I know we’ve spoken a number of times over the last 20 days. Can’t believe I was on the road for 17 days. Man. What a few weeks. We’ll start with London. Took a flight out of Newark on Saturday night. Got into Heathrow on Sunday around 7am and completely jet lagged, but fed and even got some sleep. Woke up to seeing family. Tommy and Ben came to the airport to meet me and it was great to see them and give them a big hug. We loaded into Tommy’s SUV and got on the road to his house. A nice ride through the English countryside and lots of great sites to see. Lots of houses and pubs and farms. Dating back a few hundred years. I knew when we were getting close that I wanted to spend most of my time around their town. You would’ve loved it. It was perfect. I got caught up with Ben and Tommy on the way there and then got a chance to see Claire and have a proper hello. Their house was so great. Warm, colorful, open and a great garden and quiet streets. It didn’t take any time at all for me to feel at home. I crashed for a few hours and woke back up and me, Ben and Tommy took a walk over to the Freemason’s Pub to get some food and drinks and watch the Phils. About 6 hours later we ended up leaving with full bellies and good beers in us. Ben and I ended up heading up to another pub and man was it a great time. Tommy and Claire were great to me. Always so welcoming and offering to show me around. On Tuesday Tommy ended up driving me down to Stratford-Upon-Avon and I had to rush into the hotel for a work call. After that I got a chance to sync up with my good friend Helen and a chance to meet her two amazing boys. We had a fun dinner at Nando’s…to say the least. Lots of laughs and light conversation. After that I said goodbye to her and the boys, went back and took two more work calls and then set out to find a pub to have a “quiet” drink. I ended up at the Rose and Cross….and a full-on soccer crowd packed from one wall to the other. It was Liverpool versus Barcelona and what I didn’t know, aggregate match. The crowd was going nuts and I couldn’t understand cause it wasn’t a close game at 4-0, but then I found out the details around aggregates of the soccer playoffs and it all made sense. Had a few Stellas, spoke with some local fans and had an amazing time. After the match was over, that place cleared out quick and I took a walk around town. Literally felt like at night, Shakespeare himself could be walking along the streets.
The next day, did some work, but was pretty clear. Tommy came down to pick me up. Instead of just going home as soon as possible, he gave me a proper tour of the town. First we walked a few blocks down to the Holy Trinity Church. There has been a church on this site since 713! And the present church has been there since 1210. It was amazing. You saw where Shakespeare was baptized and also where he is supposedly entombed. There is some talk that grave robbers took his head. The church was beautiful and it’s still a functioning church. As in they had a wedding there last time Tommy and Claire were in town. Then we walked through the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). We couldn’t really get access to the theater, but saw the building. Next was a walk to Shakespeare’s actual house. Really just something hard to fathom that he actually lived here and spent many formidable years here. It was such a solid structure for being about 500 years old. And they had some things setup like they were when he lived there. When Tommy and I were in there we both saw these weird stakes that were in holes on the sides of the bed. The tour guide said these stakes would be pulled out to hit bales of cotton or hay and that’s where the term “hitting the hay” or “hitting the sack” came from. Also, below the actual bed was a trundle bed that had a kind of bed frame made of ropes that needed to be tightened before the person would sleep on them. From there came the term, “sleep tight”. Too funny. The house was pretty amazing. It actually had been used and purchased throughout history by different people, I believe even Carnegie bought it at one time. From there we took our trek back to Market Harborough.
We had a number of good meals. Some out and some at home. We had a really great meal at a place called Rock Salt and I got to hear about some of Claire’s family and some really funny stories about her father. We basically had the place to ourselves. We had dinner at another place called Zizzi’s. Probably the best pizza I ever had. Amazing.
The rest of the week was spent with me doing some things around town on my own along with hanging out with Ben at night and just enjoying the downtime when I wasn’t working. I really got a chance to think about the last 12 months. The real life events that really put things in perspective. Feel like I had a chance to just exhale all the bad and negative from the last 12 months and enjoy some English countryside. Mom, you would’ve absolutely loved it. Tommy and Claire remarked a number of times that they wish you had gotten a chance to see it. Also noted that Princess Di’s house and grave weren’t too far down the road made it all the more necessary for you to be there. I don’t know if you would’ve done so well on the flight, but I think you could’ve made it. Just slept a lot. I can’t even express how nice the town is. I really can’t. It’s like something out of a story book. I can surely see why they stayed and why I have told others they need to go over to see them.
I actually got sad as the departure date came closer and closer. I really had become so acclimated with my surroundings in such a short time, that I could see myself settling into such a cozy little town and enjoying that life. Things just seemed to slow down, less stress, more time for enjoying food and drink and more time to talk about all things under the sun. I don’t think I’ve spoken that much face to face with anyone in a long time. It was both engaging and calming. I definitely will be back. I am hoping the girls get over there as well.
I said my goodbyes on early Saturday morning. I said goodbye to Claire, the dogs, and “Ralph” and Tommy and Ben drove me to the airport. I felt good in the morning. I coasted into the airport and we all had a nice little breakfast. Eggs Benedict of course. We gave our hugs goodbye and I headed for security.
The first leg of my next trip had begun.