When the draft plan v0.0 ( read it here ) was rejected, it was back to the drawing board. It was then that we applied a different technique. Block off the dates first, then worry about the itinerary. This made life much simpler.
Actually, before we got to this point we had had multiple conversations about the time of the year. September was the preferred month by one of the two. The other one was insistent on the July / August period. When it was discovered that India would be playing England at the mecca of cricket, Lords Cricket Ground, in London on the 9th of August, mulish obstinacy prevailed. Now, the plan started falling into place.
A two week block of time was carved out. Aug 6th was a holiday, so that’s one working day less to worry about. Great! So the departure date was set for Friday the 3rd. Since the flights usually leave late in the evening, we could get in a day’s work and leave for the airport at leisure and arrive in daylight at the start of a day in the new world, which is the old world, but would be new for us.
Flights were researched.
Slowly the plan started falling into place.
Day 1 – Day 5
Arrive in the morning and spend the days in and around London. This would include Hyde Park and The Serpentine., Hampton Court and Kew Gardens, a cruise on the Thames, Westminster + St James Park walkabouts. Also envisaged was a cruise on the canal from Little Venice to Camden Town, Hampstead Heath, Greenwich, Borough Market, Covent Garden, Westminster Abbey and the RAF Museum.
To be spent at Lords Cricket Ground, hobnobbing with the stars, watching a game of Test cricket in England, with the #1 team in the world playing in the lions’ den. It helped that I am cricket crazy and was born in India, the #1 Test team in the world. < cue grin >
Train to Oxford. Walkabout in Oxford amongst the historic colleges, one of whom was made famous by the Harry Potter movies :). Pick up a rental car, for much driving lay ahead. Stay the night.
Drive up to Stratford-upon-Avon, to see the natural habitat of the greatest sayings known to the English language. Drive through the upper reaches of the Costwolds. Settle down in a quiet little inn in one of the villages.
Drive around the Cotswolds, heading as far as Bath and taking in Castle Combe, where the racetrack was out of scope but the ancient village square was not.
Cap off the Cotswolds and head down south to Cornwall, home of Malory Towers. Visit a seaside town called Barnstaple and head off to Timtagel, where Merlin one lived in a cave by the sea. End the day by checking into Bovey Castle on Dartmoor.
Explore Dartmoor, Bodmin. Check out the Tors. Keep a sharp eye out for escaped convicts. Hunker down in Bovey Castle
Head west towards Dover. Stop to take photographs at the Durdle Door. Spend the night in Bournemouth, to break down the road trip.
Leave Bournemouth and arrive in Dover. Check out the chalk cliffs, walk around the seaside a bit and head to Canterbury for the night. Spend the night inside the grounds of the Cathedral.
Take in Canterbury, look in at Botany Bay and Margate and drive up to Cambridge
Return the car. Spend the day in Cambridge. Go for a punt on the Cam. Check out the historic colleges. Take a train back to London.
Walk around London for one last time and take the evening flight back home.
Given this high level roadmap, an action plan was drawn up. Major headings included
- Cricket match tickets
- Hotels (London, Oxford, Cotswolds, Dartmoor, Bournemouth, Canterbury, Cambridge, London)
- Local Transport inside the London area
- Lords Cricket Ground logistics (subheading – timings, transportation, food, batteries, internet)
- Car rental
- Clothing – (subheading – rain gear, sweaters / jackets, shorts, caps)
- Travel times
- Trains (subheading – London to Oxford, Cambridge to London)
Internet lines were put into action. Phone calls were made. We returned in early May from an 11-day holiday to Turks and Caicos, a Caribbean delight ( more on that someday ).
The flights were booked. Air Canada, having submitted the optimal bid, won the contract. As soon as the flights were booked, I started researching the ticket availability for the first day’s play at Lords. It took me two days to decide on two contiguous seats, at the Nursery End. The Edrich stand would allow me to walk over to the Nursery ground and mingle with the stars at the beginning of the day’s play and maybe during the day.
The very next day, I placed the order for tickets to the cricket Test match between England and India at Lords Cricket ground.
Meanwhile, fate was slipping the iron plate into the glove.
We drive up to Ottawa to spend a day or two with Boo, for his birthday. Around this time, I was starting to feel a little uneasy. I felt my bladder wasn’t coping well.
I got up in the morning and peed blood. We drove home under a cloud. The five hour journey seemed to last forever.
Called the doctor. He couldn’t see me, but he directed me to one of his off-hour colleagues. I explained the situation. He gave me a bottle to pee in. He dropped a dip stick in the dark fluid and came back to report.
“Ok, you have an infection. I’m going to give you some antibiotics.”
“However, I need you to get a full blown blood and urine test. That sample you provided has sugar in it. Which means you’re carrying sugar and have been carrying sugar for a while now.”
Handed in the blood test, as usual after multiple punctures were made. Placed the urine sample in the box as instructed and awaited my fate.
I got a call from my doctor’s office. He was still on vacation, but his colleague at the clinic wanted me to come in immediately to see her. I went in and sat down.
“You have an infection. Good, that you already have the antibiotics. Those pills should solve that problem. But you have a major problem and that’s why I wanted to see you immediately.”
My brain, never one to let a good worry go unattended, went into Worry Mode Level 12.
“Your blood sugar levels are sky high! Have you noticed any symptoms?”
“I’m writing out these pills for you, take two in the morning and two in the evening. Start right away. You need to make adjustments to your food and get some real exercise in, everyday. You have to watch what you eat. I’m also writing up a glucose monitor. Use it to monitor levels. Your numbers are so high, you’er a major risk.”
I left, convinced I was destined to never make the trip, the trip to the only country that I had ever dreamed of visiting. It was going to be a case of wanting it too much. As the days went by, the state of my mind progressed from Normal Lackadaisical to Agitated to Complete Mush. Large tracts of conversation, research, study went by me in a blur.
Was this to be the The Trip That Never took Place?