Judy's and Barry's Great Adventure
Wednesday/Thursday May 2nd/3rdJudy and I arrived in London on the 3rd of May - a wonder!!Things were planned to the enth degree "except" Judy had assured me we were departing Kamloops at 5:30 p.m.. We arrived at the airport "early"- around 3:45 p.m. just as a flight for Vancouver was departing - "OURS". Our flight to London was to depart the Vancouver airport at 8:15 p.m. We left the Kamloops airport at 4:00 p.m. or so with Leslie, who had driven us out to drop us off. We had the cell and made all necessary alternate arrangements for her cat and dog, and a place for Leslie to stay - a friend of Stacey's in Abbotsford - and info was given to let the airline know we were on our way! We arrived at the Vancouver airport at 7:40 p.m. Ladies on a shuttle called to let the airline know that two passengers for Air Canada flight 896 were there to make the flight - the reply - "The Browns? They made it? " We were shuttled with luggage to a drop off, shuttled to security, and then to our gate. THE REST IS HISTORY! Judy can laugh now but she was mortified when it happened and I can not say what state she would have been in had we missed the flight to Britain. The flight was long as expected. We did have the pleasure of finding out that we were on the same flight with a fellow "retired" teacher and good friend, Sandy Holmes, who was on her way to Ireland, for three weeks, with a friend.We arrived - our luggage didn't. We were each given an overnight kit.Judy and I were met at Heathrow by my cousin Judith and transported in her car to her home in West Ealing. Judith very thoughtfully had taken the day off to accommodate us. While we all waited for Fiona, Judith's partner, to come home from work we visited their allotment- a rented plot of land on which they grow produce. Judith need to do some watering. When Fiona came home we headed out to a gastro-pub - Ealing Park Tavern - for a drink and a bite to eat.Friday May 4thJust as Fiona had predicted, Judy and I awoke early - around 4:00 a.m. Later, after breakfast - including some delicious fruit smoothies created by Judith - Fiona headed off on her 10 mile bike ride to work and Judith, Judy and myself headed off to Walthamstow in the car. We took photos of some of mom's old haunts - the home in which she grew up, and the churches in which she was baptised and married. Unfortunately the church in which she was married had to be rebuilt twice. Bernadette, a lovely lady at the church who has lived in the parish for years, kindly offrered to take our name and address. She said she would check her old photos in her "loft" to see if she could find a photo of the original church. We then drove around the area for a bit, stopped and took photos of Judith's home when she was growing up, and then stopped at "Edmonton" Ikea for a lunch of Sweedish meatballs and fries.Later after relaxing at home we ordered "fish and chips" for pick-up.After dinner Fiona introduced me to the wonder of www.offexploring.com which is why this site is up and running.We then made plans for the 5th - while looking over the many brochures that Judith had picked up for us.Saturday May 5thEarly to rise - yet again - but not quite as early. "More" smoothies!After working on the website for a while, while everyone finished breakfast, we headed off to Westminster in central London on the "Tube". We walked to Whitehall, and past 10 Downing to see the changing of the guards. Ten Downing was extremely well guarded - gates, machine guns etc. Judy and I were dwarfed in a photo taken with us standing beside one of the guards. After stopping for some maps we walked through St. James's Park, came out close to Regeant Street and then walked up to Picadilly Circus. There were crowds everywhere and huge video screens constantly showing ads.We took a photo at the statue of "Eros", then stopped for coffee at Cafe Nero and after that we walked to Leicester Square - lots of theatres, cinemas. Next we walked down Gerrard Street to Chinatown and stopped for lunch at the "Crispy Duck". After lunch we took a "Black Cab" ride to Tower Bridge where we joined a walking tour group. This particular walking tour, chosen by Judy, was called "This is London" and was described in the brochure as a " Flash-Bang-Lightening Highlights Tour!" Our guide was "Judy" and the trip began with a boat ride on the Thames. Judy made a great choice as "Judy" turned out to be one terrific guide. "Judy" is a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide who was winner of the London Tourist Board's prestigious Guide of the Year award. The tour embarked at Tower Bridge and we went ashore at Westminster Bridge. We took in The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. James's Park, Whitehall, Buckingham and St. James's Palaces, The Mall and Trfalgar Square.After the walking tour we walked back to Picadilly Circus and along Picadilly Road. We stopped at Fortnum and Masons and bought some coffee beans. At Cinq we had coffee and treats and then headed home on the Tube.Upon arriving home, Fiona headed off to visit her uncle who was in hospital, Judith began supper, Judy began reading and I worked on the website.We were spoiled yet again. Dinner began with a starter of avocado, melon and pear with a dressing and then the best fish cakes we have ever had and salad and icecream and chocolate for dessert. Some TV was viewed and our bed was welcoming.Sunday May 6thWe slept well! Our bodies were adjusting. We had a Sunday breakfast of eggs, bacon and sausage - prepared "of course" by Judith.Judy and I got directions from Judith and Fee, were given Judith's cell phone, and then headed out alone to the "London Eye". The directions given were great and we arrived without incident. The "London Eye" is an enormous ferris wheel with around 30-32 enclosed glass cabins each holding about 25 passengers. Our "flight", as trips are described, took about 30 minutes. This attraction is nearing the end of its planned time and will close down permanently on the 4th or 5th of June this year. After the ride we immediately headed home. We were returning directly as we were to have lunch with Judith's brother David and his son Mark, at the house. We were in a bit of a rush. Judith's phone rang just as we had hastily changed to the Picadilly Tube from the one heading to Wimbledon. I needed help from a young fellow, as I did not know how to answer the call. After letting Judith know we would be just a couple of minutes more we realized that in our haste we had changed to another Tube which was also heading to Wimbledon. We went one stop, took the Tube back, successfully got on the Picadilly Tube, arrived at our stop - "Northfields", and walked quickly home.We enjoyed a great mid-day dinner with David and Mark joining Judith, Fiona, Judy and me. As a part of the meal Judith prepared a special treat just for me - Steak and Kidney Pie! It was a great family time - lots of memory sharing.After dinner Judith and I spent time looking over family photos and papers - a well documented family tree to which we added some of our family information.We had a light supper and some snacks during movie night, then went to bed. It was another great day.Monday May 7thWe awoke once again to a chorus of birds - now more on schedule with this side of the world. I again was first up. While sitting and reflecting on mom and England and the wonderful contact that had been established with Judith and Fiona a sudden wave of emotion overcame me. I shared my feelings with Judy before breakfast. Later, Judith created a mushroom omlette for me and the ladies had Eggs Benedict. I tasted the sauce -not being overly fond of this style of egg - it was delicious. I would actually have eggs this way if judith prepared them.Armed with maps, directions and an umbrella - it was overcast and threatening rain - Judy and I headed off to St. Paul's. We changed successfully at Holben, but enroute we learned that we could not get off at St. Paul's Station due to maintenance so we got off one stop sooner and then walked. We viewed the Cathedral, took a very short ride on a doubledecker, made a pit stop at the London Hilton and then walked down Drury Lane past Covent Garden and the theatre district to the British Museum. We sat inside the glass covered atrium and ate a snack of aplles and bars and then toured the Egyptian and Mesopotamian Exhibits - you would need "days" to see everything.When we exited the museum the weather had cleared and the sky was blue once again. We both felt weary and decided to head down Oxford Street and home - this time without a glitch.After tea and crumpets some work was done on the website and time was spent looking at family photos and chatting - time we so enjoy with Judith and Fiona. We made plans for dinner at Annie's - we all enjoyed our meals. Judy had a lamb burger, Judith had a bone in lamb dish, and Fiona and I had steak burgers with goat cheese and fries.That evening Judith, Judy and I had a long chat with respect to my experiences with my mother and her family, and how wonderful it was to have begun what will be a long and happy relationship with each other. It again was a very emotional time for me and this time for Judith as well. Tuesday May 8thJudy awakened at 4:00 a.m. This flight was not to be missed! I arose first and went to do the usual; make a coffee, eat something, check emails and hockey scores and update the website.Packing was easy.After breakfast Fiona rode off to work and Judith drove us to the airport.