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Trip Report First trip we lost a car, this trip we lose a lady >)

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I've been back 2.5 weeks from my latest UK trip and the TR is past due. It may take me a week or so to complete the whole thing since I didn't keep a regular journal like on most trips. I'll be recreating what happened when/where from receipts and 'stuff' I brought home. Those of you who've read my infamous TR from several years ago will know a bit about two friends who traveled w/ me. http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/6-women-2-flats-2-cars-oops-3-cars-big-house-2-weeks-in-england.cfm

Background: In Jan. one of the 'ORD ladies' from the earlier trip called and asked me to help them plan a trip to London, Durham and Norway. (translation - would I plan the whole thing). For this TR I'll call her B1. She lives in northern Indiana and is the sister of one of my friends here in northern CA. (I'll call the sister B2) I explained I'd only been to Norway once for a long weekend years ago and am FAR from an expert. B1's friend D really wants to visit Norway and see the fjords. They had made a pact that if B1 would do Norway, D would visit England. Oh - and they REALLY wanted me to go w/ them. I said the England bits wouldn't be a problem at all - but I'd have to do some research re Norway.

In the meantime B2 calls me an asks if B1 had contacted me - that the two of them REALLY want to go back to London and maybe re-visit the Cotswolds. I left it up to the 3 of them to decide where they really, really want to go. After 6 or 7 phone calls back and forth it was decided this would be an England-only trip and the B1 and D will do a Scandinavian cruise next year.

So I set to work. Dates of travel May 4-21. First a week in London, then train up north, collect a car and spend a couple of days in Northumberland, down to N. Yorkshire for 3 days, then the Cotswolds for 3 or 4 days, flying out of LHR on the 21st.

Things I pre-booked: B2 and my flights; Flat in London; Car service; Blithe Spirit tickets; Dinner at Rule's and tea at the Ritz (neither of these were my choice - both were musts for B1 and/or B2 - we did them on the earlier trip); Train tix to Newcastle; Rental car; B&Bs in Alnwick, Borrowby a bit north of Thirsk, and in Kingham; Last night's hotel at LHR.

May 5-12 London:. B2 and I flew out of SMF on AA and B1/D flew out of ORD on Sunday w/ ETAs w/i 30 minutes of each other at T3 and T1. First slight hiccup - B2's husband drove us to SMF and dropped us off 2+ hours before our flight - and when we go to the check in desk, I notice when B2 pulled out her passport . . . it had 2 holes punched in it (!) (if you have not renewed a passport - the punched holes indicate a cancelled/replaced passport). YIKES! She brought her 8 yo, voided passport. While B2 called her husband who was still driving home, I was frantically trying to figure out what to do if I made the flight but B2 didn't. I really did have to make it to London because B1 and D would be counting on me to get them to St Katharine's Marina. Thankfully, B2's hubby made it home, found the passport (after 4 or 5 phone calls back and forth) and got it back to SMF about 30 mins prior to our flight. Close one!

I had debated long an hard about how to get all of us from LHR to the marina and asked here for suggestions (there is a history and I wasn't confident we could meet up w/o some snafu. I opted for two drivers, thinking that would be easiest if one or the other flight was delayed. But justairports said they thought we'd do fine w/ just one driver - meeting at T-1. So that's what we did.

Our AA flight was totally uneventful - they put us in E+ even though we only booked regular coach (the extra leg room isn't really an issue for either B2 or me - but the extra space when the folks in front recline is a MAJOR bonus) All is well - sort of.

At LHR there was ONE person ahead of us at immigration. I never check bags, but since B2 did I checked mine too. Our bags arrived almost before we got out of the ladies room.

Then we walked over to T1 to hopefully meet the others. The driver was already there . . . And about 5 mins later out walks . . . ONE of the T-1 ladies. Just B1. D decided not to come - and told B1 while they were on the way to the airport (!) . Her husband had a minor health scare - his doctor said things were fine but D thought she should stay home. Thing is - she decided this on Friday, and didn't tell B1 til they were about to leave for ORD on Sunday afternoon.

Wow - just WOW. But B1 seemed to have recovered from the shock and wasn't terribly upset. In fact she was pretty upbeat - so maybe she knows something about D that we don't ;)

The driver scooted us across London to Tower Hill and the manager was there to let us in to our home in London for the next week. We stayed here http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~hamlet_uk/ Ours was a 2 story/2 bedroom flat w/ a view of the Shard, a bit of the Marina, and a patio/terrace. Rest of the day was low key - walked around the Marina, had a Starbucks break, early dinner at Cafe Rouge and to bed.

Next: Tuesday May 6 - Tower of London, Greenwich, GTG w/ Patrck_London

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