Transatlantic Antics – Part I

Back in late September,
we played Russian roulette
with standby tickets to England.

WEB Euro Currency Map 2415

H’s airline pal, John,
assured us we’d have seats
on the day we planned to leave.

Which was a good thing, since Sari had
pre-booked all of our accommodations…

Casino Royale Crapshoot

Either way, standby
can get dicey…

WEB Tintagel Sheepdog 0518 copy

Hallo !

But heading overseas
turned out to be a breeze.

DSC_0454

Most exciting, we scored first class seats!

*     *     *

Service was lavish in business class,
libations landing faster than jet aircraft.

While the flipping plane was still ascending,
the bubbly flowed like God intended.

Silhouette of plane in flight

The bartender attendants
juggled drinks mid-air, but shouldn’t
they have been buckled in too?

WEB Drinks Anyone

Seriously, isn’t being upright during
takeoff and landing against regulation??

WEB Delta Dinner 0061

Dinner had multiple courses.

Starting with cold crab salad with melon.

And a main dish of artichoke chicken,
pillowy polenta, and jazzed green beans.

And more beverages than you could shake a stick at.

Lie-Flat Seats

But the ultimate was our diagonal
convertible pod-like seats.

They transformed into flat beds !

Just knowing you could recline
made all the difference.

*     *     *

So content were we
chasing time zones
across the Atlantic Ocean

WEB Abe Hunter 4999

soon H and S were snoozing in pods behind me
while I settled down for an in-flight movie.

Battling across my backseat monitor
was a ripped Abe Lincoln, vampire hunter.

[Abraham Lincoln, Congressman-elect from Illin...

Abraham Lincoln, Congressman-elect from Illinois.  (Photo: Library of Congress)

Crusading against the unholy undead
most of them blood-sucking Confederates.

Seamlessly injecting historical facts
between vampiric storyline track.

Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter

A cozy tale before a night’s slumber….

*    *    *

Cradled in our flight pods hauntingly
we so enjoyed sleeping horizontally.

*    *    *

WEB Towednack's Stonehenge 0258

Early morning above a green-isled Britain
we awoke refreshed and sleep-pod smitten.

 Stretching like kittens
only not as adorable, or as tiny, or as mewley.

Sari peeked through
the curtain into
the economy class.

Where sleep-deprived
passengers were
inhumanely wedged
in sardined seats.

WEB Delta Breakfast 0069

Our morning champagne and fruit muesli
helped to disperse any futile empathy
for our hapless compadres in economy seats.

*    *    *

Postscript:  Good news!
Delta is adding pod seating
to more planes, and not just in
Business Class.

That’s one small step for Delta,
and one giant hoorah for the proletariat.

*     *     *

WEB Pilot Denzel

Just before our landing H had a big scare
losing her passport somewhere mid-air.

Flight attendants vigorously tore up her seat,
even searching through her bags,
ay Dios mio, the grief.

As time ticked on, H’s outlook grew dim.
We couldn’t help imagining scenarios grim.

The kind that included a British escort
who’d boot our H back with a swifty deport.

Passportou

Just as our despair had sunk into defeat
I turned around again, my eye stopping for a beat
noticing an object suddenly exposed
by a just-moved bag on the floor.

Hey, what’s that there, I said calm as you please
pointing to an object near Sari’s feet.

WEB S&H Uh Oh 0046

H was so relieved and effusively thanked me.
Sari wisely hid behind a metaphoric hanky.

*    *    *

For ex-pats H and me
the UK was a homecoming.
Sari was the inspiration
behind the trip.

Not only were we navigating
the snaky roads of Albion,
we would be journeying
to the Ukraine for a
cross-continent, first-time meeting
with war-torn, long-lost family.

WEB Skype with Ukies 0537

Three months earlier,
we met our aunt and cousins
for the first time
via the brilliant portal
known as Skype.

Oh boy were we in for it!

*    *    *

Back in London, we picked
our rental car up pretty quick,
but auto reps neglected to mention
some critical tips.

It wasn’t like we had any suspicions
that is not until our Chevy engine
started coughing up some issues.

Designated as chief driver in tow
H’s first challenge was to exit
the formidable Heathrow.

With a little knowledge, that dangerous thing
we jauntily set off with itinerary plugged in.

WEB Sari & Sir Rich 0081

 

Sir Richard is Sari and Josh’s trusty GPS.

His name is often fluctuating
depending where he’s operating.

Back home he’s just Dick in Montana
while in L.A. he answered to Ricardo.

Once he made it into royal air space
he was dubbed Sir Richard for HRH’s sake.

London Roundabouts

After leading us out of the airport,
Sir Richard seemed disoriented
like maybe he’d had a few pints
because suddenly we noticed
we were circling Heathrow.

Turns out he kept re-routing us
because Sari and me kept directing H
down the wrong merge lane!

WEB GPS Oy!

Meaning H had to do the rumba all over again.

For the third or fourth time, or so,
we rolled out onto London’s A-4.

When it came time to choose the fateful exit,
Sir Richard covered his eyes and muttered, F### it!

When we finally figured out the right lane
and H aced it, we all yelled Skol !

While Sir Richard we imagine
wiped his virtual brow.

WEB Chariots M-6 2217

Once we understood Sir Richard had our backs
we trusted him implicitly but for one small fact
the one where we discovered he loved him some
crazy-ass back-woods tracks.

But that’s a hair-raising story for later.
For now let’s re-cap bits of our journey…

WEB English Breakfast 0295

Of scary but delicious
English breakfasts
that kept us going

WEB Euro Wiggly Road 0004

Of harrowing roads
sometimes so constricted
oncoming cars must
Mexican stand-off
or seriously shift it.

Where dodgy locals with dubious motives
plant spiky rocks along property borders.

But I digress

Back in the auto rental office
Sari had confided how hard it was
to re-program her GPS.

This Marauders Map would be our holy grail
and Sir Rich our techno knight
guiding us onto some daunting trails
H was not super happy about.

*     *     *

WEB Dog on Stonehenge Hill 0846

On our way to Cornwall
perusing her map and guide
Sari spotted a landmark she insisted we try.

It was located in Wiltshire on the Salisbury Plain.
It was touristy and I immediately said, No way!

The place was so passé I thought we ought to resist.

Sari politely listened to my jaded blowing,
before impressively exploding,
“Shut it, cause we’re going!”

Or words to that effect.

WEB Cooler Stonehenge Doggie 0847

Just above a gentle crest
lay cryptic mystic Stonehenge.

WEB Stonehenge Blue Crop 0772

Four thousand years ago
these prehistoric chess pieces
were mysteriously laid out.

Recent excavations of the storied site
reveal ailing pilgrims were
buried here left and right.

Forensics suggest they came from near and far
hoping to be healed by its reputed karma.

WEB S&H Stonehenge Pose 0458

Some can-do early Britons
transported the stones from
north Pembrokeshire.

We’re talking a 150-mile transport…

Some of the stones weigh up to 4 tons!
Those are some Sisyphean cajones

Scientists say they were
rolled, sledged or rafted
down the River Avon.

WEB Stonehenge S&O 0740

We respectfully yoga’ed our way across…

IMG_0446

…Months of record-breaking rain
had seriously saturated the moss.

Thankfully, during most of our UK stay,
the rain took a holiday break.

Dispositions rose with each tai chi.
It was hard not to get a bit excited.

Euro Stonehenge Smirk 0771

If I’d known you were comin’
I’d have baked a cake.

WEB Stonehenge H&O 0732

We threw in a prayer,

May the road rise up to meet us,
and we could’ve added
a sidenote:

Deliver us from those who try to fleece us.

WEB Stonehenge O 0742

Not to mention those who try to prevent others
from visiting a site just cause it’s touristy

WEB Euro HS Stonehenge Color 0736

Vandals did their chipping in stages
from the Roman Empire
to the Middle Ages.

WEB Euro Stonehenge Print 0486

Even colossal boulders were carted off
disturbing the feng shui circle
of the mathematically-laid blocks.

*     *     *

In 1977, the stones were roped off
to re-set some fallen stones.

But solstice-obsessed pagans
are still allowed their
bacchanal celebrations.

WEB Euro Stonehenge Cafe Crop 0116

With monitored access
thank you very much.

*    *    *

Continuing on to Cornwall
another historic site beckoned.

Who can resist a castle ruin

Wardour Tint 0120

Wardour Castle’s crumbly exterior
can say thanks a lot to
warring Parliamentarians
and Royalists.

WEB Euro Wardour S&H 0163

In the 1300’s,
when this luxurious,
but lightly-fortified
castle was spanking new
and rivals simmering but few
when its halls were bustling
when crinolines were rustling
when peeps slurped from tureens
when deodorant was nonexistent
and/or made of smelly potpourris
things were really hopping.

*     *     *

WEB Euro H&S Wardour 0132

This is a shout-out to the
English Heritage commission
created to protect and promote
England’s spectacular historical sites.

They do a fantastic job.

WEB Euro Wardour Elements 0166

Distant accommodations
awaited our arrival.

So we said Namaste to Wardour Castle,
and set off for County Cornwall
and a cottage called
The Milking Parlour.

*     *     *

WEB Black Beauty Kato 0873

At times, when H nearly
took out a hedge,
a poorly-placed mailbox,
or inconvenient street furniture,
Sari and I let out warning shrieks
which alerted her to any dangerous
left-ward leaningness.

This not only stressed H
out but, gradually, and
secretly, eroded bits of
Sari’s peace of mind
and hence our
collective chipperness…

*     *     *

“You have no idea how scared I was,” H said later.

*    *    *

But we did have an inkling.

H took on her English driving fears
death-gripping the steering wheel.

*     *     *

WEB Euro St Ives Seaside 1094

Known for its arts community
and fantastic rugged coastlines,
Cornwall is also heralded
for its tasty pasties,
delicious ice cream 99’s
and lip-smacking fish n’ chips.

WEB The Milking Parlour Darkly 1228

It was nightfall by the time we neared our destination.

With the moon delivering little to no wattage
it was pretty impossible to spot the cottage.

“Told ya I didn’t wanna drive at night!” H hollered.
as we searched in vain for The Milking Parlour.

WEB Milking Parlour 0196

When she sailed past a dark outline,
Sir Richard and his English accent
teeth-grittingly re-directed us back.

We had found our little hideaway.

“He sounded annoyed,” Sari noted.

*     *     *

WEB Euro Milk Parlour 0339

With a secretly-hidden skeleton key
we entered The Milking Parlour.

It was high-ceilinged with skylights,
modern, inviting and cozy.

We were eager to explore,
but moreso to nosh
being very hungry.

So we headed to St. Ives
some two miles away.

Sir Rich was snoozing
on a well-deserved rest
assuming we’d get there
without missing any exits.

Sari and I were checking out
Yelp listings for the town while
H was buoyantly cruising…

…when suddenly the loudest
quickest cannon boom shook
us right out of our musing.

“What the hell was that??” H gasped
before slowly ekeing to a stop
quite a ways from the blast.

Our fears were on point
when we discovered
a blown-out front tire.

WEB Flat 0887

Although nearby cottage lights
beckoned from the side of the road
the residents knew of no auto shop
let alone one that might be
open on a Sunday night.

It was especially disturbing
when we looked in the bootery
and discovered a bare spot
where the car’s spare tire
should be!

Arggh!

So with stomachs grumbling
and nerves a-jangling,
we hauled bags from the auto
and set off down the dark road
like Dorothy and Toto.

Dottie and Toto

If Dorothy and Toto had
cell phone flashlights
and were wandering about
Cornish moorlands
with their luggage.

 *     *     *

As the night enveloped
us in darkness
another movie
popped to mind…

Trekking the Moors

The one where a couple of tourists
walking the English moors
run into a really peeved werewolf.

Said the pub owner,

“Keep off the moors,
stick to the roads…”

 Easy for him to say.

*     *     *

We made it back
to the cottage without being
molested by werewolf
or stranger.

Either way, I’m confident
we could’ve knocked him or her
senseless, triple-teaming them
with our combined gear.

WEB Spiky Rocks 0911

It was only after walking
back to the car in the morning
that Sari and I spotted
the jagged rocks
diabolically planted
along the roadside,
not unlike I.E.D.’s.

Oh it was nasty.

*    *    *

Back at the cottage that first night,
we were pretty discombobulated.

H rang the auto rental company.

We were so happy someone answered
but when H said we were in Towednack,
the rep asked, “Where??”

Ten minutes later, he told us
there wasn’t an auto shop
in the vicinity,
not even in St. Ives.

“You’re in a remote area,”
he explained.

Making us feel like we were
one step from the Moon.

Euro St. Ives Rooftop 1054

Later, H said, “St. Ives??
Not even in St. Ives!”

“People drive here!!”

WEB Milking Parlour Window 0322

Under so much duress were we at that time
that Sari had a mini-melt down the next night
insisting she was flying back to the States.

This was Day 4 of our 28-day journey
but it already felt like a stressful eternity.

*     *     *

SF 2012 0826021953

The crisis was averted the next day
but if you knew Sari you’d know
it was touch and go all the way!

*     *     *

Ensconced in the charming
but remote Towednack,
the Milking Parlour was lovely
but had no food in its cabinets.

It’s called self-catering, sure.
But at that point,
self-catering really blew.

Florence's photo of the photo video of the video of Nam June Paik

So that night, dinner-less,
we raided our bags
for the nuts and dried fruit
we’d squirreled for the journey.

For the good of the team,
my treasured protein bars
had to be thrown in the mix,
pure chocolately goodness
and nutritionally delicious.

It was great to discover
the kitchen was stocked
with plenty of English tea.

But the irony of no dairy products
at the Milking Parlour
was thick as cream.

*     *     *

Our catastrophic evening
was not unduly blown
but reminded us to have fun
and appreciate one another.

Stoking a fire in the chimney
we played some heated
Scrabble and Clue
while watching a slew of fun
Beatle bios on the telly.

*     *     *

Unspoken was our worry if anyone
would or could come with the right tire
before we had to leave in 2 days.

Programmed as we were
with a tight agenda.

WEB Towednack Lane S and H 0200

The next morning,
it was spitting outside.

Before mulling our predicament,
we needed food in our bellies,
preferably non-trail mix.

So we walked to St. Ives
down Towednack Lane
with serious foraging
in mind.

WEB Euro Sari Feeding Horses

Along the way horses were
enjoying an outdoor vegan buffet.

So zen-like and calm were they
we should’ve considered the merits
of munching hay.

WEB Euro Towednack Lane

Just before St. Ives’ harbor,
we discovered an auto shop
and a mechanic named Nigel,

like a diamond in a haystack.

Hearing our predicament,
Nigel promised he’d get us a tire
before we had to leave town,
so natch we jumped at the chance
to impulsively hire him.

  Who knew when the rental company
would find our remote locale.

Meanwhile back at the Milking Parlour,
guess who found our remote locale.

*     *     *

They’d been ringing us all morning
leaving umpteen voice messages…

Specifically to tell us that
a mechanic on loan
was now driving to our rescue,
yes, to our remote zone.

Uh oh.

WEB Nigel 0256

“It’s daft,” muttered Nigel
as he drove us bouncily back
down Towednack Lane.

He was referring to the scurrilous
rock-lined properties lying in wait
for unsuspecting vehicles.

He drove us to the car to see
what kind of tire we needed,
then dropped us off at the cottage.


Euro Horsies 0211

Remarkably, Nigel swore
he’d never heard of Towednack,
a town just two miles from
where he lived and worked.

Yet amazingly, he had heard of
The Milking Parlour…

“Two of ’em,” he said
to our startled amazement.

“There’s two of them.”

WEB Sari Pizza Stare 0236

Much later, seaside,
Sari stares suspiciously
at her hot food order
as though it might be a mirage.

WEB Euro St Ives Beach color corrected 1066

Not far from the scene where we’d popped the tire,
in daylight our troubles seemed much less dire.

WEB Euro Cream Tea Crop 1068

But now we’d gone and prematurely
secured the good-natured Nigel for hire.

After Nigel dropped us off
and we heard the rental co’s messages,
we had to call and tell him our new predicament.

Nigel graciously wasn’t going to
hold us to our verbal agreement.

Because of that H paid him for his troubles.
Plus she had a little Cornish crush on him by then.

However, there was still the little matter
of the dude hired by the rental car co.

And yes, he did show up.

In the meantime, meditate on this lovely flora.

WEB Euro St Ives Rockhead 1152

The good news is our rental car rescuer
brought the right tire for us that day.

So he and Nigel met us in that fateful place.

It was kind of awkward, but not.

With the car now fully wheeled,
we could move on from
the temporary hitch in our trip.

The snafu in the brew.

The wah-wah in the brouhaha.

Or so we thought…

In the words of Marty Scorcese,
There Will Be Blood…

In our case,
There would be
rental hay to pay later…
That was for certain.

*     *     *

Later, a company rep
matter-of-factly tells us
they weren’t obligated to keep
a spare tire in its vehicles.

What the ??

*     *     *

WEB Euro Breakfast Omelet Crop 0972

In the meantime, St. Ives
made sure we were well-fed.

“An army doesn’t travel
on an empty stomach,”
Dad liked to say.

Fish n Chips with mushy peas
is a well-known favorite
among pawns and queens.

Okay I totally made that up
but I wouldn’t be surprised
if Liz II orders that stuff
through her footman
who royally hoofs it
to some late night
fish n’ chip takeaway…

Queen and fish n chips

It’s not completely impossible.

The best part of fish n’ chips is
how Sari learned to crave it
which was useful cause it made
any dinner battles virtually obsolete.

WEB Euro St Ives Beach Color Corr 1061

Walking about St. Ives was bliss.

WEB Euro St Ives Cafe Cropped 1199

Quicker than you could say
your bill is in the mail,
we had to depart from lovely Cornwall.

So we bid adieu
to our sweet, horsey neighbors,
I mean the four-legged ones.

Euro Horsie Sepia 0216

And for our next adventure,
headed for the Cotswolds.

But not before stopping
at another heritage site.

*     *     *

On our way to Tintagel Castle,
Sir Richard directed us to town,
but we missed the castle road.

so we stopped to get directions at a pub.

Foolishly I asked if the route was straight
or one of those notoriously curvy roads
that take forever and a day to navigate.

“Yes, it’s straight,” the chap said earnestly,
“but wiggly.”

That’s when we learned to worry
about the ancient roads Sir Rich preferred

The roadways so narrow
cars could get wedged in…

So narrow
we dubbed them “snickets.”

WEB Euro Tintagel Path Cropped 0406

Hugging North Cornwall’s
rugged coastline
is the village of Tintagel.

Dramatically carved out among craggy hills,
Tintagel’s ruins lie on a magnificent
rocky headland.

WEB Euro Tintagel steps 0601

To experience the medieval fortifications
one must tromp many an ascent and descent.

WEB S&H at Tintagel Arch 0575

The views are enthralling.
although much of Tintagel
may be just a myth.

King Arthur and his Knights and all that stuff.

Euro Tintagel beach 1246

But you wouldn’t want to
get any mythology fans’
roundtable panties
in a bunch.

WEB Auto Contrast Stonehenge Doggie Stamp Pad 0451

 

On the way to the car park
to plug the ruddy meter
I spotted this little fur ball
staring at some feature.

*    *    *

WEB S on Tintagel Cliff 0538

Carefree Sari and H cavorted atop while
I hobbled back to the distant car park dock.

WEB Sari on Tintagel Cliff 0537

No, I didn’t resent it.
I enjoyed the walk.

HR Euro Tintagel View 0536

WEB Euro Tintagel Steps 0618

Up and down
and down and up
those million steps.
I totally enjoyed it.

As you cling precariously
to the steep slope…

WEB Euro Prince Harry at Tintagel 1245

And along the way,
re-greet Prince Harry’s
older, less rambunctious
if-you’re-not-wearing-your-glasses
doppelganger
manning the ticket desk.

WEB Euro Tintagel Seagull 0530 copy

With the disappearing tide
small sandy coves are revealed
along with secret caves.

Including Merlin’s
beneath the castle headland.

WEB Euro Tintagel Beach 1263

He must’ve been very very tiny.

WEB Euro Tintagel Cave 1247

WEB Euro Tintagel SH 1275

*     *     *


Everywhere we went in England,
barristas sprinkled chocolate
over cappuccinos.

It didn’t matter if you
asked for it or not.

Demonstrating the vital
role chocolate plays
in international diplomacy.

*     *     *

WEB Black Beauty Kato 0873

H’s brushes with roadside brambles
taught her bumpy, but sound lessons,
mostly how not to whack things.

Her learning couldn’t come fast enough.

Especially for Sari.

You knew things might be getting
rough when Sari would snap
the sideview mirror down in a huff.

*     *     *

“I’m glad she did that,” H said later.

“Or we would’ve had a missing mirror
there somewhere,” she added frankly.

*     *    *

One of our many formidable challenges
came at our first gassing-up station.

But this gassy
if not potentially fatal story
must be saved for later as well.

For now I’ll just set up
our next destination.

*     *     *

Freakishly picturesque Chipping Camden
was next on our list of self-catering stays.

It rests deep in the bucolic Cotswolds.

WEB Euro Hoo Cott H&S 1663

Yes, Dr. Seuss would’ve loved
the house Sari booked.

Built in the 15th Century,
it’s name was Hoo Cottage.

I kid you not.

But Hoo Cottage and its low ceilings
seriously creeped Sari out.

Claustrophobic,
or hypersensitive spirit?
Or just scaredy-cat?

It was hard to say.

*    *    *

Suffice it to say, we had a wee bit more issues
before we were done with our self-catering travels…

WEB Euro Sari Rear Window

Our sunny last day in Chipping Camden,
we locked ourselves out of Hoo House.

WEB Euro Sari in Hoo Window

Until we found an unlocked pane
and crammed Sari in sideways.

*     *     *

You ran back to get the camera?
Seriously? H asks.

After taking two quick snaps, just two
I helped H slot S carefully through.

I think it was worth it.
Don’t you??

Till next time.

Ciao.

*     *     *

Thought for the day:

“Life is what happens to you
while you’re busy making other plans.”

– John Lennon

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3 thoughts on “Transatlantic Antics – Part I

  1. Ms O. Can’t wait for Part II. Hearty laughing while enjoying your pics and prose. Love your humor and peeks into real life vacation travails as well as glimpses into the beauty that surrounds us . those villages looked so quaint and welcoming. Just as one would think of the old English country side. I look forward to chow and chat night out to hear more and more details. What a wonderful gift to share the trip with H and S. love A

    • wonderful to see u yesterday; thanks for visiting post and feedback. visiting Eng. is like going home again but rediscovering it anew every time! love to Charlie and family ttys

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