Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
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All went according to plan except for one minor incident - we just happened to arrive at Heathrow airport minutes after the British Airways baggage handlers went on a wildcat strike in support of the Gourmet Gate catering staff who had been sacked earlier in the week. Nothing had been announced, but after waiting forty-five minutes for our luggage to appear on the carrousel, we figured that something must be amiss. Fortunately, we had already made our way to the BA counter to enquire about the delay, when all the carousels in the terminal ground to a halt simultaneously
The decision for us was straightforward: we either remain in an overcrowded and soon to become chaotic airport terminal, anticipating that our bags would soon be released, or.....we pick up our rental car and head for Rugby, hoping that the stylish items we had purchased specifically for the wedding would arrive in time for the big event. Wearing borrowed clothes (Gerry) or jeans (Sharon) to a fashionable wedding was not quite what we had envisioned, but it will definitely make for a few chuckles while viewing the family photos!
The wedding was a huge success - and a particularly noteworthy logistical triumph because Chris and Jenn had been living on different continents for most of the last year whilst making all the arrangements. Although Chris normally lives in the UK and works for Rolls Royce, he had been seconded to Albany, New York....meanwhile, Jenn has been commuting between Canada, the UK and the US, and for the last little while was completing her doctor's residency up in Canada's frozen north in Sioux Lookout! The setting and service at Brownsover Hall were absolutely superb and everything down to the smallest detail was planned and carried through with great care and attention to detail. Brownsover Hall had particular significance for Chris and his interest in aviation and work at Rolls Royce as it was where Sir Frank Whittle was stationed during WWII and came up with the original design and concept for the jet engine.
The wedding had particular significance for us as we had suggested Jenn - who we knew through our friendship with the Thompson family at Church - as a pen pal to our niece Helen in Bristol, UK, back in the mid-eighties when we lived on our farm near Munster Hamlet in the Ottawa Valley
After leaving Rugby we set off travelling intrepidly through the bucolic English countryside without so much as a roadmap. We surprised ourselves by easily finding our way to Cosby in Leicestershire to visit Jane and Miles, friends from Ethiopia days over thirty years ago. A relaxing weekend filled with reminiscing and catching up was interspersed with interesting discussions with their son Neil about his recent experiences volunteering with an NGO in Namibia - the lure of Africa remains as powerful as ever! On our way south to London we made a slight detour over into the eastern Cotswolds and spent a pleasant few hours in Oxford. Wandering through the colleges and hallowed halls of learning and along the River Isis through Christ Church Meadows is certainly a pleasant way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Mike has not been forgotten as we made our way from South America to Canada to Switzerland and finally to England, but he was particularly close to us during our final two days in the UK. If it wasn't for Mike, we would probably never have met John and Andrea Salmon, or Peter and Sue Ward - two couples who lost their children Rebecca and Justin in the Zambian aviation accident. They kindly invited us into their homes to share an evening of tears and laughter, as we remembered our children who had all been living their lives to the fullest. And spending our final morning with Ali, Mike's friend from the safari lodge at South Luangwa in northern Zambia, left us with the comforting feeling that Mike's spirit will live forever in many hearts.
Not wanting to sound like a broken record, we simply want to close this episode by letting you know that we returned to Canada without mishap........well, except that this time it was Air Canada who lost our luggage!!