God Save the Queen

Trip Start Aug 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 29, 2006

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I must apologize to the queen. We didn't see much of her country or many of the sites. It was not for lacking of desire, but rather how England fitted into our travel plans. We saw London as a break, a way to recharge our batteries, and a place to take care of things neglected. I felt like we were on the Amazing Race and Phil was telling us," This is your first and only pit stop on your race around the world." If the Queen has a gripe then she should get off her fanny, tighten up her tarter knickers, and haul her toddler around the world. However, I am sure the Queen is comfortable with it, and so I will stick to my original apology: sorry your majesty.

Leaving Rome was not too bad: a subway to a bus in the predawn still, a two-hour flight, a forty-five minute train ride, and finally a half hour ride on the tube. After seeing my cousin Colleen at the stop light she had to make a few passes until we could load our colossal luggage into her car and head for the house. The house was graceful with a subdued grandeur, and I must confess it was one of the few times on our trip where there was nothing weird about the place. The doors opened easily, the toilets were quiet and efficient, there were numerous trashcans, and the electricity didn't hum, blink, or go out. There were towels and I was amazed when I noticed that the bathroom floor was heated. We were deeply impressed.

Colleen asked us what we wanted to do in England and I replied that we just wanted to rest up. She asked again so I had to come up with a few items:
1) see the queen 2) see a punk rocker 3) eat fish and chips in a pub 4) drink beer in a pub with the name of the pub being two distinct words that can stand on their own, like the Broken Lance or the Haughty Blacksmith. 5) see some coolly dressed young people with really bad teeth. Colleen laughed and asked us what we wanted to do again. I narrowed it down to the pub and some fish and chips. It dawned on her that we had no grand ambitions to see the "big" sites such as Westminister Abbey or the London Bridge. Christy and I had both been to London before so we felt justified in our slothic schedule.

Colleen and Eric have two kids: Calvin, who just turned 7, and Kennedy, who is about Collette's age (3). Kennedy had a bedroom and a playroom stuffed with bears, dolls, play kitchens and any other type of toy imaginable. Collette was impressed. Colleen and Eric also employed a nanny from Czech Republic named Camilla who was both friendly and competent. For the next three days Collette barely noticed us, and she spent her days dressed as a fairy playing and bugging their big farting dog, Monty. This dog was huge, smelly, and had a head with the bone structure of a Klingon. Through no encouragement on my behalf he took a liking to me and would rest his head on my lap when I was trying to eat.

This was exactly what we were looking for and we were free to relax and plan our next phase of the trip. Colleen took us around to a local bangers and mash restaurant that we would have never found on our own. The food was simple but immensely pleasing and I got to listen in on some young people who were coolly dressed but their prominent teeth were jutting out at strange and obscure angels. I couldn't understand what they were saying because of the thick accents but I did get to cross a site off of my list. We also had the exciting new pleasure of being able to buy coffee in a portable cup and walk around. In Europe, for some unknown reason, this is frowned upon and is impossible to get. In the US it's taken for granted, like shoelaces.

Sporting our warm cups we smugly ambled down the street looking at vendors, and I browsed a vinyl-only record store and thought of my friend Dan. Not very exciting, I agree, but the freedom without the blonde monkey was a rare and special commodity and we would feel relaxed doing almost anything.

One evening Eric and Colleen took us to a local pub. It was crowded, dark, the ceiling was low, and it was full of rich dark wood tones. I loved it. We squeezed past a small doorway to sit outside and I finally enjoyed my fish and chips. Later they took us to a gaudy and trendy bar for some expensive and much needed cocktails. Cozily we sat next to the fire, people watched, and chatted. It was a very adult evening and contrasted greatly with the evenings we have had trying to grab forks and pepper shakers away from Collette. Thanks to Colleen and Eric's immense and seemingly endless hospitality we had a fantastic evening.

Up until we arrived in England it had been difficult to have open and in depth conversations with other adults. We are constantly on the move and it's poor taste to unload your personnel problems onto strangers. Except in Santa Cruz where this behavior is widely accepted. It's not uncommon to have someone bag your groceries and tell you how their niece does not fit in at Thanksgiving and that's why they have been having these headaches.

When we first arrived we unloaded on Colleen all of our personal concerns for our financial situation and our troubles at home. Christy becomes especially animated when she describes the aesthetics of our former tenant that stiffed us a substantial amount of money. "His teeth are like baked beans, and then you should see his toe nails, they're long and brown, he's disgusting" she holds up her hands like an exclamation mark. Our goal was not to burden Colleen with our problems but rather to alleviate our fears by talking to someone else. Colleen & Eric were not only patient listening to us but also supported us by paying for many of our joint activities.

Sometimes I felt I was like a kid because our financial situation limited our freedom. However, if I was being generous to someone else and they could not accept it at face value I would think that they are petty and immature. We showed up with no gift (we never try to buy anything bigger than a fist) and no ability to pay them back except for our anemic thanks. It was a heartfelt thanks because their generosity and thoughtfulness gave us a relaxing and much needed rest in England.

I cannot be more sincere in saying, thanks, Colleen and Eric. Also thanks to Camille for watching Collette. At this point we have built up a colossal karmic debt and we are afraid of being reincarnated as a newts. Collette would be exempt due to innocence and age.

Rested and ready for more action, Eric again displayed his kindness by driving us to the airport. Waving goodbye we boarded the plane to start the surfing part of our trip. I didn't see the queen but we sure liked her country.
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