With months of extensive email correspondence our friend Scott and I nailed down a date and time to meet up in London for a drink and some dinner along with his sweety Laura. We would fly into Heathrow Airport early afternoon, take a train into the Green Park station which is near where they were staying, and meet at a certain pub about 6:PM. That seemed long enough for us to find a hotel by our usual method of random search considering we would be arriving into London about noon.
We exited the tube station at Green Park and discovered we were in the center of the Rodeo Drive of London making our search for a reasonably priced hotel near impossible. The temperature being on the warm side and the search with packs on backs not being very successful, we decided to have some lunch, and more importantly a cold beer. After our lunch, I left the bags with Sharon at the restaurant while I scouted the area for a hotel in our price range, hopefully without having to take a second mortgage out on the Phoenix house.
|The Bustamanta Mermaid at the Mermaid Hotel|
Winding myself past the boutiques again realizing I had ventured quite away from the restaurant but it didn't matter much because we had a room where we earlier felt doomed. I found Sharon kicked back reading from her Kindle and I said " Pack up, we've got a room". I played up the situation walking back to the hotel and the long winding walk supported my gentle warnings. We finally arrived at the door and I exclaimed "this is it." We made our way upstairs past the large ceramic pastel colored Mermaid sculpture which Sharon immediately identified and thoroughly enjoyed, and after the four flights of stairs I opened the door to the room which was much larger and beautiful than she expected plus the room had a great view out into the cafe street scene below.
|Pubbing it up in London with friends Laura and Scott|
|Children violating the rules at the Lady Di Memorial|
The following next few days Sharon and I toured the city by tourist bus (kind of silly but fun) and walked through the parks. One of our most favorite stops was at the Lady Diana memorial fountain in Hyde Park. It's a whimsical water feature that had a sign clearly stating No Wading or Swimming while hundreds of children (and their parents!) played gleefully running up through river like rushing waters behind the fence supporting the warning sign. I believe Lady Di wouldn't have it any other way.
|The elegant old Grand Hotel on the seafront in Brighton|
Brighton was certainly fun and wonderful in a very British way but we needed to move on into the countryside because I wanted Sharon to experience a true bed and breakfast in a small village and also see Stonehenge.
|A beautiful day at the beach English style|
|My Brighton hideout in 1972|
The next morning I pulled car up to the B&B, loaded the bags in the boot and drove to the rental car agency to drop off the car next to the rail station. We were a little concerned about making our flight to Ireland on time because threats of a labor work slow down were looming so we got to the rental office just before eight and the office didn’t open until nine. Fortunately a worker from the agency was sitting in his car in front of the office so we left the keys with him, grabbed our bags, hiked up to the train station, bought our tickets to Gatwick Airport, boarded the train as it pulled out five minutes later. The train pulled into the airport station. We walked into the airport (very convenient) and checked our luggage to Dublin at the Air Lingus counter. Within two hours we would be in the land of milk and Guinness.