Gypsy's Travels

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Travels with Charlie- Austin to England

Two years ago, Em and I traveled to Oxford, England, for a literary based tour with ElderHostel. In July this year, Charlie and I made the same trip. I was a bit worried I would be bored since the basis of the trip, with its focus on Harry Potter, had not changed much, but there were enough differences to make it interesting. I just knew that Charlie would love the program, and he really did!

First, the name of the company has changed to Road Scholar and age limits have been dropped. The main group was still composed of grandparents and their grandchildren, but there were a few different relationships - aunt, friend, etc. The children were 9-11 years old, but Charlie, aged 12, was not bothered by the age difference. Being a little older actually gave him some of the advantages of maturity. He was a great traveling companion and the whole experience was quite different from a boy's viewpoint.

TranAtlantic flights are never fun, but Charlie took advantage of the opportunity to have uninterrupted TV time on tiny screens embedded in the seat ahead of each passenger. I, on the other hand, lamented the fact we could not fly first-class where the seats actually made into comfortable looking bed-like modules. Of course, the front and back of the plane arrived at the same time and since there was no big corporation funding our trip, we managed quite happily.

Immigration was a nightmare with several, fully-loaded, aircraft arriving at the same time. Charlie and I enjoyed the opportunity to do some people watching, a great wait-time "sport." I was entranced by a man in a kilt, not the first I have ever seen, but certainly the most unusual. The kilt appeared to be a pair of khaki pants down to the hips, complete with belt loops, pockets, etc. Just below the pockets in back, the pleated kilt / skirt(?) began, and continued to the knees, leaving hairy legs exposed. He topped it off with an ordinary shirt, black socks and a kind of sandal. The man appeared quite comfortable in his attire.

I took Charlie out of the U.S. with no problem, but the English authorities were stricter. I had to show proof that I had his parents permission for him to travel with me. They also questioned Charlie. He can normally be heard several blocks away, but in front of this British symbol of authority who occupied a stool making him even taller than normal, Charlie was all shrugs and mumbles. We were eventually passed on with a friendly smile.

Getting to London was the simple part of our travels. Just hop a plane in Austin, change in Houston, and get off at Heathrow many hours later. Now we had to rely on my searches of the internet to make our way to Oxford. As it turned out, this was not a difficult task. We walked a short distance to the bus terminal and took a comfortale, air-conditioned bus right into the heart of Oxford. The kindly driver was soft-spoken and helpful. We bought our tickets right on the bus, luggage was loaded in the hole below, and we were off to Oxford.

Charlie and I shared a similar thought later when we were discussing a lady we had seen at the bus depot. She was older, thin, somewhat eccentric looking, and appeared to have stepped right out of "My Fair Lady." She wore a vintage. ruffled trimmed, chiffon-like dress and sported a wide, vintage, flower trimmed hat. Underneath the hat was a nightcap and peeking out from under the calf length frock, was either pajamas or colorful tights. Both Charlie and I had ached to get a photo but chose not to invade the woman's privacy.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, at last some information on your and Charlie's trip overseas. I know that Charlie was impressed by your expertise in navigating England.


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