Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Growing up I went out as many things for Halloween. Since I lived in Canada, most of the titles of my costumes included the word "fat" so as to allow room for a heavy coat underneath. However, out of all my costumes there was one key one I was missing until tonight:


Yes, I finally decided enough was enough and took the plunge. I dug out an old gown from my Boston days and picked up a tiara and wand. I might not have the flowing blond hair or whatever else Disney tells me a princess, but tonight I was a princess and it was awesome.

The Pictures: York

York was a highlight of the trip with it's beautiful combination with the cathedral, the Shambles, the pedestrian "downtown", the river, the walled city and ruins. Plus, I had the chance to do some night photography. Thanks to Janet for the travel tripod that rocked and to Stork for lots of patience.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Bad Sign

You think it's a bad sign that I've been back at work over two weeks and I still haven't had time to check my voicemail? Argh! Life has to slow down, doesn't it??

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Pictures: London

Here is the start of the pictures of London. Big Ben, the Tower Bridge and the Diana Memorial. London was a fabulous city, but the constantly changing weather and light wrecked havoc on my pictures.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Stories & The Pictures: Bamborough

During our time with the Northumbria Community one of the guys was heading to Bamborough, a small town on the ocean, so we hitched a ride. It was cute town and an amazing castle rising out of the sand dunes. It was a nice afternoon topped off with another cream tea before heading back.

And no, I don't have a polarizer. The sky really was that blue!

Article Recommendation

I know, I like to bash Radiant Magazine. Some of their articles have been pretty bad. However, their lead online article right now is really good. It's about the life of those who have visible roles in ministry and the call to rend our hearts, not our garments.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Taking a quick break from the vacation posts with a random musing. Some of it relates to England, so those of you who just can't get enough will still be happy. All of this is a little raw in my head and by no means polished.

Belonging is a really strong feeling, and for me, a really strong need. One of the greatest things about our time at the Northumbria Community was the almost immediate feeling of belonging. It's the first time I can remember really understanding the term "family of God" in an almost literal sense. These were the uncles and cousins that had been hiding in England. There was an immediate comfort and bond with them. This just got stronger as we prayed together and had long talks over scrubbing potatoes. But, it also got stronger over laughter at the dinner table.

I know it was only two days and that wasn't nearly long enough to discover that all of them are messy humans too, but there was something there. An ability to accept and be vulnerable to one another. They opened up their community just because we said we wanted to learn more. They brought us in, just as we were.

Leaving Northumbria was hard, but two days later we went to Liverpool where we met up with the 24/7 prayer folks. In a small room tucked away in the far corner of the Liverpool Cathedral we talked and prayed with Gary and Dawn. Again I felt an immediate bond with these people. Like I belonged as part of this in a way that's hard to explain. These people were part of my family too.

This is all fresh on my mind because of my community here at home. I moved to this area two years ago, but it was a year ago that I really started building community here. It started on a car ride coming back from a conference talking about what a small group should look like and what we were willing to do to make that happen. Since then it's grown, often in unexpected directions. My small group has become much closer as we intentionally make time for one another and spend time together.

I've also been part of another group that is based around prayer. I'd say a common vision for prayer in our area, but I'm not sure we always have that. I've spent large numbers of hours praying with these people and sharing what's really going on in my life. It's been a scary road with both this and with my small group. What if they discover I have faults (cuz that's a huge revelation!)? What if they decide I'm too much trouble?

I've felt a growing sense of belonging in both places. But recently I've been reminded that the feeling of belonging is so fragile My small group has been losing its smallness, which makes for growing pains and also a lack of closeness. Do I really belong when I hardly know half the people? Today something happened that swiped at my feeling of belonging in my prayer group. Both whether I would continue to feel accepted by them and whether I could ever feel I could belong with them.

I know we're called to live in community, but how far does that go? When does the need to belong take on a life of its own? What is too much to sacrifice? And if these people are my "family", then do I have any basis for leaving because I don't feel I belong any more? Do I belong even when I don't feel a sense of belonging?

The other piece of the belonging puzzle in my head is my not so distant memories of being part of an online community. When I discovered this particular online world I jumped in with both feet. Here was a place where people thought I was fun and funny. Doing a few projects and associating with the "right" people I quickly became a somebody and really felt that I belonged with these people. It was what high school would have been if I had been a cool kid. They made me feel special and loved. It was all false though because everything crumbled as quickly as it went up when the issue of faith came up and I wouldn't back down or deny it. It crumbled even faster when I started to question the spun sugar world around me. While I had felt like I belonged I really didn't. It was all a sham. Sure, I made a few friends along the way, but sometimes I'm not even sure about that. They've never had to deal with the messiness that is me.

So, what is real belonging and how do we find it? How do we know it's real when we find it? Is it ever something that lasts? What do we do if we feel it drifting away? Is belonging a purely human need and something we should try to rise above or deny?

I said it was raw, I didn't say I had answers.

The Pictures: Lands End

Lands End was a beautiful day on the far Southwest tip of the country.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Pictures: Oxford

Today's been crazy, so not much time to blog. Here are some pictures from Oxford. I'm starting to get them out of order. Oops. Oxford was beautiful, but a very gray day.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Pictures: Penzance

More pictures! This time it's Penzance. A beautiful seaside town where you can almost imagine the pirates. The weather was a little gray, as you can tell from the pictures!

The Stories: York

York was one of my favorite spots of the trip. Not because they had figured out elevators or ramps at the train station (@#%#@% stairs) or because top sheets or face cloths magically appeared (they didn't). For once we had enough time to enjoy something. We took the train to York, had lunch at the station and then found where we were staying (without getting lost - whoo hoo!) and were able to enjoy the rest of the day without carrying around luggage (or dragging it down cobblestone streets). What a relief!

We made our way down to the historic area of town (which is just a pedestrian zone, which made my chances of looking the wrong way for traffic go down significantly) and enjoyed the little shops and scenic streets. One of these shops warrants a mention above the others. It was a sword store. With swords made to look like Lord of the Rings swords, etc. And there were signs inviting you to take them off the wall and play with them. Yes, for real. It was a man toy store. All it needed was computer gadgets. I think I must have convinced Stork that there was no way we'd get any of it through security, because we left without making any purchases. Actually, I ran out when I saw a sword called a "Man Cleaver" and felt really sick. Stork made a more leisurely exit.

After picking up some much needed souvenirs for family, we arrived at York Cathedral. Finally a Cathedral that allowed photography! We explored it for quite a while (and I took an insane number of pictures) and then moved on to walk the city walls. What a cool experience to walk around the outside of a city and look down on things. We saw the Cathedral from different angles and got to see into people's back yards. The whole thing was very cool. Not a whole lot of walled cities in North America (yes, I have been to Quebec City).

Next we went off in search of St. Mary's Abbey. In the tourist book it said it was the ruins of an old abbey. Now, one of my top priorities on the trip was seeing ruins. My tourist guide had the following words highlighted throughout "ruins", "castle", "shopping" and "cheap". But, up to this point we hadn't seen any ruins. We went to the place the guide book said and it was an older building, but nothing that would qualify as ruins. Stork tried to make me feel better by pointing out a crumbling piece of wall. We continued walking around the building and BAM, there were the ruins I had been looking for.

In my usual elegant and sophisticated way, I yelled "RUINS" and set off at a run. Cuz, they only been there a couple of hundred years and will likely disappear in the next 2 minutes.

Again, copious pictures were taken. I actually climbed up on part of the ruins, which was cool. I've later heard that I stretched Stork's patience with my picture taking at this spot, but he was a good sport. Maybe because I hung out while he played with swords earlier.

Finally, I dragged myself away from my beloved ruins and we hurried back to the Cathedral for Evensong. The ceremony itself was very pretty - beautiful choir, beautiful setting. But, it was somehow very uncomfortable for me. Here I was in a church, reading scripture and many other things that seemed the same as usual, and yet I felt like I didn't belong. Everything felt completely empty for me and all for show. Completely dry. It was disturbing.

After leaving Evensong we went to Betty's for cream tea. Now, next to ruins, I think cream tea was highest on my list of things to do in England. Betty's was amazing and I finally got to try clotted cream, which is amazing! Stork was a good sport being dragged along to such an estrogen rich environment (complete with a piano player playing show tunes).

After Betty's we walked around some more (and even managed to get lost - whoo hoo!). We headed back to the Cathedral for some night time photography. Got some cool and spooky pictures. They'll be posted eventually.

On our way back to the hostel we stopped at a little pub by the river for beer and crisps to finish out the evening.

It was such a relaxing day and full of so many things that I really wanted to do while in England. I highly recommend York to anyone going to England.

Next - the Northumbria community

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Pictures - Manchester

I know it's confusing to get the pictures and the stories separately. These are from the first day of the trip when we were wondering around aimlessly and jetlagged. Manchester Cathedral and Urbis.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Stories; Manchester Part II

I had great plans for this day. Zipping across the country and spending a fun day in Manchester. I had been told you could get anywhere in the country to 3 hours and from London to Manchester in 2 hours. I don't know where these mythical trains were, but it took 5 hours to get there. Another day spent on a train!

Before we left London we spent some time talking about some things we had been reading. It was one of those times when you question church, just because I got so much more out of that time than I have out of any church service for a long long time. Sigh.

The train ride was fairly uneventful (or at least I don't remember anything from it). That evening we had dinner with our friend Christina and just caught our breath.

In other news, I'm done a first pass through the pictures, so some should be showing up here soon. Whoo hoo!

Up next: York - one of my favorite days of the trip.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Stories: London

London was an absolute crazy day. Not because of the continually starting and stopping rain (we were used to that by then) or because we got lost (we beat the system by taking the hop on hop off tour). Mostly because we tried to do all of London in a single day. Who planned this anyway? Oh.... me.

We easily made it into the city and found the tour. Settling in to our seats on the top of the double decker bus, we plugged in our earphones and started the "official tour of British wit". It wasn't called that, but the commentary wasn't the dry tourist stuff I was expecting.

We did our first "hop off" at the House of Parliament/Westminster Abbey stop. The house of parliament (and Big Ben) were as fantastic as I expected. It was weird to be there in a spot I had seen so many times in pictures. This was a feeling that continued most of the day.

Before I go further I have to digress for a minute. Growing up I was a huge fan of Princess Diana. I read everything I could find about her, analyzed her clothes and everything she did. So, much of London was a tour of all the places I had "seen" watching her.

We went into Westminster Abbey (no photography - sigh) and smushed together with the rest of the British population and tourists to shuffle through the tiny rooms. I learned something very important about Stork there. He REALLY likes to read. Like every word he comes across. There are a lot of words in Westminster Abbey. Of course, he did find many of the coolest things there while I wandered around staring at the ceiling or whispering "I can't believe I'm here!". Saw all the graves of the dead kings and queens. The building itself is amazing. It totally lived up to my expectations and my expectations were really high.

The most interesting moment was finding the pulpit right in the main nave that was dedicated to William Carey, the founder of the modern missions movement. I wasn't expecting to see his words "Expect great things of God. Attempt great things for God" in this temple to the opulence of the British monarchy. It was also cool to see the statue of William Wilberforce and the clear presentation of his motives and the gospel on it. It was a breath of fresh air after all the plaques detailing the importance of the people buried there.

The Abbey was probably the most overwhelming moment of the trip. Standing in the place where Princess Diana's funeral was held, where Sarah and Andrew got married and where so many coronations took place was awesome.

But, we were on a tight timeline, so not much time to pause and reflect. Off to get back on the tour and head to our next stop - lunch. You'd think London - huge city full of people, there must be lots of good food. So, our grand plan was to get on the tour bus and watch for possibilities and then jump off at the next stop when we saw something. This is THE WORST LUNCH STRATEGY EVER. Well, it might not have been a bad lunch strategy, but we drove by the worst restaurant in London and picked it for lunch. The name was bad (I can't even remember it, but it was bad) and it had a "Cream Tea" sign in neon in the window. What about a neon sign made me think this cream tea would be good, I don't know. But I did.

We got the world's worst jacket potatoes. The cheese on the top had clearly been melted hours before and then heated up. The insides were like they had been re-heated in a nuclear microwave. I burned the entire inside of my mouth, which may have been a blessing as I then couldn't taste anything. After I ordered and paid for my cream tea they informed me they didn't have it and would be giving me tea and a German biscuit. Whatever. This was the low point of London and maybe the whole trip.

Things improved after that. Well, really they had to because there was nowhere else to go. We stopped next at St. Paul's Cathedral. We didn't pay for the whole tour, but we walked around the outside and took a little peak inside. Amazing. Huge. Cavernous. But what is with the flooring that looks like it comes from a family Italien restaurant? I'm just saying. Next trip to London I'm definitely doing the full tour.

The next stop was the Tower Bridge, which we walked across. The British clearly aren't as worried about lawsuits as the Americans. The railings on the side barely came up to my waist. Given my fear of bridges I was hugging the inside of the sidewalk whenever possible. We walked around the Tower of London. We walked around lots of non-descript buildings looking for any bathrooms (another theme of England - why must they be so hard to find??).

The next tour bus we jumped on had an interesting tour director who was a little, how shall we say.... bitter, about modern art. He kept us laughing for the next leg of the tour talking about different award winning pieces of modern art that he didn't feel were all that special. We stopped laughing when we realized we were on the wrong bus. Oops!

Back on the right bus we took a swing by Buckingham Palace. I waved to the Queen but got no response. I hear she's a little reserved.

Soon after that we ditched the tour and went walking in Hyde Park. After a little fun with maps we found the Diana Memorial. Seeing it at first I didn't get it. A cement trench with water. What??? But the more time we spent there, the more I got into it. It's a very cool spot and I'm really glad we went. And thankful that Stork knew how important it was to me and made sure we got there. To prove I was there, Stork took a picture of me lying on the memorial taking pictures. I think all the pictures of me in England involve me on my stomach taking a picture of something.

Next we headed into Kensington Gardens to find Kensington Palace. One of the few perks of the constant rain/sun/rain/sun pattern of the day was that we saw a bunch of rainbows. They always took me by surprise.

Kensington Palace was a little bit of a letdown. Not much to see. So, we consulted the travel guide for a place to eat dinner. After our lunch experience we didn't trust our instincts. We found a fabulous fish place that was really nice and served good food. Score again for the Lonely Planet guide. (for those keeping score, me and Stork are about 0 for 6 at this point on choosing our own restaurants).

After dinner we ditched our possible evening plans and headed back to the B&B completely exhausted. On the train we met a really nice British couple and had an interesting political discussion. Nice to talk to regular people and get a glimpse into regular life.

Tomorrow: Back to Manchester

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What a Relief!

Imagine if I'd failed!

You are a Believer

You believe in God and your chosen religion.
Whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu..
Your convictions are strong and unwavering.
You think your religion is the one true way, for everyone.

The Stories: Oxford

On our way to the train station I needed to stop at a grocery store to pick up a couple of things. We found a place called the ASDA that seemed to have everything. I picked up what I needed and then we went in search of something Stork needed. Looking at the price we were shocked to see a sticker that said it was a "Roll Back" price with a happy face. At the checkout we spotted written on the wall "Always Low Prices". AHHHHHHHH. Walmart has followed us to England. Sure enough, we later discovered that ASDA is owned by Walmart.

Oxford is, I'm sure, a wonderful city full of historic charm and fabulous people. We appeared to have seen it on an off day. Starting with the train station where the women's bathrooms were closed indefinitely. Then they didn't have any place for left luggage (they did tell us where to find one in town). We set off into Oxford in the drizzling rain. The hostel for the left luggage should have been called "Perfume City". I couldn't even go in the door. Stork dragged both of our luggage up the stairs and checked it. One obstacle cleared. We then set off in search of a tourist information centre (the one in the train station didn't have information other than how to find the real centre). While Stork was stocking up on C.S. Lewis walking tour information, I was managing to give myself a deep and painful cut with my umbrella. It's really hard to get bandaids open when you're bleeding badly. I'm just saying.

We then went off to the covered market. I figured this way I would be able to find a bathroom and get lunch at the same time. Harder than I would have thought. We walked around for ages trying to find a bathroom. Eventually I asked someone and was directed to a McDonalds. Thank goodness for McDonalds. I must break into the tale at this point and mention how frustrated I was getting with accents. Due to the nature of our trip - different city every day - I was having trouble understanding accents. I'd just get used to one and we'd move on to the next city. While in the bathrooms at McDonalds there was a mother and her child talking. I had this "aha" moment when I realized I could finally understand what they were saying with no problem and that they had no accent. I minute later I realized they were speaking French. Sadly, I appear to operate better in a foreign country in my second language than my first!

Then we went off in search of food. We had gotten a little spoiled on our other stops. Since we were traveling after peak tourist season we had pretty much everything to ourselves. Oxford, being a college town, was completely packed. It was hard to find a table and even harder to find a table not located next to a chain smoker. We eventually found a french sandwich shop and had lunch while Stork studiesd the C.S. Lewis spots in town.

The afternoon was spent checking out his favorite pubs, walking spots, college, the apartment where he lived and some other key spots around the town. Throughout the time the weather went from pouring rain to drizzle to bright sunlight. My umbrella went up and down and up and down all day. It was hard to take pictures with the light changing every few minutes. I got a great picture of Stork with his sunglasses tucked in his shirt (close at hand) and his umbrella up.

I got to see the Oxford version of the Bridge of Sighs (and we even walked under it after a small temper tantrum by me), the punting boats on the river, Magalen College and lots of other postcard worthy spots.

Before we left we stopped at a place called Yates for dinner. I was super tired, so I didn't analyze things too much when we went in. I ordered scampi (which isn't like our scampi) and Stork ordered bangers and mash (which turned out to be like the sausage from my home region). However, as we were eating, we realized this was also like a nightclub. And then we realized there were little podiums with poles on them. Hmmmm... Even more interesting, one of those podiums had a high chair on it. Talk about mixed messages!

We retreived our luggage, caught a train and finally got to West Drayton (where we were staying outside of London). This time we didn't have too much trouble with directions.

Next - the big day in London.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

OneThing Rochester

Here are some pictures from the conference the weekend before England. The pictures don't do it justice.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Stories: Lands End & Gloucester

We resume our story with the wandering pilgrims waking up in Penzance. Still no pirates to be seen. This morning cereal and toast for breakfast. What a relief!

Our first adventure took us to Lands End, the far westerly point of England. Nothing to be seen between there and Canada. The coastline was rocky and jagged. It reminded me of Newfoundland a lot. It was great to hike all over the cliffs. Well, not all over the cliffs, just on top of them. Got some cornish ice cream. Met a billy goat and a mountain goat. Stopped for a real Cornish pasty (cheese and onion) that was really quite tasty. (Sorry - I'll stop that now) It was good to be in a nice remote area and just be able to enjoy the landscape.

The bus ride to and from Lands End was quite an experience. The roads are more like paths and aren't really made for two lane traffic. Whenever there are two cars, one has to back up into a driveway or a clearing to let the other through. These drivers must have nerves of steel! The drive was beautiful and we got to see lots of villages and scenic spots.

Back in Penzance we caught the train up to Gloucester. For once, we fairly easily found our B&B - a nice change of pace. Gloucester was much more Americanized than other places we'd been and things actually were the distances we'd been told - again a nice break.

After dumping our stuff we set out in search of dinner. We decided to go to the local "hot spot" the Docks. Under construction and mostly closed. Hmmm... It's only 6, why would all the restaurants be closed? Evidently the right response is - because they're in England. We wondered around for ages trying to find something open. Eventually we stumbled on a spot that should probably be renamed "World's Worst Pizza" and had dinner. There was corn on my pizza. 'Nuff said. Also, when in England always opt for the spicy version of everything (except curry), because that means it has flavor.

Walking back we stopped at a strip mall (what's a strip mall doing in England?) and everything was closed. It's 7 pm people! Where is everyone?

Up next - Oxford and the quintessential rainy day in England.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Stories - Penzance

After a huge night of sleep, despite a neon Chinese take out sign, street noise and the wafting smell of Chinese take out, we started day two. Day two brought a major event in the trip - the first full English breakfast.

I had been warned that the English breakfast would be a shock to the system. I sat down at the table with a cup of tea and in front of me was placed a plate full of foreign objects. I'm pretty sure one was an egg, but it was definitely more "over easy" than any American restaurant would serve. It got crazier from there. Beans. Evidently those were to be eaten on toast. For breakfast. Then there was something that was supposed to be a sausage. Except I'm pretty sure it was just a hot dog. And then there was "bacon", which was a cross between ham and a slab of fat. The woman who ran the guest house seemed upset I didn't eat all the meat. I assured her I was a crazy American and couldn't handle meat at breakfast.

Then we got what became a pattern for the trip - bad British directions. The guy told us it was 1/4 mile to the train station. Except not! It was closer to a full mile to the train station. And we had all our luggage with us. Boy, was that fun. So, kids, remember that whatever distance a British person tells you, it's really four times that far.

We then started what was to become another huge theme on the trip - trains. They ran on time. And they were clean. And they had bathrooms that looked like they were on Star Trek. They even had good food. Going from Manchester to Penzance was a great trip. The scenery was constantly changing. I'm sure I drove everyone crazy by acknowledging every group of sheep, cute bridge, canal and pretty scene we passed. One thing it definitely impressed upon me was that there's so much more to see of England than what we saw. Evidently I could spend months there exploring.

We arrived in Penzance around 5:30 and set off to catch the bus to Lands End. This is when we discovered another big theme. Everything in England closes at 6 pm. We ended up not being able to get to Lands End that night, so we wandered around Penzance in the fog and drizzling rain. What a fantastic town. There are stairs that go right down into the ocean (at high tide). We also discovered trees that look like palm trees.

After wandering around exploring for ages, we decided to find our hostel. We took one teeny tiny wrong turn that meant we walked for ages in the completely opposite direction. When we realized how far away we were, we picked up our luggage and called a taxi to take us there. Much easier than dragging luggage all the way through town again. Did I mention I was wet and tired and hungry??

We finished out the evening in a cute pub having fish and chips. The laughed at us when we asked for ketchup. I introduced Stork to the joys of malt vinegar. It was definitely a very English evening.

Next - off to the ends of England and then Gloucester.

Walk in the Woods

Before I get back to the regularly scheduled England stories (next - Penzance), here are some pictures from my walk in the woods yesterday. Almost too late for the best of the trees, but it was still beautiful.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I had some surprise visitors this weekend, including a very cute little person who has renamed me "YaYa". Here are some pictures

Saturday, October 14, 2006

English Oddities

One of the dangers of traveling in England is that you get lulled into this sense of security. You can forget that you're in a foreign country and then get hit with doing something wrong. Here are some examples:

The money - Now I grew up in Canada, so I'm used to colored money and one and two dollar coins. That wasn't the problem. It was the coins. The 10 pence coin looks just like the US quarter. And the 5 pence coin looks like the dime. The 20 pence and 2 pence coins always threw me for a loop. Not surprisingly, I came home with an awful lot of coins because I got a little afraid to use them after I gave a guy a 5 and 10 pence coin when I owed him 35 pence. Oops.

Spoons - Their spoons were different. They had tiny tea spoons (think the decorative kind aunts collect) and then big spoons. Nothing bad about it, but it did help me understand where the teaspoon and tablespoon measures came from.

Sheets - Seriously people, there are supposed to be two sheets on a bed. This is a country that believes in a bottom sheet and then a duvet. There are a lot of temperatures that fall between no covering and a heavy duvet covering. I spent a lot of time at night taking duvets on and off because I was always too hot or too cold. Why no top sheet? And why no blankets?

Face clothes - Again, why no face clothes? I had to go out an buy one. Someone later explained that people carry their own when they travel. Good for them, but mine never dried out, so it was always soggy. Yuck!

Left handed eating - While at the Northumbria community we discovered the joy that is eating with the back of your fork, while held with your left hand. Huh? How is this more efficient than holding your fork with your right hand?

Marmite - This gets a distinction above any other British food because it was just so weird. Everyone said I had to try it because it was so distinctly British. I opened the bottle and got a little nauseous. Finally Stork tried it and I tried a little corner of his toast. I'm really glad he didn't have a camera to record my face. It was horrible stuff. Why would you eat that for breakfast? Or any time?

Other foods (like beans on toast) I could get used to (though not for breakfast). Brown sauce was good and helped spice up the otherwise bland food. The snacks were interesting and fun.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Stories: Manchester

The first thing you need to know about the trip is that we took a red eye to Manchester. This involved trying to sleep in an upright position, tucked in with a couple hundred other people (including a group of very chatty people) during a bad storm over the Atlantic. Not an ideal sleep scenario.

So, they drag us off the plane at what they tell us is 7:30 am, but my body knows is 2:30 am and they send us in front of immigration officers. I'm used to the Canadian kind, where the interrogation goes something like "Well, you're coming for a visit, eh? Good to see ya. Have a great time." I was a little unprepared for a battery of questions on who we were going to see, where all we were going to stay and who this person I was traveling with was. With a couple of dramamine and my usual sleep meds in my system I didn't know what my own name was, let alone who this guy was I was traveling with and what we were doing in England.

Unfortunately, since I had done most of the travel planning, he was counting on me to know this stuff. We probably should have planned that better, huh?

Evidently the immigration people must of decided that I really am this bumbling and it couldn't be the act of someone more sinister, because they let us in and the real adventure began.

Adventure 1 - The Airport

So, our friend was supposed to meet us at the airport. Since we were arriving at 7:30 am on a Tuesday, it didn't seem like it would be hard to find here. We'd walk out of the international arrivals and she'd be there smiling at us. Right? No.

Leaving one of us behind with the luggage, one of us would go out exploring to see if we could find her. No luck. Finally we found a pay phone, figured out how to use it and called her. She was right under the meeting place sign and couldn't we see her? Ummm... no. Eventually I got out my book of everything with the map of the airport in it and determined we were in different terminals. She came over to our terminal and things got a little better.

Adventure 2 - Everything Else

I wish I could describe more of the adventures, but it's all a little hazy. I know we found our b&b, which turned out to be above a Chinese take-out restaurant and very weird, and then spent the day in downtown Manchester (shopping district, Manchester Cathedral, Urbis). I know we took pictures. I know we found an internet cafe and I emailed birthday greetings to my brother. I know later we went and had dinner with our friend. However, mostly I remember trying so hard not to doze off. I also remember sitting next to Stork (my traveling companion) on the bus and watching him doze off, knowing it was cruel to wake him up, but also knowing it was the only way to beat jet lag.

The best thing about Day 1 (no offense Manchester) was finally crawling into bed at the end of the day and falling to sleep!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Adjusting to Life at Home

So, England was an interesting experience. It went far beyond a vacation. A lot happened. But on the superficial level...

One of my fears coming back was that I wouldn't remember how to drive in the US. Not that I drove in England. But I thought that if I watched people driving on the other side of the road for two weeks that there might be some confusion.

The good news is I have no problem knowing where I should be on the road. Never a moment of doubt. My problem? I don't know where the other cars are supposed to be. I'm never sure where the cars are going to come from. I guess it comes from so much confusion when I would walk out in the road in England and look in the wrong direction. It's quite rattling to not know what direction cars will be coming from. I'm sure I would have adjusted by now except for the whole driving around with a sky high fever for the last two days. Oops.

Under things I miss about England? Tea. And the pace. I love that tea is always the right thing to drink and that it's always available. Other than the big cities (which I generally don't like anyway), I liked the slower pace of life. Everything here seems so artificially hurried. That might be a product of being on vacation, but I also think things in the US are too much about speed.

More later. I'm afraid to tell too many stories, since the one person who knows ALL that really happened is reading the blog. Of course, I do moderate the comments... Hmmmm...

On the Road

... to Recovery

Starting to feel a little better. Had some charming fever induced dreams last night that were disturbing. Woke up this morning feeling a lot better. Vaguely human even.

Managed to get my computer back yesterday and I'm slowly rebuilding it. I did manage to get my pictures transferred. Now I get to go back to the beginning of September and start going through picturs. Whoo hoo!

It's nice to have things going in the right direction again. Back soon with thoughts on England.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


So, I woke up in the middle of the night last night (i.e. Tuesday morning) really sick. Yesterday I was flat on my back, except for a trip to the doctors. I thought it was an allergic reaction (darn Ovaltine for being soy-based), but last night I thought to take my temperature and it was 101. Oops. Guess I caught something. I'm feeling a little better today, but I imagine I'll still spend the majority of my day flat on my back on the couch. Not exactly the "jumping back into things" that I had imagined.

The good news is that I've found my computer, so I'm going to retreive it from Fed Ex today. Hopefully it will all be in working order. I can't wait to get my pictures on there.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Quote of the Day

If Jesus is your co-pilot, you need to change seats.

From Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (of all places)

Still trying to recover from jet lag and two weeks dragging all my wordly belongings behind me. Oh, and also figure out how to make all that I've learned impact my daily life.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Thanks.... and keep praying

Many thanks to all of you who were praying for me while I was gone. It made a huge difference. I didn't get horribly sick, despite being exposed to all manner of smoke and fragrance. Just generally things went very smoothly and we felt lots of protection.

If you could keep praying, I would appreciate it. Something came up while I was away and need prayer for my health this week. Sorry to be vague. More soon.

Back in the US....

... and very tired. Arrived back safe and sound. Trip was amazing. Saw so much. Learned so much. Need months just to process it all. No pictures yet - Circuit City is still holding my computer hostage.

Sooooo sleepy. More later.

Happy early Thanksgiving to all the Canadians.