A month! A MONTH! It's been a whole MONTH since the last time I posted. I know, I know, that's an extremely long time. But, if it's any consolation, I wasn't just sitting around on my tuchus waiting for a blog post to fall out of the sky. It's been just a touch chaotic in my life.
I'd really like to write a huge post about the cruise. It was fantastic, wonderful, fun, amazing and lots of other superlatives. But I don't want to write about it without including pictures. Aaaand since we *still* don't have internet installed at the house, I'm going to hold off on a detailed cruise description post. (I'm writing this by doing something called "tethering" my iPhone, which is on a 3G network to our laptop. Which works just fine, but it isn't okay to upload lots of data over it. The cell phone company gets fussy if we do too much.)
So, I'm going to just jump ahead and start talking about our new adventure here in England! We are truly enjoying it here, although we all *really* miss our friends back in the states. I may be having a harder time with the missing of friends that the kiddos.....
Let's see, I just don't know where to start. We arrived on a Sunday in Southampton. Adam really wanted to be to Harrogate by Sunday evening so that he could go into work on Monday morning and get checked in. We had scoped out the train and decided that would be the most cost effective way to go, but it would take us most of the day. We decided to do it anyway. It was an adventure to say the least.
First off, we had eight passengers, 50% of whom were children. Second off, we had 10 pieces of luggage, four kids’ backpacks and three laptop/briefcases. All that luggage would have been no problem at all if we didn't have to change trains, but, of course, we did. We didn't just have to change one time, we had to change four different times!!!!!
From the ship we took a taxi to the train station. When we got in the taxi the kids were very unnerved. Leila even started to cry. The driver was sitting on the wrong side, the kids didn’t have car seats and the van we were sitting in had a totally strange configuration!
We got on the first train with seconds to spare, after wrestling all the baggage into a baggage compartment on the train. Then we noticed there were electronic displays above each row, some said the seat was unclaimed and others said the seat was reserved at a certain stop. We realized that we were going to have to pay attention to where everyone was seated, so as not to get kicked out and be without a seat. We didn’t end up finding eight seats together and so we were randomly strewn about the cabin, all the adults trying to keep an eye on the kids. The kids did a great job, playing quietly with their toys and each other.
The station where we needed to change trains came up and we off-loaded ourselves and all our freakin’ bags. This time a station attendant noticed us, and our freakishly large load, grabbed a rolling luggage rack and helped us to our next train. We heard quite a few snickers and comments about how much luggage we had as we passed by people. And we did have a lot of luggage, they were right.
The train we were getting on was very late and as we got settled, they announced that it was becoming an express train and would no longer be stopping where we needed it to. We were going to have to get off and then get on a different train. BAH, could nothing be easy!?!?!?
The whole time the children were uncomplaining. They followed directions marvelously, sat politely next to strangers and were very, very well behaved. We ended up grabbing lunch and eating some of it on the train. One of the items I grabbed was something called a “pasty”. It is a flaky crust wrapped around a hot filling. They are delicious, but completely and totally unhealthy. I was pleased to discover they came in vegetarian options and so I got a few to try out. Elie did not like hers, but Isaac dug in enthusiastically. I was a bit concerned, though because he was sitting next to a nice middle aged woman and I didn’t want her to be the victim of some pasty explosion. I did my best, giving him lots of napkins, a fork and knife and specific instructions on how to eat it nicely. He did a great job, winning compliments from the woman and managing not to get pasty everywhere.
We got on the extra train and there was a huge ruckus about where the luggage was going to go. GranDude and Dadam were up at the front dealing with the luggage, while GranEde and I found seats and got the kids situated. We got on the train and Isaac said, very loudly,“Mom, there’s only seats next to strangers!” Everyone on the train laughed a bit at that. We ended up finding seats for Elie and Isaac next to a delightful young adult who spent the whole ride chatting up the kids. She asked them where they were from and that started a discussion that spanned how we had gotten to England, where we were going to be living and ended with her giving the kids some hints about some differences between British and American English. Elie and Isaac were so excited to be talking to someone and sharing all they knew. They had a great time!
Unfortunately, while we were having a great time in the back, GranDude and Dadam were dealing with a ruckus about the luggage up front. We ended up having too much luggage for the rack and the engineer and the platform attendant and the ticket checker got in a disagreement about where the luggage could/should go. It was so bad that when the ticket checker announced apologies about why the train was delayed he specifically said there was a “problem with some luggage.” Oooops.
The kids did such an amazing job. Not one time did any of them meltdown (I would have totally understood if they had, it was a rough day). They all hustled when we told them to and stayed close and paid attention. Talia, Elie and Isaac each had a small piece of rolling luggage that they dragged around from train to train. Leila even had a nap, while sitting on my lap, on one of the rides! I was completely and totally impressed with how they behaved.
Finally, we got off and on one more train and arrived in Harrogate. No one got lost, all the luggage made it and we were there! Dadam took a taxi, with all the luggage, to our rental flat. GranEde, GranDude and I walked and herded the very-energetic-from-being-on-trains-all-day children and to the rental flat. We had arrived.