How I Almost Spent My Spring Vacation
As long-time readers of this blog know, your humble Cheese Magnet correspondent rarely complains (much), but, as a general query to whomever it is in the universe who is in charge of germs, WOULD IT BE TOO MUCH TO ASK TO KEEP THEM THE HELL AWAY FROM ME FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS? Thanks ever so much.
I got hit by my third bad cold since mid-February during the tail end of our vacation. Actually, it wasn’t too bad until we got home and then it lowered the boom. Energy evaporated. Blood sugar soared. Glaze-eyed zombiism ensued. I am still gamely battling this viciously slimey microorganism, but seem to be on the verge of finally conquering it. Needless to say, I am very far behind in everything, but am slowly working my way through the “to do” pile.
Here’s the first half of the trip report I promised, pictures included.
The flight out of Houston was great (or so we thought; more later). It was one of those great big honking 777s. We hadn’t flown international for a couple of years, so I was happily surprised to see that entertainment possibilities have improved enormously over the interim. Each seat had its own computer screen and you actually had a choice of about 180 movies, not just some crap that no one went to see in the threatres (my choice: THE MURAL, an obscure Chinese historical-fantasy that I haven’t been able to find out much more about. Nicely made, decent story, until the crushing nihilism at the very end soured it for me. Rating: 4). I even managed to doze for an hour, hour and a half. The food was awful, though. The airlines aren’t even trying anymore.
We landed at Heathrow on time, at about 9:30. And then we started to taxi, and taxi, and taxi. Gail and I had a pretty good view from our window when the plane stopped and we realized that we were suddenly surrounded by a ring of police cars in some godforsaken corner of the terminal without a gate in sight. They made an announcement about “security concerns” and started unloading the luggage.
It took awhile. They finally had it spread all over the tarmac, and then the bomb-sniffing dogs came out. In the interim, another announcement asked the person who left an “inappropriate” message in one of the bathrooms to come forward and admit to it. Naturally, no one did. Later, I discovered that some kind of “I have an explosive device” message was discovered in one of the bathrooms while we were still over Canada and they’d considered diverting the flight to Newark, which would have been a delightful way to begin our vacation. But, for mysterious reasons of their own, the authorities decided it was all a-okay for us to fly on over the ocean. I’m sure they were keeping a close eye on us and would have been able to recover most of the pieces if the plane HAD blown up mid-air. Fortunately for us all, especially your humble correspondent, his wife, and their dogs and cats and goldfish, this didn’t happen.
What DID happen however, when the bomb-sniffing dogs hit the tarmac, they picked two suitcases out of the couple hundred. Some random person’s. And someone else’s.
That’s right. Not your humble correspondent’s. But his wife’s. They opened the luggage and spread its contents out on the tarmac. Thankfully, no embarrassing items were found. I was going to take a picture through the window, but figured that might not be the smartest thing to do. Later, we were to meet the bomb-sniffing dogs up close and personal, as they had a go at our carry-ons, but this time they detected nothing suspicious. Good thing I had eaten our last Chick Fil-A sandwich (which we’d packed as a precaution against airline food) the night before.
Since we were sitting in the last row in the airplane, we were literally the last people off. It took two and a half hours to get off the plane. We had train reservations at Paddington, to Bath, where we were meeting George R.R. Martin and his wife Parris McBride Martin that afternoon, for tea, at the Royal Crescent Hotel. It was a grueling race to the station, and we made our train by five minutes.
Bath is a delightful resort city, about an hour, hour and a half from London, depending upon the train. We’ve been there several times and enjoy it immensely. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was stay at the Royal Crescent Hotel and a one night stay was the luxury we allowed ourselves this time. As the taxi pulled up, the concierge met us on the street, and said, “You must be Mr. and Mrs. Miller. Mr. Martin is waiting for you. Tea is being served.”
I knew we had made the right decision.
As usual, this is running much longer than I intended, and will continue in maybe, three parts? Maybe six? Who knows?
Photos of the Royal Crescent Hotel.