Saturday, October 04, 2014

First Day in London

This chair was
in a bathroom.
We landed in London, and Rob was so sick he stopped the plane.  And it went downhill from there.  We had a card that would allow us to pass through customs quickly but Rob had dropped his and not bothered to pick it up.  Ugh.  I offered to give him mine so he could go through and sit down comfortably but he insisted on heading to the long, slow-moving line with me. 

He started getting sick again and had to leave the line.  But he was leaving with my passport in his pocket.  I had to call him back and the security people were confused.  As soon as they realized what was going on—that my husband was ill and we were together—they let me go with him towards the bathroom.  I didn’t go into the bathroom with him, sitting on a bench, trying to look as nonthreatening as possible.

Beaded pillow.  One of several.
I mean, think about it.  What, exactly, would trigger a search in this tense climate?  We were causing a significant distraction after stopping the plane.  I would not have blamed anyone if they had dragged us separately into rooms and made us answer a long string of questions as they searched our luggage.  Would you?

But they didn’t.  In fact, they hustled us to the head of the line, not wanting Rob to throw up in the main customs area, I suppose.  We managed to get our luggage and find the driver who was there to take us to the airport.  Now, normally the ride from Heathrow to our hotel is only about 30 to 40 minutes.  That is, if you are not driving with someone who is constantly throwing up.  And Rob was.  We stopped four times on the road and one time the driver pulled into a parking lot so Rob could go into a store and find a toilet in which to throw up some more. 
Even the tissues in the room
were made to look like roses.

We arrived at the hotel flustered and not surprisingly stressed.  Rob was still nauseous and just wanted to lie down.  But our room wasn’t ready.  Nope.  And the hotel was fully booked.  However, there was one suite that would not be needed for a guest until 8pm so they graciously allowed us to stay there until our room was ready.

Which is how we ended up hanging out in the Cinema Suite at the Taj Hotel in London.  And it is gorgeous!  Seriously.  Watch this video before reading on because I want you to picture and fully appreciate the luxury with which we were greeted, the place where we were allowed to rest until it was time to go to our own room.

(The bed in which Rob was collapsed can be seen at 2:55
only the canopy bed had velvet curtains over the sheer rose patterned ones)

Around 2, after I had taken a short nap because I was determined not to trash anything in any other room and stayed by Rob’s side when I wasn’t exploring the full suite, we were brought to our much smaller suite.  Rob immediately collapsed in the bed while I was left to unpack for both of us. 

This was our bed
before Rob collapsed
into it.
Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? 

Anyway, we had some things in the suite, including fresh fruit and a basket with cereals, eggs, and such, and there was milk in the refrigerator along with some small creams like the ones one would find in any convenience store.  So I was able to snack on some fruit and have some espresso.  I hadn’t eaten anything and Rob wanted to go ahead and try to eat a little something.  I suggested that I make him some eggs.  Why was he pushing himself like this?

Surprise!  Rob had ordered tickets for us to go to The Globe Theatre to see Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors.  Can you imagine anything more perfect for starting off a London trip?  But Rob was sick and the smell of the eggs made him throw up.  Since I had gotten dressed up for the play, I asked Rob if he would be okay with my going downstairs to the Library, a small room off the lobby of the hotel, where I could enjoy some wine and canapés, a perk that came with our lovely suite.  Giorgio, a lovely young man who was there almost every night we were there, brought me a glass of champagne.  Later, he brought me a slender plate with three small bowls on it in which there were some spiced nuts, some gorgeous large olives, and some freshly made crisps.  These salty foods plus the champagne were the first bites to eat I’d had since getting off the plane.   Then he brought me a small plate with canapés. 

Living room area.
Now, I won’t bore you with the details but nearly every night we went down to the Library and every night the canapés were different.  Sometimes a puff pastry filled with diced meat and fresh vegetables, or a slice of toast with something on top, or a tiny savory tart, or a small skewer of meat.  You could never know what it might be and some more delicious than others.  For instance, I loved one with lentils that I could tell was spiced with cumin, another night there was a smear of pâté on bread that I adored, and I could bore you with the puff pastry deliciousness. 

Every night, it was drinks, followed by the salty snacks, followed by a plate with three different canapés. 

Fresh fruit, rose petal in a bowl,
and a card welcoming us
to our lovely room.
While I was downstairs, the turn-down service came to our suite and left a surprise: an elegant plate with chocolates and flowers.  Everything on the plate was edible and delicious.  And because Rob was still crashed out in the bed, I called down to request a DVD which came with free popcorn and soda.  (I requested diet soda, of course.)

But I was too exhausted to even watch the movie.  The stress of watching over Rob, worrying about his glucose levels, and everything else, I was close to tears.  This was not how we had hoped to start our vacation, needless to say, and I was beginning to think that maybe we should just not bother traveling at all. 

The hope was Rob would wake up feeling better than he had when he went to bed.  Our fingers were obviously crossed, even in our sleep.   

Plate of chocolates, one piece with gold flakes,
a couple of macarons, and edible flowers
Even the long slender stick and swirly thing
are edible.  Seriously, how lucky is Rob
that I left him even one piece let alone three?

Friday, October 03, 2014

London Trip: Day One: Leaving on a Jet Plane

It amused me that the tray
was magnetic so the flatware
wouldn't fall off.
Two weeks ago, we were heading out the door and flying off to London.   But we weren’t leaving with a lot of confidence.

Now, last year we had asked our friend Fokes to watch Snowdoll.  We would have asked Chris but he’d just lost his beloved German Shepard Aspen and we felt he might be too emotionally fragile to want to do it.  And asking Fokes left us feeling confident as we headed to New York.

So why didn’t we ask him again?  In between then and now, he had adopted a dog of his own and the thought of three dogs was a bit much.  Of course, we would have said he could bring his dog, Maggie, but we were equally confident that Chris could handle the two dogs and had experienced enough emotional healing to love being with our two dogs.

A couple of weeks ahead of time, however, our choice was leaving us with less confidence than we felt the year before.  Chris was supposed to come over but wasn’t feeling well.  We rescheduled.  He was still unwell.  Then the following week, a friend had a crisis so he had to reschedule again. Which is how we ended up asking Fokes to be our back-up.  Yes, bring Maggie.  Yes, bring your girlfriend over. 

He makes it look so easy.
And, fortunately, Chris and Fokes had been roommates in the past.  They could live together and, truth is, we figured having both of them here would be best because it would double the chances of having someone here.  We definitely were feeling better but not necessarily confident.  And Holly is still so delicate; the more attention she received while we were out of town, the happier we all would be.

We left, believing there would be at least two, sometimes three, people here tending to our dog’s needs, knowing they could call on Joe as well, to back them up as needed.  Plus, we left money for them to use if they wanted or needed to take the dogs to day camp.  All of our doggy ducks were in a row.

Getting to the airport was easy but Rob had miscalculated the time we had to be there, not allowing enough time.  When traveling internationally, you have to be there 3 hours before boarding, not departure, and Rob calculated 2 hours before departure.  I didn’t realize this miscalculation until we were in the car with Chris.  I tried not to panic and, thankfully, we made it to the gate with a little time to spare. 

I want to see it again
because I think I missed
some of the nuance in the
Once we got on the plane, it was easy enough to settle in.  We ordered our food shortly after boarding while I enjoyed a glass of champagne and acclimated myself to the space, figuring out how to work the remote so I could enjoy a movie before (hopefully) falling asleep.  Rob’s blood sugars, however, started being a problem.  We asked the flight attendant to bring all of his meal to him immediately, rather than course by course.  They were happy to accommodate our request and Rob was able to eat and was soon fast asleep. 

Before leaving, Kanika had suggested I should get a sticky toffee pudding.  Well, guess what they had for a dessert option on the menu?  Yep.  So I ordered it and it was a lot sweeter than I typically love.  It was good, don’t get me wrong, but I was so glad I ordered a decaf coffee to have with the dessert.  It cut through the sweetness. 

I knew I needed to exhaust myself and hadn’t allowed myself a nap that day.  I decided to watch a movie.  Since Rob was asleep and not watching one with me, I chose Only Lovers Left Alive.  A good choice but, in order to hear every bit of dialogue, I would have had to blast the volume, something I simply did not want to do.  Still, by the time the movie was over, I was ready to try to sleep.  I succeeded, for a while, but I was awake before anyone else was.  When the flight attendant came around, I asked for something for Rob to have, if he should happen to wake up needing to eat right away. 

Thoughtful wife is thoughtful.
I spent the rest of the flight listening to music.  Shortly before we landed, Rob woke up and, once again, he was sick.  Remember our flight to New York and from New York?  Rob was sick then as well.  His sugar levels were all over the place then and now.  He tried to find a sick bag but he didn’t have one in his seat area.  Neither did I.  He had no choice but get up and go to the bathroom.

And that is how Rob stopped the plane on the tarmac.  Apparently, they could not taxi the plane to the gate until everyone was bucked and in their seats.  Seriously.  It was so bad that one of the flight attendants approached me, asking if I could do anything.  Yeah, I could give him the air sick bag that was supposed to be at every seat.  Oh wait!  Neither Rob nor I had one.   I felt sorry for the other passengers because we had all been on this plane for hours and no doubt I wasn’t the only one ready to get out into some fresh air.

But we didn’t land until Saturday and this post is supposed to only be about our Friday, the first day of our trip to London.  So I’ll end this post with our all being stuck on the plane, unable to depart until Rob stopped being sick in the bathroom and was safely buckled in his seat again.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

New Month Faced With Optimism

One of several cuts on Holly
Can you tell I’m still catching up with the real world?  I haven’t even started writing the vacation posts but I assure you they’re coming.  

Consider yourself duly warned.  
Of course, you know that September included a trip to London for me and Rob.  What you do not know is that we aren’t the only ones who were anticipating a trip.  In September, Joe learned that he had earned a bonus for doing a good job:  a trip for two to Disney World.  Can you imagine how excited he and Bibi are to go on this trip?  And I can’t describe how proud I am of him. 

Then imagine everyone’s surprise when my step-father offered to pay for Erin to go, paying for her flight and passes to the park.  So Rob and I weren’t the only ones with travel excitement in September (although Joe & Co are still looking forward to their trip).

Doing housework
October promised to be a good one, even without Joe & Co heading to Disney World. 

We have not one, not two, but three birthdays.  Erin and Joe and Marc all celebrate in October.  And Rob’s brother and mother also have birthdays in October.  So, we already had every reason to know that October would be special, would be a good month.  How could it be anything else with family traveling to Disney World and so many birthdays for so many wonderful people?

What’s in store for October besides birthdays?

I have a couple of projects on my calendar, both involving writing.  And I have a manuscript to read for a family member.  (By that I mean I won’t make any money.) 

I’m still being careful with my physical health after spending the summer in so much pain.  My plan in October is to continue using the stationary recumbent bike, to add some strength training while still remaining cautious, and doing some form of stretching at least twice a week.  But I don’t want to do anything that could cause me injury.  Fact:  I’m scared to hurt myself again.  I’ve no doubt that nobody can blame me for feeling this way.  I draw comfort from knowing that I’ve faced this sort of fear before and overcome it.  The proof is in the attic—my walker, which I haven’t needed since 2007/8.
There are other things to do that will fill the month.  Life goes on but, I confess, I wasn’t home for 24 hours before I wanted to leave on another vacation.  But I’ll save that for another blog post. 

Did anything special happen in your life this September?
Are you looking forward to anything special in October?  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Home Again

And we’re back! 

There are gifts to be given and a lot of housework to do.  Food shopping and laundry. 

Not even here for more than a few hours and I was already doing laundry. 

Is it too soon for me to want to go back to London?   

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tentative Itinerary 2015: Day Nine

And on this day we say goodbye to London.

Although I didn't write about everything we plan on doing, there are certain moments things we hope to experience including Afternoon Tea and I would like to try to some London pizza since I come from New York and you know how New Yorkers are about their pizza. We also have a list of possible food places to visit.  I am not feeling overly confident about our list because we had a list when we went on our last trip and Rob pretty much threw that out the window.  We definitely want to do some traditional British foods:  Fish and Chips, Yorkshire Pudding, Shepherd's Pie, and such.  We also want to have some "ethnic" foods:  Indian, Thai, Portuguese, Turkey, Chinese.

Yeah.  We'll only be there a few days.  Not sure we can squeeze all that food in there without one of us exploding. 

But you never know . . . .