I arrived last Tuesday, and was delighted when the U.K. automatic passport reader recognized me and let me through. The guy just ahead of me in the queue failed to be recognized, and watching him, I was sure I was going to suffer the same failure, and have to go explain why I have a British passport, even though I clearly have an American accent, and live in the US. But the chip in my passport (which I have never used since getting the reissue, since I’m always traveling with American family members, and so there’s no advantage for me to queue in the U.K. Citizens line) worked like a charm, and I was through customs in no time flat, and on the Tube heading to Epping, near where my daughter and her husband live in Harlow.
They had offered me the option of stopping by his workplace in the middle of London, leaving my baggage with him, and spending the day in London, but, since I had sat next to a small boy who spent most of the flight butting his head under my arm on the armrest, I hadn’t gotten as much sleep as I’d hoped for, and I decided just to head on to their home, where I knew Shanthi was waiting. Poor thing has been struck with an as yet undiagnosed illness, with the main symptoms being fatigue and numbness in her extremities which has been preventing her from getting to work most days. So, we spent a quiet afternoon together for the rest of that day.
Wednesday, she had an MRI scheduled at the Princess Alexandra Hospital –
which I see on their website is rated “Inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission, but I was certainly impressed with the outpatient MRI setup, which was reasonably efficient to get through, and the technician seemed sweet and friendly. There was a young girl who came shortly after we arrived who had to drink some contrast, so must have been getting a GI study done, and the tech jollied her quite a bit about the nasty taste of the stuff. Looking at the quick overview of the CQC report, I agree with the positive score for Caring, but it is a bit worrisome that Efficicacy needs improvement. Oh well.
After Shanthi’s MRI was done, we wandered around town a bit, getting a few things here and there. We stopped in a charity shop, that had all sorts of things from clothing to DVDs, and I picked up a cute hat.
On Thursday, we went into London, and spent a couple of hours in the British Museum. We saw an amazing collection of clocks and watches, dating from as far back as the 15th century. Most of the clocks were display in two parts – the innards had been removed, and were displayed next to the decorative casing, which was really fascinating. Some of the clocks were incredibly ornate.
Friday, I woke up dizzy and achy all over, and spent the day in bed. I’m blaming that little kid on the plane – he was sniffly and had a cough!
Friday evening, we packed up and drove up to Derby, where we were hosted for the weekend by Shanthi’s brother-in-law Lawrence and his lovely wife Nicky and family. I had met them at the wedding, of course, but it was fun to have a weekend to get tot know them better. We saw Shanthi’s mother-in-law Frances, and visited with her husband Les, who lives in a residential place due to having a stroke. It was really great to have a little dedicated time to spend with him, as the wedding was so chaotic, and not an ideal setting to get to know someone with communication barriers.
On Saturday, we went in to Ashbourne, a lovely town with windy cobbled streets. We wandered through a fun antique/gift shop, and tea in a nice little cafe, before heading back to the house for a proper English Sunday dinner.