Well, we're here in England! Jet lagged and a bit disoriented, but here! I'm attempting a blog post on my phone, as it may be a while until our computer is set up, and some folks have requested photos and the like from our trip.
We spent a few days with my family in Boston before hopping the pond. The final day, as in Austin, was spent putting the final touches on the packing and weighing of ten suitcases -- five to check (British Airways allows one free piece per passenger in cattle, I mean coach class) and five for the overhead bins. We'd purchased some giant, very sturdy rolling duffels, made by a company called FUL, at Costco, and amazingly, manages to keep each one under the 50-lb weight limit, including the one that contained a Le Creuset cast iron enamelware braising pan! Woohoo, that should be some kind of lifetime achievement. ;-) The remainder of our stuff was crammed into our five carry-on suitcases and five backpacks. Here we are at Logan Airport with all our paraphernalia.
(Notice that one person in this family montage isn't smiling. That's because he's being dragged by his unfeeling parents away from all his friends for some ridiculous experience, which, scarily enough, he might end up liking.)
It took two cars to get all of us and our stuff to the airport, and my mom and sister helped us get it all up to the ticket counter. Hooray for helpful family!
Once in the boarding area for our 9:30 pm flight to London Heathrow, we enjoyed a farewell dessert courtesy of our sweet friends Tony and Melissa Trantham, who had given us a Starbucks gift card to be used on our trip. Thanks, guys!
And Daddy read aloud from the current bedtime story (The Foundling, I think) until boarding, while I tried to ignore the fact that a woman in a seat near us was filing and painting her toenails. No joke. I sent an emergency text to Vanessa about it. "Save me!!" I ordered her.
But she couldn't.
She was too far away.
We hardly slept on the six-hour flight, despite taking melatonin, partly because we were served TWO meals by the cheery flight attendants whom we had to love because they addressed our kids as "my darling." So British. So charming.
Arriving at Heathrow, we stumbled along through customs with our passports and visas -- always a suspenseful moment when you worry that you've forgotten to cross a bureaucratic "t" and they'll find you unfit to enter the country. What a relief to be fingerprint-scanned and then waved on through to collect our luggage.
Thank You Lord for luggage carts! And breezing through customs! And taxi drivers with large vans who meet you at the airport as arranged (we had called the cab company in Cambridge in advance).
It took about an hour and twenty minutes to drive from Heathrow Airport to Cambridge. We slept for about an hour and ten minutes of that.
Since our rental house isn't ready yet, we landed at the home of Kevin and Sarah Kihneman, some American friends who have been living in England for several years as missionaries. They graciously absorbed five tired people and a flotilla of luggage for the next several days.
We wanted to stay awake until evening, so everyone went for a looooong walk in the afternoon. Our rambles took us to the River Cam, where we actually saw a few (uh, vintage) houseboats moored. Huh, we hadn't considered that particular lodging option!
Along the river were bike paths and fields with cows grazing. Urban cows! (Not pictured.)
P.S. Twenty eight hours in and it hasn't rained yet. Nothing but blue skies do I see!
This post is getting long, and I'm sort of terrified of my phone crashing or eating it or in some other manner undoing all this typing, so I'll save our initial forays into shopping, banking, etc. for next time. If you have any questions about the travel, fire away and I'll try to respond on here. Glad to have you along on this adventure!