Team Sloth has made it to Heathrow, which is where the blog’s storytelling should end. Just like there was a “Day 0” before we started, I add one at the end. If there is any drama tomorrow with the flight home, I don’t want to write about it!
The day started with a 4:15am alarm to get me up to catch the sunrise. When I looked out of the window on awakening, the sky looked dull in the westerly direction that I faced. I managed to get up, though I was not optimistic. However, as soon as I saw the sky to the east, I couldn’t wait to start snapping photos and get my drone in the air. Bushes obscured the direct view from the hotel garden, so the drone was perfect to open up the horizon. The colors at sunrise and sunset are so unpredictable, but I flew until my battery was nearly done (~ 20 mins). I couldn’t resist doing a bit of processing on landing, but managed to stop and get back to bed for a couple of hours more sleep. It had already been a great day!
We had a fine breakfast before heading to the bus stop for Scarborough. The bus was easy and efficient, though the roads are a bit bendy if you suffer from motion sickness, and it was full before we got to Scarborough station. We’d allowed for over an hour in Scarborough, and I used the time with Bailey and Samuel to go looking for something sheepish. We’d seen sheep every day of the trip, and wanted sheep souvenirs! Our quest was unsuccessful, but we found other interesting things, including a McDonald’s… The train from Scarborough was also smooth and efficient, stopping at York after nearly an hour. We had a 9 minute connection which was just about enough. For our 2-hour trip to London Kings Cross, the train was full with some passengers in the aisles, but we had reserved seats. We had planned to grab lunch in the train, and their £6 meal deal was surprisingly good, though getting to and from the restaurant car was an adventure in itself with passengers and luggage in the aisles. The main challenge was carefully stepping around a couple of large dogs on the moving train! At Kings Cross, we sought out Harry Potter’s platform 9 3/4, and were disappointed to find a busy, very touristy shop. The station itself has just had a major refurbishment, so most of it has changed. The next quest was our final journey to Heathrow, which involved walking to the tube station, walking down stairs, taking the tube to Paddington, taking the stairs up to the Heathrow Express train, traveling on that for 15 mins, and then a lot of walking and escalators to get to the Hilton Garden Inn at Terminal 2. We had made it with about an hour to spare before dining. Our final English dinner at the hotel was great, with steak and ale pie, fish and chips, and chicken tikka masala. We rounded off the evening with a visit to the hotel’s 14th-floor Runway bar, with views over the terminals. We could see the incoming planes line up over central London and landing every 45 seconds. As well as seeing central London’s skyscrapers, we also spotted Wembley Stadium and Windsor Castle on the horizon. It was a fitting way to say farewell to England.
I will leave my main reflections until after our return, but I will share one set of observations here. After my first extended time away from England’s shores, the change I noticed when I returned was cellphone towers everywhere. Yes, I know that dates me. This time, the change is how public phone boxes have been changed to defibrillator stations. Also, while the route of the Coast to Coast takes one through towns and villages resisting change, one sees the increasingly cosmopolitan population on the trains and in London. The final observation was comparing service between US and UK. Good service in the US is strongly encouraged by the tips being the main part of the server’s salary. By comparison, we had many cases in England where the staff seemed exceptionally good at avoiding any eye contact! We had a few instances of great service, which was exceptionally personal and heartfelt. We also saw a tremendous work ethic, especially in the small B&Bs where the owners do everything and never seem to stop. We also saw individuals who were laser-focused on doing their task to the best of their ability, whether it was driving the bus or heating sandwiches on a train. The people in the two countries are different, and while the unfamiliar might be frustrating at times, there is plenty to celebrate and acknowledge about both. If these heatwaves continue, the hotels need to invest in more fans though!
This page is linked to from my England’s Coast to Coast home page.
Thank you for following us on this journey and for sharing your encouragement!