England, Winter 2012

Wow! It’s been even longer than I realized since I’ve updated my blog. But I’ve got plenty of good excuses. For one, I’ve been traveling the globe. For another, I’ve just started a new job, and it’s WAAAAAAAY more work than I had expected. More on that in another post, though.

Usually, if I hadn’t posted in this long, I would just not bother with the out-of-date stuff, but my trip to England and Spain at the end of the school year was pretty freaking amazing. We spent a week in Andalusia, bookended by visits to Craig’s family in England.

It's about time Harry learned a trade.

My school year ended on 15 February and Craig had already been in Oman for work, so we met in Dubai and flew into Newcastle together-ish. GS provides him with Business class tickets, but I’m a poor teacher, so I was back in cattle class with the rest of the rabble. We were supposed to be on one of the new Airbuses, but there’s a problem with the wings falling off or some such, so they had switched planes for a few weeks. We should have been able to guess how dire the matter was when the airline actually called us to check if we still wanted the tickets.

Before the flight, my thoughts were, “Who in their right mind would cancel a trip over what kind of plane was being used?” After I sat in a chair possibly also used for sleep deprivation torture, my thoughts were more along the lines of, “Do we really need BOTH wings?” Craig was suffering in the front as well. The Airbuses have a bar/ lounge area, but he was stuck in his single-bed-sized pod for the duration.

For our first stay in England, we stayed at the Parkmore Hotel, which is apparently something of a historical landmark in Stockton. Honestly, it just seemed like a regular hotel to me. One thing I really like about hotels in England is that they provide a kettle with tea, coffee, and milk, so I can get my tea fix, my need for which dramatically increases in a cold, damp place, such as England.

As usual, Craig was pretty busy taking care of things for his children and other family members, so he was pretty busy. I was also busy, reading textbooks to get oriented to my new job. We did make time to spend a day in York, which has a beautiful old town center. Serendipitously, we showed up just in time to see some sort of Viking reenactment at the cathedral. The streets were full of tourists, and it was drizzling for most of the day, so we headed over to the National Railway Museum for a short visit before heading home a little earlier than we had planned.

I'm pretty sure Jimmy Swaggart's Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge is an equally impressive structure.

I wonder if churches get feelings of inadequacy.

Vikings in England! They didn't seem quite as hardcore as the Civil War re-enaction folk.

Craig's first train was a model of this guy.

We took the train in, and it all seems much more complicated than in Korea. I was glad Craig was there to read the timetables and figure out what they meant. In the end, we took the wrong train back to Stockton and the stop was a couple of miles further than the one we had intended to arrive at. We asked for directions and found our way to Yarm and our hotel wasn’t too far past the other end of town. On the way into Yarm, we passed by a semi-detached with a life-sized Blues Brothers statue out front.

These are the largest garden gnomes I've ever seen. I bet their neighbors are quietly plotting their deaths.

That was about it for that visit to England. We spent a week in Spain before coming back for a few more days with Craig’s family. Again, Craig had a lot of things to sort out and I had my textbooks to read. So, he spent a fair amount of time buying a car for his son and meeting with a builder doing renovations on his houses while I stayed home and read. I managed to do a bit of shopping, but my major purchase was a deck of Top Trumps cards to use for a speaking activity and a couple of lady suits for my new job. (I hate buying clothes in England, because I’m a full 6 numbers larger there than at home. SIX. I know they are just numbers and the actual clothes are the same size, but it still pains me to see those numbers in my clothes. On the other hand, I could have gotten some lady suits here, and the waist bands would have been about 6″ too large, because Korean clothing is made with the assumption that you have no hips.)

Looking at this post, it doesn’t seem like it was a very exciting trip, but Craig’s family is pretty awesome and I enjoy just getting to spend time with them. Also, it was cold, so I wasn’t too inclined to go anywhere. We got out and about plenty in Spain, so it wasn’t like I spent my vacation holed up with text books, either.