When One is Stranded in London
It only was supposed to be a short jaunt from one gate to the other. We had three full days planned in London, full of jolly adventures and good eats, at the end of our Portugal adventure. But as we sat (and sat!) on the tarmac in Toronto, our hearts sank at making the Lisbon connection in time. However, there is nothing one can do to speed up a flight so we settled into our seats with movies and blankets to fly across the ocean.
We landed at Gatwick, a place that would become very familiar over the next two days, and tried to get flights sorted. The earliest flight we could get out was the next day. We were exhausted. The kids were troopers, playing games on the airport floor while Jared stood in queues. We played I Spy and told stories about the different travellers we saw. We collapsed into a back booth and ordered a couple pots of tea while we figured out our next move. Our spirits lifted as we drove past fields dotted with sheep, daffodils absolutely everywhere, trees in bloom. Spring!
Our guest house hosts graciously let us check in early and we all grabbed a nap. They recommended a pub in the village, a very British pub, the one next to the church. The church that was incidentally 1000 years old, gravestones punctuated with daffodils. We stepped into The Half Moon Pub which put us in mind of The Drovers from All Creatures Great and Small. We split a couple orders of fish and chips, (all gluten free!), sipped on ciders and relaxed knowing that tomorrow we would be up and on our way again.
We love England. All five of us. We have just watched All Creatures Great and Small (highly recommend!) and so our minds were already there. The small village, the winding cobblestone streets, the hedges, the manor house and rectory lane. The next morning brought a hot English breakfast, complete with marmite for those who desire it. Spoiler: none of us.
Back to the airport and back to some bad news. The airline cancelled our flight. We collapsed in a booth, ordered a round of coffees and played sevens while people watching and waiting. Again. The kids were getting used to me saying hurry up and wait.
We were put up in a hotel by the airline and given meal vouchers. After another nap, jet lag was kicking in, we headed into London to explore! We went straight to the British Museum, something that was on our secondary list if we had time or it was raining or a flight was cancelled. This year in our homeschool we've been studying Ancient History. What an incredible delight to see Egyptian mummies in real life, sculptures found at Roman emperor's villas, Greek vases and so much more. We took the high level tour which included the most famous chess set in the world and a fascinating array of clocks.
We love playing London Snap at home, a game Jared and I bought last time we were in London. To keep us all engaged with the endless walking and underground riding, we played London Snap in real life. A black taxi cab, a pigeon, a double decker bus and the Tower Bridge! Did I slightly freak out showing that to our children on while on the underground? I absolutely did.
The next morning found us groggy eyed and boarding a plane, finally. We arrived at our final destination on the southern coast of Portugal in the early evening, eyes wide open to take in all that we could see. After months of planning and researching, years of dreaming and scheming, we were here. With a sweet little delay in London Town.