Saturday, February 10, 2007

Back in Britain

There was a sliver of sunshine for a short period this afternoon, but for the most part London is as I remember it from my visit in December: cold, cloudy and damp. Toto, we're not in Thailand any more.
Today I met my friend Angie from Menorca in Trafalgar Square and we walked toward Covent Garden until we found a likely restaurant, the Bella Italia, where I had a delicious pesto risoto and she had penne with tomato sauce and a salad. Angie's mother died earlier this month and she's in England with her son and daughter for a memorial service at Minster Acres, the family home, in Yorshire.
Yesterday was spent with Gulf Airlines on two flights that took me from Bangkok to London with a change in Muscat, Oman, in the Arabian Peninsula. I followed our progress on the in-flight map with much interest as we flew up the Persian Gulf, past Abu Dhabi and Doha, and over the Zagros Mountains along the border between Iraq and Iran. As the sun set, our Airbus 330 aircraft flew at 40,000 feet, not far to the east of Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk. Watching the map was more fascinating than watching any of the movie offerings, most of which I'd seen anyway.
I've no idea how long I spent traveling in total, but each leg of the journey was about eight hours. My ankles were swollen and my sense of time was totally distorted by the time I caught the express train from Heathrow to Paddington. Rather than wait for the bus at the Tufnell Park tube station, I lugged my luggage up the hill and knocked on Helen's door about 11. She greeted me with a cup of tea and lots of stories, and I noted that the tree we put up and decorated almost two months ago was still standing, though a bit dry and droopy. "She looks like an old tart, don't you think?" Helen said.
Bangkok seems very far away, the humidity and the heat a dim memory. I've retrieved the bag of winter clothes left in Helen's closet and now I'm wearing layers and carrying an umbrella, with hiking boots on my feet instead of the Chaco sandals. Angie said I had a tan, which may be the only souvenir left.
Tomorrow, I leave on the EuroStar from Waterloo at 8 AM for Paris and two days in the French capital.

No comments: