and will be there till Happily Ever After.
October 4th, my best friend of forty years, Beth Gill and I set off on an adventure across the pond to England. Neither of us has ever been out of the country. Our husbands don't travel well and they weren't really interested in going. So having "girlfriend time" without pouting husbands on this incredible trip, was yet another gift. The first photo was from our first trip together when we were 14. We went to visit my grandparents in New York. I still remember how exciting it was to fly then.
Flying is a different world now at 51. Our adventure started at the Charlotte airport here in NC. We flew at night to help with jet lag thinking we would be sleeping and awake at times that were in our normal rhythms. We checked our bags and proceeded through all the security checkpoints. After I got through the scanner, which I had to go through twice because it malfunctioned, I moved on to pick up my carry on bag and shoes. A TSA agent had his hand on my polka dot bag and said, "Is this your bag." I replied, "yes." He said, "Do you have anything sharp or dangerous in your bag?" I said, "No." He said again, "Do you have anything sharp or dangerous in your bag?" I thought for a second and then said in a really slow, puzzled voice, cooolored pennnncils?
You see, I was bringing Jules, my dearest, artist, bestie friend across the pond a HUGE tin of colored pencils. She can't buy these in England and I got a fabulous deal on them at the craft store with a coupon! I was so excited to bring them to her and I didn't want them getting stolen or broken in my regular luggage so I wrapped them in bubble wrap and put them in my carry on for safe travels.
Well, the TSA agent proceeded to take off the bubble wrap, open the tin and remove tray after tray of these pencils. Being the chatty, extrovert I am, I proceeded to tell him all about Jules, her art, meeting her for the first time in person, and the fact that she can't buy the pencils over there and how great the sale and my coupon was! When he had them all laid out, I said, "Aren't they pretty?" He then laughed and agreed that they were pretty and that he would let me pack them all back up in my bubble wrap.
Moral of this story. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, with only a box of colored pencils on hand, you can remove one, like lets say, Crimson Red and use it as a weapon because apparently, "they are sharp and dangerous." hee,hee,hee.
Eight hours later, we landed in England. I must say that customs over there was waaaaaaaaay easier and friendlier than customs here in the states. They had no worries about sharp and dangerous colored pencils and were only concerned if we had meat or dairy. Nope, and nope, so off we went to meet Jules and Sallieann.
For eleven years I have been best friends with Jules. We have exchanged letters, emails, gifts and collaborated on projects. Even though we Skype and have long conversations over cups of tea twice a month, to finally meet her in person was yet another incredible gift that I will treasure forever.
Jules is even cuter in person. I call her my little hobbit without fuzzy feet. She and I are always making Lord of the Rings references.
Sallieann and I have been best friends for nineteen years. She and her husband, Mike, and their two boys James and Charlie, lived in New Bern, my old town, from 2000-2004. Back then, I taught Quilting 101 and other quilt classes part time at a local quilt shop. One day Sallie walked in the door and fell in love with it all. She signed up for my beginners class and was hooked!
Sallie is truly gifted and I always refer to her as my "Star Student." All these years later she is still quilting and is now a TV star and quilt teacher in England. She is even hosting a quilting cruise this year! I'm so very proud of her and everything that she has accomplished. All of it so well deserved.
When we planned this adventure, we wanted to do things that were non-tourist, off the beaten path, countryside, walking, hiking, coffee in quaint cafes, exploring kinds of things and the girls truly did not disappoint us.
We stayed in an absolutely charming, small town called Shepton Mallet, which is in the "Shire" County (Lord of the Rings.... shire....hobbits, clap my hands, bunny dance, can hardly stand it!) of Somerset.
The airbnb we stayed in was attached to a large manor home built in the 1600's. It was originally the stables. Our room had soaring high ceilings and the original, magnificent stable beams were exposed. The garden and courtyard was so beautiful.
Looking out of the window, across the town at the rooftops and stone cottages, I had this overwhelming feeling of being at home.
That evening we walked up the path and stone steps, through the church yard and down the alley to the center of town.
We then had a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant. My veggie pizza was delicious! Every night Jules and Sallieann asked us what stood out as different compared to the states. That night is was the fact that you don't tip the waiter/waitress. They get paid a living wage and this is their career. No wonder they were all so much older. Living here in Wilmington, it's college kids who work in restaurants. You never see people my age waiting tables.
So this is how the adventure started. Traveling across the pond with sharp and dangerous objects to spend an entire week of "girlfriend time" with three of my bestest friends in the entire world. Complete with one giant smile that never left my face.
Join me back here next week for part 2.
Light, love and hugs,