Kenilworth and Farewell Tuesday, Jan 6 2009 

A Tower of Kenilworth Castle

6 January 2009

Epiphany

We need no “epiphany” to tell us that our holiday is ending and it’s time to go home.  There is no describing the feeling of melancholy that accompanies the last day of a trip like this.  There is so much joy in what has gone before, and so much sadness at what can never be.  So much thrill and excitement at the plethora of new experiences and yet there is fear and a sense of dread that such experiences may never come again.    I am so glad that we got to end this trip by visiting a place as special as Kenilworth.

I have marvelous childhood (I was eleven) memories of being here with my family.  Kenilworth is one of those specific places from that childhood trip,that stands out  so clearly in my memory, along with Stonehenge (in the days when you could still walk among the stones and touch them) and Coventry Cathedral (I was in a phase where I was very interested in WWII history, and very moved by its stories), and the beautiful heather-covered hills of the Highlands of Scotland—so clearly it’s like it was a year ago, instead of more than thirty-five!

Why Kenilworth made such an impression on me then, I cannot say.  But, I do know that now, with all my historical research and interest in things Elizabethan—especially the relationships of Elizabeth and her favourites—it certainly means ten times as much now as then.  I was so happy to be there, today, I was giddy!

And, there was snow!  Again, not a lot, but a powdering of snow covered the ground and much of the stonework.  And, because of the cold, and the time of year, in general, we had the place practically to ourselves.  It was a lovely time, and a perfect final sight to see.  My  photo of the day, and the  others that I took there today, are very fun.  It was difficult to pick just one.  I’ll have the others up on Flickr in a day or two.

When we had exhausted all our camera batteries and a little more than our budgeted amount of time, we pointed the car once again toward London.  Less than two hours later, we were pulling into the American Airlines Cargo facility, where Kyle had been asked to  put in an appearance and see if he could fix an issue that had just come up yesterday.   After all—he was already in town!  He only worked a little less than an hour, and once again we were free of commitment.  We secured a hotel room, and endeavored to find some lunch.  Three pubs and a couple of jacket potatoes later, we were sated, and it was time to return the hired car to the folks at Avis.  With that done, we headed back to the hotel again, and learned a valuable lesson:  It is not enough to simply know what bus number you need to take to your destination; it is also important to know which direction you need the bus to be headed!  Eventually, we got back to our hotel, and they corrected a problem with the plumbing in our room, by completely reassigning us a room.  And that done, we headed for our last meal at the Pheasant—a walking distance event!

I am packed now, all ready for departure, except for toiletries and such.  I am reluctant to give up on the day, for I know it is the last.

But, alas, tired wins out, and and sleep must be the answer.

The next time I write for The Daily KRuMB, I will likely once again be back in the good ‘ole U.S. of A.  I will take this moment to thank all of our dear friends and readers who have followed our adventures, put up with our long-winded posts, looked through our photos, and even encouraged us along the way with comments on the  KRuMB.    Those  comments mean so very much to  us, especially while on this trip.  It has added a level of enjoyment to this holiday for us, that we never expected—being able to share our joys and our experiences with you, has been an amazing thing.  Thank you so much,

~MB

Early Morning at Heathrow, London Monday, Oct 29 2007 

21 October 2007
The day I’d been looking forward to and dreading simultaneously was here. Terrill, an excellent, travel companion, rang me up to make sure I was awake at about 0445. I’m hoping he went back to sleep. I was so tired, I can’t actually recall how I got to LHR, but I think it was by taxiservice. I checked in with the ticket agent, and asked her to make sure I was on the upgrade list, dropped my single bag of luggage and stumbled on. Got into the quick-moving, but very long security queue. Interestingly, I didn’t have to mostly undress; I didn’t even have to take off my shoes. After getting through that line, it was time for the (oh my gosh!) long walk to the gate. Finally, I arrived there, stopping once along the way to divest myself of the remaining coins in my pocket by purchasing a cup of Americano Coffee. Now, for the secondary queue. Finally, I got to the gate agent who verified my passport and ticket matched. She motioned me through into the waiting area, but before I left, I asked her what my upgrade options looked like. Apparently, the ticket agent had not entered me on the upgrade list, but this kind agent did so for me now. I wasn’t in the waiting area for more than 2 minutes, before my name was called and I was issued a new seat assignment. Seat 1J was now mine, and I was suddenly very thankful and very tired. Minutes later we boarded and I took my seat in a newly-configured, beautiful 777. What a wonderful bird she was. Outside, the day was dawing pink & pretty, but I wasn’t long for the world. I had two pictures left in the life of my battery, I took them and sat back to relax.
Early Morning at Heathrow
I’m not sure we were in the air three minutes ere I was asleep. With about two hours to arrival in ORD, I woke. The wonderful flight attendant brought me a delicious (radish-topped) lunch and I watched a movie. A decent end to a trip, if only it were the end. One of the worst things about flying for work is the class of ticket available. Yes, I do get lucky sometimes and get first class, bt more often than not, there are no employee class tickets available so, I have to fly standby. That happened in ORD. I rolled across three flights, but Chicago being what it is, it’s a little easier. I bought a beer and walked to my gate. When my gate changed, I moved to another gate and, if need be, bought another beer along the way. Finally, I did board and was landing in DFW before 1700 on Sunday evening. A long day, but made better when I went and picked up my pups. The only downside was that MB wouldn’t be home until the next day. Ah, yes, the joy of the working class couple and their travel schedules.
Cheers.

~KR (21 October 2007)

Listening to:
Calling Dr. Love by Kiss
on Alive II(Disc One)

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 8.6 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

Fulham Football Club & Me Monday, Oct 29 2007 

20 October 2007
Finally. A day I’ve awaited for many, many years, arrived. I was headed to a Live top-flight football match in England! Despite the late night and the forthcoming short night, I was awake and ready by 0800. Even knowing that our ride wouldn’t arrive to pick us up the hotel until near noon, I just couldn’t go back to sleep. What if I should sleep through my alarm and miss the day? The horror kept me awake. I went downstairs and had breakfast while watching some cricket on the telly in the lounge. Finally, (finally!), our ride showed up. The Saints trucking company had secured Terrill & I tickets to go watch my first live Premiership match. They had also arranged transportation to and from Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club. Goodness was I excited. We clambered aboard the shuttle and were greeted warmly by four youth (of middle to late teen years) and two gentlemen of years slightly surpassing ours. We chatted amiable, enjoying the drive through London to Fulham and Hammersmith. The youth behind me, two of which were Fulham supporters while the other two were fans of the Owls (the day’s opposing team) chattered on about the lineup and who should play and who should be benched; was Clint Dempsey really worth the money paid out by FFC to secure his services; was the new manager any better than the old; and so on and on. It was delightfully amiable and I was, somewhat surprisingly to our hosts, able to join the conversation with knowledge and thought. It felt good! Finally, we got to Craven Cottage. What a beautiful building. Constructed in the 1860s, it’s one of the oldest stadiums still in active service in England. It is looked upon and treated with respect by all who visit its grounds. Perhaps it’s the fence that engenders this respect.
Our seats were in the home section of the grounds and elevated to afford an excellent view of the entire pitch and surrounding stands. Immediately to our right was the Thames river affording both a refreshing breeze and a beautiful vista.
Although the match ended in a rather disappointing 0-0 draw and the teams played with grim acceptance rather than any sort of determination, it was an exciting place to be. The atmosphere of a live Premiership match is something to experience rather than read about. No creating wrangling of words can reproduce that glorious, resounding experience. Here in the U.S. there are some that equate the Collegiate football experience to that that I witnessed at Craven Cottage. And perhaps, at some locations, that may be true. But, neither the single 1984 UT vs (someone) game that I went to nor the TCU vs (someone) game that I went to in the late 90’s could match that intensity and passion from the fans that I witnessed at Craven Cottage. Even though Fulham are prime candidates for relegation and were playing a considerably lesser team that are almost certain to drop back to the Championship at season-end, neither group of supporters gave up voice or hope through the entire 90+ minutes of game time. Passion.
Fulham FC and Me
Terrill took this photo of me with my camera just before the match started. Thanks, mate!
When the match was complete, we, Terrill & I decided to bid our hosts a very, very thankful farewell and strike out on our own in a section of London we’d not yet seen. First, a quick stop at the Souvenir shop to pick up a much-needed strip for myself, then off to locate a pub or five. We walked down the banks of the Thames for a short while, and then decided to turn inland. Sadly, my camera battery had decided it was time to quit (my only real complaint about my new camera was the severe lack of warning I got on the battery life. I managed only eight shots after I was first warned the battery life was going), so I got precious few photos of the remainder of the day. We located first a pub called the Crabtree. Had a refreshing pint then moved on. We were looking for someplace to camp for a few hours because at 2000 that evening, England were playing South Africa in the Rugby World Cup finals. All of England was Rugby mad, and in the photo, I’m wearing a supporter shirt for the boys of England. We finally located a Sports Bar called The Puzzle that looked inviting. We didn’t stay; there must have been 700 people packed in there watching the ManU vs Aston Villa game on gi-friggin-normous tellys. But, it was very, very loud and very, very trendy. Not our style not what we wanted. It is the first bar that Terrill & I have walked into together and immediately left. Rude or not, we didn’t want to stay. We walked a little further on and found an inviting place called The Distiller’s. They were showing the Rugby match upstairs. So, we each got a pint and waited for the upstairs to open. When it finally did, we went up to grab seats…too late. Already crowded, we nearly left; but we rationalized that any such place was going to be nearly as (or more so) busy. So, we slotted into the bar space and stayed put. What an amazing experience. The England v Russia football match on Wednesday was great, but England were playing poorly and the pub was quiet because of that. Not so tonight. The match was tight, the rugby was breathtakingly beautiful to watch, the tension was palpable. And, although the room was split along fan lines with England fans taking approximately 65% of the room, there was no animosity to be found. It was genteel, if boisterous (can those two go together?) crowd. A few spilt beers here and there, some genuine tears of frustration (or joy if you were a South Africa fan) and lots of camaraderie made for an absolutely unforgettable experience. If only my camera battery had held out. Finally, the day had to end. Terrill & took the tube back to Central Bus Station, then got a ride back to our hotel. We said our goodbyes and I was off to my room. I was leaving to return home in but a few short hours while he was off to Bern, Switzerland. A long hard week of work, interspersed with some truly memorable events was over. I was sad and excited to be headed home.
Cheers.

~KR (20 October 2007)

Listening to:
Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World by U2
on Achtung Baby

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire, auto mode

Dieu et mon Droit Monday, Oct 29 2007 

18 October 2007
Goodness. Is it possible for Indian food to hurt more the day after? Unequivocally I can tell you, yes! Oh, my. Never again, I say.
This was a much longer day at the office. We finally had a little bit of speed to the network. Our constant complaining had finally gotten some food into the hamsters that drive the wheels that run the network. They were running a little faster today, thank goodness. We trained some more people, and this time we were actually able to transmit data successfully and look at the results on the website. Hooray!
We worked later into the evening and never really managed a lunch break either, due to the sheer amount of work left in comparison to the amount we hadn’t been able to get done. We finally met with the trainer and trained him for an hour and a half. Not long enough, but it’ll have to do for now. We also trained a batch of other folk that seemed eager to be trained – how refreshing. Finally, closing in on 7:30 p.m., we departed. We drove only slightly out of the way and had dinner at a quaint place called The King’s Arms. Nice enough, but unremarkable, really.
Dieu Et Mon Droit
Off to the hotel for an early night. I was knackered and still in a bit of distress from that Indian food. Never again. Really.

~KR (18 October 2007)

Listening to:
Snow Falls in November by Julie Doiron
on Okkervil River

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.1 sec (1/10)
Aperture: f/5
Focal Length: 18.6 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

The Golden Cross & The Three Lions Monday, Oct 29 2007 

17 October 2007
The day broke for me with the knowledge that that evening I was going to experience something I’ve wanted to experience for 20 years and never had been able. I was going to watch the England International Squad play in a do-or-die match while in an English Pub surrounded by a people who live and die by their football heroes. The day was interminably long. Once again, we couldn’t get our work done because of the network traffic, so after training a precious few folk, we headed back to the hotel so we could buy a ridiculously expensive, but blessedly fast, internet connection. Now, we could get some reports done and emails answered and generally catch up to where we should have been. We finished out the day there and waited for one of the folks at the office to come get us. We actually watched kick-off of this incredibly important match in the hotel lobby. A few minutes later, our ride got there and we headed off into the small village where we were to watch the match. We arrived at Ye Olde George to find that they weren’t showing the match (WHAT!?), but hell, it’d be rude not to, so we all had a pint each and a bag of crisps. Someone bought me a pint of Bombadier. Oh my, what a tasty bitter that was. We finished up, got in our vehicles and headed to another pub, the Golden Cross. We arrived at half-time. It seemed to be my lot…that is, to only see the second half of these games. Here, they were out of all the beers I’d never had, so the wonderful ol’ standby, Guinness came to the rescue. There I stood in The Golden Cross in England with an Irish Stout in my hands watching the Three Lions of England play the Bears of Russia.
The Golden Cross and Football
What an experience. It was, to me, exhilarating and worth the wait. Sadly, on the day, the boys didn’t do so well, and Russia came away the winners in a droll 2-1 match. Miracles must happen for England to qualify now for the Euro 2008. After this wonderful event, Terrill & I were hungry and it was only 6:45pm or so. So, our ride kindly dropped us off at the (again) King William IV where we had a snack and a pint. We then walked over to the Crown (again) because Terrill really wanted me to meet this wonderful Indian lady that had treated him so well his previous trip. While there she treated us to a small tour of her facilities, including a trip downstairs to the tap room. She also drove home to us just how damaging the Third Runway for London Heathrow Airport was going to be to this community. If the Third Runway is approved (it is almost assured), then all of these little pubs and houses are going to be demolished for the sake of progress. I see both sides of the story, but it’s heartbreaking nonetheless. This wonderful person will have her dreams, her savings and her livelihood smashed into tiny shards. For what? To ease the congestion of the world’s busiest airport? That’s exactly what will happen. There will be no more Crown, there will be no more King William IV, there will be no more Holiday Inn (the latter, I must admit to not being overly upset about). They will all be part of a tax and revenue-yielding conglomerate that will make London even more cosmopolitan than it already is. From this rending story, we left and got some more food. This time, I yielded to Terrill’s overwhelming need for a curry. Never again. I ate some sort of shrimp thing that caused me an immense amount of heartburn and other discomfort all night and into the next day. I’ve tried Indian food again and again over the years. Never again. My hair stunk, my clothes stunk and I hurt. Indian food and I just don’t get along. That’s okay. There’s plenty of food out there I do like, and can eat without inordinate pain or discomfort. That’s important. After that meal, I was done. Back to the hotel and to sleep.
Cheers.

~KR (17 October 2007)

Listening to:
Stand on the Rock by Fleetwood Mac
on Behind The Mask

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.125 sec (1/8)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire