After packing and shipping CRAZINESS and lots of good-byes, we found ourselves at Pearson airport checking in our 8 duffel bags and giving last minute hugs to our families. We were actually leaving Canada. It was very surreal....but even though we were saying good bye to our families knowing we wouldn't see them for at least 2.5 years, excitement dominated our emotions and fortunately for me, that means I wasn't crying like a baby while going through customs. The overnight flight to England went better then I expected with the kids, I parked myself in the middle seat and after a late night meal, several storybooks and some tickling, the girls were fast asleep on either side of me, heads on my lap. We were scheduled to land in England at 7am England time (2 am Ontario time) and needless to say, I watched the whole plane have some shut-eye. Fun times. It was just me and the parents with the crying baby that stayed awake with the flight crew. Oh well, I knew that I would be able to sleep once we arrived at Ashbourne Place.
We managed to find all our bags and did some serious people watching while we waited for our ride to where the MAF training course was. The next two hours were a blur as I was desperate to close my eyes and sleep, when we arrived, I beelined for the couch and conked out. Phil woke me up half an hour later to bring me to our room and then I slept for the next 5 hours til dinnertime. We had a nice dinner (everything tastes so good when I am not the one making it!) and got a chance to explore the 'castle' a little bit. This English estate was from the 1700's and was as English as you can get with winter gardens, fire places in every room, floor to ceiling windows with wooden shutters, 20 foot ceilings that boasted elaborate designs, stone statues, greenhouse, and an old (not used anymore) dairy and butchery among many other breathtaking details. What a priviledge to have stayed there for 2 weeks.....Phil's mom (who came along to watch the girls while we were in training) was in 'British heaven' with all the history, architechture and ambiance of old England. She was just as glad to be there as we were of her!! The kids had a blast with 'Gramma' for those 2 weeks. While we learned about cultural differences, secuity measures, and lots more to prepare us for entering a new culture, the kids painted, hiked, played, went on treasure hunts, read books and had lots of quality time with grandma. The two weeks in England flew by with just one short day when we were able to take several modes of public transportation (double-decker bus, trains, taxi) and saw Buckingham Palace, Hamley's Toy Store and various sights around London. The next day we were scheduled to fly to Uganda, say good-bye to Mom and leave for real. Again, we were excited and looking forward to just 'getting there'. The flight with British Airways was nice, and we made sure to enjoy the movies, food, drinks and the perfect air temperature....we flew in around 10:30pm Uganda time and were met by a fellow MAF pilot who ushered us past the looooooong customs line (2 planes worth of people) right up to the front (wearing a uniform gets you far here!) and within 10 minutes we were through customs, and loading our bags into the car. By midnight we were in our new home, and were welcomed by our cupboards stocked with necessities, beds made (complete with bug nets) and even a nice bouquet of flowers and some welcome cards. After a long day of travel, we really appreciated coming 'home' to those things. We crashed in our beds and I slept my first sleep under the African moon.
Here are some pics from our time in England....sorry, they are out of order....not a techy like Phil. :)
|Our set-up for MAF training in England|
|The MAF crew|
|What else do you do when cardboard boxes are in abundance? |
Make a bus of course!
|Paddington Bear made this one famous!|
|This is the closest we got to the Royals.|
|Very cool tree.|
|This is just very English....don't you think?|
|Ashbourne Place - where we had our MAF training.|
(aka "The Castle")
|Phil's picture taking talents....|
|The church we attended while at Ashbourne Place|
|A little pub we had lunch at when in the town of Battle.|
|I just had to get a pic of one of these!|
|We're in an 'old school' London Taxi!!|
|I'm still traumatized about this....|
|Getting the 'sillies' out before the long flight|