Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I had such a wonderful trip - let me tell you about it but be warned this is LONG

I have written this post in several segments and saved them as drafts not knowing how this blogger works so it is all messed up and I am not going to start all over again. It's taken me weeks to get it on here.

Let me just say that I am not the person you would ever want to take specific photos for you. I see things I like and I try to get the picture and the next thing you know, I have taken a picture of something nowhere near it. But then again, I take pictures of totally random things too and no one can figure out why I took them so I will try to explain.
When were were looking at booking the flight, I mentioned that I would prefer to not fly out of Chicago because my friend Julie had been stranded there for days trying to get home in December and if it was at all possible, I didn't want to take that chance so my flight was booked Tulsa to Newark to Manchester.

The day started out by my son oversleeping and didn't show up to take me to the airport at 4:30 in the morning so I drove myself and had to park the car for 11 days. I got there before the desk opened and stood in line to get my boarding pass and check the luggage. While I was standing there, I look up and see that the flight I am to catch at 7:00 AM has been postponed an hour. Oh good I have plenty of time to get through security and get to the gate. No problem since Tulsa is such a small airport compared to the ones I fly into. I proceed to security and stood in line for 2 HOURS. It sure was a good thing the flight was delayed, I would have missed it! By the time I get to the gate, the flight has been postponed another hour. We were flying into Newark and there was a big snow storm brewing there. I was to have about an 1 1hour layover in Newark so this didn't bother me. I get settled in and start knitting to pass the time when I hear the gate attendant announce that the flight has now been canceled. We won't be going to Newark after all. I picked up the phone and tried to call Deana and Steve. I get voice mail. It seems the wind was blowing really hard in Sheffield and it was knocking out service. I leave messages and remain calm. Ok, I don't have to catch the flight to England until 11:00 in the evening let's see what kind of plan I can come up with on my own. I look over and there is a big group of people from England who were to be on the same flight. I spotted the person who appeared to be in charge and I went over to ask what their plans were going to be now. The very kind lady, Karen, told me that she had spoken with the desk attendant and that they were going to see what they could do for them. She asked where I was going and I told her. This was my lucky day, they were going to Manchester also. She told me to hang close and she would let me know what they found out. When the attendant came over to tell her that they were trying to get them on a different carrier, she told him to make sure he got me on the same flight with them. Done deal. He came over and got my information and proceeded to book us all (26 people) on a flight from Tulsa to Chicago and it leaves in 4 hours and will actually get us into Manchester a little earlier than the Newark flight would have. The weather in Chicago was beautiful. Imagine that.

The group from England took me in as one of their own and made sure that I didn't feel alone. You have no idea how much I appreciated that. I spent most of my life being terrified or airplanes and flying even going to the airport to take someone or pick them up honestly made me sick. The longest flight I had been on alone was an hour and a half. I make that flight as easily as driving to work now but I was a little anxious about this big trip alone. Excited but anxious.

Somewhere over the "pond" when the lights were all out on the plane and everyone seemed to be trying to get some rest I decide that maybe if I tried REAL hard, I could get to sleep too. I was just feeling my head nod when all the lights came on and I looked up to see all of the flight attendants running down the aisle to my right. I can't see what is going on because I am sitting on the left aisle. There were people everywhere standing up and trying to see what was gonig on. I didn't ask but from what I gathered, someone fainted and they were ok. I am glad that was it but I could forget about getting any rest now.

When we landed in Manchester, I heard the loudest noises under me. I think wow that can't be good but we are stopping and they are all smiling and saying thanks for flying with us.

It was a smooth transition through customs and I get to where the luggage is coming off and realize that I am going to have to try to figure out how to get all of it to where Steve would be waiting for me. Not a problem, they have carts to use. For free. In China they were free too. In America, we charge our guests for their convenience. I really don't like that we do that.

Steve is waiting for me and we head out of the airport to where he parked the car. Or are we? We walked for what seemed like an hour before we decide that maybe we were heading to the wrong terminal parking area so we go back the way we came. It was funny, really it was. My son-in-law does not get lost. When we got to the correct parking garage, he took the ticket out of his pocket and right there on it was the terminal we were supposed to go to. I got to tease him about that for a couple of days.

We drove from Manchester to Sheffield and I couldn't believe how beautiful the drive was OR how narrow the roads were. My first thought was "this looks like Arkansas". I love to go to Arkansas to look at the beautiful green. It was funny to me that Deana said the same thing to me.
When we arrived in Sheffield at Sam and Rachel's house where Deana, Steve and Max had been staying I was ssssssssssssoooooooooooo tired. Deana and Max were still in bed but awake so I went up to see them and Max was excited that Nonni was in England. They let me rest for a couple of hours and then we went out to see some of Sheffield. While we were out, the news on the radio said that the American Airlines flight from Manchester to Chicago had to turn around about an hour into the flight because of something faulty with the landing gear. I told you it didn't sound good.

The next morning I woke up to hearing Deana and Max outside my door singing Happy Birthday and then Max got to lay with me and snuggle a bit. We all got ready and headed to London where we would celebrate mine and Deana's birthdays.

If you are keeping track, so far we have had a flight cancellation, someone has caused commotion on the plane over the ocean, we have been lost in the airport and the plane I just flew on has been turned back to England because of faulty landing gear.

The drive from Sheffield to London was beautiful. We arrived and checked into the very nice hotel where for the first time ever, Max and I get to have a real slumber party. We had a separate room although right next door to his momma and daddy. This was part of their birthday gift to me and also my birthday gift to Deana. It was the first time they spent the night apart. I was so excited! Poor Deana though. She could hear her baby cry from their room next door and she would call and ask if she should come get him. I would tell her, no he is fine. He isn't doing anything in here that he wouldn't be doing in there and she would say I know and hang up. And cry. I don't care how old your child is when you first leave them with someone else it is traumatic. Even if you are right next door. If you would like, you can read about Max on his blog. He is one special little man and I love him very much.

When she came over the next morning to get him ready for the day I was so exhausted I am not sure I knew who I was much less where I was. Max had seizures pretty much all night long so I got no sleep. How many hours had it been since I slept well, I'm not sure of that either. I asked if I could rest a little bit and they had some errands to run so they let me sleep a little while. When they came back it was around noon. I had slept half the day away. In LONDON ENGLAND. Come on Danetta! This was also fuel for the son-in-laws to laugh about. We got out and did all of the sight seeing we could for the rest of the afternoon and evening then we went back to the hotel so Max and I could have another slumber party and his momma and daddy could go out to dinner alone, something they don't get to do much, to celebrate her birthday which was the next day. We didn't sleep a whole lot that night either. We got up and around and headed back to Sheffield but not before stopping in Nottingham at Ikea. I had not been to Ikea before but knew of them because of Deana and Angela and their love of all things Ikea. Oh how I loved Ikea. I bought myself a quilt while I was there because I know me. It will be who knows how long before I actually FINISH a quilt for my bed.

I'm going to stop here and publish this post. I could go on for days about this trip. I already have. If you made it this far, thanks for staying with me.

Here we are in London standing near Big Ben on my birthday. Deana and I are holding a stuffed thing I forgot the name of that represents Abbey being with us. When they went to England to live, Deana told Abbey that she would always be with them.
A lot of photos were taken as "drive by" or so I called them. This building had a sign that said "Closed for Refurbishment opening early 2006" I think they might be running a little behind schedule.
Beautiful view of Westminster Abbey at night. I so wish it had been open when we were there. It is a magnificent structure. I could have spent hours just looking at it.
Another drive by and a look into the sense of humor we share. Open Door is obviously closed.

Me standing at the front doors of Westminster Abbey. Parliament from across the street at the Abbey. There were guards everywhere to keep people out. Right. Twice in the week following our visit security was breached at this very spot.

These beautiful little crocus were everywhere and it was so green. Just a very welcoming site everywhere we went.

Proof of my "trip" to London on my birthday. It was the funniest thing but not so funny. It had just started raining and it was dark, we were on our way back to the hotel. I really love to look at the architecture and there was a building that caught my eye when we had passed it on our way to look around the London. Here I am walking along talking to Deana and was looking at the awesomeness and tripped on a broken section of sidewalk. I remember seeing that I was going down and threw my hands out to stop the fall. That didn't work it just made me have bruised and battered hands and what I thought might be a broken finger (turns out it was just jammed). What did stop my fall was all the extra padding I carry around in front of me. I heard Deana yell at me "Moooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaa are you alright." I think I may have answered her but she thinks I didn't. I just kind of rolled over to my backside padding and I am literally sitting on the sidewalk all wet picking up the coins that had fallen out of my pockets one by one. She then proceeded to tell me to leave the money alone and answer her. I seriously was in a "London Fog". I was so embarrased and felt so stupid. Steve was ahead of us pushing Max in the stroller and Deana finally yelled at him to come help. He missed seeing it all but oh how he loved telling the story to Dan about it a couple of nights later. I heard him upstairs telling Dan about it on the phone and he was laughing and giggling from the practically soundproof room they were in. They both enjoyed the entertainment as Dan reminded me when I saw them on Easter weekend.
This is the yummy fruit tart that we bought at Whole Foods for my birthday cake. I could sure like to eat one of those right now.
This is the ceiling of Nando's restaurant in London where we ate lunch on Monday. This place was just beautiful and the food.....OH MY how I liked the food. We ended up having it from 2 other locations during my stay. They are coming to the States this year but I imagine it will take years for them to get to Oklahoma and it won't be the same.
Here I am looking at the site where Shakespear's original Globe Theater stood.
Another great shot of Big Ben and the London Eye. I didn't take this one either Deana or Steve did.

This is a beautiful tiled wall and etched glass window outside a building in Buxton England.
These little dress shops were one of my favorite sites. It was Mother's Day in England while I was there. It was amazing to me how much advertising was done for Mother's Day.

The Buxton Baths. We didn't go in there but these baths were built in the time of Roman rule and are still being used today.
A posed shot so I could finally get the face of everyone instead of some of the other shots I was getting. Here are Sam and Rachel my new family friends and Deana, Steve and Max outside of a little antique shop in Buxton.
This is where we spent the last weekend of my trip at Rachel's family's apartment in Buxton. I don't know when I have ever been as relaxed as I was this weekend. I loved every minute of it and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to share it with such great people.

This is my view outside the room I stayed in at Sam and Rachel's house in Sheffield. I could see what seemed liked forever and it was just beautiful. This also the room where the earth shook. Just as I was laying down to go to sleep, there was an earthquake on the night we came back from London.

One of the first things I noticed when Steve picked me up was all the moss on EVERYTHING. I had always heard that moss growns on the North side of the trees but this moss grew all the way around the trees and all over the roofs of the houses and on anything that wasn't moving. It was amazingly very pretty to me.
This little door built into the wall around this house caught my eye and became another drive by.
I loved the rock walls that were all over the country side as fences.

And this, well this is one of my very favorite memories.

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