London, United Kingdom
We got off to an early start this morning for a mercifully quick and easy drive to the airport where we returned our car and GPS without incident. Basically, the guy at the desk could not have been less interested so we left him the keys and will save the battle about the taillight and GPS for another day (I’ve made a deal with the universe – if they don’t mention the taillight, I won’t mention the GPS – here’s hoping Europcar honour that agreement without being party to it).
The service at the flight check-in desk was a little more attentive… the lady was very friendly though when she told us that both our bags were overweight and gave us the opportunity to transfer a few items to our hand luggage which was luckily easily done. We skulked around the fairly dull airport until it was time to board our flight, take up our seats in the emergency exit row (ah the leg room) and bid our final adieu to France.
90 minutes later, we landed safely back in London where everything just lined up for us – straight through customs just as our bags came out in time to just get the next bus from Gatwick to Heathrow where we were spending the night ahead of Mum’s early departure tomorrow.
There were people who were worried at the outset of this trip about the calibre of accommodation I would be subjecting Mum to given my history of shoestring travel. To them I say see how the fallen have grown mighty! Wanting nothing but the best for my Mum, I took the liberty of booking us into a 5 star hotel for our last night.
It may not be a chateau, nor do we have our own rooms but the bed is so huge that we’ll both be able to sleep in star formation without touching! Being out at the airport, there’s nothing of great interest outside the hotel, except other hotels so we spent the rest of the day just mooching around the place, checking out the facilities, drinking coffee, watching TV and generally unwinding from the fairly hectic pace we’d been maintaining.
The hotel has 3 restaurants, we’d decided to treat ourselves to the more upscale one for dinner only to realise that it was closed on Sundays and that our only option was the bizarrely themed American sports bar. We quickly declared that yesterday’s lunch still counts as our official last meal – this was just a grossly oversized snack.
Back in our room, we popped the cork on the chilled bottle of Mumm we’d been carrying around for this very moment. We proposed a toast to the end of the ad-french-ure and reminisced about the incredible month we’ve shared. We drained the bottle and stripped it of all its labelling for posterities sake, no doubt leaving the cleaning staff with the impression that we’d been drinking moonshine out of an unmarked bottle.
As the Champagne ran out, so to has our time together on this trip and it’s with more than a little trepidation that we take up our star formations in our unbelievably comfortable bed knowing tomorrow it’ll be time to say au revoir and bon voyage.
We had a fairly uneventful trip from Bordeaux to London Gatwick – only one hiccup at Bordeaux when we had to ‘redistribute’ our overweight bags, which we did very quickly (we’re used to fluctuating our weights!). Everything just connected from there – we got through passport control quickly and buses and taxis all lined up to take us to our 5 star accommodation near Heathrow Airport.
We had a very relaxing day, strolling and checking out the amenities, anxious to get home to have a real coffee – they still don’t make it well in England (a little better than the France). We could make a fortune showing them how to make good coffee in France and England – go the underground coffee people!
After a very mundane dinner of pizza and Nomi’s veggie burger, we returned to our room to drink Mumm Champagne that we’d been saving for this occasion and to have a fairly early night as we have a 6am wake up. I have lots of mixed feelings about leaving EB after having such a wonderful ad-french-ture but also looking forward to seeing everyone at home and knowing that she’ll be home in another six weeks. If not, I’ll send her father to get her!
What made me smile today: Remembering being lost and found a few times because of our wonky GPS and sense of direction and drinking Mumm Champagne with my Nomi-Jo to toast to an unforgettable trip. Au revoir, merci becoup, croissant! Love to all.