Once upon a time...
What comes to your mind?
Sleeping Beauty? Alice in Wonderland? Hobbit?...
Inspiring for so many stories.
Mirror Mirror on the wall~~~
Definitely it is our story, of a beautiful trip to England 10 days before my 50th birthday.
And of meeting a very dear friend, who had to leave Japan very suddenly 20 years ago. Now I don't need to wonder anymore why she never came back, despite of loving Japan so much. This country is so beautiful, and in many ways, a lot like Japan.
After a wonderful sleep, in this cozy little house, we woke up and opening the curtains our eyes were spoiled with a magnificent garden.
I usually am not a cat person (not really a dog person either), but these two cats here looked like black panthers, very silent, very strong, very kind. We enjoyed them so much.
After a breakfast, tasting like the bread and jam breakfast I used to have home, when I was little, we went out to the church in Farmington, then the one in Northleach.
Wherever we went it felt like Kings and Queens must be walking around and I can well imagine lots of princesses and princes to have their weddings in this beautiful nature.
Somehow graveyards always impress me. I feel they tell so much about culture. I was very surprised at the sight of these graveyards, were they so different from the ones I know in Germany or Japan. The tombstones almost falling over~I always thought that this was just an image created for Halloween posters. Now I saw they really are looking like this, on the other hand I was pleased how warm and not at all scary these graveyards felt.
Not on purpose, but somehow I happened to play hide and seek in one of the churches.
For lunch Judy took us to an excellent place at the Wheatsheaf. It felt too nice to sit inside, so we stayed in the garden, but it actually got so cold we wrapped up in blankets.
Excellent service here: Look, a basket with sunhats and sunscreen for hot days, and lots of Fine lambswool blankets for chilly days like today.
The only surprise I had not been prepared for:
My first half pint of ale~it was luke warm! And came with no foam. That is hard for a German Beer Fan. But, as it was not a hot day, and the taste of the beer was good, I enjoyed even this.
On the airplane from Duesseldorf to London, I started reading a new book:
A thriller, plot in Great Britain, by Charlotte Link.
I hadn't started it on purpose, now, that I was going to England; for the first time in my life, by the way.
Off to Cirencester
My daughter and I arrived at a very windy and slightly rainy Heathrow, and made it to our coach heading for Cirencester, just in time. PERFECT~ one minute later, and we would have had to wait another hour on a rather boring airport.
We double checked our route with the driver and got on the bus~in 2.5 hours, I would finally meet my friend Judy, first time in 20 years. She was my first colleague, she was my pal learning Japanese style weaving, dying and other textile arts, and she was my oldest son's Baby Sitter. So so exciting.
After 2 hours bus ride, the driver changed, and we got a very funny guy on the wheel. He was making jokes, that it was his first bus to drive and warned us to fasten our seatbelts tight, and also he played around with our destinations.
The names of places he threw at us were names I had never heard, but never mind, non of the other passengers did so either, it seemed, so I was still confident we were getting there.
How ever, the first thing I found weird was the rain getting stronger and stronger...The weather forecast was saying that the rain should have stopped in the area of Cotswold around the time we had arrived, and from there the rain should be pushing north!
We were definitely driving, with the rain getting stronger and uglier.
How good to have google map
Also, on my map I had seen that we should be passing some beautiful sceneries, nothing of those so far. So, 25 minutes before our scheduled goal, I turned off my flight modus and checked my navigation app.
Estimated arrival 21h45??? We were supposed to arrive 20h5 and there had been no traffic jam.
I checked the route and the blue path went ahead to Cirencester, however a bit weird, via Oxford. OK, Let's wait it should take a curve around Oxford then.
5 minutes pass, but HEY the rout bypassed Oxford, and we are heading further North.
THIS is where I finally get it: Something is completely wrong.
The thriller comes to my mind again: A woman at Heathrow gets stuck at the airport because of horrible weather, at the same time in all kinds of places around London people go missing~~~I kind of wish I would have read a different book.LOL
Well, I give up on the ticket my i phone displays and instead search my bag for the printed version. I read it 3 times, and the third time I go finger by finger into the small printed detail:
I was supposed to change the coach in the next terminal at Heathrow. This coach was NOT going to Cirencester.
We are going to Northampton
I consulted the driver, still silent and thinking it won't be too bad:
'This coach is going to Northampton. I do not know where Cirencester or Cotswold is"
Oh? That unpopular?????
I got kind of desperate when he told me what to do:
'I will set you off at the next station, which is 30 minutes from now, Leicester. From here you will wait for the next bus going back to Heathrow. And in Heathrow you can get a new bus to Cirencester"
I didn't even wonder about the double price to pay, BUT this would mean that I would probably not be at my friend's house before early morning, and we were both still Jet lagged from coming to Germany from Japan.
But fortunately my friend called in between and arranged that she could come the way up to Leicester to pick us up. (It would take her 2 hours one way)
I can't remember when in my life I have felt so embarrassed and sorry and bad and a trouble maker at once.
I kept apologizing and saying 'thank you' .
Well, we arrived in Leicester (interestingly non of the people in England I talked to knew this place, but my husband knew it right away, because apparently it won the English Soccer Championship last year)
It was a lonely, rather dark station in cold windy rain, and because we both were so hungry we couldn't avoid getting chicken and chips at a pizza take out, which had a sign saying 'hygienic standards 0' (out of 6)
We arrived nice and neat only thanks to my wonderful friend, at 0h30, and from the adventures I have had on my journeys this is for sure one I won't ever forget.
My daughter was the best companion I can think of. Though extremely tired and exhausted, not saying one negative word at all. That taught me a lesson as well, actually: One doesn't need to come up with false encouragements or positive words to be positive. Just accepting things as they are without sighs and cries, that was the most positive way I could have thought of at that moment.
And for sure now I know the locations of London, Cirencester, Birmingham, Oxford, Leicester and Northampton. A lecture I would not have learned in school. Yeah Yeah!
NOW: What would you do in a situation like this, not speaking any English?