Thursday, September 24, 2009

We're Back!

This is Steve:
After a very long journey (20 hours door to door) we're back in our beloved neighborhood of Russell Square.  It's wonderful to be back and see how things have changed while staying the same. But first, here's a bit about our journey. 

Our neighbor Belinda took us to the airport and we made it in great time for our 3:00 pm departure.  Emily sat by Ruby and I sat by Jasper. After lots of nerves about this trip, the kids seemed to relax once we were inside the airport.  Both kids were thrilled to be travelling by plane and Ruby was particularly enthralled with the view from the sky. She seemed to be talking incessantly from where I sat in the row in front of her. Thanks to first grade, she knew all about the Great Salt Lake and they both loved being able to look out on the billowy blanket of clouds below us. 

The flight from Atlanta to London was another story though. It was crowded and the ability to sleep was nearly impossible. Ruby slept the best as she was leaning on Emily. The worst thing was that they kept the lights on in the cabin until about 2:00 am which did not help. It must be said that Jasper was a real trooper. He was across the isle in his own seat. He was in the isle seat with a man next him, and he's just not a little kid anymore. His only option was to try to sleep uncomfortably sitting up like the rest of us. It was sad to watch him struggle with it all night. We were really impressed he didn't complain once.  After a pretty miserable night and deplaning, we were greeted with the longest customs line even regular travelers here said they had ever seen. We Probably waited for over an hour to finally get through and Jasper was getting grumpier by the minute. But after getting a sprite and sitting down to wait for a shuttle to our hotel, he cheered up a bit. 

Driving through London for the first time in four years was just wonderful. We'll need to get driving on the left side back into our brains since we're renting a car next week. We again feel that draw that if we could figure out a way to live here we would. I even ran into a fellow Wells Fargo employee in that customs line who was travelling here to talk with one of our London money managers.  Life is long so who knows what the future will bring. 

Checking in to the Hotel Russell was like meeting up with an old friend. This was the place that "took us in" when we were here without a place to stay. During our first few days here in 2004, we gave up the flat Steve had pre-arranged. We knew we just couldn't stand it for a whole year, and we've moved enough to learn to trust those feelings unless you want to ruin your experience. We wandered around with all of our luggage, spending one miserable night in an LSE dorm room, while looking for another flat. We had passed the  beautiful Russell several times because we were looking for a flat in this neighborhood. Miserable after the dorm night, we decided to come into the Russell. They were under construction, and so offered us a small room for the reasonably good price of 100 GBP. We took it. Then, because that room had problems, they moved us to a nicer, bigger room. We were so grateful and miserable we nearly cried. We stayed here for two or three nights before we found our flat (then our flat wasn't ready, so we had to take an impromptu  vacation for a few more days).  Tbe point is, we are emotionally attached to this hotel. It's a beautiful, grand old piece of architecture we walked past almost everyday during the year we lived here. It feels like home. 

The kids were starving by the time we checked in at 4:00 pm, although Emily and I could hardly even see straight after staying up until 6 am after the night before our
flight.  Nonetheless we went to high tea in the hotel bar and had some delightful sandwiches and scones with some of the best hot chocolate the kids said they had ever tasted.  I tend to agree.  That hit the spot and since we were so bleary-eyed and Emily completely falling asleep in her chair, we convinced the kids to let us take a short nap. Thankfully, they let us sleep for almost two hours while they played with their Nintendo DSs and iPods that we got for this trip. 

That made a huge difference.   We were able to go out walking and it was just like old times, except that Ruby can walk now instead of needing to be in a stroller. We walked to our old building, Brunswick Mansions, and peered through the mail slot to see the carpeted entry  where we used to pause before heading up the three flights of stairs to our flat.  The most shocking thing was to see the transformation of TheBrunswick Centre across the street from our flat. While we were here before, it was a run down cement mixed-use housing complex that was only interesting to architectural students who would cme to study this building that was ahead of it's time. Now, however, it has gone through the most amazing transformation and was filled with people all sitting out at tables eating at upscale restaurants amid high end shops. The difference from when we were here was astounding. 

We stopped in at Tesco Express and picked up some fruit and ready-made pasta dishes for a late-night snack (because "every little helps"). We had forgotten how delicious the flavored rice pudding yogurts are here!  After eating our fill, we convinced the kids it was time to turn in at about 10:30 even though their bodies thought it was only 3:30 in the afternoon. They eventually dozed off  as we listened to the BBC news and their great world coverage. Again, this is very reminiscent of our last time here as we watched the Olympic coverage of the 2004 Greece games every night on the BBC after our absolutely exhausting days of searching for a suitable flat and while I juggled my classes at LSE. Those were such wonderful days although I wouldn't have said that at the time I'm sure.

It's very late here now at 12:30 and more adventures await for tomorrow, so on behalf Emily and the rest of the family, I'm going to sign off for now. This post is brought to you by the letter Z, which I'm hoping to get plenty of right now. 

Cheers, and Goodnight. 


JenSav said...

So glad to hear all the updates. You are a Trooper with a capital "T" Emily for all your preparation and for being the glue that holds the group together over the next 5 weeks. May the force be with you! I hope the trip is everything you imagined it would be. I think it will be magical & life changing. :) Thank you for sharing your insights.
love, Jen

Belinda said... sounds as though you all are a little too happy to be back in England!! Don't you dare consider staying! Thank you Steve for the very descriptive post, I feel as though I am right there with you. With the exchange rate you all are facing, it is way cheaper for me to live vicariously through you all for now!! Have some digestives for me, they're my fav!!

Tyler said...

Oh you poor jet-lagged travelers, we love to hear how things are going! Thanks for taking the time to update the blog. Your affection for London is so real, you managed to make us feel homesick for a place we've never been. We hope for lots of happy days visiting your old haunts, getting fingerprinted, and having plenty of tea and scones. We're cheering you on.
-Kellie & Tyler

Brooke said...

I'm so glad you arrived without incident. Even more happy that you made it back to your old stomping grounds. I loved my short visit with your there. You are very lucky to have returned. Can't wait for more updates!