So the preparations for the huge trip to see family back home in the USA are underway and there is an incredible amount of things to do. Step 1 is passports. Both of ours are expired and Hoovy’s only ever had a British one. So we made appointments at the US Embassy in London to get them … surprisingly the appointments were within a week! Then had to work out how to get there as there is no way on Earth I will drive to London. Train was far too expensive so ended up booking on a National Express bus. Just had to organize a way to get to the bus depot for 6am! I didn’t fancy leaving my car so booked us a taxi for 5.30am :O
Now I won’t go into the major crisis of Hoovy’s motorbike being stolen and the rescue efforts we made but to say that it was physically, mentally and emotionally demanding for us both. And it distracted us for about 4 days but it is back home even though it doesn’t work (i.e. I am now taxi service for her once again).
So after days of printing an copying and gathering everything under the sun I though could be remotely useful for our applications, I ended up with everything in triplicate but still felt I’d forgotten something crucial. The anxiety I was feeling was tremendous. Being 3 hours away from home and unable to go grab whatever I forgot added to the anxiety of giving over control to the bus driver to get us there isn’t something I wish to repeat anytime soon!
The night before our day trip, I settled into bed at 8pm after having packed my rucksack with all the documents, photos and lots of munchies for the journey and took a sleeping tablet as there was no way I’d sleep without one. I was aching from the bike rescue missions and too anxious and excited about the trip. Hoovy was too young to remember ever going into London so I was exited to take her and see her reactions. I managed to get about 4 hours of sleep before waking with no chance of getting back to sleep. I figured at least I wouldn’t oversleep and miss the taxi.
The taxi was early but we were basically ready. It was a nice smooth ride into town and I relished being a passenger for a change. We got to the depot with half an hour to spare and eventually boarded the bus and off we went. It was all so easy! I even managed to dose off during the ride despite the cramped space.
Then we hit London. That’s when it all went wrong. Traffic was appalling and all we could do was sit and watch the precious minutes tick by. In theory we should have arrived with an hour and a half to get to the Embassy. In reality we pulled into the coach station bang on our appointment time. To say we were stressed and worried is an understatement. But I had gone up and spoken to the driver and said about our appointment then a couple seated behind him said “Don’t worry. Our appointment was for 9.30”. It was 9.45 at the time.
Once off the bus we raced (well more like a slow speed walk for me) to the nearest tube station in the rain, got our tickets and set off. Victoria north to first stop, change over to Jubilee for the next stop then we had to hoof it about 3-4 blocks to the embassy. Hoovy didn’t like the underground too much. Once there things went well again.We got in, did what we needed to do then breathed huge sighs of relief as we left. We had 2 and a half hours until the bus back was leaving.
We meandered. We went into some shops just browsing. I bought a few gifts to take back home. Hoovy had a make-up trial at Nars in Selfridges. We found a lovely place for lunch. Then time seemed to have escaped us. Suddenly we had very little time to get back to the bus.
Since we’d already done loads of walking and I hadn’t really recovered from the bike recovery excursions, walking really fast wasn’t easy – especially with a heavy backpack. But I tried. I tried so hard. I was panting my legs were painful and shaky. I wanted to drop down and cry. We got the tubes okay but the walk to the coach station nearly killed me. I sent Hoovy ahead but when I got to there, the bus was just pulling out of the station.
She wasn’t happy at all. I think she was afraid we would be stuck in London. I sat her down and told her to wait there. I went off to the ticket counter and explained the problem. The lady was nice and arranged for us to go on the next bus which was an hour later. I was impressed that there was no extra charge! I pranced back waving the ticket as I approached Hoovy. In the end I felt it was better that we had an hour spare before getting on the bus. We got drinks and used the toilets and just generally calmed down.
Once on the bus the exhaustion hit us both hard. The plan had been to catch a public bus once we got back to Southampton but we were both so drained. During the journey I decided to just get a taxi home. As we fell into the house, I thought “Well thank fuck that’s over”. I rang my Mom and crashed. Step 1 complete.