I am well aware that my updates are lagging…..they will filter slowly through….
Messages from Strangers
Sunday 24th September
5 Days since I left Hedland
The breakfast trolley rattling along and the smell of food were what dozing passengers stirred to. I had been awake for hours and was starving.
The call for descent preparations was, I’m sure, welcomed by other passengers……I was in no hurry.
As we were disembarking, the lady in front of me turned and clasped my hand through the gap between the seat and the window. “Thank you,” she said and placed a lovely note into my hand, thanking me for my support during the flight.
I’m gathering a collection of notes from strangers it would seem!!!
Doha was a blur….by the time I made my way through transfer security, the staff were advising me my flight was boarding for London and I was shuffled through and directed to Gate 1A.
I sit back to enjoy my Qatar experience once again, and am reminded, that even their safety messages hold some appeal…pay attention please? Sure will!!!!!
I am sitting back watching the last of my final movie before touch down in London……the screen tells me there is just 1hr and 11minutes before we land.
Can’t wait to see what London has in store.
The passage through customs went smooth and I was through quickly.
A message from Ken showed he was still a few minutes away. The tube, normally a much speedier option, had delays caused by some engineering work. Quick loo stop, a chat with a stranger and Ken had arrived. We quickly grabbed a SIM that I could use while on holidays and we were off and running…..literally. I tagged closely behind Ken but was keenly aware that his long strides were swallowing up the metres, whilst my short little chunky ones were galloping to keep up. Completely aware that we were breaking speed records, Ken constantly glanced over his shoulder to ensure I was not lost in the throng of people scuttling to their destinations. The tube was an experience and I enjoyed partaking in a favourite pastime of mine-people watching (and also enjoyed the chance to catch my breath). It was while I was people watching I noticed a Western Bulldogs logo on a lady’s luggage. I’ve only been in London 5 minutes, surely I don’t need to say anything……oopsy, there’s the ice breaker-apparently staying silent isn’t my strong point. I signal to the lady to turn around more so I can take a photo of the bag. Now, just take a moment to envisage the sign language…..she smiled, God bless her, so I felt comfortable continuing with my quest-I was determined to take a photo for my son, Nathan-a devout Bulldogs fan (for my followers who are not from Australia or follow less impressive football codes, The Western Bulldogs are an AFL team from Australia. They were premiers in 2016 after a bit of a drought). Through those drought years, Nathan, although a West Australian, has been a Doggies fan since he was a young boy-he is now 27 and his passion for his team has never faulted. He has been at the brunt of some fairly colourful slander but has remained loyal. His siblings and I tried desperately last year to get him to the Grand Final, but failed. Oops-sidetracked…….. my sign language seemed to be failing miserably so I approached the lady, Roz. We instantly recognised each other’s accent and I proceeded to relay what I was just saying. I needed to try to justify why I felt it necessary to photograph her luggage!! Her name is Roz Richards, she is Head of the myotherapy Team at Western Bulldogs and she is a credit to the club! What a personable, friendly chick! I felt privileged meeting her and she graciously allowed me to snap away. If I wasn’t such a one-eyed West Coast Eagle fan I would jump on the Doggy bandwagon-just because of Roz!
At one point while racing along Ken commented over his shoulder, “I’m not being rude, but I know how tight time is going to be to get you to your castle.”
“Phew” I thought, I was actually starting to think he might be trying to escape me!!
“This is my pad,” he informs me when we arrive, throw my bags on my bed, grab his car keys and race back out the door.
His Vitara earned her money in that one trip….she was pushed to her limits and as we arrive at Leeds Castle, Ken drops me off to try to haggle while he parks. We have arrived at 4:30pm and I still have to make a dash to try to find the ticket office……last ticket sales are at, yep, you got it-4:30pm. Clearly my good looks and charm is worth its weight in gold because the attendant, once learning I have travelled non stop from Port Douglas, Australia, just to see his castle, prints off 2 tickets. Okay, so maybe it was my good Ol’ Aussie accent that did the job but whatever, we were in.
Ken’s marathon training did the job! So much so I’m reconsidering doing the GR20 once I reach Corsica!!
Now, anyone who knows me well, knows I live in a fantasy world and will know how excited I am about being at a REAL Castle-WITH a moat!!
The gardens are lush and expansive-my Mum would be in her element!
The castle is imposing, more so once we enter the walls. We are stepping where royalty have once trodden and the experience ignites all of my senses….almost all.
I feel the textures of the tangible things but I also feel like those before us, escort us through their home. I see the history, the age, the grandeur. I hear of the history as we walk around but mostly, I can smell the history! YES, ladies of the Welcome Centre! I can SMELL my surroundings (maybe I have selective smell). I refrain from licking the windows so until we exit the castle, my sense of taste is yet to be stirred. I am prone to be a little melodramatic, but I tell Ken as we climb the stairs, “I can feel the weight of my gown dragging as I walk” (come to think of it they probably never bothered sweeping!)
The atmosphere in here transports you to another era and, just for now, I picture myself moving gracefully through the castle, my satin gown brushing the walls, my waist tiny (thanks to the corset)…….and I feel like I’m floating. The ‘taste’ of the experience comes when Ken buys some fudge on our way out….can’t get enough. Perfect. I feel rather euphoric as we make our way out of the castle, along the banks of the moat and back to where we came in. Not sure if my smile is visible, but inside it is a mile wide!
Wildlife scuttle around and I am envious of their lifestyle-hard gig!
A trip to the English countryside would not be complete without dinner at on old English Pub and we find the perfect place in Leeds. We order, of course, Bangers and Mash! Meal and wine are perfect.
If you’re ever in Leeds, pop in and see ‘Debbie and Jason’ (yep, this pub was meant to be a part of my journey!) at The George Inn.
Home now, to Kens penthouse. His pad has that feel about it anyway, very swish. I snuggle in and reflect on my day. Thank you London for your warm welcome!