Lord’s Cricket Ground

It is World Cup Cricket time in the UK at the moment and we (me and my 3 children) had tickets to the SA v Pakistan game. It was my birthday present to myself and what made it special was having all 3 of my kids come along with me. As it turned out it was another poor SA performance but it was a still a nice day because watching cricket for a day generally beats doing anything else. And watching cricket at Lord’s Cricket ground is also always special.

What made the defeat hard to swallow was the ridiculous amount of support for the Pakistan team at the ground. It felt like it was a home game for Pakistan. Besides an SA supporter sitting next to us, we were surrounded by Pakistan supporters who cheered every run, jumped up and signaled 4 or 6 every time they hit a boundary and constantly were chanting “Pakistan, Pakistan”. They even played some Pakistan song over the loudspeakers on a regular basis which got the whole crowd singing along. Really did feel a little biased towards Pakistan and unfortunately the SA cricket team contributed with their poor performance to the celebrating Pakistani’s.

The other three all went their own ways yesterday (none of them wanted to come to cricket). H went to All Souls Church, O went to listen to hear her Dad at St Simon Zelotes (https://www.stsimonzelotes.com/) where he was guest preaching and K toured across London and visited the V&A Museum of Childhood Victoria and Albert Museum and Freud Museum (https://www.freud.org.uk/) which apparently is in his home.

We then all had a birthday celebratory dinner together at the flat afterwards. I figured given we are likely to be eating out a lot over the next few weeks we should rather have a home cooked meal on our last night in London.

We fly later today to the US. Besides me, everyone else had trouble checking in for the flight. I eventually managed to sort out H & C (they are on the same booking) and got them checked in. We also discovered that the other 4 of them didn’t have ticket numbers in their bookings and on calling BA it turned out that their tickets had actually never been issued! Helen had already spent about an hour trying to solve S&K’s ticket issue so we have no idea why it wasn’t resolved the first time. M&O though had exactly the same issue. O spent an hour sorting out their tickets on the phone to BA and then S spent about the same time doing that as well. We finally got them resolved at about 8pm last night but we still struggled to get everyone checked in. O managed to check in but M couldn’t and S&K couldn’t at all either. I decided to move the car pick up earlier so we could resolve at Heathrow but then suddenly this AM we discovered that BA must have checked S&K in (because they were checked in) and then I managed after multiple attempts to get M checked in. You just have to wonder at the BA systems!

Until tomorrow (when we will hopefully be in the US) …

P, M (because he stayed with me until I was ready to leave the cricket), S (because he left after C), C (because she came to cricket), H (because she was the only one to give me a gift yesterday), O (because she spent an hour on the phone with BA), K (sorry … she did navigate herself around London yesterday but someone has to be last!)

Finally all in London

We are all finally in London together. Unfortunately it didn’t all go to plan though. On Friday I finished the conference in Montreal and as I had nothing to do in the afternoon I headed for the airport. While I was in the taxi heading for the airport, S & K were boarding their plane to London. They left on time and so we due to land in London at around 6:30am. The plan was that I would meet up with them at the airport as my flight from Montreal was due in also at 6:30am.

By the time I had cleared security, I had about 5 hours to wile away at the airport. My plan was to do some work as it was my last working afternoon before I started my leave. The set up in the Air Canada lounge though wasn’t ideal for working though I did manage to do some emails at least. I was constantly checking that all was still on time with my flight and at about 4pm it actually updated saying we would arrive at 6:15am so all seemed on track. Then suddenly at 5pm I got a notification that the flight was delayed and arriving now departing at 8pm (instead of 6:50pm) and then a few minutes later another one saying 8:35pm and then another one a few minutes after that saying 9:35pm. At about 8:45pm it updated then to a 9:50pm departure and I started to doubt I was ever going to leave Montreal.

There is a limited amount of time you can spend in a lounge in an airport and I was fast approaching that limit especially since the last 3 hours were unplanned. I had eaten everything there was to eat and watched enough Netflix and now wanted to actually get on a plane and leave. The added irritation was that I had specifically kept myself in UK time and with the 5 hour time difference it really did feel like 2am in the morning for me and I really wanted to go to sleep. I was now starting to have my doubts we were going anywhere that night. It didn’t help then when we were queuing to board (this was now at 9:30pm and I was starting to doubt the 9:50pm departure time), the two guys behind me were giving a running commentary on how stressed the gate departure staff were looking. Each time the leader got a call they would make up the conversation between the two of them like “I’m not telling these people that we are further delayed” or “You come down here yourself and tell them the flight is cancelled” or “What did you say – there’s a technical problem we can’t fix”.

We did eventually board at 9:45pm though and we took off at 10:30pm with the expected arrival time into London of 9:30am (3 hours late). No explanation ever given, no apology either at the gate or on the plane. Seemed like a standard thing that happens and when I tracked the on time performance of the flight I found out it is actually a regular thing. 20% of the time that particular flight is late by more than 2 hours. Air Canada were just ‘proudly’ voted number 1 airline in North America. You can just imagine how bad the rest of them are!

By the time I arrived, S & K had arrived in London, gone to the flat for a shower and already headed out with the rest of them to Natural Science Museum. I drove past the museum at 10:30am when they were touring around it. As I had slightly less than 4 hours sleep on the flight, I had had a quick nap when I arrived and Helen went off to sit in St James Park and read. As you can tell from that the weather was quite nice (which in London means not raining). In the evening we decided to have a picnic in St James Park as well and joined the numerous other people sitting on the grass doing likewise. It was nice to have the whole bunch of us together and on holiday.

I am busy typing this quietly in the lounge because M & S are sleeping in here (lack of beds for all of us) and I have been awake since 5am (not sure my body knows what timezone I am in at the moment).

Until tomorrow …

P, H (because she was only one at flat when I arrived), C (because she’s my favorite daughter), S, M, O & K

London for some, Montreal for one

M & O arrived safely into London on Wednesday morning and were in the flat at around 8:30am. After a quick shower, H, M & O headed out for breakfast at Abuelo (https://www.abuelocafe.co.uk/) which seems to be Helen’s new favourite breakfast spot in London. After breakfast they headed to Westfield Shopping Mall (which is probably London’s biggest mall – I haven’t fact checked that but I would be surprised if it wasn’t). While they were doing that I was heading to Heathrow to catch my Air Canada flight to Montreal which left at 2pm.

I arrived in Montreal at 4pm (Canadian time) which was 9pm UK time and the first thing I did was check the cricket score to find out we had now definitely been knocked out of the World Cup. I wasn’t hopeful before I climbed on the plane after seeing how slowly we were batting but I was still praying for a miracle that unfortunately never occurred. On an entirely different note, I do love Canadian immigration. You scan your own passport, answer a few questions, it prints a slip of paper and you walk over to customs who look at it, ask where you come from and off you go. From landing to being in the taxi took me only 30 minutes. I’m staying at Fairmont Queen Elizabeth (https://www.fairmont.com/queen-elizabeth-montreal/) which is in downtown Montreal. Nothing special, just like any other hotel in a downtown area. The picture is the view from my room. And yes the weather is that lousy – 16 degrees and raining.

Thanks to jetlag (and very little attempt for me to get into the Canadian time zone), I went to sleep at around 7:30pm and woke up at 3am. Same thing last night. I am hoping that (because I fly back to London tonight) I will avoid jetlag entirely as I will be back in London for the weekend. It does also mean I can answer emails and do some work before the conference starts each day. Canadians seem to love starting their conferences early. 7:45am start for the first session each day – definitely the earliest I have started a conference anywhere in the world.

While I was conferencing yesterday, the other 4 (H, C, M & O) went to Regent’s Park and then up Primrose Hill. H & C then went to Taste of London which is happening this week until Sunday in Regent’s Park. Not sure why it is called Taste of London though because from the looks of what Helen and Chloe ate there it should be called Taste of the World.

One more day of conferencing awaits me and then back to London tonight for me. S & K also leave tonight for London and if all goes well we will meet up at Heathrow tomorrow morning!

Until Saturday …

P, H, C, M & O

UK & US trip

We are just starting a family holiday to the UK and US. For a variety of reasons we are leaving SA on 4 different flights. H & C left on Saturday night, P on Sunday night and M & O are leaving tonight. S & K still to depart on Friday night. Everyone is flying into London.

Globe Theatre

H & C spent Sunday walking along the South bank of the Thames and then (after a drink at a pub as one does when in the UK) spontaneously went to watch Henry V at the Globe Theatre. They did the original thing and bought a standing ticket for £5 and spent the next 3 hours standing. They said it was excellent and worth repeating. They were doing this while I was on a flight from Cape Town to London which fortunately was uneventful.

I have spent the last 2 days working while H & C have enjoyed a few days in London. Today C went to York to meet up with some friends and will spend the night up there before returning tomorrow to London. M & O arrive tomorrow morning from Johannesburg (they flew via Jhb and have just taken off). I am going to Montreal (for business) for the next 2 days and I will overlap briefly tomorrow morning with M&O before I head to Heathrow for my flight to Canada.

When you’re in London you must mention the weather. The temperature has been quite mild (around 20 degrees C) and until midday today it has been dry. At lunchtime though and most of the afternoon it has been raining and they’re predicting thundershowers for the rest of today and tomorrow as well. You can’t expect to come to London and not have it rain though!

Until I write again … won’t promise when because I don’t know when I will write given I am still working!

P, H & C … with M & O on the way