We left the Nailsworth cottage on Monday around noon and drove to Gatwick. It was a three hour trip: two and a half hour drive, half an hour at a M&S motorway stop for a sandwich. This was my first time driving this close to London and on the M25 (London area ring road). The driving is more intense closer to London – more cars, faster drivers – and the roundabouts are less casual. You have to know which lane to be in for your exit and if you get into the wrong one, people do not like to let you change lanes.
The last two trips, when flying from Gatwick, we stayed at the Alexander House, a beautiful country house hotel in Turners Hill, about ten minutes from Gatwick. This time we stayed in their sister hotel, Langshott Manor, a 16th century manor house on the outskirts of Horsley, ten minutes from Gatwick.
The hotel was very nice. It is small – 22 rooms and a restaurant – and even though it is very close to the airport and on the edge of Horsley, it is in the beautiful West Sussex countryside with a few acres of beautiful gardens.
We checked into the hotel, walked around the gardens, then took our bags to the airport. British Airways offers evening check-in, the night before your flight. The airport was empty and the check-in went quickly. This meant we were checked in and had our boarding passes, so would have an easier time in the morning.
We had a very good dinner at the hotel. After dinner, we could not get into our room! The key would not go in the lock. Several staff came out to try and they were just about to get a locksmith, when the kitchen chef managed to get the door open. We had a very nice room overlooking a pond (used to be the moat), but they moved us to a larger room in case the lock stuck again. We ended up in a fabulous room (Henry VIII room) with a huge four poster bed and a big bathroom.
I hate the day of travel. That is why I treat us to a good hotel on arrival and the night before leaving – to give us something to think about other than the day of flying. The flying was horrible. We were in Club World with lots of space, but the woman beside me put on a ton of perfume a few hours before the end of the flight. I had an immediate headache and sore throat. When we were boarding the flight and I saw that she was my age, but with dyed blonde hair, skin-tight jeans and silly little girl shoes, I knew I was in trouble (FYI, she was a Brit, not a Texan). I could smell her perfume, but it was not strong, until she went and upped the dosage.
Steve saved the day. The flight was not full and he got them to move us to other seats.
We arrived in Dallas at around 2pm. I thought we had sunny days in England, but seeing that Texas sun, I realized I had forgotten how strong the sun can be. We got to Albuquerque around 5pm, but had to wait another hour for some of our luggage (we got on an earlier flight out of Dallas because the airport was empty and there were no passport or security lines, but only two of our bags made that flight). Finally we were all organized and at 6:30 we were driving up to Santa Fe, eating takeout pizza and drinking Starbucks coffee on the way. 7pm Santa Fe time, 2am my body clock time. But it was great to be home. Buddy (the cat) was thrilled to see us.
Yesterday we woke up to the blazing Santa Fe sun. Actually I woke up around 3am to darkness, but eventually got back to sleep. In the afternoon some clouds moved in and by evening it was snowing. This morning we woke up to eight inches of snow!!
Never make any big decisions after a trip. Jet lag does strange things to your mind. But right now I feel like we have done our year in England. Two months in one place really felt like living there. I am not sure we need to continue with our one year plan. I want to go back to the Cotswolds every year – I really love it there – but “there’s no place like home”.