2 July 1984
I can finally say "London is Great." We were supposed to leave Thursday, 21 June, on the MAC flight that "always" goes and is "never" canceled because that Thursday run is very important. Well, to make a long story short - it was canceled about an hour before we were to leave. We were very depressed 'cause we were ready to go and knew we would be able to go because we were the second family on the list. Oh, well. There is another flight that goes on Saturdays but stops overnight at Frankfurt, Germany, and then goes on to London on Sundays. Fine.
We came home Thursday evening depressed. We went out and ate pizza for supper and then asked our neighbors over afterwards to cheer us up. They brought their new "Trivial Pursuit" that her sister brought her from the States. Is that popular in the States? A few people have the game here and it's becoming quite popular.
Anyway, Friday we made a run to the shoe factory (I bought 3 pair for $12.00 total) and to Euromercato--the closest thing to a K-Mart here. After lunch Michael worked on our car in case we had to resort to plan C for our vacation, which was to drive to Venice, Milan, & Turin.
Well, Saturday finally came and we went to the military airport again, not knowing if we would be getting on a plane or not. And even if we did get on the plane to Frankfurt, there would be no guarantee that we could go on to London the next day, although they told us, "Oh, it always goes." We'd heard that before. So, Plan A - fly to Frankfurt & on to London Sunday. Plan B - fly to Frankfurt. If we get stuck - tour Germany & maybe take the train to Holland. Plan C - if no plane, then drive to Venice, etc.
Well, Surprise! The plane flew to Frankfurt and we were on it! But what a plane! I believe it was a C-131 or something like that. It was a green camouflage cargo plane. Steven was screaming, "I don't want on that plane, I want this one!" (-a nice white commercial-looking plane). The seats on the plane were just canvas seats that fold down from the sides of the plane. They have to pass out earplugs to everyone. Steven refused to wear his. There were about 20 of us "passengers." About halfway through the flight they passed out oxygen tanks because we were gonna have to fly up higher than usual and the cabin just might depressurize. It was hard not to panic at that point. The cargo was piled between us and the passengers on the other side of the plane. The "bathroom" was a pot up in the tail section with a plastic bag in it with a shower curtain type thing to pull around you. Of course, both of my kids had to go. It was a very slow plane, but finally we got to Frankfurt. We stayed overnight at a nice hotel about 15 miles from the airbase. They provided the transportation. We didn't see much of Germany, but it was clean and everyone was very helpful.
Sunday morning we returned to the airbase and learned our plane had been rerouted to somewhere and was not going on to London! Well! We were a bit perturbed. I wanted to see London! We were just wasting Michael's vacation days (4th already) and getting nowhere. Finally, I persuaded Michael to just fly on to London commercially. It cost us over $500.00 but it was well worth it to all of us.
We finally got to London about 5:30 pm Sunday. Thursday night I had called our hotel in London that we had made reservations at and told them it would be Sunday before we got there. They lady said fine. When we showed up Sunday night, we found that she had just canceled our whole week of reservations. I was furious. It is next to impossible to find a room for 4 in London in June. We found a room for one night Sunday. Monday I went back to our 1st hotel and demanded they find us a room somewhere. After much bickering, their porter & I found a room in a nicer hotel that had had a cancellation that could keep us for the whole week. We ended up paying $75.00 a night, but that beat changing hotels every one or two nights like our 1st hotel tried to get us to do.
Anyway, late Monday morning we finally got around to seeing London. I was most impressed with the crown jewels. I could go sit in that room for hours. Photos just do not capture their full beauty.
It was a good vacation and much needed.
We ate one meal at McDonald's every day. We also ate at Burger King & Kentucky Fried Chicken once. The British people were very courteous and helpful. Both of the kids would start conversations with anyone on the trains or in shops. They were delighted to find they could communicate with anyone around them. That's such a contrast to here in Naples. Angelique said she would like to live there.
We flew back Saturday on a charter flight for $385.00. We could have flown back on a MAC flight Monday (today) maybe. But with meals, hotels & transportation to the airbase, it would cost us $300.00 to stay another 2 days and still not know for sure if we could leave on the MAC flight. So instead of gambling on these "sure" flights, we decided to come on back Saturday and save 2 days of Michael's leave time.
So I'm on my 6th load of laundry since we've returned. The London "tubes" (subways) are very efficient, but also quite dirty for little children who play all over the floors and fall down a lot, etc.
I bought Angelique a pretty pair of Health Tex pale yellow pants for this trip. She may never get to wear them again if I can't get all the black off of them. That's been a 2-day project in itself. I may have to cut them off for just everyday shorts. I bought Angelique a red plaid kilt, vest & poncho at Harrod's. I bought a blue plaid one for me in Windsor. We also found a "Shakespearian Cottage" music box in Windsor. We picked up several other odd 'n ends. Michael, of course, bought books everywhere we went. We will have quite an extensive European library by the time we get back.
I got a letter from Mother saying they were putting shingles on their roof and getting ready to put in windows. Sounds like they are making progress. When is it suppose to be finished, do you know? She sounded quite excited. I know she must be sick of that apartment. I was quite surprised (somewhat) that she quit her job to keep Jeremy. I would have thought they needed the money to finish the house. Are they gonna be OK financially after building this house? I do wish they would come over here next summer. The chances sound pretty slim to me, though.
How was the World's Fair? Did they get a better turn out than Knoxville? Was it what you were expecting?
So sorry to hear about Chocolate's illness. Sounds like a rough time. I thought I had another kitten lined up for us. But the mother cat moved out with her kittens before the lady realized she had gone.
Has Daddy put his light up at his house yet? Mother said they were getting their mailbox up soon.
Hey, I love the blouse you sent for my birthday. It matches a pair of light blue Levi Bendovers I've had for a while, but never found anything to match them. It also matches my College Town rose color ensemble I got before going to Athens. I wore it in London. I haven't worn the slip yet, but I'm sure I'll like it when I do. It seems like everything I'm buying and wearing these days is bluish pink, rose or purplish blue. Mother sent a lilac nightgown I've been wearing a lot. Michael's mother sent me a pair of jeans that I asked her to send, but she sent the straight legs. They fit snugger than my regular cut ones - same brand, same size. I may have to send them back and ask her to try again. I hate to do that to her - especially since I asked for them. I wish I could lose 5 pounds and just keep them. That would make it simpler.
I can't imagine Laura as a size 12. She does look big (tall) in the videotapes, but it's hard to get proportions right without Angelique standing beside her. Is she bigger than most of the kids in her class or is that average? Has she got the guts to stick with "point." I was under the impression that was extremely hard to master. We'd like to see a tape of her ballet sometime.
There was an article in Michael's Family Practice journal about a Marcus Welby movie. If they rerun that sometime, would you try to make a copy of it for us? The FP Academy did a lot of work on that movie.
Angelique is gonna have a Care Bear birthday. Freda is sending Care Bear plates, cups, decorations, etc. I've ordered her a large stuffed "Tenderheart." I hope it gets here in time. She wants us to call her Tenderheart, now.
Steven is into alligators & crocodiles! We got him a rubber one at the London Zoo. He sleeps with the thing! We told him that kings used to put alligators in their moats around their castles. He said they were still there - they were just behind the trees now. He's really a chatterbox now. He's wearing underpants just like his daddy's now and doing just great. He still looks for alligators behind trees. I don't know what he would do if he really found one ... run or talk its ears off.
Oh, I forgot to tell you ... At the British Museum we were looking at some display. Angelique noticed a hole in the wall. She went up to see what it was, put her eye up to it - and set off the alarm! It was one of those electronic eye alarms. Fortunately, a guard was very close by and turned the alarm off and didn't have to close off the whole section of the museum as they normally do until they figure out what happened. He probably saw her do it, but couldn't get to her in time to stop her. He just laughed about it. I sure was glad he was good-natured about it.
Later on, I took the kids to the bathroom. We tried to go back to where we were, but couldn't get back because they had sealed off the whole library section because someone had set off the alarm. They also closed the entrances & exits, too. Michael was trapped in the library for about 30 minutes. The kids were quite concerned about why they wouldn't let their daddy out. I imagine some kid set that one off, too.
Angelique is sending Laura a postcard. It will be mailed the same time as this letter. (That's the plan, anyway.) I wonder if they will get there on the same day.
Michael is going to Xerox a few articles for you that I find particularly amusing about life in Naples. They may not be as amusing to you until you come witness life here. Shall I hold June open for you next year? Come see us!!!!!!
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