What an exciting first day! The flight went well. Upon boarding the plane I was questioning why I chose a window seat. It’s not like I’d have an opportunity to see much of anything as the majority of the flight would be above 30K feet! That’s nearly 8 hours wedged into a window with 2 people I would need to inconvenience should I need to pee. Fortunately, I had the foresight to relieve myself at boarding. Knowing I typically go a full 12-hr shift without peeing, I could safely make the 8 hour flight without bothering them.
Once we lifted, I realized the window seat was a GREAT decision! Not only did I get to enjoy the view of beautiful Manhattan as we circled around, but I was able to rest my head against the window and sleep the entire flight. It was a bit cold (-74 F), but the pillow and blanket Continental provided were cozy enough. As we neared Europe, I awoke to bright stars in the sky, and Dublin below. We approached England and I was surprised to look down see everyone driving on the “wrong” side of the road – I’d forgotten! It was neat to see the busy vehicles on the motorways… circling the round-abouts.
I breezed through customs and baggage claim and was delighted to find Ashley right away with a very welcoming sign! We headed out to the parking garage and put my bags in her trunk. I then went to the passenger side of the car to get in – at least I thought I did. Ashley quickly corrected me that I needed to get in on the other side of the vehicle! :o)
We then went to Trafford Centre, which is a beautiful mall, unlike any shopping center I’ve ever seen. The highlight was walking down a grand marble staircase to get to the food court that offered several nice restaurants, and of course, McDonalds. We promptly indulged in an Egg McMuffin as it was the only restaurant open at 8:00. We then walked around the mall and upon realizing the stores didn’t open until 10:00, decided we best go back down to the coffee shop in the food court. We relaxed on a fluffy leather couch and drank our lattes, planning our day and delighting in the fact that it’s been 4 years since we’ve seen each other and there’s so much fun ahead of us in the next 2 weeks.
We spent a large part of the day shopping and I was so excited to see all the trendy clothes they had to choose from. I was informed that customer service is not what I’m used to back home. That was confirmed when I found a navy blue shirt I wanted, but didn’t know what I would wear with it. I asked a pretty sales associate who looked fashion-savvy if she had a suggestion. She said: “Um… perhaps white trousers.” She then turned around. I turned around and walked right back up to the rack and put the shirt back. (I showed her).
We actually did have a very good experience in a little shop called Jane Norman. Two girls were very interested in helping me find clothes I wanted, as well as clothes I didn’t. I felt right at home! We decided we needed to get out of the mall as soon as possible if we wanted any spending money for the rest of my trip. Not only that, but my purse kept setting off doorway alarms and it was getting irritating. (This is important later).
With the help of Ashley’s “sat nav”, we were able to reach Picadilly Gardens – a courtyard amongst several businesses. It was here we sat at the base of a statue and ate the pasta salad Ashley prepared for us. A ton of pigeons kept flying back and forth over us and I was certain I was going to get pooped on. I escaped safely to a nearby pharmacy to get something to drink. (That dry plane ride sucked the hydration out of me). Ashley suggested I try an Appletiser. Though aprehensive, I AM in a new country and I should try new things, right? So without further hesitation, I grabbed the Appletiser and was ready to head to check out when an older gentleman discreetly approached us and asked if he could have a word. Interestingly enough, my purse had also set off the alarm to the pharmacy upon entering and he wished to investigate. I informed him my purse kept setting off alarms and I couldn’t figure out why. We rummaged through the contents – surprisingly I didn’t have much in it. I took my camera out, my video camera, my wallet, when all of a sudden he spotted the packaging to the memory card for my video camera… with the security sticker still on the back. Apparently England’s alarm sensors are more sensitive than those at Nebraska Furniture Mart, where the card was purchased and “deactivated”.
We left the store, and I drank my Appletiser without any further interruptions. Ashley then took me on a scenic drive to Blackpool where I saw the strangest animal ever, my first red telephone booth, a British hospital, and an English ambulance that almost ran us over. She was safely able to drive up onto the sidewalk to avoid any mishap.
Things to note from this day:
- I do not envy anyone who has to drive in this country.
- I apparently have an accent. (At least that’s what I was told by surprised sales associate. I happen to think SHE has an accent).
- The strange animal, which I refer to as a “furry cow”, is in fact a cow. Ashley’s hubby (Ryan) Googled “hairy cow” and I learned it is a Scottish Highland Cow.
- The weather is so nice here that Ryan was able to play golf yesterday, and daffodils are starting to come up. It may not be a tropical island, but I’m warmer than you folks in KC.
- The morgue at the hospital is in a separate building. This seems strange to me. I can just see hospital staff wheeling the deceased across the parking lot.
- British dogs are not any different than American dogs. Ashley’s dogs (Jove & Juno) have been sniffing my clothes and licking my face. They must know I’m a dog-lover. They cuddle up to me just like my little Mina & Merrick do. (Don’t tell my pups).
- I am not immune to jet lag.