"I am typing this post in the Gatwick airport Hilton.
There is a beautiful blanket of snow outside.
Our flight is delayed a little over an hour but that
shouldn't affect our arrival in New Orleans (cross fingers here)."
That was the start to my post yesterday. I didn't get very far, with the post or the travel. We are STILL here. One hour delay changed to two then to a canceled flight. Before going into the story, I need to back up a bit and tell about the last few days.
Monday, Mark took Anne into London for a special trip of her own. I spent the day packing and cleaning. As I posted on Facebook, it was like stuffing four pounds of sausage in two pounds of skin. Elise was unpacking almost as quickly as I was packing but all in all, it was a productive day and we were in pretty good shape for our departure from the Isle of Wight Tuesday.
Tuesday was a logistical nightmare. It was a finely choreographed plan that would fall apart if just one element went wrong. It started with us waking up 45 minutes late. Ugh! Okay, regroup and rethink the plan. Mark and Sam had rented a car and had to get the luggage (about 17 pieces) to London then come back to get us. It was a race for them to get back so we could take the 3:45 ferry. I cleaned the house all day and had a walk through with the realtor at about 2:30. We walked down the hill towards town for the last time as a drizzle began to fall. Elise was fussy which helped distract me from being sappy and sentimental. I didn't have the luxury, since I was dealing with her. Probably for the best. Two things left to do: get money from the ATM and feed us lunch. I also had to fit in dashing back up to the house to drop off 75 pounds for the "TV tax" that we owed. Yes, the Brits pay a tax PER TELEVISION semi-annually. Imagine paying $250 each year for every television, just to have it in your house. That doesn't include cable or satellite service. The first ATM I tried was broken. Minutes ticking by. Heart racing. Next ATM was fine. Get to the coffee shop and order food. Wolf down mine then plead with kids to sit still and finish lunch while I dash back home. It is 3:15. Mark hasn't arrived yet. The walk up the hill takes about 20 minutes round trip. That means I would be back 10 minutes before the boat left, cutting it way too close for me. I was frozen, staring at my watch, wondering if I should just give up and think of another way to get them their money. Anne said, "Go on, Mom. You can do it!". That's all the encouragement I needed. Up the hill and back down in a record 15 minutes. Whew! Still no Mark and Sam. Would they make it? Minutes still ticking. Heart still racing. Enter a triumphant duo. Dash to the ferry. Now we can breathe.
The ferry pulled away from the dock as the rain started to come down. The sky was gray and all the lines of water, island and sky started to blur. It was as if the Isle of Wight was disappearing before our very eyes. It reminded me of the scene in Mary Poppins where the chalk pictures Bert had drawn get washed away by the rain. Goodbye to our island home. I was caught in that time between ending and beginning. One last backward glance before turning toward the excitement of going home.
Ferry, bus, train and a cold walk now lay between us and our destination: The Lyceum Theater in London's West End to see the Lion King. Mark suggested the walking part. I was thinking about taking the Tube. It was just so cold. I have to admit, it was a beautiful walk. London sat glittering on the edge of the Thames for us, one last time. No better way to warm up than hot chocolate and snacks at Starbucks before the show. We were in our seats with about 20 minutes to spare. The long day and all the planning, as messed up as it got at some points, had worked and we were ready to enjoy the show. This was our family Christmas present.
I'll pick up here tomorrow (hopefully) when I am checked in at the airport and know that I am on my way HOME. Stay tuned...