Sunday, 18 September 2016

Back in England

September 16

I followed my same instructions from nephew Mike for the long flight to London. I cannot sleep sitting in an airplane seat anyway. I watched a couple of movies but got up a few times to visit the back of the plane. I drank several glasses of water. I had a nice visit with a young Mauritian who was heading back to school in London where he is studying to be a dental technician.

The descent was not as bad for me as the one into Mauritius. I do not know whether that was because of the Tylenol, but maybe I was better prepared, using all methods to clear my ears and sucking cough drops like crazy.

If we had known that our flights from Madagascar to Mauritius to London would have been more or less on time we might have considered just taking today’s flight to St. John’s. But that is kind of like wanting your money back when you do not need the insurance on your car or house. We were spending a night in England.

We left the plane and did the long walk to immigration. There was a huge line. It seemed like we were going to spend most of our day in line. It took almost an hour for us to reach an officer. When we did, we had a nice little chat. He noted that we were doing our layover in Windsor. He said that it was a quite nice to visit, but unfortunately the weather was bad today, although it had been nice for the past days. I said that we say the same thing in Newfoundland.

Po had a dilemma. She had been carrying a little bag of baobab seeds. She had taken them from a baobab fruit and was going to try to make a baobab house plant when she got home to Pouch Cove. But she had already been told by our friend, a Canadian customs official, that they were likely not allowed into Canada. Her advice for Canada was to ask the officers and maybe you keep them, but likely not. If you get caught smuggling them, bad things might happen. The little card for the UK said that seeds were not allowed. Rather than fool around with possible issues, and knowing that the odds were long on germination, Po jettisoned the seeds in the first bin she saw. It was quite sad as I had watched her baby her seeds over the second half of the trip. Of course we breezed through the nothing to declare door.

My on line research said the easiest way to get to Windsor was by taxi. But the City of London cabs were too expensive. I should phone Five Star Taxi from the terminal. So I phoned and the dispatcher said a driver would come and meet us. We should wait by Costa Coffee. I said, “Where?” Po pointed to the coffee shop next to us. Okay. The driver was instructed to pick up a man wearing a blue top who is with a Chinese woman. It turns out there was another such man nearer the door. But he found us. My additional description of being a 60 something Canadian with a beard was not passed on. That would have excluded the other guy.

We were driven to our room for the night. It was in a pub, The Crown and Cushion. We knocked on the door. There is no special hotel entrance. It is just the pub. The man said we could leave our bags, but check in was not until 2 pm. It was only about 9:30. It was raining. We were tired.

We started walking. We passed Eton College. Then went back the other way. We had coffees at a little café. A lot of locals were there having huge breakfasts at 10 am. Many seemed to be working people, both white and blue collar. I found it quite interesting that they were having a huge breakfast break at that time on a Friday.

We walked down past Windsor Castle. We could go in and have a tour, but I am not really that big on the royals and I felt really bad with my cold symptoms. So we stopped at a Costa Coffee which said they had free wifi. We never got our wifi going. They wanted to send a text message to my phone with a code. I figured the cost of a text message was going to cost too much (my plan with Bell did not include the UK).

We went back to the pub. No, we still had to wait. So we went down the street to what looked like a nicer pub and had fish and chips. The fish was huge. I said I wanted to compare it to Newfoundland fish and chips. My conclusion was that I prefer the ones in St. Philips, Newfoundland, although the brew pub beer in Windsor was better. They also had great wifi.

Finally it was time to check in. We were having doubts about the dingy little pub. But our room was not bad. After showers and a rest we went outside. The sun had come out. We did a little walk back the same way we had gone earlier. We came back to an Indian restaurant across from our pub that I had identified as a likely place for supper. So we started our trip with curry in London. We were now going to finish it the same way. The food was really good. Everyone else seemed to know each other. Apparently they are all regulars. I would be too, but it is a long trip from Pouch Cove.

We went back to the pub. It had been empty all day, but was know full of patrons. If we were not so tired and me sick with the cold it might have been fun to sit down and have a pint in that atmosphere. But we went up to our room with its floors that are even more slanted than our house in Pouch Cove and were asleep before too long.

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