It began in 1989; our anniversary was looming, and Flar asked me if I'd like to go to the Bahamas to celebrate. At the time, I was active on a few of the boards hosted by UMAINE on the Bitnet. Star Trek was the subject (and name) of one of those boards, and there was an upcoming potluck marathon weekend at a Cornell fraternity in Ithaca NY. Naturally, my response to Flar was "oh if you had travel in mind ..." That trip was a lovely adventure, best told in full at a later date. [*]Quickly though, I learned that yes, three months along was too late for me to travel while pregnant and oddly, you can indeed use a t-shirt in place of a pillow case. Oh for the days when both of us fit in a twin bed, even WITH me being three months pregnant.
Buzz forward a brace of years to 1991. Our tenth anniversary was fast approaching, and Flar asked me whether I'd like to take a luxury train trip, or go to the Bahamas. We settled on a lightning fast, four day jaunt to Merry Olde England.
Our theme for our trip was Hedge Mazes of Southern England, and our itinerary was planned out by Flar. He found a sweetheart deal with the The Savoy Hotel in London that included dinner at the Savoy Grille and a car (Jaguar) and driver for transport to and from Gatwick. The driver made me silly-dizzy after our long international flight, by taking all those roundabouts in the clockwise direction. :)
The Savoy is located on the only right-hand drive lane in London, within easy walking distance of all sorts of touristy destinations, including the theatre district. Part of our plan was to sleep in each day and go to the theatre in the evenings, thus sidestepping the worst of the jet lag.
On our arrival, the hotel staff treated us like royalty. Our bellman showed us our call box with the buttons for valet, butler & maid. He even offered to unpack our luggage for us before he left. Matt battled his jet lag with an in-room massage while I luxuriated in the bath. Then we napped before seeking out sustenance and strolling through Covent Garden. We really can’t recommend the Chinese diner from that night. We had quite delicious food in the Savoy Grill the next evening. [*]Where I learned how to use asparagus tongs properly. Until the server showed me how, the spears kept springing out of the tongs each time I took a bite. I don’t think I hit any of the other diners. I’ve heard people put down pub food, but I really liked the fare at the pub near Windsor castle. [*]By the end of our visit we were longing for plain ‘Muricn fare, though. Matt buzzed for our butler to inquire about Pizza Hut, and a short while later we were brought a nice pepperoni pie. It was quite a sight to see our very formal butler in morning suit delivering a pizza. On a later trip to London, we were delivered a magnum of Evian in a champagne cooler beside a silver bowl of freshly made crisps when we got the munchies. We don’t have the budget for this sort of travel these days, but the Savoy remains to this day my fave hotel - beating out the Ritz in Paris with the remote control curtains by a hair.
Flar had arranged a car and driver for us the next day. We toured Hever Castle, Hampton Court Palace and Windsor Castle. [*]Technically we might have toured Windsor on the next trip, but we definitely had lunch in a pub in Windsor on this visit. The Tower of London and Buckingham were definitely on the second time around. At Hever and Hampton, we toured the gardens and hedge mazes
as well as the castle interiors. At the time, I learned all sorts of stuff about the spiral staircases designed to disadvantage invaders and the short beds and crenelations and arrow holes and blah blah. After a bit, at each new locale, we were simply in another castle. The gardens in England are all impressive, beautiful, inspiring, intimidating, and in the end, for us at least, inimitable. [*]I seem to remember that in addition to walking to the center of each maze, we even met with a hedge maze expert for advice in planning our own maze. We never did pay to have a line run out to the center of the field in order to give infant yews or boxwoods the amount of water required to survive into adulthood. But it was fun to dream.
We fully enjoyed our jaunt to London and back. We returned home with pictures, [*]which have sadly escaped scanning thus far, as Flar wants to project manage digitizing our older pictures, and we've got major house re-organization ahead of that in time prioritization, as well as tangible reminders of the trip. We ordered engraved personal stationery; at Burberry’s, I acquired a raincoat and Flar got some nice dress shirts and ties. I still wear the raincoat when weather demands, but Flar's shirts have worn out by now.
For many years after that, the B word was not spoken when planning vacations, since after all - where might we end up this time? But for everything there is a season. Flar has a business partner who owns Egg Island in the Bahamas. They have been working together on developing it into a resort island. We finally made it to the Bahamas in 2012, as two stops on a vacation cruise out of New Orleans, that also stopped in Key West. Nowadays, the B word is our dream for the future.
This has been an entry for The Real LJ Idol writing competition: the Final Season, Topic 3 : In Another Castle.