The race was on! As the clock struck 2pm on Sunday 18th August, it was announced that it was time to get ready! The second bedroom at my mother's house is a reasonable size, with a good amount of wardrobe space. However, it is narrow, and when there are two of us sharing storage, and one of us is Samantha, red lights start to flash and sirens start to wail at the local 'HazMat' facility. Having cleared up several times during the week, so that I could at least put my feet on floor rather than trip over all manner of clothing that had been discarded by said daughter, but after the incident with the keys, it had once again turned into the carnage that could be used as a set for any disaster movie! Attempting to clear away enough rubble to get to the closet that housed the hairdryer was not an easy task, but I did manage to do so without breaking a nail, or a limb!
I helped mum with her accessories, and then put on the dress. The dress! After applying a modicum of eye shadow, time was running out, and the choice to remove it and start again, was not the best option. However, it was a choice of having the 'time out' bell being rung on me, or looking like I had been on the losing side of a boxing match. I opted for the natural pale look, and by the time Ricky came to collect us, the shoes were on and the bag was packed. My accessories included two plastic bags containing Samantha's flat shoes, and some shake and bake for my aunty Martha. Fortunately, this trip, she did not request barbecue sauce as that would not have matched the dress! (Unfortunately, the picture app on this is not behaving!)
The ceremony was beautiful, as was the bride. Emma looked radiant, and my sister shone. The bridesmaids, who included my daughter and daughter-in-law, complimented the star of the show with grace and gorgeousness! The reception and following party celebrations ended on a high note and a wonderful time was had by all. There were many highlights, although for me, it was when the DJ decided to play my song. I received several odd looks, when I stated, 'I play this all the time at the office', and those around me heard the lyrics which came to the crescendo, 'I'm sexy and I know it!' My evening was complete!
Unfortunately, mum had perceived that the 'goodbyes' would take longer than they actually did, and re-booked the taxi to take us home, for fifteen minutes later than originally planned, and when she called to change it back, the driver had just left Radlett and would be another fifteen minutes. We walked outside the restaurant at around 11:30. About two minutes after our exit, the owners took to conserving energy and all went dark. Three generations, dressed up to the nines, were standing on the curbside, waiting to be picked up, and we were! A lone car stopped and asked, 'mini-cab?' Having lived in the land of 'laid back' for so long, I failed to take the opportunity to point out that touting for business without a license was breaking the law. Mum, on the other hand, ever sharp at nearing 82, had walked immediately to the rear of the car, and was shouting that he was indeed not from a legal entity and told him to be on his way! He left when he realized that we were indeed not going to jump in, and therefore fund his families needs with ill-gotten gain! A police car roamed slowly up and down the road, then after taking a closer look at the old age pensioner, post middle aged woman, and young girl in pink, they managed to put two and two together and decided we were not Stanmore's answer to Mandy Rice-Davies and Christine Keeler. Eventually our taxi arrived, and we got home shortly after midnight.
Our final day in England was very relaxed. I had packed my cases, but had to repack as Samantha was returning stateside having bought enough to give Sainsbury's supermarket share holders a reasonable quarterly dividend. The weight was distributed evenly throughout the cases, and my clothes were, once again, slotted into the remaining crevices between biscuits, sweets and tea bags. The airline website informed us that we would require 'special handling' at the airport, so we were unable to confirm the amount of bags allowed for our inbound trip. Steph had invited us for dinner, so we did not have meal preparations to contend with, and we enjoyed an old English favourite of fish and chips before it was time to say farewell to Richard et al, until next time. Despite the advancement of modern day technology, nothing is a substitute for a hug from your firstborn! With the eternal lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I said cheerio.
The taxi was a couple of minutes early. We were all ready to go and find out to what we owed the pleasure of 'special handling' at the airport. The ride to the terminal, unlike the ride from, was uneventful, and Richard called to wish us bon voyage. The kiosk agent was slightly confused when I told him, with a big grin, and a glint in my eye, that we could not check in as we needed 'special handling'. Perhaps confused was not the most accurate description, as scared stiff would have been more apt. A young man, totally unequipped to understand the humour of an older (than him) woman. He sent us directly to the security desk, where we were asked the usual questions, and answered with the usual answers. We were not handled specially, and fortunately not handled at all, as we got through security without a hitch, and checked out the surroundings.
After shopping for the necessities, as Samantha found some things that Sainsbury's failed to stock, we headed for the lounge. Samantha's choice of a 'fry up' at a restaurant, was an option removed, as her favourite haunt was no longer. Instead, she dined on sausages, tomatoes and a vodka and apple juice! Apparently, it was five o'clock somewhere, and she wasn't going to miss an opportunity to take advantage of the gratis. My tipple for the morning was a cup of coffee, which provided enough of a buzz for the present time. I did partake of the breakfast, and probably ate a little more than was good for me!
Eventually, it was time to leave the comfort of the armchairs, and compelling Samantha to walk in a straight line, we left for the gate. She assured me that the half a glass of wine consumed before leaving did not make her an alcoholic, and unless there was an emergency that forced her into piloting the plane, I should not concern myself. Humour is something that leaves my being when a flight is imminent, and I went into auto pilot (no pun intended) and marched towards the gate.
Our seats were very comfortable, as we had obtained an upgrade, and were in the less than improved business class. We were offered a complimentary beverage before departure, and my tonic water did not contain an inebriating compliment. 'Champagne and cranberry', was going to be my choice with dinner, but the young woman sitting next to me, who vaguely resembled my second born, was making the most of all the 'no charge' items, yet again, and appeared to be in total control. As we left the ground and flew through the clouds towards the clear skies, I sat back and checked out the entertainment system. Unfortunately, once again, I was placed on the side of the plane that qualifies for the 'how not to' content of the training manual. I did not pull my tray far enough out for the cloth covering; I did not hand over all my plates when asked, despite there being half a dinner roll left, which I planned to savour; I did not pass all the cutlery to the crew member fast enough for her to be satisfied. I began to wonder if I was being graded as a passenger! The airline's motto, 'we know you have a choice', is obviously not shared with the staff!
Samantha fell asleep shortly after dinner, having consumed some water, and a coke, and I watched a couple of movies. Unlike the service on the 777, the 767 appeared to totally ignore the business section, or at least my side of the plane, and I found myself sneaking to the galley to grab a packet of crisps, and a banana, mid flight. When I went back to grab Samantha some snacks, I was met by matron, who demanded to know, 'what do you want'. I am normally very polite, but I do not beg particularly well. 'Please, ma'am. Can I have some.........more?' More! Being an ex-netball player, I still catch pretty well, and the baseball style pitch aimed to be a no ball failed to pass me, and the somewhat crushed potato chips were taken back to Samantha. The right side of the plane were given more of a sporting chance, as their steward took a basket around and offered!
Fortunately, the films were rather good, and I watched four that I had not seen, and although the view over Greenland was denied by cloud, the sea just to the west was bathed in sunlight, and the water swirled around with an icy glaze. Our flight was very smooth (aeronautically speaking) and we landed in Houston slightly later than scheduled, but safely. The immigration officer assured me, after looking twice at my photo, that compared to some, it was most faltering. I told him that it was taken when I had a very heavy cold, and without my knowledge. He shook his head and said, 'Ma'am, there have been some where I have had to stop myself from falling off my chair laughing'. He wished us a good day, but did not give me a 'welcome home ma'am', and I watched as I left the area to see if he would call the next person up, point to me and fall off his chair! He did not. Our bags came off the conveyor belt very quickly, and the customs official failed to see anything wrong in our content list of chocolate, candy, cookies and chips.
We walked somewhat quickly to the gate that housed the plane that would take us home, and boarded the next flight. 'Baileys on the rocks', I told the stewardess as she requested my drink order. 'Alcoholic', was the pay back title assigned to me by my daughter, who herself ordered a Margarita! Well she was back in Texas! However, the last laugh was on her, as ID was requested. The hostess then told everyone in the front cabin, 'this girl is almost twice as old as my 14 year old, and I thought she was the same age!' Perhaps a slight titter would have been more appropriate than the raucous laughter and applause received, but an audience is an audience!
Our poor abandoned husbands met us at the airport. Edward was at the gate, and Dana remained outside with the dog, who was overjoyed to see that momma had returned, and brought that lady (as I am affectionately known) with her. I was very happy to be back in my own house, and in my own bed, with room to manoeuvre around the furniture without having to negotiate foreign objects. I had a great trip back to England, but after nine years, Austin is becoming a very favourable second home.
The following week was very busy, and kept the jet lag at bay, despite a couple of days when I would have gladly fallen asleep mid afternoon. With a weekend under my belt, and another busy week of work, we approached the Labor Day weekend with relish. Dana and I had been discussing options for our next State run, and although the favourite was Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, the late booking prevented us from getting a reasonable package. Instead we headed out to Kansas City, Missouri, and hoped to see Kansas and Iowa. Leaving work on Friday for the airport (again), started what can only be.............. another story.