2009 Trip to England....Part II
Upon leaving Alnmouth, we went back to Robin's, changed clothes, then went to Katie's flat for some wine before going out, where Michael and Luke joined us. Katie lives right in the main, "downtown," part of Alnwick. From there, we went to a pub/bar called Hairy Lemon for a few. Oddly, nobody really recognized that it was my birthday (of course, I told everyone). Of course, I wasn't bothered by it, b/c I didn't really know the ppl with whom I was hanging out. Still fun! We wound up back at Penny Black, which was also a lot of fun. Michael and I talked quite a bit until he got asked to leave...??? Afterwards, Robin and I walked back to his place while he told me what the Brits like to see when they come to America, i.e., yellow cabs, fire hydrants (they don't have them there), blue mail boxes, etc.
And that was my awesome 31st birthday in England!!
** FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2009 **
I decided to wander around Alnwick again while Robin was at work. Had lunch at some dump across from the town hall...It looked cute at first, but then realized it was probably a dive. The food was nasty, but had a pint and read some English newspapers. Also, stole some beer coasters. A few other tourists (but English) came in. I took some pics of the town hall and then came across Penny Black & took a pic so Steph could see which building they are talking about (it's opened since she left Alnwick). Then I went to a bar/restaurant inside Alnwick Castle for a pint, signed the guestbook and made my exit, which led me back to Hairy Lemon. The staff recognized me as Robin's friend from America, so started talking to me and let me take a pint glass for a souvenir. I talked to Gemma, Jody, Martin...also the owners...for a while, then realized that I better get back to Robin's, as he would be home soon. Jody was finishing her shift, so offered to give me a lift. Since I had his keys, thank god he was just arriving as we were.
Robin informed me that it was "Red Nose," or "Comic Relief" day. We went to the store for some wine, since he had invited Katie, Luke, Donna and Ben over to watch Comic Relief. I did my part for humanity by purchasing one of the red noses (1 pound went to charity for each red nose sold). We had a good time watching British humor variety hour(s)! Then, after they all left, Robin and I wound up having a few more drinks and a good talk -- stayed up late!
** SATURDAY, MARCH 14, 2009 **
In the morning, Robin's Mom had called wanting him to go shopping with her...She had seen something on sale at a local store that she thought he'd want. So, he dropped me off in the main part of Alnwick and I went to a little restaurant called Grannie's. The host took me downstairs, to the "tea room," where lunch was served. It was really small, but very quaint...(Note to self: to replicate an English Tea Room, add a fireplace and exposed beams)
After that, Robin picked me up and we went back to the Lemon, where Michael met us. Then Katie and Luke showed up. After a little while, they left so Katie could find a new skirt and a new bangle or three. Robin, Michael and I just wound up hanging out there with a few pints for a while. FUN!
It was my last night in England, so we all decided to have a pre-pub at Katie's. Robin and I went to change, then picked Michael up and then to an "off-sale" for wine. We proceeded to Katie's flat, which is above a store, where she made fajitas for us. Robin informed me that her building was at least from the 1700s (another history buff, I guess).
Upon leaving there, we went to the Lemon for one, where I said "bye" to the people I had met. Then to Penny Black for a while....or, maybe we went somewhere else first. Unless Penny Black has an upstairs (??), we went somewhere else for one. Anyway, at Penny Black, Katie and Michael and I were having quite a time dancing, etc. Robin saw some other friends and told me he was going to the Alnwick Squash Club (a bar) if I didn't mind, or wanted to go with him. I told him that I'd see him there later and stayed with Michael and Katie. We went to the Squash Club a little later and it was PACKED...waited in line, up a stairwell, for a while, but then finally got in. The crowd was a little young for my taste, and PACKED....so I didn't really like it there.
Robin, Michael and I walked back to Robin's and crashed.
** SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2009 **
Got up late the next morning...frantically packed and we sped off to Alnmouth, where I had to meet my train to Newcastle. Robin told me that flights from Newcastle to London were sometimes only 35 pounds...I called, but they were way expensive that day (of course). We barely made it to the train on-time, where I was pleasantly surprised to see Katie and Luke waiting to say good-bye to me! I thought that was really nice. Anyway, I quickly said my "thanks" and "good-bye" and was off to Newcastle. The train was pretty much empty.
NEWCASTLE....Nightmare finding the train to London (you'd think it would be easy). The train that was supposed to leave an hour before was cancelled, so now there are two train-loads of ppl to go on one train...needless to say, nowhere to sit. I shoved my way through and found a little spot to set my luggage down, which provided me a place to perch during the long ride to London. We had to get off the train at some town b/c the tracks were under construction...I had no idea where to go, but finally figured out where the others on their way to London were going and boarded a BUS. Took that to some other town, where I had to transfer again to catch a train to London. Not just London in general, but to Kings Cross Station. NIGHTMARE. Finally got there, and realized I needed to take the Tube to Heathrow. The Tube was packed and I'm starting to worry b/c I'm an hour behind where I thought I'd be. Finally got to Heathrow and again...a nightmare b/c I didn't have actual tickets, just e-tickets, so the people at Air Canada thought I was suspicious. It was awful, but finally got through and took my flight to Toronto.
I actually slept most of the way from London to Toronto...even missed the breakfast call. All I really recall is that there was a very cute set of twins in the seats ahead of me who were my age and from Toronto. Also, that nobody was sitting next to me, so I got two seats all to myself!
Landed in Toronto late...realized my flight to Minneapolis wasn't until the morning, so used the hotel connect line to find a cheap room. Waited forever for their shuttle (while directing other confused people which shuttle they needed to board) and finally got to a room, where I immediately crashed.
** MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2009 **
Flight was the next morning and I thankfully woke up on time to catch the shuttle to the airport.
Experienced claustrophobia during the flight because I was wedged between the window (I asked for aisle) and some dude. I seriously started kinda freaking and the dude tried to help me pull the sleeves on my jacket to get it off....then the flight attendant let him take a set of seats to himself so I could have that set of seats to myself. I seriously felt trapped, hot and panicked...
Landed in Minneapolis. Took the lite rail to downtown. Lugged my suitcase to a bus and FINALLY got home at about noon on Monday....which meant about 6:00 PM in England...which meant about 32 hours of traveling to get home (including the sleep in Toronto).
AND....I can't wait to go back!!!!