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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

England 2009 Map One,-2.444458&spn=0.546279,1.757813&z=9&msid=115932144596910711031.00046ad4505799a6af723
England Part V
Monday, May 25, 2009

After breakfast it is time for a ride into town to attempt to get online at Starbucks. It is early, the streets are deserted, and it is also a Bank Holiday. Nothing much happens on a Bank Holiday here, at least not in the past when I’ve been here. Today however, it becomes quite busy as the stores slowly open for business. It seemed that in the past not much was open in town on a Bank Holiday, not so today. While sitting in the Starbucks window writing the town slowly comes to life. Again this year my computer will not connect to Starbucks WiFi. After finishing my coffee it is time to head back to the Y where I’m camping. While sitting in the common room writing away a family enters and they sound American. Asking the where they are from brings the response “Prescott Arizona.” Moses is a literature teacher at Yavapi College on holiday for two months with his family. They are camping, but driving not cycling through the English country side. Having visited the Cathedral earlier in the day I’d decided to attend evening songfest, since I’d not done that before.

The service was a treat, as always, when you listen to a 16th century organ backing a wonderful choir. This choir is one that is visiting for the month from Tennessee. There is a short sermon about the minister’s ongoing relationship with a childhood friend, and how much it had mean to him along the way. His friend was not church oriented, but even so interested in the minister’s life, not judging his choice. However, there was a person who had chosen to spend a great deal of time attempting to convert the minister’s friend and judging him as lacking. This was connected to the Saint of the day who had died in 709 and had made a life of not judging. It was a nice message, as have all the sermons I’ve heard here.

After the service it’s off to the pub for dinner and Skypeing, talking with my daughter, then Mark, then my friend Lisa in Flagstaff. After answering some emails it is growing late and the sun is going down so time to head back to the Y. Entering the common room and finding it full of people the idea of writing a bit more is tossed out and it’s off to bed. Again the rain on the tent lulls me to sleep.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

At breakfast I chat with Mark and Ellen, their children Kathy and Quinton about being on holiday, traveling around the states, and in England. They are from London and were coming back from visiting family in Mere a town that was part of my journey last year. They encourage me to head for the Lake District telling me I’ll not be disappointed. Having spent a great deal of thinking about how I’m going to get to Austria an plan has been formed. So tomorrow I’ll head out to Pewsey spend the night them ride the canal, in the opposite direction from what Mark and I road, to Hungerfore catch a train to Oxford, then on to Wales, Liverpool, The Lake District, then training back to Salisbury in time for the closing night of the festival.

Then I’ll lock up most of my stuff in lockers at the y, bike to the station, lock up the bike there and head to Stapleford Airport to catch Ryan Air to Graz in Austria. Rent a bike at the rail station, head south to a campgrounds that is 8 miles from the town I which to visit. That’s as far as I’ve got figured out at this point. I’ll think more about it as I travel.

England 2009 - Part IV

Saturday, May 23, 2009

We have been at the Hudson’s field campground since our return from the canal. It is a very pleasant, clean campground, but quite crowed as it will be a bank holiday on Monday which makes for a three day weekend. We ride into town for breakfast at the Pub then Mark will go to the Fairy Tale venue for the festival, and I’ll hang outside one of the coffee shops and walk around the town market which is one of my favorite things. We agree to meet after his event is over at the coffee shop. I sit for a bit and write, then walk for a bit and find myself at TK Maxx, buy a few things I don’t need then walk some more.

I run into Mark and we go to have a Cream Tea another of my favorite thing. While there Mark uses my phone to call his mother, they chat for a bit, he hangs up and walks out into the court yard. Upon his return I could tell he’d been veklemped by the experience. Prior to his call I had just gotten off the phone with my daughter and could understand his emotions. Lately I find myself wanting to spend more and more time with my kids and grandkids. When I can’t get down to Phoenix I do miss them a great deal. I spoke to my mother also, who returned to Florida safely, and was able to Skype my sister which is a great deal of fun.

I suggest we that the bus tour over to Stonehenge which we do. The ride is crowed, the road to the site is backed up and the walks around the stones filled with people. We pick up our headsets listening to the narrator as we circle the Stones. Around the Stones are “Boroughs” that are burial chambers of the people who lived here long ago. I was told that you can look into them as I did the Long Borough I visited last year. So I tell Mark that I want to walk out to them, he does not. So I’ll catch the next bus and meet him at the coffee shop, then we’ll have dinner. I walk out to find all the Boroughs are fenced off from the public; I was lied to. On the trip back we ride down a road that I attempted to ride up last year. I did not make it having to walk up almost the whole “Snake” road.

While waiting for the return bus at Stonehenge I’m sitting on a wall along the entrance walkway. I family is there in discussion which I’m trying to make out, but can’t. A child of this family who is about 3 is on his scooter getting in the way of people. I’m watching people pass and then notice that this child has rolled up to me and is offering me a leaf. He has the huge smile on his face one happy little boy as he places the leaf in my out stretched hand. He then proceeds to point to my leg his smile disappearing for just a moment he looks me in the eye and says something I don’t understand. Looking at my leg I see he is pointing to a small cut. “Ouchy” I say. He nods his head and we both smile, we have communicated. His parents notice pull him away apologizing that he has bothered me. No trouble at all but by their plastic smile they did not understand me.

Mark wants to go for one last ride around town since he is leaving tomorrow. I take him on a ride through some pastures alongside one of the five rivers that run through Salisbury. It is a beautiful evening we have dinner outside enjoying the view. We watch a group of people on the bridge across from us, we are eating next to the water at an old mill, sing the English National Anthem. It is time to head back to the campground after picking up supplies for breakfast. Mark does a wash as we chat and make plans for getting him to Crawley the next day. I decide I’ll take the train with him hang around for a while have and early Sunday Roast then head back to Salisbury. But first I have to move my campsite to the Y, so we have a plan of sorts.

Sunday, May 24, 2009
Salisbury to Crawley

We are up early and packing the bags, Mark to head home, me to head to the Y and camp. We cook breakfast, clean up, and then since my bike is packed I’m off to the Y and will meet Mark at the train station. When I arrive his bike is already chained and his bag is packed, we had purchased our tickets the day before so knowing Mark already asked which track we need to go to. In order to get to the correct track we need to go down to a tunnel that runs under the railways. We arrive at the platform which is for track 2 and 3, our train will be on track 2. As we wait there is an announcement of the next train coming into the station. Mark says that our train, but we’re on the wrong platform.

I follow Mark back to the main platform which turns out to be track 1, not 2 so we go down to the tunnel again and back to platform we started at where the train is sitting about to leave. We are in luck getting on just as the whistle blows. Once the conductor blows his whistle there is no more getting on the train, and it is off. I find a seat, one of the few left, Mark joins me. Way to confining in addition I’d be riding backwards for the whole trip nope can’t do that. I move to a seat that is facing forward, mark moves also, but is still riding backwards. I begin chatting with the fellow next to me whose name is Roy and is heading to London to see is five day old granddaughter.

As we talk about grandchildren, children, and what not a young lady sits in the seat across from me. I begin talking to her and find out that she has lived in Salisbury for eight months where she is practice, is from Burgundy, France. The four of us have a pleasant chat during the one hour trip to Clapham Junction were Mark and I will change trains heading toward Crawley. At Claphan Junctions we say good bye exchange cards and promise to keep in touch. Now Mark schleps his bag up the steps and down to catch the train to Gatwick. One hour later we arrive, no one to chat with on this train, and take a cab to Mark’s hotel.

After checking in we walk about Crawley for a bit, it is 3:30pm to early for dinner. We sit in a Pub for awhile sipping a Coke people watching. Around 4:00pm we talk about what time I want to get back to Salisbury, then deicide he’s not going to be hungry for awhile so I’ll head back. We part at his hotel with a hug as headed to the rail station arriving just in time to catch the next train back to Salisbury. As I sit alone I’m over come with a feeling I’d not experienced in a very long time. Long ago, when I was a child, we’d have a larger family dinner for Christmas at my grandmothers. In the morning I’d feel such a loneliness and missing of all the people that had been there the night before. I’d visualize each person where had been seated around the table. That feeling grabbed my gut now as the train moved away. Tears came to my eyes as I was already missing Marks Company.

It had been a long time coming, this trip, and over far too soon. I feared that I’d pushed him to hard, or there he’d wanted to do, something he missed. Mostly it was a fear of his being mad at me and not talking to me anymore because I’d not made the trip enjoyable enough. But, mostly I just missed him and hanging out something we’d not done in a very long time. Riding alone the rest of the time here seems barren, without reason. The past three years riding alone was a time to sort myself out, and I’d hope Mark would get some of that magic. Now I’m thinking what’s to be sorted out now? In the past I’d be online with him or Gary when things came up that needed taking about. Old fears of rejection and loss had come out in force so that by the time Salisbury was reached I was Verklempt to the max.

Having dinner alone at the pub I turned on my computer and Skyped him, there he was. We talked, laughed and talked about the next trip. When that will happen I don’t know, but one thing I decided is we’d do the trip his way. I’m ready to go to ride the flat land of Holland, see Amsterdam move away from the hard rides to see what comes from the easier one’s rather them judge them a useless. See you when I get back buddy. I get a call on Skype from my daughter. How fun is that to see her, Mike and the boys who are thousands of miles away. If they are missed so much already, how much more will they be missed by the end of June. After the computer it was time to check in with my son.

He was having a busy day with his friend Sean, from Texas, who has been visiting for two weeks. It is amazing how different these men are from the boys they were. As they tell tales of their past I’m hoping that their lives will give the great one’s for their grandkids. All is well at home so I head off to sleep with the pitter patter of rain on the tent. Thanks Mark for taking the sun with you.

England 2009 - Part III

England Part III
Thursday, May 21. 2009
Wilcot to Devizes

I take Mark up to the bridge overlooking the canal and tell him my concerns. He tell me he can do it, but I’m still concerned. We walk down the slope to the path and I tell Mark “Always get off the bike on the side away from the canal, never step into the tall grass as there may be on ground there, just canal. We begin the ride which even in the dry weather wares on the nerves. I’m fearful that Mark will lose control and end up in the thing. I fearful I’m so busy worrying about Mark I’ll not pay attention and end up in the thing. The path is narrow and at time catches the back tire giving you the feeling that the bike will tip over. There are bridges that we must go underneath which are, maybe, 2 or 3 foot in width. I tell Mark that we dismount at bridges and walk. I’m always fearful of getting vertigo and having the bike pull me into the canal.

We meet several people who are boating on the canal, stop and chat them move on. I can tell this is far beyond Marks comfort level, as it is beyond mine. After a while he wants to know if there is a road we can switch to. I tell him that I do not know of a road that will get us to where we want to go. “The canal widens not far from here.” I point down the canal and we ride on, something that does not thrill Mark at all. We stop at bridge that carries the canal over a major highway. We laugh at the sight and wonder at the engineering since the canal was here first. This relieves some of the tension, but it is a hard ride to Devizes.

Upon reaching the town I manage to find the coffee shop I stopped in last year. We park our bikes outside a bed and breakfast pub. I can tell as Mark looks hungrily at the building what is going on in his head. I tell Mark that we have some options at this point. We can continue on looking for the campground I could not find last year, or divert to Westbury where the train is a return to Salisbury. If we chose the campground in the morning we can ride to trowbridge and take the train back to Salisbury. Both the campground options require more canal riding, however at this point the canal is much wider with a paved path to ride. Mark opts for finding the campground, then heading to trowbridge in the morning returning to Salisbury by midday. We head over to the Information center, get directions to the campground and head down the canal.

At one point we have to switch sides and I have forgotten how to find the riding path. We pass another Bed and Breakfast which Marks wants to know if we should check out the prices. I point to the canal he nods his head, the way back on found we ride. This part of the canal has something like 30 locks in a row and Mark becomes interested in watching how one of the boats maneuvers through. This is a good thing as it takes both our minds off the having to ride the canal further. We arrive at the campground, set up, have dinner, both being worn by the day’s ride we wobble back to the camp grounds to crash.

Friday, May 22, 2009
Devizes to Salisbury

In the morning we reload the bike’s cook a little breakfast and then spend half the day canal riding to the town of Trowbridge. This time the canal is wide and the path mostly black top or cinder making it an easy ride. We reach the town, ask directions to the rail station, and with the help of a passerby we find it. I’m always amazed at how helpful the people in England are. The passerby is a lady heading to town to do some shopping. She say’s “I’m headed that way follow me.” We have to go up about five steps, which is not easy with fully loaded bikes, and she help pull up each of our bikes. We have just met an angle.

We are back in Salisbury and will stay here for the next three days. Tonight is the beginning of the Salisbury Festival each day filled with music, plays, and dancing, where’s Lisa, just great fun. Mark wanted to come back to Salisbury to see a fantasy story telling deal tomorrow. We have dinner, write a bit then head to the market square to watch the opening event. It is some kind of high wire act with music has best we can make out. Arriving at eight we find out it does not start until nine. Mark wants to know if it will be safe to ride back to the campground in the dark. I assure him it will be fine and have done it several times during past festivals. I’m not sure he is comfortable with that, but he stays.

While we are waiting for the performers I spy some of the town official, know by the larger gold necklace they ware. I turn around and am looking a something else and Mark taps me on the shoulder so I can take a picture of him and what turns out to be the mayor and Vise-Mayor. We both get our pictures taken with them and chat for awhile about Salisbury. The Mayor tells us she was born and raised in Salisbury, the Vise-Mayor born in the next town over and lived here all his life also. We talk about government for a bit and then the show starts.

This is a group of French street artists that combine drumming, dancing, and circus skills to put on their shows. They march throughout the square getting up close and personal with the audience. Dress in 1800’s military costumes then drum their way through the crowd from time to time performing a synchronized drumming and dance routine. Children follow then happily dancing to the beat of the drums. Finally the climb on an apparatus them become a human mobile pulled into the air by a crane. High above them was a trapeze flyer going through his routine as the drum away. It was quite a show which brought smiles to every ones faces. Prior to the drumming show we watched as street juggler worked magic with a long line of children. On each child he was able to produce wide eyes and gleeful smiles on each and every child by getting each to spin a ball on their small finger. I was amaze to watch these children wait patiently in line for a chance to have a ball spun on their fingers. I could not think of one youngster I knew of who would find this something to wait for.

Friday, May 22, 2009

England 2009, Part II

Part II England 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Gatwick to Salisbury
We arrive in Gatwick around 7am and are able to get through all the Custom lines, collected baggage, which had all showed up thank you very much. For the first two years I flew Continental and arrived in the south terminal. This year and last I’ve flown Delta which arrives in the North Terminal. So as we walk there is something unfamiliar about the surroundings. The baggage claim is in the wrong place, the ticket counter is in the wrong place everything is off, very disconcerting. Mark reads a sign which leads to the South Terminal and then the realization comes that I’m not where I thought I was. It struck me funny how clearly I remember getting around the terminal after the first two arrivals and had completely forgotten about last year’s arrival.

After finally finding the ticket counters we are told that the bus would not get us to Salisbury until 2pm, the train by 11am, we decided to take the train to Salisbury. Now Mark has one bag and a back pack and I have my two panniers with shoulder straps on them and a back pack. Mark’s one bag weighs as much as my two and we are hard pressed to move around. I had wanted to take the bus because the ride ends much closer to the YHA we’ll stay at the first night. I’m concerned that Mark will have a hard time schleping all that bulk up the hill. The train station is much further so my concern grows. As we board the train I think “my bike is at the train station and we can load both mine and Mark’s panniers on it and walk up to the Y” problem solved.

We have to change trains in order to get to Salisbury which requires us to schlep all our stuff off the train down the stairs, and then back up the stairs. As we wait for the train Mark has a snack and we people watch on the packed platform. We have arrived at rush hour which in England means packed trains and buses along with the roads. I think “the train to Salisbury should be empty since we are going away from London” wrong. We stand most of the way and I watch Mark peeking out the train door window to catch a glimpse of the country side. I’m reminded of doing the same thing on my first English train ride. We catch a seat about half way through the ride.

Upon arriving at Salisbury we head to the bike rack and low and behold my bike was still there (see picture). A bit dirty, tires a bit low, but still there which made me one happy camper. I explain to Mark my idea of how we’ll get all the bags to the Y. He need to go to the bathroom so smiling, out comes my handy, dandy tire inflator which, some may remember, works on CO2 cartages. I pulled out the two CO2 cartages that made the trip to England and found that they were both used. NOW WHO DID THAT????? So I use the hand pump, which I left on the bike and had also remained there for a year, to pump up the tires. Mark returns and we begin our walk to the Y, which is easy until we reach the hill leading up to the Y. We make it! There is more but I’ll tell it tomorrow I’m off to bed, Mark is going to stay up a while and write for his blog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Today was an exercise in being present, having fewer expectations, and letting go to so emotional weight that I’ve allowed to hang on me. Today I start with the realization this is the fourth year of staying here without knowing any of the staff’s names, nor have taken the time to find out, it is time to do that. I talk to Liz, Daily, and Alex using their first names treating them like people with lives, not paid servants. I ask them questions about their lives, which they are more than happy to answer. No judgments about them or what they have said by keeping the external dialog going while keeping the internal one quiet. Next the Bar maid, oh then the store clerk, and then the waitress, all of whom the mind could have released a flood of judgments about, are now people with names and lives of importance.

Back to yesterday after spending several hours walking around Salisbury looking at different bikes we jumped on a bus to Amesbury where I had purchased my bike. One of the owners a fellow named Darrin remembered me which gave cause to chat about how the bike was doing. I reminded him that I had stopped in last year so he could fix my broken derailer. As Mark looked Darrin and I chatted about life in Arizona. During this conversation Darrin made some remarks that led to my thinking “He thinks Mark and I are a Gay couple.” This led to the thought that there was a need for me to say something to set him straight. I’m conscience of me being involved in an external dialog while having an internal dialog. The internal dialog was a reaction to the external dialog which was built on something my mind had perceived as a truth. Now I become, myself observing me having both and internal and external dialog and the process of arriving at a belief that needed to be acted upon.

Mean while Mark found a bike he liked, which lead to some conversation about how the bike could be gotten back to Salisbury. One, Mark could ride it back. I thought back to my ride to Salisbury after purchasing the bike here, nope he’d never make it. I said so, he agreed. Two, I could ride it back however the bike could not be put together and ready until 4pm which was a bit late for that. Or, it would require another bus ride in the morning then the ride back on a bike that was not sized to me. Four, Darrin comes up with the idea of him driving us and the bike back to Salisbury; which he did. So now I notice I’m thinking “Boy this guy must be hard up for a sale.”

Within a few moments I observed myself coming up with judgments about Darrin based on what my mind had interpreted, but had to proof. Based on some comments my mind told me he was gay and therefore believed Mark and I were, then had taken a positive gesture and turned it into a negative one. On the ride back I am quiet filled with introspection about my belief that this non-productive belief system no longer resided within me; yet here it was. I saw a mocking smile suspended in space like the Cheshire cat’s. I’m sure that if this belief system was suspended once before it could be again.

We woke up at 7am (Tuesday) in time to have the breakfast that comes with our accommodations. I’d booked us a private room at the Salisbury YHA a month ago. We were so tired that neither of us woke the other with our snoring as we have done in the past. Usually the Y has a mixed age and nationality group in their rooms. This time, however, there are us and 32 English children on a school outing for the week. During breakfast Mark tells me that he was able to tell all the children a story last night after I turned in. It seems that the group was brought down to the common room in pj’s and given a choice of being read two stories. Mark gave them a third choice which they accepted. He was quite happy about getting and keeping the children’s interest as he spun his tail. We take a ride to the Pound Store and Halfords, a bike store, to pick up a few things. We return to the Y where I clean my bike up a bit and Mark attaches objects to his. I cringe as the hated GPS devise is attached along with being angry that it is here. I say nothing because I know he uses it as a speedometer and mileage keeper track of much like the little deal I have attached to my bike. I don’t know if he used the GPS system for anything else during the time we spend riding. At time he’d say we rode so many miles, or gone so fast, but nothing more. The result I actually forgot he had it and it caused no dissention between us.

It is now time for us to take a ride on a route that is of moderate difficulty which would be a good starting place. Having done this ride before, several times, I set believe that Mark can do it with a little prompting. There are some things that must be done when riding on the narrow, sometimes hilly roads of England. One, there is a need to ride as close to the shoulder as possible so cars, buses, trucks can pass you. Two, is to be able to ride very slowly wobbling as little as possible. The slowness comes for going uphill on a fully loaded bike sometimes slower then someone walking. Riding in low gears and wobbling gives you little control over the bike and you can end up in front of a vehicle or in a ditch. Both have happened to me and I’ve gotten hurt by this on several occasions. I want this trip to be a great experience for Mark so his getting hurt is out of the question. On the ride I’m behind Mark telling him he needs to ride closer to the shoulder, maybe get off and walk, or ride in a higher gear. As we ride he becomes irritated with me for telling him several times “stay out of the middle of the road.” Several cars and a bus come up on us a high rate of speed. There is barely room for them to get passed us sending a clear message that venturing into the road is not in your best interest.

Along the way he gets off the bike rubbing his leg and telling me he has a “Charlie horse.” “You need to ride through it if we’re going to ride any distance” is my answer as I ride by. Urged on he no longer gets off the bike on hills, slowly makes his way to the top, pushes to get through pain and fatigue. Arriving back in Salisbury I tell him “You have just ridden what you said yesterday you could not.” We had ridden the distance of going to Amesbury including riding up some of the worst hills in the area. I am hoping he is please with what he has accomplished today. We talk about our first venture into the English country side tomorrow. On the map I show different rides to get to a next campground. All will be twice as long as the ride we did today, he says “I can do it.” We decide to ride north to where there is a canal to ride along which is flat. This will require us to travel 25 miles in about six hours.

After arriving back from our bike riding adventure we have a dinner of Tomato and Pepper soup in the common room of the Y, and do a little writing on the computer. Mark has agreed to tell the children yet another story. I hear the children clapping with abandon when he finished, and has quite a smile on his face when he returns as we head off to sleep.(Posted 5/23/2009)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Salisbury to Wilcot
I have a feeling after breakfast the bikes came out from the shed to be loaded for the journey. Heading down the road the first mishap is Mark falling off his bike not far from the YHA. Then the second is Mark falling off his bike in the middle of town. Oh Oh third mishap landing him in the middle of the road. Each time I wait expectantly for him to say “I don’t want to do this,” thankfully nothing hurt except maybe pride, he rides on. His mishaps reminded me of falling off my bike several times the first year. After getting up, hurting each time, I wonder if this is one of my better ideas. I remember thinking I’ll sell the bike get a suitcase and train and bus the rest of the way, which I did not. It must be a cosmic learning thing of some kind that is a requirement of riding in England.

It was about 9am when we left and it takes us until 6pm to reach Wilcot which is about 28 miles north of Salisbury. Mark tells me we have changed elevation which adds up to 1200 ft, which I guess means that the cumulative climes we made. The ride has its share of narrow roads with hills to struggle up and wiz down always on the lookout for assorted cars, buses, and Lories barley fitting past each other. There are times we have to walk up a steep hill as peddling is slower. The scenery is full of different shades of green, huge tree who’s branches leaves give you the feeling of riding into a tunnel. Flowers of every color dot the landscapes, but are out done my fields full of yellow flowers. The sun has poked out from behind the clouds now and again allowing a cool refreshing breeze to make the ride very pleasant. Pleasant of course until your ass begins to hurt, legs begin to tire, and hills seem to get steeper as time rolls on. I ask Mark how he feels about his accomplishment and he says “I rather had done it in two days.” I am disappointed by the remark and I think Mark has made a ride which I think is a wonderful achievement and it seems is not impressed. When I first made a ride like that I was in agony, but ecstatic about the accomplishment.

My friend Gary has walked the Camino in Spain and often talked to me about wanting me to do it. However, he wants me to get what he did and we talk about how we hope people will experience the same things we do when traveling on a trip like this. When they don’t we become disappointed and our experience of the current trip is diminished. However, they may get something we didn’t and it’s all just different views of the same world. Now I ride away from Mark with all kinds of beliefs about and am saddened by the outcome of our first ride. During dinner he expresses that it seems he’s not met my expectations because he rode to slow or had to walk. I tell him he exceeded my expectations but seemed not to be impressed with what he had accomplished. He tells me he is impressed, but would rather have not had the experience of doing the trip in two days.

Wilcot is a very small town with a wonderful pub called the Golden Swan. I visited here last year by chance and this year by our choice. The Pub is run by a very nice couple Peter and Stephanie Tasker who have done a marvelous job with the old pub. The food is to die for as is the atmosphere of this 150 year old pub. Peter tells me he is having a birthday party for the pub in July, sadly I’ll be back in the home by then. While eating dinner we strike up a conversation with Sandra who is a Wilcotian since 1959. She is part American her father is from Louisiana who had married her mother during the war. Her daughter and grandson are visiting from New Zealand chat with us also. Sandra tells up about the Crop Circles that start appearing around this time of year. After dinner Mark and I spend time writing on the computer then off to sleep. Our tents are set up on a field behind the Pub, and as we approach I see a car has parked rather close to Mark’s. Hope the driver does not have too much to drink and drive over Mark on the way out.

This ride was different from last year as I found a new route to get the Wilcot. Tomorrow the plan is to ride the canal to Devizes, rest for the night then on to Bath. While Mark was setting up his tent I walk down to the canal to have a look. It is as narrow as I remember it from last year’s harrowing ride. I’m thinking this is not a good plan as Mark is still working on getting less wobbly at slow speeds. However, it is not raining so it might be a go. The tow path is about 8 to 10 feet wide covered with grass except for a thin trail in the middle where the grass has been worn away from people walking or riding.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

England 2009 Part 1

England 2009 – Part One
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Yesterday was my son had his annual birthday for his daughter, McKenna, and Spring Fling Party. It is a party he plans all year, inviting as many friends and family that can be found. There was as lease forty in attendance made up of kids and adults. There were several there who were in a church youth group which was in charge of while living in Kingman, AZ. It is great to see a group of people now in their forty’s still in touch with each other sharing their lives. People came from Florida, Texas and California as well as Arizona to gather in 100 degree heat to swim, drink, eat, and laughter.

A highlight of the evening was the performance of a rock bank put together by my son-in-law; Mike. It was great to see him just let go and get entirely in to his music. This was the coming out party for the band McCullin(Check spelling). He even wrote a birthday song, which he sang, for McKenna in fact he sang all the songs the band played allowing me to witness a new side of him. Great Job Mike!

The person from Florida was my mother, whom I had flown for a two week visit. Today we would head to the airport at different times she to head back to Florida, I to head to England. Needing to be at the airport by 7am I left my son’s house at 4:30am saying good bye to mother while worrying if she would get to the airport on time. Since starting to travel to England I have been plagued by the fear of not getting to the airport in time for my flights. So something new to think about on this trip since it is supposed to be a serendipitous trip. If things do not go according to plan punt was the game plan, right? However it seems there is some lurking process which does not allow 100 percent serendipity.

I arrive at Mark’s where I’ll be leaving my car during the trip. He is waiting and has called for a cab to take us to the airport. We are excited and nervous to be off on our adventure. Having told Mark about my agitation concerning missing the plane he has made sure we are at the airport by 5am. On the way he tells the cab driver he is going the long way and redirects him to a different route. I’m thinking the driver wanted to go the longer way to up his take on the fare. We arrive to a long line waiting to check in our bags, no extra fees for me this year, but It goes rather quickly. Now to get through security without mishap would be a blessing. By 5:30am we are at our gate with time to spare. We get a snack and settle in to wait for boarding at 6:30am, Mark asks if I am now relaxed. “Not until we’re on the plane!”

We are off with a high five on our adventure, well at least to Atlanta. Mark is in the row ahead of me and since the flight is full there seems no chance of switching seats. I chat with my seat mate who is heading Georgia to see her grandchildren. Mark is busy tapping away on his computer writing for his b log about the trip. We arrive in Atlanta find our next gate then grab some Panda Express, yuck. Mark heads off to fine a mail box which, according to the Information desk, is on the other side of the airport. We find a place to wait for the boarding of our plane, which allows time for Mark to tap away on his computer.

Upon boarding it seem my seat is next to a really nice looking lady; however she is in the wrong seat. She moves when the true occupant arrives to take his seat. He is a rather grizzled looking gentleman who, when I attempt to make conversation, informs me he is deaf from a previous flight. Oddly whenever the stewardess asks him a question he can hear quite well. Find I don’t want to talk to you either. Mark is across the aisle from me tapping away on his computer. I watch some movies, eat, not much to enjoy, dinner, watch another move. Mark is watching a movie also during which we chat now and then. It is time to attempt to get some sleep. I’ve advised Mark to reduce jet lag he should attempt to get some sleep on the fight over. He seems not to be able to sleep, and sleep seems to be elusive for me also. On prior flights I’ve been able to blow up a pillow and prop it on the fold down trap and sleep. However, on this plane this is a bit of a problem called my stomach. It is quite in the way and disgusts me that it has gotten out of control. (POSTED 5/19/09)