Sunday, 19 April 2015

Travelling to America! 24th & 25th March

On Tuesday 24th March, the kids all went to school, and Scott to work, while I did lots of little jobs, like clean out the fridge, make sandwiches for tea, polish shoes, clean the bathroom and leave the house tidy. The kids came home and finished packing, and we put new bright luggage straps on our cases which we decorated with Sharpies, then I cut Tom and Harry's hair. Scott got home at 4.30pm and we left home at 5.30pm to drive to a Travelodge near Heathrow airport. We had tea in the car, and it rained. 

We got to the Travelodge at about 8pm, and had two rooms opposite each other. Jack, Tom and I shared a room, and after watching a programme about a family experiencing living in different decades, we went to bed at about 9pm.

We got up at 5.45am, and had breakfast in the Travelodge. I tried not to watch the news too closely because it was about the aeroplane that had just crashed in the Alps. Very sad.
The cafe area had glass walls and it was lovely sitting in the early morning sunshine, watching the planes pass really low overhead. (And a bit nerve-wracking.)

We left the Travelodge at 7am, and drove to Heathrow. I'd already had to get my head around the idea of many of the things that could go wrong, and prayed a lot for peace to be able to enjoy the holiday, but I was still a bit worried about all the arrangements that had to work out that day alone, and daunted by the amount of luggage we'd have to get used to lugging everywhere. (We each had 1 large suitcase and one rucksack, plus other bits of hand luggage.)
We got to the multi-storey car park OK, where someone took our car away and parked it for us. We made it through bag check-in and security fine. We hung out in a couple of different places, before getting to our gate and boarding our plane. Nothing seemed to take too long - all very smooth.

Our plane took off at 9.30am and we touched down in Los Angeles (LAX airport) at 8.10pm - or 1.10pm local time, so about 11 hours, though we were on the plane nearer 12 hours because we had to hand around a bit. I had been worrying about the length of the flight, but it went incredibly quickly! Mainly the kids watched films, plus we had a meal and a few drinks and snack times. This was Tom's first ever flight!

Flying into Los Angeles.

In L.A, we got through security pretty quickly, and waited outside the airport in hot sunshine and blue skies for a shuttle bus to take us to the nearby Renaissance Hotel where we would pick up our rental car. It took quite a while to come, and Harry was getting a bit restless, but then we got it fine, and set up camp in a foyer in the hotel, while Scott sorted out our rental car with the company Sixt. We couldn't book an exact car, so we were a bit worried the car we'd get would be big enough to fit everything comfortably.

We were so delighted when they gave us the car we had hoped to get - a massive Chevy Suburban! Here're Lucy and Jack on the roof of the hotel where all the rental cars were.

Our lovely Chevy with the 'Hugs' or 'Thugs' number plate, depending on your preference!

After a few moments of Scott getting used to the controls and gadgets, we got loaded up, and headed to the nearby Dockweiler Beach. We'd ended up bringing loads of food with us - stuff for the flight, plus left-overs from tea last night - all in a Brittany Super-U shopping bag! We paid $6 to park right next to the beach, and just went and sat near the sea and had a picnic.

We just felt so pleased with ourselves!! Everything had worked out as smoothly as it possibly could, and there we were sitting in hot sunshine on an L.A. beach at midnight UK time!
Had fun paddling and chilling out for a while. No one seemed too tired.

Then we headed back to the car, Scott synced his iPhone with the car stereo, and we drove about 15 minutes to the AirBNB house Scott had booked for the night.

Our house was in a slightly less well-to-do area, but the house itself was fab! Totally vintage and dinky and American! Trellis and a mass of bright pink flowers out the front. It had three bedrooms, and after moving furniture around and sorting out bedding, we had a bit more food and went to bed at 1am English time, 6pm American time.

Lucy checking out the neighbourhood, next to our massive car!

Scott and Harry's room. Lucy and I shared a room, and I stayed up a bit later, looking at my photos from the day and editing them. I woke up in the night, and was totally confused about the times, and working out if when I'd woken up was good or not. I managed to force myself to get back to sleep, but didn't have the best night - though not as bad as Scott's night with Harry... Harry had been up loads feeling really poorly!

Monday, 13 April 2015

16th - 23rd March

We had the Elders come for tea on Monday 16th March, and had a good chat about America. One of the Elders was going home on the day we're flying to America, back to St. George, Utah - one of the places we're visiting. He offered to give us a dinner appointment!

On Friday 20th March, I walked Harry to school, and just as we were arriving, we could see the Solar Eclipse starting! We were lucky that the clouds were just right to be able to see it. We were quite excited!
I walked back with Donna, and we each went to our houses to take photos of the eclipse! It wasn't a full eclipse, but was still really good! This is the sun, made into a crescent by the moon passing in front of it.

The eclipse was at its fullest at about 9.30am. It didn't get properly dark, but made an eerie kind of dusk light. I tried to get photos of how dark it went in the house, but my camera compensated too well, and it doesn't look very dim in these pictures - it was though!

On Friday evening, I took a car full of kids plus Ben Conway to Northampton for a Stake Seminary meeting, plus Deacon and Beehive Forum. I wasn't running the activity, so it was strange not to have a car full of stuff to take - I'd just been cutting out words and pictures from magazines for a few days, for the collage activity Gill was doing.
Part way through the activity, I left to go and look after Bea, the autistic daughter of the Claytons. Claire and President Clayton both had meetings to be in, so we'd arranged for me to look after Bea. I haven't spent time with her before, but we seemed to get along OK, doing a puzzle together and reading a book. She doesn't have a great deal of language, but it was lovely being with her - I felt a really peaceful spirit around her. When President Clayton came back in the room, he realised Bea was trying to get him to go to a meeting again, so she and I could play for longer! I said that would be fine, so we had some more time together. I felt really pleased that Bea and I had made some kind of connection.

On Sunday 22nd March, I went with Becki Cain to Kettering Ward Conference. Managed to miss the turn-off yet again!
Emma Corre taught a great Young Women lesson on goal setting, then we had a very long meeting with the Ward Council afterwards.

On Monday 23rd March, it was Scott's and my 19th Wedding Anniversary, though we had both forgotten, and not got gifts or cards for each other! Not that that bothered us very much - we were both more pre-occupied with thinking about our trip to America.
By the end of Monday, we were all pretty much packed - I had done all the laundry over the weekend, and did ironing on Monday - carefully packing things. Most the cases and bags were in the living room, so I just added things as I remembered them. It was pretty stress free.

In the evening, Scott and I had a good talk about our marriage and us - a 'state of the nation' kind of thing. We aren't perfect at being married, and I came away some thoughts on how to do things better, and looking forwards to having an American adventure side by side with Scott.