I know, I know. I’m 3 weeks behind on my blog. And these weeks are jammed full so I need some long posts. Please bear with me.
The week was all about getting ready for England. I had a rigorous to do list and spent all my time getting things done. That meant shopping before work, running errands over lunch and getting even more done after work. Every. Single. Day. What is it about going on vacation that makes you feel the need to get everything done that you’ve been putting off? I don’t know but I got it all done. By Friday night, the lawn was mown, the cats were set up with 5 boxes and all my chores were done. I was packed and had received all the packages for things I’d ordered for the trip, from shoes to knitting needles. I was ready to go.
As if getting ready was not stressful enough, Steve’s last day at work was Thursday and he wasn’t leaving voluntarily. I had thought he’d be gone before I got back but Nora moved more quickly and gave him the news on Thursday. She cleared Josh and I out of the office and Steve made his exit. Since Nora was out Friday, I had to answer all Josh’s questions. That was also the deadline for the F&A response. It had been a doozie of a week and I was ready for a break.
Andrea was more nervous about getting me to the airport than I was. She picked me up just after noon (I had been fine leaving at 1:00) and after an uneventful drive and whipping through check in, I was at the gate an hour and a half early. I knitted to pass the time, eager to just be there. I was connecting in Chicago and wasn’t looking forward to the long, overnight flight. I needed to get some sleep in order to be even marginally functional on Sunday, which would be a full day. Well, the man in front of me did nothing to stifle his excited kids (5 and 7 years old, I’d say) and they were giddy and noisy for the entire flight. When I finally asked him to keep his kids quiet, they calmed down but sleep was elusive. I arrived in Manchester not having slept a wink. Sheesh!
I got in an hour and a half before the scheduled meeting time. Unfortunately, I had neglected to print the email that told me where to meet the group and as the time approached, I started panicking. I couldn’t access my email, either with my iPad or on the computer I paid a pound for ten minutes of internet time. The info desk woman was useless and so I took a chance and grabbed the bus to the bigger terminal. I still didn’t see Jean and Philip (the tour leaders) and was really freaking out. The info desk guy even let me use his computer to try and access my email that way. When that failed I was getting frantic when I looked across the terminal and saw Eileen, a Canadian I’d been corresponding with on Ravelry. I screamed her name across the terminal and my anxiety was instantly gone. I was never so happy to see someone. Within minutes, Philip and Jean arrived and it was a big, happy reunion. We ordered coffee and waited in the café for the other people to arrive. Cindy’s flight was delayed so we hung out for awhile, first in the café and then on the bus. After we picked her up, we were on our way. Surprisingly, I wasn’t tired. I guess it was just excitement but I felt good to go.
Our first stop was Levins Hall, a big old country house that is known for its topiaries. But these aren’t American style animal shaped bushes but more abstract shapes. We ate lunch in their café (had a Cornish pasty – yum!) and then walked around the gardens and house. It was gorgeous and I got to know my new friends as we explored the gardens. This was going to be a fun trip. We got to Cragwood in the late afternoon. I unpacked, got into my sweats and had a cup of tea. We all met downstairs at 6:00 for Jean’s presentation on Sweet Shawlettes, which is her new book. It was a lot of fun and then we had the first of many wonderful dinners. When we finished dinner and headed to bed, I laid there unable to sleep despite having been up for 30+ hours. I did finally fall asleep though. Could I have crammed any more into the week? I don’t think so. And there was more fun to come. : )