…home again, home again, jiggety jog.

(If anyone knows where that rhyme is from, let me know!)

GREAT trip to England, what and all if it was only 5 days!  Amy and I are safe and dry at home; Glenda stayed behind to attend Sam’s college graduation, and to see his parents again.  There’s so much to tell, I’m going to let the photos walk me through the visit…

In March of this year, at the Lake Taupo Ironman in New Zealand, I met Irongirls Ali and Liz.  They live in Woodchurch, England (which is near Ashford, which is near Kent, which is near Canterbury) and are just about the nicest people I have ever met.  We became fast friends in the few days of race preparation, became Skype and Facebook friends, and have now established a fine tradition of transatlantic visiting!

The whole fam - George in Liz's lap, Monty in Ali's, Callie propping up the wall

We arrived in London where the girls met us and brought us to their absolutely charming country home about an hour’s drive south.  Callie and Monty, the canine contingency, and George, their feline counterpart, met us with wags and enthusiasm.

Monty's the little brown guy

Later in the day, Liz drove the girls and me to Canterbury where we left them in Sam Miller’s care.  (He’s working at the Embassy school again as director.)  That evening, Liz and Ali’s neighbors, Jade and Liam, had a cookout and I got to spend the evening listening to the delightful accents and trying to pick up on the nuances of British lingo.  The food was delicious – don’t believe what you hear about English food – this cookout was fabulous!

That night I had an adventure when, because I left my window open, I had an unexpected visitor:  a little lost bat came flying into, and then around, (and around and around) my bedroom.  I tiptoed to the girls’ room to let them know the noise they were about to hear was a bat roundup.  This was not as tricky as it sounds – he had lighted by the time I returned, so it was just a quick matter of covering him with a towel and flapping him back out the open window.

The next day the girls had a wedding to attend in London and I spent a luxurious day with no cell phone, no car, just me, my Kindle, the Tour on TV, and the pets.

I left the TV on the Tour channel - this is what came on afterwards: Dominoes on British television, for the win.
Sweet Liz configuring a bike for me

Sunday we took a delightful little bike ride around the English countryside – not on my list of 50, but should have been, and now can be marked off!  We went into the the town of Tenterden (?) where we had a scone (another first) and then later a bittershandy (half  bitters – kind of a beer – and half lemonade – most refreshing drink EVER!).

Scone, pronounced "scon" by my friends
Liam, Ali, and Liz and stop #1
beautiful English countryside
wild swans in a waterway along the road
our second stop for the bittershandy!

The next day the girls (daughters) and I met up and went into London.  Glenda and I have both been to the city, but Amy hadn’t, so we hit the usual tourist highlights on our walking tour.

outside the National Gallery
eating traditional Cornish Pasties at Covent Gardens
won't post the next shot that we made obscene with Big Ben...
Buckingham Palace

The next day, we went sightseeing in Canterbury, with its spectacular cathedral and quaint shops.

I couldn't help taking this picture of the colorful girls and colorful rose clusters
even more breathtaking than the picture suggests
tea at the cutest tea shop in Canterbury

Tuesday night found Amy and I back with the girls at their house.  We did a quick road trip to Hythe, a little coastal town where we had yet another traditional offering, fish and chips.

Alil doesn't ALWAYS wear a dog toy around her neck; only when it matches her outfit!

That night, we had yet another encounter with a bat, but this time I had help from Amy, Ali, and Liz in capturing the little bugger and flapping him back out the window.

Did I write that the girls had only just returned from their Ironman Austria experience?  I cannot resist posting this picture of their dining room.

Best Bike Shop, EVER.

I mentioned earlier in the post that Ali and Liz were about the nicest people I’ve ever known.  That is not just my subjective opinion; I can cite examples.

1.  I am infuriatingly spontaneous.  I sent Liz and Ali an email on Tuesday night telling them I’d be leaving Wednesday morning – they skyped me by 8am, insisting that not only would they pick us up in London at the airport, but that I would be staying with them with the use of their second car.

2.  They reminded me to pack my riding shoes and pedals for us to go for a ride.  Of course I didn’t get that done, so they configured a bike for me to use with my sneaks, even finding cages for the pedals!  This is not as easy as it sound since I’m so much taller than they are.

3.  They allowed me to take their precious Callie on a run with me along a trail loop.  (Honestly, she was not as much help with directions as she led me to believe she would be, but she was great company).

4.  I left the window open the day I went sightseeing in London.  The girls realized this when their experience with a bat began…3 bats in 3 days (beginning and ending with my arrival and departure).

5.  I ran out of English pounds in Canterbury and wasn’t able to get more, so the girls not only bought our fish and chips in Hythe, but Liz went in a dead sprint to and from a cash machine in an effort for us to catch our bus to Heathrow, which we didn’t succeed in doing, leading us to needing yet another ride to the train station, on a morning when they had an important council meeting to attend.

6.  In spite of the fact that I knew it was Great Britian, I neglected to pack any kind of a jacket.  I borrowed what turned out to be one of Liz’ favorite sweaters (jumpers), and she was nothing but gracious.

7.  They waited on me, offering me coffee, vodka!, food, first showers, more blankets, clean towels, and I expect Liz would have ironed my clothes if I ever wore ironed clothes.

These girls were the ultimate hosts, besides being warm and funny and interesting and kind.  I am inspired by them, moved by their relationship to one another, humbled to call them friends, and so looking forward to their visit to the U.S.  Love you Girls!!!!

I promise I’ve been working on my list of 50…since I last blogged, Sam has come home (woo hoo – after a year in New Zealand!) and now we are getting ready for Ragbrai, so I vow to update as soon as I can!

Thanks for reading!