Sep 28 - Nov 14, 2001 & Dec 15, 2001 - Jan 11, 2002
Please forgive any inconsistency that you may see in including two periods, one of which extends into 2002 under the title "Britain 2001". If you need an excuse think of it as a "travel year" a là "fiscal year".
We returned to Albion from Thailand on Sri Lanka airlines via Colombo and the Maldives. The first flight was at night but the second segment gave magnificent views of coral atolls that make up the Maldives — so magnificent that we even dreamed of paying the exorbitant price to vacation there — and much of the Arabian peninsula, where we flew over places where, as it turned out, just a few weeks later British troops would be conducting exercises and Americans doing warm ups for going to Afghanistan.
Jan worried about coming to England after the summer, expecting cold, damp weather. She couldnít have been more wrong. Engand and we had the warmest, driest October on record! We sometimes pinched ourselves in disbelief. We took full advantage of the weather and spent many days walking or cycling in the nearby countryside.
We also enjoyed playing host to the family and simultaneously renewing our culinary skills. For 18 months we had rarely been able to cook, and then only the simplest things. Now we became serial chefs, inviting relatives by twos and fours to be our guinea pigs. Fortunately, the good weather meant that we could work off all of those Sunday dinners with Yorkshire puddings.
It wasnít only family that we saw, as we renewed our links with friends in Darlington, Scotland, and places farther south. We also renewed our acquaintance with the British press. For most of our absence we had been news starved. Itís true that several times we returned from HK to Shenzhen with a pile of international papers collected and held for us by our friend Virginia. But these were like rare berries on tumbleweed. Now we could indulge all we wanted in sweet berries (the right wing press) and sour berries (the left wing press). Fortunately, our digestion was up to our appetite (but just, given the craven views of some).
We broke off our stay in England for a month stay in the USA, coming back in mid-December to Darlington to spend the holidays with Janís family. We set up our first Christmas tree in three years and engaged in a round of Christmas visits and gift exchanges. And, with hardly a break we celebrated our first family New Years Party, ever.
Finally, we got on to web and made a decision on how we would manage to be in Israel to celebrate Gerry's birthday: The cheapest fare we could find was Sharm-El-Sheikh; it included a package for seven nights. From there we would go overland to Israel.
Decision made and tickets in hand, we set off for London where we stayed with friends Dinah and Mick for two days. There we visited the new Tate Modern, and as with so much modern art, weren't greatly impressed..
-- Reading while sunbathing makes you! well red. -- When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I. -- A bicycle can't stand on its own because it is two tired.