American flags, cousin hugs and puppy kisses

The past 48 hours have been an absolute whirlwind. Packing our belongings, cleaning the rental house, getting everyone to the airport and “sorted” made for a crazy last few days in Durham.

The morning we left our Gilesgate home we once again piled all of our suitcases, 450 lbs of checked bags alone, into the garage to await the taxi. We had to shelter them as a cold rain was falling. It was a cold rain in September when we arrived so it seemed somewhat appropriate. Rob had called quite a list of taxis to get the best rate for our trip to the Newcastle airport. He had an agreed upon price and had confirmed with them several times that they needed to bring the large ” people mover” van to get us all there.

Imagine our surprise when the cabbie shows up in a four door sedan. Yeah. It was a comedy. He left to get a bigger vehicle then came back to say he isn’t ganna take the job after all. So…… We start calling the list again. One kind man, whom we had awakened with our call, said he could get dressed and be there in 15 minutes. Phew. He was really an angel and charged us much less than he originally said. Wouldn’t dream of even taking a tip.

We got our bags all checked in, had to shift a few items from heavier bags whilst in the airport but it all was finally sorted. We were glad to be free of the “moving van” of luggage. We still had quite the maximum of carry on baggage. I think now I want to be that person in the airport who just has one tiny little rolling carry on that heals quite obediently at their side, spinning along on its merry little wheels.

The flight to London was uneventful and we had a quick bite to eat at Healthrow. I will say that I like British Airways more and more. The flight attendants on the London to Atlanta leg were very kind and attentive. The dinner they served was really delicious. When was the last time you could say that about airline food?

I had a bit of a laugh as the man behind us boarded the plane in London. He had a HUGE, clear, bag of Kinder eggs. He had picked them up in the duty free shop. We found out just days before we left that Kinder Eggs are not allowed into the US. There is a fine of $2500 PER egg for smuggling them in. If you are that guy they probably just seize them at Customs. Last year customs collected over 60,000 of those chocolate delights filled with small plastic choking hazards. …….I didn’t have the heart to tell him. Our kids love them and we would have loved to have brought some back to cousins but after we found that bit of info out ’twas not gonna happen.

We arrived in Atlanta and breezed through all of our check points ( probably because we didn’t have any Kinder eggs). We were greeted by my parents proudly waving small American flags. It was so good to see Marme and Pa again. We did not however see our nine checked bags at baggage claim. Apparently, they did not ever leave London. That is fine with me if BA wants to deliver to our door 450 lbs of luggage. Just think of the fuel we saved without that weight in the truck.

Cousins and family awaited our arrival the next day in the Birmingham area. After many hugs ( puppy kisses too) we enjoyed some long over due time together. Treats for the day included lunch at our favorite chain restaurant, Chick-fil-A. A sweet friend, who has been reading our blog, sent us a welcome home card full of Chick-fil-A cards. Let’s just say we wasted no time putting those to good use.

Today we will try to slow life down a bit. I feel as though I am on a very fast moving train ride, everything, place, country and face is a blur. Reverse culture shock has caught me a bit off guard as well. I find my homeland a bit too fast, loud and big. I also find it much more beautiful than when I last saw her. Sweet warm air, the sound of cicadas humming in the trees last night and the drive in filled with the lovely green hills of north Alabama has been a feast for the senses.

With the July 4th holiday approaching this weekend we will stay put and celebrate with family before heading south for home. I look forward to settling in and will continue to blog a bit. I hope to introduce our readers in the UK to our Alabama the beautiful. Until then ….









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