Thursday, May 31, 2007

To Cirencester


A day of travel. Our flight was not due to leave until 12:30, but we were up early and got most of the packing done before breakfast to leave time for a final walk around Budapest before leaving the Continent. A cold, windy morning—and a striking contrast to the heat we have had since arriving here. And once out of the hotel, another brush with the Queen of Spain! I had been listening to the clamorous protest of numerous car horns from our hotel room, and down on the street we discovered that the northbound streets out of the square had been completely blocked off, much to the ire of commuter drivers. Police at the major intersections had been holding traffic for at good fifteen minutes, and nerves were frayed to breaking point. I joked to Ellie that it was probably the Queen of Spain—and indeed it was: a few minutes later, her motorcade swept past, with dozens of police cars in escort. Ah, well. Thinking back to the palaces we have visited, it seems that we still afford the aristocracy special treatment!

We left the hotel mid-morning, and made it out to the airport with alarming speed: our taxi driver seemed oblivious to the fact that there were other drivers on the road, and worked his will with a vengeance, cutting off other cars and speeding past them as with abandon. The airplane ride, after that, seemed a relatively mild experience. Landing at Heathrow in pouring rain and dragging the suitcases around the endless airport corridors and stairways, through immigration and customs—that was something else. Oh, I didn’t mention, did I, that Ellie put her back out this morning, and was in agony all the way?

By the time we reached the car rental desk, found the bus to the remote lot, fooling around all the while with the damn international cell phone we had rented, that refused to function for us, I was in something of a stew. Once out on the road, however, having negotiated the side roads (left hand side, stick shift!, still pouring rain) to the Motorway, I settled back down, Ellie managed to get the phone to work (by dint of calling America to get help from the rental company) and we called my sister Flora only minutes before our arrival. Her detailed instructions led us through the back streets of Cirencester to her beautiful new Cotswold stone home on the historic Coxwell Street. So different from what we have been seeing!

A lovely reunion. Flora’s house has been lovingly remodeled, combing the charm of the old with the convenience of the new. After the house tour, we sat around and talked for a long while over a delicious soup and a variety of salads my sister had prepared—a welcome and refreshing change from all the rich foods we have been eating for the past couple of weeks. Then we watched a brief video of a charming performance by our grand-nephew, Hugo (did I get that right? My sister’s daughter’s son) who at the age of ten already aspires to be an actor—and to judge by this piece, certainly has the chops. It was a funny, quirky, amazingly confident act. A few minutes of a tacky British reality show (title? The one about the people being shut up in a house together for weeks, until they all go crazy, or drive the audience crazy, whichever comes first.) And bed in good time. Ellie, in serious pain, has a lot of difficulty getting off to sleep.

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