February 6th - February 19th. If you saw news showing most of Southwest England suffering floods of epic proportion - the stories were not exaggerated. It had been raining steadily all over the UK since early December. And once the huge storms hit - the southern coastal waters and rivers just couldn't take anymore. It was sad for us to arrive during that time since we owned a home in the Thames valley near London when we lived here 23 years ago. Our village, Sunbury-on-Thames was definitely affected.
Leaving Seattle had it's own challenges. We arrived at the airport to find our flight delayed by 3+ hours. Then we were stuck on the plane itself while a bag had to be off-loaded due to a passenger not showing up to board. That was another hour.
We arrived in London much later than planned only to discover a general strike on the Underground. It was rush hour so the few trains that were running were crammed full of grumpy (but of course polite) rain-soaked commuters. Our very large suitcases and back packs were unwelcome additions ... but hey, a taxi from the airport is almost $100. and we pride ourselves on using public transportation. Maybe this could have been a day to break that rule - however getting a taxi on a dark rainy night at rush hour with a strike on isn't easy either. Anyway ... two trains and a cab for the final leg got us to our destination. We felt like we'd been run through a long wash with an aggressive spin cycle at this point.
We staggered into the lobby of a very modern building where our airbnb apartment was located to collect keys from the concierge. Unfortunately, he did not have notification from the owner of our arrival so he couldn't give us the keys. Really?
At this point we were as fried as a British chip. Michael rallied and found enough paperwork to prove we had, indeed rented Apt. 33 and left a pleading message to the owner to contact the concierge. After a half hour wait, and threats to collapse on the lobby floor, the poor man reluctantly handed over the keys.
We threw our bags down and headed for the nearest pub! We had a great meal and watched a little football on the telly. Things were coming right. We sloshed home and slept for 12 hours!
The next morning (afternoon?) we took stock of our surroundings. Things look different in the light of day and a after a good nights sleep. The apartment was fine - https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1701111 The Battersea location, however, was a little further from central London than we thought. Not as the crow flies - but because of a lack of a tube station nearby it would require a lot of bus travel to get around - but who doesn't love sitting up top of a bright red double-decker? The bus stop was right outside our front door so we could easily get to Sloane Square and Knightsbridge so we could grocery shop in Harrod's Food Hall (in my lottery winning dreams) and on from there to Oxford Circus. A bus in the other direction took us to the West End, The City, the Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral. The only challenge was the day to day, since we were in no-mans land when it came to real-life grocery shopping, dining out, etc.
|Give Mr. Campbell a newspaper and he is happy anywhere|
|The view of the power plant from our window|
|On the walking tour in St. James Park|
|We loved the 156 to Sloan Square and beyond!|
|The commons at Kings College, Cambridge in front of the Cathedral|
|A different twist on street music in Cambridge|
|Michael at 65 Winchendon Road. Our first home.|
|Chris (4) Kelly (8), Mary (6) against our garden wall in Sunbury in 1988!|
|The Nomads off at dawn for the next leg to Nice|