The alarm on the phone went off at some ungodly hour. The bed was cosy and comfortable. The comforter was just the right weight and made the need to arise enter into serious discussion with my desire to return to dreams of peace.
Then my brain told me that I had to be at the airport in two hours. Don’t ask me why my brain said that. When reality set in, the ticket was found and the error discovered. I had four hours.
Of course, by that time I had taken a shower, packed my bags, idiot checked the entire room three times for lost possessions and redressed twice.
There was nothing left to do but go to breakfast.
No Eggs Benedict today. Just toast (brown, of course) and soft boiled eggs. Served in egg cups. How upper crust!
A pot of coffee and an extra piece of toast and it was time to check out of The Rubens at the Palace.
Tom, the concierge and Alice the head receptionist (I know there is a title there, I just never figured out what it was!) greeted me. Alice brought me a cuppa tea. Tom carried my luggage. They both hugged me and made me promise to return. I gladly made that promise.
The cab driver had a good Cockney accent and it took many tries before my brain could translate his words. But the conversation as a whole was very informative. He took me straight to the Heathrow Express entrance at Paddington station and gave me clear (once translated) instructions on getting to the right platform.
A quick ride to the airport ended in a crush of people all trying to check into the wrong airlines. The giant room was full of people trying to find the right section and then the right queue for their airline.
But my priority was to find the loo. Paddington didn’t seem to have one. There was no evidence of one on the Express Train. And the walk from the train to the terminal, although very long, sported no evidence of a room with the requisite accouterments. What I thought was a problem that would be solved immediately after the 15 minute train ride became a marathon through hallways, elevators, and escalators.
It was also an exercise in avoidance. Avoiding runaway carts, lost souls, running children and those addicted to their cell phones. The latter being the most dangerous as their movement could not be predicted.
So my encounter with the crowded, noisy and unpredictable check in room was cause for panic. Fortunately, a young attendant pointed me towards the minuscule sign that was my salvation.
Once relieved, I returned to the front of the room and found my airline, ran my passport through the machine, got my boarding pass and headed to customs.
In Heathrow proper I grabbed a bite to eat (I even ate a cookie—bad me) and waited. And waited. And waited.
Of all the flights on the departure board, mine was the only one delayed.
It had to happen some time. Might as well happen at Heathrow!
The plane was finally ready for boarding and off we went.
A short hop to Cork resulted in the meeting of Ann Wilson. She gave me a hug (a real hug) and I knew I was going to like this woman. The drive to Cobh (pronounce ‘Cove’) was beautiful with Ann narrating the scenes with her knowledge of Irish history.
The Wilson home is warm and welcoming. A bedroom of my own. Free Wi-Fi . Wonderful conversation. And a home cooked meal (by Jim Wilson himself)
Now it is off to bed for a good night’s sleep.
WARNING: It may be a day or two before I will have time to write. Put on your best anticipation hat and wait. Just a minor delay. Just like Heathrow!