2018.07.19 The flight across the pond was uneventful and comfortable. The only problem was that it was too short. I emptied my frequent flyer account for a First Class ticket — but got just six hours of pampering! I noticed that the flight tracker showed a tail wind of 85 miles per hour. Maybe a head wind of similar force on the trip home will allow me, and more importantly, Annie (who will be with me and loves her luxury) an extra hour or two to marinate in Delta One.
We deplaned onto a tarmac and were directed under very watchful eyes to a waiting “coach” (there are no busses here) for transport to the border checkpoint. The immigration hall was massive and the queues (there are no lines here) seemed endless. But thanks to my “fast pass”, compliments of Delta, I was soon able to present my passport, landing declaration, and a letter from Oxford requesting that I be granted a short term student visa.
The officer asked what I would be studying and I replied, “creative writing”.
“So you are a writer then?”
“I hope to be.”
He frowned. “But you state here that you are a financial manager.” I gulped, picturing a long afternoon at a small wooden table in a room without windows. (JK – I just really wanted to write that.)
I looked up and his eyes were kind and twinkling. “I believe you meant to say you are a writer.” He edited my landing declaration accordingly, stamped it and my passport with one of those satisfying THUNKS, and sent me on my way. Officer Harris, you made my day!
The toughest part of the trip was managing my luggage the rest of the way to Oxford. I knew I was overpacking but I did it anyway. Can anyone out there say Amen? I struggled at first but finally managed to find a configuration that, while difficult and awkward, at least kept me from making a complete spectacle of myself.
Finding the right bus was easy and the ride was pleasant. The one sad surprise was how parched the ground is. The rolling green meadows I anticipated were yellow and brown. The hottest, driest summer in 100 years. Hmmmmmmm.
When the bus arrived at the Gloucester Green Station, my GPS said the Randolph Hotel was just 600 feet away. Well it took me nearly an hour (with my luggage challenge now exacerbated by crowded sidewalks and cobblestone streets) to find it. The streets run in all directions, their names change every couple of blocks and signs are scarce. Then. Finally. The promised land!
The Randolph Hotel
The rest of the day was easy. Long nap. A walk, plate of Asian noodles with a beer, a Benadryl and ten hours of sleep. Cheerio!