Alas, there was no day 1 post, so this will have to suffice for both, at least for now.
I wish I were more observant about the mundane, because in some important ways, I think it’s the mudane that matters far more than the extrordinary. At least in story telling.
We left Philadelphia Thursday evening. We flew from the international terminal at PHL on USAirways. We were originally supposed to fly from A6 at one end of the terminal, and shortly after we settled down there, an announcement came over the PA that there was a gate change and we needed to switch to A23 at the other end of the terminal.
The gate area was hectic as we came to it, but calmed somewhat as two different flights to Ireland (one to Shannon, one to Dublin) boarded within 10 minutes of each other. We boarded without incident and took our seats. We were in row 36, seats AB and C. The plane’s seating arrangement (in economy) was a 2-4-2, so Sam got the window, and Carolyn and I got isle seats across from one another. A family of four was split in 37C and 36D,E, & F. The two kids were about 2 years old. I gladly gave up 36C for 37C, though it was far enough in the back of the plan that it’s where it had narrowed so that it became a 2-3-2 instead. I therefore didn’t have a very clear area for my feet because the seat supports between 36C and D were right in front of me.
The flight itself was uneventful. We all tried to sleep shortly after takeoff, ignoring dinner as we’d already eaten and it was late. (A 10 PM departure — already 5AM in the UK!) Still, none of us got any sleep until they turned the lights out after a round of drinks, dinner, then drinks again. Sleep was fitful at best, but we all got at least some. I woke when the lights came back on and the PA announced that we were an hour from landing. They came around with muffin tops and juice and we landed a bit before 10AM BST.
Getting out of Heathrow was similarly mundane. It takes an age to walk to the immigration area from the gate. Once there, the line is long and annoying (at least for non-EU residents), but it generally continues to move. Our passports were reviewed without interest — Sam and I both have new passports since our UK Visa time. We picked up our bags which had already been pulled from the carosel and found our way to the Central Bus Terminal. The coach to Brighton was a couple minutes late, but also uneventful as we’d booked and printed tickets in advance. I do so dislike taking the coach from the Central Bus Terminal (“747” is the route number). It’s probably a good 20 minutes from when the coach leaves the Central Bus Terminal until it shows up at the next stop — still in Heathrow. It has one more stop elsewhere in Heathrow before then going on to Gatwick and stopping there twice. I so much preferred when we were able to fly into Gatwick and just take the train straight down into Brighton.
We finally did show up at the Pool Valley Coach Station, disembarked, gathered our luggage and walked to our Airbnb destination. We actually loitered for a little while at 27 Brunswick SQUARE instead of 27 Brunswick TERRACE, but eventually we got ourselves straightend out, met owner Greg who let us in and gave us a whirlwind tour.
We unpacked, got mildly settled, and quickly set back out again. We went to the bank (HSBC on North St? Rd?) where we closed our joint account (leaving open my personal ones), then headed to Waitrose to pick up some tea, scotch, biscuits, and a few other essentials.
No sooner had we arrived back with our bounty, it was time for me to head out again. I was meeting my Singing Horse Studio mates. At my suggestion, we met in the Sussex Yeoman — I had a hankering for their sussex burger. It was such a pleasure to spend time with H, Si and Johnny again. Doing so made the trip feel worthwhile right there. Each of them are continuing the adventure in their own way, and soon SHS will be just H’s. Also, I was astonished to learn that both H and Si had stopped drinking. That’s got to be tough in such a pub culture, but hats off to both of them. Johnny looked quite a bit fitter as well.
Back in the flat, I had some of the previously mentioned biscuits (Fox’s custard creams), and went to bed. Alas, sleep wasn’t very easy as I woke a bit after 02:00 and remained awake until around 05:00. I passed some of the time reading. I’m re-reading “A Fire Upon the Deep” by Vernor Vinge on my Kindle. Definitely a favorite.
Oh, and telephone woes. I brought my (unlocked) Nexus One, but it continues to restart itself when I try to do anything with it. And the foreign data rates for Verizon border on data-usery — $25.00 per 100M of data. Ouch.