Off to the United Kingdom

In the final make-up trip from canceled 2020 plans, Bill and I departed for London on September 26th. This trip includes a few days in London, a week bike trip in Cornwall, a couple days in Leeds, just to break up a long train ride, and a few nights in Aberdeenshire Scotland, where John has long dead ancestors and living distant relatives. We will then make our way Brighton, on the South Sussex coast and finally, on October 20th, board the Celebrity Silhouette for a 14 night transatlantic cruise from Southampton to Miami.

After saying goodbye to Mouse and our housesitters, Luke and Lachlan, we were off to LAX. Our late afternoon flight meant we didn’t have to overnight in Los Angeles. We timed our drive, such that we had time to enjoy the Oneworld Business Class Lounge at LAX. We were flying on the return portion of the round trip business class ticket we used on the Spring Europe trip.

Flying in Upper Class, with lay down seats, makes the 10+ hours go by. But, in all honesty, they still aren’t very comfortable, but we not complaining. We arrived London Heathrow at 10:35 AM in the morning. (That redundancy is for the benefit of my brother). We made quick work of collecting bags, immigration and the, almost non-existent customs. In less than an hour we were on the new Elizabeth Line train to Padddington Station. This line, which went into service on May 24th, this year, and was officially opened by the Queen a few months before her death.

Unlike the much more expensive non-stop Heathrow Express, the Elizabeth Line makes several stops on its way to London Paddington, coincidentally the same station at which the Express terminates. It was nice to check out the newest London Line. Prior to the Elizabeth Line, the newest London tube line was the Jubilee Line, which opened in 1979 and celebrated the Queen’s 25 years on the throne. John happened to travel that line shortly after it opened on his very first trip to London in 1980. It is hard to imagine that he has been coming to London for 42 years!

As is always the case, our first day was low key, resting, getting used to the time change and trying to stay up to at least, 10 pm, a goal that we miserably failed to achieve. The next day, we got up and out early, to walk a bit.

The walk ended up being over 7 miles, through some of my favorite London areas, Hyde Park, Piccadilly, Oxford Street and our turn around point, Covent Gardens.

A personal note from John: I am 69 years old. When I was born, in 1953, Elizabeth had already been on the throne for a year. Until September 8th, she is the only King or Queen of England I have known. And, of course, it makes me think of my own mortality. As a student European history, I have followed the British monarchy as it negotiated the changing world. Whether you generally support the monarchy or not, one must acknowledge the role of the Queen for holding the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth together, albeit with some exceptions. Although at 96, it was no surprise when I heard of her passing, but I did reflect on her and my fleeting moments in her presence. I actually saw her twice, once in 1983, when President Reagan hosted a dinner for her aboard HMS Britannia in San Francisco. My partner at the time and I waited hours in the rain on SF’s waterfront to be in a receiving line, to see President and Mrs. Reagan, the Queen and Prince Phillip quickly walk by. The second time was in 1987 in a throng waiting for her to come out on the balcony at Buckinham Palace celebrating 35 years on the throne. Who would have thought that would only be half of her reign. Given that she was not my Queen and that I only saw her in person those two times, I am surprised by how it impacted has me and what emotions I have felt in the ensuing days.. And now, so soon after, we are in the United Kingdom, having conversations with all sorts people, seeing memorials, both state sponsored and personal. We have been moved by the genuine affection a significant number of the British people had for her.

We know this is short. Originally, we had planned 4 nights in London. But , with the rail strike that had originally been planned during what became the Queen’s official mourning period, postponed to October 1st, we decided to cut London short by a day and take the train to Bodmin Pkwy on a, very rainy, September 30th. With that, I will stop. Next up: Biking Cornwall. Until next time.

2 thoughts on “Off to the United Kingdom

  1. Oh I’m so envious…I’m planning a trip soon and it might just be there
    So happy for you. Keep up your blog!
    Be safe….love ya. M


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