We landed at Heathrow and took the Tube to Paddington Station and the short walk to our hotel. The kids, Kate and Nick were sitting in the lobby playing Cribbage and waiting patiently for our arrival. After checking in and dropping off our luggage, we headed out for a twilight walk around Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Saint James Park, Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch and along Hyde Park before catching a double decker bus back to our hotel. Nick took us to a local pub where we had our first "pub grub" of the trip. We were starved not having eaten for about 10 hours. Had a pint and a bite. Then back to our room for a good night's rest.
The weather is overcast, cool, cold at times, but very tolerable when dressed warmly. We will be out and about much more than normally at home so being warm will be important this time of year.
Tomorrow we visit to Cambridge.
Day 2: Today we took the train from Paddington to Enfield station where Kate and Nick were waiting with Nick's parent's car. We drove out to Cambridge University where Nick attended Girton College. It was a day for going down memory lane for Nick and an opportunity for us to learn a bit about Nick's past--where he went to college, his pub, the place where he lived. It was fun and facinating. We, here in the states, have heard about this University, but few have walked through the town, and explored all the different colleges that make up this world famous university. We had a pint and lunch at "The Eagle" a famous pub in the center of Cambridge and operating for 500 years. We sat at the table in where Watson and Crick sat for months while sorting out the details and finally discovering the secrets of DNA leading to their Noble Prize. It was a great old pub with great food and drink.
We drove out to Girton and wandered around the campus grounds. Nick showed us the window of the room he stayed in as the organ scholar(the window above the arched doorway in the photo at right). Sadly, the campus was closed as were much of the University's grounds due to the holiday break. We had to make do with peering in windows and and at the grand facades of these centuries old buildings. The history that has been made within these old walls! We wandered through town, poked around in the shops and walked for hours.
Back to Enfield and onto the train for our return to London for one more night.
Day 3: We checked out of our hotel and boarded the train again for Enfield where Nick waited for us with his parent's car and the short drive over to their home. We piled out of the car, everyone probably a bit nervous, knowing the importance of this first meeting of "the parents." We needn't have been at all nervous. Liz and Ray were delightful people and wonderful hosts. We were shown to our room, a cozy upstairs spot just off the bathroom. Downstairs we were offered drinks, a delicious lunch and then we all sat down and began getting to know each other. One of Nick's grandmothers stopped by. We handed out small gifts we had brought from home all of which had something to do with Bellingham. Later in the day we headed out for a walk around Enfield. It was so picturesque! Lovely parks, lanes, perfect homes, and of course the requisite pubs. We stopped in at Ray's local and had a few pints before heading back to their house for a "roast" of lamb Liz had prepared. Delicious! Ray played host with wines and liquors from around the globe. Our 'lightweight' heads were spinning by the end of the evenng, but we enjoyed every minute. Ray, a retired BBC radio producer and American music expert, played music all evening and had us guess the composer. We got a few right, but missed many others. We discussed the fact that many Americans poo-poo American classical composers, preferring instead, the music of European composers. Ray loves American music and insisted it was every bit as good as European music. It was a wonderful evening!
Tomorrow we pick up our rental car and head for the "West Country"--Bristol, Summerset, Devon and Cornwall.