Day 1 of UK Trip
July 5, 2009

Hi Everyone

As per usual I will a blog of our UK trip. I can’t call it a “holiday” because I will be working for some of the days. Quite a strange feeling actually when we were leaving because I usually start relaxing knowing that I have 3 weeks holiday ahead but in this case I have holiday interspersed with working.

Well we left last night on the BA flight to London. Chloe was SO excited the whole day she kept on checking on the time and trying to find things to pass the time. The day seemed to drag on for her – I can remember those days just before we left on holiday when I was growing up! We left at 5:30pm and after driving about 100 meters down the road I realised I forgot my sunglasses and given the amount of driving we will be doing that would have been a disaster. We still got to the airport in plenty of time, checked-in, through security and passport control with no problems. In between checking-in and going through security I realised I had left my camera behind … fortunately I can borrow my Dad’s (he has the same one as mine).

The flight didn’t start well in that when they showed the safety briefing my TV screen didn’t show anything. I didn’t notice (too busy reading my book) but Chloe told me. I wasn’t too concerned about missing the safety briefing but I was concerned about what movie I wouldn’t be able to watch and so I pointed out the issue to the crew who promptly started to give me a manual (personalised) safety briefing! Just what I needed when I was only really worried about getting the movies working. My challenge was how to cut her off and get her focussed on fixing my movies! I fortunately managed to succeed when I told I had flown last Saturday and could still remember the briefing from last time.

Unfortunately the movie problem continued and not only did my movies not work but Michael & Chloe also had problems. It eventually resulted in a system reset being done of the whole plane and that got everyone’s working except mine which decided to freeze about 1 hour into the movie. “Freeze” being the correct word because the hand held remote display read “-5” and when I woke it the morning it had warmed up to “-4” but the screen was still frozen. The chief ‘kahuna’ cabin man even came to see what he could do, looked suitably surprised said he would reset it, came back 5 minutes later and said he had reset it and it should be working but it was still frozen. He gave up and as my loving children wouldn’t give up their seats I got to read until I went to sleep. Everyone slept well and we woke at 5am (UK time – 6am SA time) with breakfast being served.

We had a great view of London as we made our way into Heathrow. It was a beautifully clear morning and you could see the trademark London spots such as the Thames, London Eye and of course Lord’s Cricket Ground (the holy, sacred turf of the greatest sport in the world). We landed slightly early, cleared passport control without too much hassle (though the guy was totally confused as to why I was returning to the UK where I worked to have a holiday) and by the time we got to the carousel our bags were already circulating. We headed out to the car rental agency and picked up our car (they kindly upgraded us to car I feel quite familiar with – an E-class Merc!). It was 8am and we already on the road down to my parent’s home and after making a brief stop at a ‘services’ for something to drink (and breakfast for Michael who hadn’t eaten on the plane), we got to my parents at 9:30am.

Unfortunately my Mom was not going so well as she had a medium to large dose of Chemo on Friday as part of the preparation for the Stem Cell transplant. She was feeling very nauseous, cold then hot and generally weak. She definitely improved seeing the family and talking to the kids and stayed up and downstairs the whole afternoon and evening and even managed a little food this evening. We pray that she will have a good night’s rest and that tomorrow she will be feeling stronger again. Stephen has been here for a week and has (seemingly) thoroughly enjoyed himself. He has earned a lot of pocket money working as a ‘handlanger’ for my Dad and he even has developed his own routine while here. When I told him to get ready for bed earlier this evening he asked ‘What about watching the 10pm News?’ I don’t think I have ever seen him watch the News in my life but he now has to watch the 10pm News in the UK!

We depressingly watched the Boks being comprehensively beaten by the Lions and then Helen and I went out to the shops for a brief outing. We visited the local supermarket (Waitrose) which is an amazing shop. You can register to self-scan your groceries which just about has to be one of the best things I have ever seen. Of course it would never work in SA – just imagine it, scan one item and put 10 other items into the bag. The challenge in SA would be to see how little you could scan and still go uncaught. Not sure how they let my Dad register for it, knowing him he probably forgets to scan 1 out of every 2 items!

Played cricket with boys and then had the mandatory Saturday pm braai. Once we had finished supper and cleared up it was 8pm and the sun was still high in the sky so we decided to take a walk into the local village (Burley). It is about a 30 minute walk there (and obviously 30 minutes back as well!) and it was quite a pleasant walk even though we had to do a lot of ‘pooh’ evading (from the horses which roam free in the New Forest). Only Helen, Michael, my Dad and I went – Stephen stayed to watch over granny and Chloe didn’t fancy the walk.

A nice relaxing day and now I am feeling very tired so the bed is looking quite attractive …. Will write again tomorrow!

Peter, Helen and the 3 ugly ducklings

Photo of the back of Forest Edge
Photo of the back of Forest Edge

(Thanks to my grandpa for this image)