Sunday, July 03, 2005

We Are Here in Lytham!

On Thursday after work, I went home and got Aurora as we had some last minute things on our to do lists. We first went to Aloha Nails and had each a manicure and a pedicure...a big treat for us both! Then we went off to the salon to get our hair cut as well, as we wished to look our best for our friends. Then we zipped back home to do the last of our packing and preparations. Jeff came home from work at around 1AM and needed my help to get him done packing...needless to say since the airport shuttle was due at 4AM, we opted not to bother going to bed. Probably a foolish choice in hind sight, but there you have it.
The shuttle came to the house at 4:30AM. They did call, as they were running a tad late. It was nearly full when they came to get us and made one more stop in Kirkland to pick up one last passenger. Everyone on board was chatty about their trips. One gentleman was off to Germany where his wife had family, another lady was off to Arizona... etcetera.
We arrived at the airport in good time and the security line was VERY long! It took around 30 minutes to get through. The plane left on time and I had the window seat. Not that it mattered much, as I went off to sleep shortly after take off, though a bit and out. We arrived in Toronto at 3:30 their time (4 and 1/2 hours later after we left). We had originally planned to go off into Toronto, but that didn't happen. Canadian Customs wasn't much bother. We had nothing to claim and had filled out the paperwork while on board the plane. It was walk up to a window, turn in the work, get our passports stamped and off you go...all of about a 10 minute thing at most. That being said Toronto Airport is a long affair. We walked and walked to find the gate to the international airport to then find we had to board a shuttle which drove about two miles to the international flight building. They are building a new one which won't be done for a couple of years and temporarily have to take you to the old building by shuttle. By the time we got their, we decided we had best not leave as we had all ready gone through security again. We hung out at the Duty Free shops and the one restaurant they had, and we had an Italian waiter (Luciano) who all but didn't care about his customers. He was a very slow fella at getting back round the tables to hand out bills or take orders. The lunch wasn't bad though, good chicken pesto sandwiches and pepperoni pizza for Aurora. Our plane left the airport at 10PM Friday-Toronto Time. We flew out over Lake Ontario (flew in over it too, as the plane went over it and then turned round over it and came in to the airport over it to land.) We slept a bit, but not really well for the 6 hour 50 minute flight...but we had a good wind and it took only 6 hours and 10 minutes! We had basically no turbulence at all. The on board movie was Hitch with with Will Smith, and was an amusing comedy.
We arrived at Manchester International Airport at 9:25 AM, unloading was fast and then we got in line for English Customs and to have our passports looked over. I had a few moments panic, as we had to put in the address of where we were going and I couldn't remember my friends address in full. Some poor family was being given quite a ration and the customs officer who was dealing with them was being very loud telling the that he had to know the address where they were going and such to give them admittance to the UK. But, when we got up to the lady reviewing ours, she barely gave us a look, asked us how long we were there and if it was just for holiday, she stamped us and we were out lickety split! We went down to baggage and were much relieved that all of ours came down the carousel. Manchester International is also under a bit grotty looking. We went round another corner and Paul, Sherilee and Mikki were waiting for us! Sherilee came running up for a big hug and Paul took my luggage and we went to a huge lift that took us up to the garage and their Ford Galaxy van. Then the excitement got going good!
First we had a laugh seeing Paul sitting on the right side of the van! It really does look odd. We head straight out onto the M5 motorway. YIKES! They drive really fast!!! Most of the cars are flying round 80+ to 90 weaving in and out. Our eyes were popping as every one just tears down the motorways. Then to be on the wrong side (as we see it) to boot, made for a thrill ride. They had huge greenbelts long the sides of the roads, and as we got more rural, quite a few cow and sheep in the fields as well. As we skipped of the M5 onto another smaller road way and then off that onto local town roads, the roads get precariously narrow. I mean really narrow! Some times Paul would have to pull to the side so another could pass. Lytham is incredibly charming. Full of neat little row houses with tidy gardens and charming store fronts with names that seem funny at times to us. We passed a pharmacy that here they call a Chemistry. It was a lovely drive to the house...Aurora said...They all look so cute, like toy buildings we would take out of a box and set up. I can't think of a more charming explanation.
At the house, a walk, the view and the pub.
Paul and Sherilee live in charming brick row house. The one just to the left when you face in is a veterinarian, very convenient if the dog is ill. We unloaded and then had a lovely late lunch with heavy bread rolls with sunflower seeds on top, freshly cooked chicken, spinach leaves and chips and sodas and salad full of all sorts of interesting greens. After that we went down to the River Ribble for a walk and to see the local Lytham windmill and life boat house which are a mere 200+ years old. The river spills into the estuary which feeds into the Atlantic. You can see an oil rig way off shore in the Irish Sea and you can see a large spit far off which is part of Blackpool. It is an incredible site, and is only a block or so from their front door step. Next door to the left of them at their neighbors row house they have a beautifully manicured garden with Terry the tortoise, a resident of the garden. This fella is about the size of a football and is 42 years old. Richard their neighbor has had him since he was but 8 years old. He has his address painted on the rim of his shell and had a tennis shoe for a toy he likes to play with. Richard came out and let us hold Terry and give him a rub on the head...surprise surprise, Aurora now wants a tortoise for a pet! They do not export them these days per Richard...(saved from another pet! Ha ha ha).
A bit later in the walk, Aurora's allergies to all the English grasses were giving her troubles, so we headed our walk into Lytham's town center. We stopped at the center which has a huge mosaic round of lovely design with fishes and things made of colored stones and such...we took another Kodak moment there.
We then stopped in at the Ship & Royal for our first English Pub experience. We had a few drinks and enjoyed watching some of Live Aid (a lot of bands on the TV to stop hunger and poverty) on the big screen. Annie Lennox was on at the time singing some of her songs. The pub itself is delightfully appointed in rich woods, and the inside is for all appearances the same as the inside of a ship.
We went back to the house and chatted and then sat for dinner. They had prepared a home made chili... lots of meat and tomatoes, few beans, but very very good, salads and such and then sweetened strawberries with heavy cream for dessert. Good thing we had been walking!
It is just lovely here and we are simply thrilled being steeped in all thing English. There is little more to say at the moment. It is now Sunday morning late, they are off at church, and we did not wake up until they had to be leaving. The house is quiet for a few moments yet, and when they get back we will be having a picnic somewhere.
Tomorrow we are off to London, so it may be several days before I can get back to writing. Thus is all magical!


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