Friday, January 3, 2014

Holidays with British Airways

Happy New Year, everyone!

So far 2014 is a bit of a challenge. I started writing this post at Heathrow airport on New Year's Day as we were waiting to fly home. Then I wrote some more at Los Angeles airport (LAX), and a little more from our room at the Radisson Hotel at LAX after our connecting flight home was cancelled.

I'm finally at home, and so, so relieved to be here!

We decided on December 20 that we would fly to the UK to see my mother-in-law, whose health is failing. After committing thousands of dollars and our tired selves to British Airways, we left Eugene in the early hours of Christmas Eve, only to lay over at LAX for 12 hours!

Christmas Eve, LAX

At least the international terminal is newly refurbished, and was fairly empty. Gee, no one wants to travel on Christmas Day?

To get in the Christmas spirit, we had sushi, udon noodles, tempura and teriyaki.

 We finally left LAX at 10PM, attended by British Airways staff wearing Christmas headbands and smiles - it made me a little teary-eyed because I'd already been awake since 4AM and in transit since 8:30. Flying through the Christmas night, the pilot was able to make up some time with the help of reindeer dust (his words)!

Heathrow airport (like LAX) has never been so quiet. The roads of southern Britain were also blissfully empty, and we arrived at my mother-in-law's at 7PM on Christmas Day.

She lives in a beautiful village in Somerset, an area with golden Ham-stone buildings and villages with names like Mudford Sock, Huish Episcopi, and Ryme Intrinsica. We stayed at a small bed and breakfast in Over Stratton, about a mile away.

Boxing Day morning, Over Stratton

The weather was surprisingly dry so we were able to walk back and forth to my mother-in-law's, and we also had a chilly Boxing Day picnic at the beach at Charmouth with my sister-in-law.

We had a chance to catch up on British television, but some of the satellite channels weren't available.


The B&B was attached to a four-star restaurant serving local foods and ales, so we splurged on a really excellent meal there one night. The soup was cream of celeriac, Stilton, pears and cider, and it was delicious!

In fact, over the course of a week we ate way too much food - good British cooking. If you think you can't get good food in Britain you really need to go there and try some excellent pub food!

Sunday roast - beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings

Not to mention the Indian food! We had an Indian meal on our last night in the UK - New Year's Eve - that can only be described as ambrosial. This was in Windsor, where we stayed so we could get to the airport first thing in the morning. The Christmas decorations in town reflect the fact that the queen has a castle here.

Windsor Castle, New Year's Eve

We flew back from the UK on New Year's Day. Once again, we had several hours at LAX, this time in the dirty, noisy, crowded domestic terminal. I guess we fit in because we were pretty dirty by that time. I was so looking forward to getting home and peeling off my smelly clothes, getting into the shower - but our flight home to Eugene was cancelled! Damn American Airlines!!! We insisted on a hotel voucher (they weren't going to offer, it seems) and at least slept well and had showers. We made do with semi-clean clothes the next day, and stayed in the hotel lobby until late afternoon to avoid the chaos of the airport as long as possible.

I quit taking pictures by this time.

It was not a fun, but a necessary trip. We not only saw my mother-in-law and were able to say good-bye, but we also saw my stepchildren and grandchildren. Although it was stressful and I need to detox for a month, I may eventually remember this as being one of the most special holidays.

I look forward to catching up on other blogs now and seeing what you've all been up to!



Kezzie said...

You were HERE dear Val!!! I am so sorry you got caught at that horrid airport but at least enjoyed some British food! X

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

{{{UGH}}} It's the traveling itself that is the worst about traveling overseas. Here, on the west coast, it seems to take so long to get anywhere, and your trip sounds a bit nightmarish in that regard.

You mention that it was a necessary, not fun, trip, and I am hopeful that your mother-in-law's heart lit at the sight of her son. Hopefully, everyone can now rest easy.

PinkCheetahVintage said...

The airport parts sounds bad, but the B&B and all the yummy food, especially the Indian food and pubs, sound so nice. Glad you got to spend some time with family.

ann wood said...

This sounds really hard on so many levels. The travel itself sounds difficult. I've been through the passing of my mother and mother-in-law, both not easy. To have her overseas must be so hard. I'm guessing as time passes you will forget the hardship and remember the goodbye. Take care.

blue hue wonderland

sabine said...

Holidays could start and end better. I hope you have still some days to rest at home. Your mother in law could see you once more, that is the good thing in this case.

Connie said...

I used to be a flight attendant and I worked Every Single Holiday for years and years. I feel for you. Still it looks like a sweet trip. Welcome back.

Sheila said...

So sorry to hear of all of your travel stress, Val, but you made it, and you're home again. A very Happy New Year to you!

Ariane Lasalle said...

Hi Val!
Welcome back, so sorry for your mother in law but at least you were able to say goodbye- I traveled a lot in my time but never had such long wait in airports, but you are home now -
About UK food, i know it can be quite good and Indian food is also excellent over there - Love the pic with the crown decoration -

Nice to have you back Val- Happy New Year to you and hubby



pastcaring said...

So not only does God not exist - s/he doesn't have a TV channel either. Brilliant!
Phew, what an epic amount of traveling over the Christmas period. Exhausting, but worth it to see Mr Sparkle's mum and family, I'm sure.
And some decent British food, hurray! I think the UK has improved hugely in that respect, and yes, there are great curry houses pretty much everywhere.
The return journey is always the worst part of a trip, I reckon. On the way there, you have the destination to look forward to; on the way back, you just want a teleporting device to transport you home instantly, to your own bed and a hot shower and clean clothes and a sense of normality.
Welcome home, Val, happy new year, and I am looking forward to that 100th post!
PS. If this ends up a repeat comment, I apologise, Blogger is being odd... xxxx

Hollie "Jet" Black-Ramsey said...

a 12 hours layover?? Holy smokes! I once had a 4 hour bus layover and almost lost my dang mind!

Hollie "Jet" Black-Ramsey said...

Oh, and.... WELCOME BACK!

Anonymous said...

What a trip Val! Hope you're rested up and can focus on the possibilities of this New Year!

pao said...

And I thought traveling repeatedly from Chicago to Detroit and back was bad. So glad you set me straight on that account. Your highlights shine through and that you were able to see your ailing mother in-law was worth whatever it takes. My mom is now in Chicago in hospice, so it's closer, but still feels bad.

The Style Crone said...

A poignant post. A memorable holiday, though stressful. But of course beautifully written. Saying 'good-bye' is very intimate but difficult.

The best to you in 2014, Val. May your year be filled with all that your heart desires!

Forest City Fashionista said...

Travelling over the holidays is challenging at best, but this trip sounds like a nightmare! So glad you made it home safe and sound. It's so hard having family an ocean away, but it's good you were able to get there for a visit, even if it wasn't a pleasant journey. I'm glad to hear that the food has improved since I was there ;)

That's Not My Age said...

We went in the opposite direction & spent Christmas with my brother in New York. Glad you didn't get caught up in the all the UK floods. Wishing you a very happy New Year.

Crazy Ravens Studio said...

After being caught at O'Hare airport one winter (it was shut down by snow), I have avoided traveling at Christmas times at all costs. You had an excellent reason for traveling and will probably be very glad you made that trip. Still, I quite enjoyed your travelogue about England. Good Luck with your journaling, although blogging can be considered journaling too.

Dawn Elliott said...

As someone who has never traveled to Europe, I must say that it looked like quite the adventure to me! You made an awesome photo journal and helped dispel the ?myth? of bad food in England. Sorry about your travel woes...but I bet you will remember the trip fondly very soon. There's nothing like really connecting with family. Welcome home.

Melanie said...

No, Val, no, GOD does live in TV, you just have to change the channel. But that message is misleading - if it doesn't exist, why would you have to remove it? The mysteries of the universe...
I read your post days ago and have been thinking about it, mostly about the spur-of-the-moment decision you made to take off. I LOVE that! Sorry to hear that your husband's mum is ill though.
I need a town built around my castle too.
Funny how our memories reinterpret trips. Glad you got there and back safely and full of great food.