A celebratory graduation trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana! Cast of characters, Tam (me!), Randy (spouse and father), Alexandra, 22, college graduate, and Wes, 18, high school graduate. We left for DFW airport on Friday June 12th 2009 and had a most exciting trip to the airport. There was an accident on I 635 and the traffic was at a complete stop to the I 35 junction. We needed to get to the airport, so Randy decided to drive in the emergency lane to make up some time (NOT something I would do). Most people did not appreciate this move….many people pulled out to block those who were in the emergency lane, a couple even opened their doors to keep people from passing! One guy in a red truck became particularly incensed when Ran pulled around his block move….then, when we were closer to the accident and almost through, Mr Red Truck joined us in the emergency lane. When we finally cleared the accident and could drive, Mr Red Truck pulled in front of us and cut us off at every opportunity until finally he exited on 114 or 121, whichever it is, I am happy Mr Red Truck left us….he was so irate you could see him screaming and gesturing from quite a distance. I’m just glad he didn’t have a gun! I feel sure Randy would have been in his sights.
Wes had flown with me in Business Class once to London to visit Ally when she lived there for a semester, but Ally had only flown Coach. When we boarded our British Airways flight she saw our Club World “pods” and I do not think she ever quit smiling. BA’s Club World has full recline, individual tv screens complete with movies, tv shows, news, etc; drawers for your items, and first rate service. Wes said he was actually excited to fly for the first time since he was a little boy. The four of us had fun playing with the automatic windows in our pods, but finally, we all slept. Our flight was comfy and uneventful, I always enjoy flying British Airways. Club World is their Business Class, but it is as good as First Class to me, the only real difference is you don’t get pajamas in Business Class (yes, in First they give you jammies!)
On our arrival to Heathrow we made our way to our “car hire” (AVIS) and rented an Audi to make our way to Kent where we were going to tour Hever Castle and look at Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s old home! I must say you have to hand it to Ran, he is one talented guy: he not only can drive on the left, but he can sit in the driver’s seat on the right and shift gears with his left hand! I really am amazed that he can do it. We pulled out of the airport and just as we were headed toward Kent (a county), the car started to pour smoke from under the hood. Obviously, we had to get back to the airport and switch cars. Thankfully we had also rented a TomTom, even so, it took forever to get back to Avis. Finally, a new vehicle and off we went again, quite late on our schedule.
Kent and Surrey are green and blooming in June. Wisteria tumbles over old stone walls, arches and doorways; the effect is quaint and charming and so completely British. We stopped at a pub in Hever called The Crown Inn, had a bite, then made our way to Hever Castle, the home of the family of Queen Anne Boleyn. As one of my favorite historical figures, I always wanted to see Anne’s home where Henry reputedly fell in love with her in the garden. The grounds are breathtaking, the castle is full of history, it was a place of absolute serenity. However, Anne does haunt Hever, on Christmas Eve. “Her somber specter is seen drifting silently over the picturesque bridge that spans the River Eden, in the grounds of the home where she knew much happiness, and from which she embarked upon a journey that would change the course of English history.” This ghost story was taken from the book “Haunted Castles of Britain and Ireland” by Richard Jones. Alas, I did not see Anne since I was there in June.
We drove by Chartwell, the home of Sir Winston Churchill, our car adventures cut into our time to go into the home. Then…back to Heathrow for our 11 and a half hour flight to Johannesburg. The British Airways Club World Lounge has showers, drinks and food so we showered, ate and drank, got on the plane, and promptly fell asleep on the way to Africa.