mam and Dad to the Quarter Deck for fish 'n' chips, except I don't like fish (or so I thought) so I ordered the Steak Pie with chips. When the orders arrived Grahams asked if I'd like to try his Plaice, so I did. I do like fish. Well, Plaice, anyway. So, next time we go, I'm having the Plaice 'n' Chips (meanwhile I've searched in vain for Plaice in my area). After lunch, we met up with Edwin at Botham's for Cream Cakes and coffee, and then spent another hour or so walking round town. Thursday evening was spent in the pub, etc.

On Friday, we were to head back to Yarm, so it was a rather subdued morning. Mam served a nice luncheon and we checked and double-checked that we'd packed all our stuff. We had a taxi back to Yarm and a nice quiet evening with the in-laws and kids. On Saturday, we visited Hardwick Hall Country Park and had a nice, if cold, walk around. That was followed by a visit to Sedgefield for a fish 'n' chips lunch at the Dun Cow Inn. I had the Lemon Sole pieces - not bad, but not as good as Graham's Plaice had been at the Quarter Deck. On the way back to Yarm, we stopped at Tesco for some stuff and that, and then spent a quiet afternoon and evening, not relishing the trip home the next day. That is, we were about ready to be in our own bed again, but we weren't looking forward to the day long travel. Sleep was elusive, I got very little during the night, and Graham was restless as well - part of it was being afraid of missing the alarm clock, as we had to get up VERY early to get ready for our 6:45am flight to Heathrow. Not much of interest to report on the trip home, except for the boarding of the flight from Heathrow back to the states. They routinely pull random people out of the line for extra security checks - they didn't pull us out, but they did pull an american bloke further down the line from us out. He immediately started grousing. "Why are you pulling me out? Are you trying to tell me I look like a terrorist?!" The airline personnel refused to be bothered by his protestations, "Sir, it's just a random check, please step over here and wait". He wasn't going quietly: "I can't believe you're pulling me out for screening. I work for the US goverment! I'm with the Department of Defense." The staff couldn't have cared less - he was directed to the extra screening line, bellyaching all the way. "Hmph!" I said to Grahams, "If he really worked for the Department of Defense, he, of all people, should be able to appreciate the random screening!"

After nearly 17 hours of travelling, we finally made it home. Mo-bird was in a mood...glad to see us, but miffed that we'd been away for so long. She was well-looked-after by our neighbours, but still had a bit of an attitude! We may try to go earlier in the year next time...Grahams says he wants to show me England when there's still leaves on the trees!