London, United Kingdom
After an emotional overnight flight in total lightness with very little sleep or inflight entertainment, I touched down in London a little shaken and stirred. It didn’t help that I hadn’t really anticipated this moment and so was entirely unprepared for the charms Heathrow Customs and the questions I should’ve had answers to like where on earth I’m staying. Unfortunately “with friends” didn’t cut it. I knew Vic and Pete were mere meters away but potentially much further if I couldn’t negotiate my way through this. More tricky questions like do you have a job? (no); What is you budget for this trip? (I haven’t really worked that out); when are you next intending to leave the UK (I’m going to Belfast); That’s part of the UK (Oh yeah, but it shouldn’t be!); So? (Iceland!); Can you show me your itinierary for it? (no, I only just booked it and haven’t had access to a printer); This isn’t looking good for you, is it? (not if you don’t think it is!); You seem to be an experienced traveller looking at your passport, I find it hard to believe you wouldn’t be more prepared than this (lip starts to wobble, eyes start to prick with tears… this is the first trip I’ve done on my own…); Well, alright, but next time be better prepared! And so I was released on my own recognisance.
Recomposed with passport stamped, I pushed through the exit into a sea of people eagerly seeking out the ones I was looking for. I couldn’t have missed them with the banner and balloons welcoming me home and indeed reminding me in a skipped heartbeat that Vancouver is not my only home away from home, nor family away from family because there they were – Pete and Vic “The Table”* Chapman… and Dan!!! I had anticipated seeing London’s most stunning and fashionable couple but Dan was a complete and delightful surprise and not at all 7 foot tall and dressed in a ringmasters costume as he had been in my dream a few nights previous.
I had been so focused on what I was leaving to give due consideration to what I was coming to but three hugs in and I was happy to be ‘home’. In all the excitement, they’d forgotten where they’d parked the car but thanks to the high tech brillance of the glossy new Terminal 5 building, all they had to do was punch their number plate into a machine and it told them! Luckily this technology didn’t exist in the 1990’s or that Seinfeld episode just wouldn’t have been the same!
On the drive back, I was bought up to date on the goings on with all and sundry with such intelligent and engaging wit that I was giddy with delight! We arrived at Chez Chapman where champagne and an introduction to Rollo the Rabbit were waiting.
I will no doubt go into the greater detail about Vic and Pete’s incredible house in later posts so will spare you the description now other than to say it was love at first sight! I could get used to living there very easily… you’ve been warned!
A quick shower to wash away the flight and it was off to the pub for a traditional sunday roast with a vegetarian twist and a proper homecoming pint or two before heading off to another pub for more pints… ah London, I’ve missed you.
At the Balham Bowls Club our merry band was joined by Elizabeth, one of my oldest and dearest friends who I’ve known since I was 11 years old and someone I’ve known even longer, his whole life in fact, my favourite cousin Erin (I think I can say that because I think Erin is the only cousin reading… although I have to include Katie too… and any others that might be reading…)
It’s hard to say what bought on the delirium – the joy of the renuion, the sleepless overnight flight, jetlag or the consumption of more beer than I’ve had in a long time but I made it through to closing time… I think. You know what, I don’t even know, such was my final state for the day. Vic and Pete carried me home and tucked me into bed. I don’t know if they sang me lullabies but lets say they did. At any rate, it’s good to be ‘home’.
*Imagine the most suggestive connotation you can for someone being nicknamed “The Table” and you might be right. Sorry Vic, I couldn’t resist but please feel free to defend your honour by leaving a comment!