August 25 – Friday

I meant to get up nice and early so I’d have lots of time for yoga and a good breakfast before Neil came to pick me up at 7:00 for the drive to Cheltenham, but – either the alarm on my ipad didn’t go off, or it did but I slept thru it. So much for my plan!

I woke up on my own at 6:22 and immediately went into hyper-mode. Luckily I’d done all of the cleaning up and most of my packing yesterday so didn’t have that much to do. I really wanted a hot cup of tea even if I didn’t have time to eat much, but that didn’t work out either. I’d steeped the tea and stirred in the honey then went to fill it up with milk – but the milk came out in a slimy blob – it had completely turned overnight. I did gobble down the pasta that was leftover from yesterday’s lunch and made a quick feta cheese bunwich for later, and was just doing the few dishes when Neil arrived.

I quickly tidied up the kitchen, emptied the fridge of anything that wouldn’t keep, took out the garbage and brought the bike inside. I think I made Neil wait less than 5 minutes – we were on the road by 7:02, so not bad. I hate making people wait, and being in a rush, but all seemed ok so I started to relax a bit, even though Neil is a bit of an aggressive driver in addition to being on the wrong side of the road (ha ha).

The drive to Cheltenham didn’t take very long – had a nice chat with Neil along the way. He seems like a very nice fellow, and dropped me off right at the train station. I decided to catch the next train to Bristol rather than explore Cheltenham a bit, so went right in and got a ticket for 7:52.
The ride to Bristol also didn’t take that long – it seemed a much longer journey when I arrived on August 1 – maybe that was the milk run. I did leave the Bristol train station for a short walk to the river and around a couple of blocks, but didn’t want to go too far and maybe get lost. Also the full backpack and camera bag were quite heavy. The train station is actually quite nice – fairly big but not huge, with nice old scrollwork and lots of flowers.
Caught the shuttle bus to the airport and sat down at a cafe right in front of the Ryanair check-in counter. Finally got my morning cup of tea, then sat and ate the food I’d brought and logged in to the airport’s free wi-fi.

As soon as my flight was listed on the board I checked in at the counter and was okayed to go to security. Every airport must have slightly different rules or training – this time I didn’t have to remove my shoes, even though they have metal cleats, but they wouldn’t let me bring my saline solution. The bottle was too big, and even though it wasn’t full he wouldn’t let me take it – I hadn’t had a problem when in the same situation coming here from Limoges, but oh well – it was very cheap and I’ll just have to get another.

Had to run the gauntlet of all the duty-free shops to get to the waiting area – dozens of expensive perfumes, all of which smelled like mosquito repellant to me – I don’t know how anyone works there all day without throwing up from the overpowering stench. The Bristol waiting area is huge with lots of comfortable seating, as well as more shops and cafes. There was a Superdrug store so I immediately replaced my saline solution – had to use my visa card for 1.99 p as I had spent the last of my cash on a bottle of water.

We had to walk and walk to get to the gate – felt like we were walking half-way to France. Finally boarded and left only 12 minutes late. Unfortunately there were quite a few small children on the plane, but only one was extremely unhappy. He cried and screamed the entire flight – only stopped long enough to get another breathe from time to time. The father did all he could to soothe him, but little guy was having nothing of it.

Landed right on time, then trooped in to the passport control. I wasn’t too far back in the line so the wait wasn’t that bad. The couple with the screaming child came in very late – he still wasn’t happy so a security lady came over and lifted the barrier ribbon so they could cut almost to the front of the line – I let them go right ahead of me. I asked if the little fellow was teething, but the parents said no – he hates being restrained and just wanted to be let loose and run about. They were very nice and grateful to have been let to the front of the line.

The passport control guy took quite a while to clear me – I could see his lips moving as he looked at the various stamps in my passport and was counting to himself the number of days I’d actually been in each country. In the end he didn’t say a word and added his stamp to my growing collection and let me pass.

My welcoming committee was waiting for me right outside the main door – Colin and the very excited little ones. It’s much hotter here than it ever got in Worcester – felt like summer again instead of fall, which is what it seemed like for the last 24 days.

The drive back to Colin’s was nice and relaxing – driving on the right side of the road again and all. I was very hungry so snacked on chips while waiting for Neil to BBQ some burgers. Nice quiet evening watching taped coverage of today’s Vuelta. Got to bed earlier than I have in days – very tired.

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