England Trip Day 1

 Today I learned how to flush a British toilet, drive on the left side of the road while sitting on the right of the vehicle, how to get a phone that actually works in the UK (my normal one doesn’t), and that jet-lag is more difficult to conquer than I expected … among other things.

I have to admit that the first day of our trip to jolly England was not so jolly as I would have liked. So far, aside from all-out disasters like crashing in a plane or car and getting seriously injured or losing everything–and I remain grateful that none of those things happened!–just about everything that could go wrong on the way from St Louis, MO to Shrewsbury, Shropshire went wrong. It has been a long day, and we finally made it here, but I am still trembling from the stress.

To start things off, our first flight out of St Louis was cancelled because of a hydraulic leak. My husband and I joined a long line of people at the Continental desk who wanted desperately to find the soonest connecting flights to whatever foreign country they were traveling to as soon as possible. The stress level was horrible among everyone and the line barely moved; we watched people in front of us lose a day of their trips or more, get routed through strange airports where they would need to get a taxi somewhere else even though they didn’t have that country’s currency, etc. By the time I made it to the desk I was just about ready to let out a big wail of despair. Fortunately, we were one of the lucky ones; we were able to get a connecting flight that would only delay our destination time by a couple of hours.

Well, I’ll spare you some of the bitter details, but from there many things continued to go wrong. The next flight was delayed. Then it was probably the most turbulent flight I’ve ever been on, and I was convinced I was going to die–although that’s how I usually feel when flying! Nevertheless we survived, touched base in Newark, and made our connecting flight.

We had yet to realize that we had left one of our precious debit cards behind us.

Once in Shrewsbury we realized our cell phones didn’t work at all in the UK, even though we had gotten a plan for making UK calls, which was a matter of some distress. It’s an especially disorienting feeling to be in a foreign country without the ability to contact *anyone* if you need assistance. Then we picked up our rental car, which aside from having the drivers’ side on the right–which at least I was prepared for–the vehicle itself was huge! Trying to maneuver out of the parking lot led to a few moments of sheer and utter terror.

But maneuver out of the parking lot we did, and from there I clutched the wheel and listened to the constant instructions from my husband and the Navigation System, and fortunately we made it safely to Shrewsbury.

When we realized that we had left a debit card behind, I thought one of us just might faint at that point. To add to our troubles, we couldn’t cancel the card–even online–without calling Bank of America, which of course we couldn’t do, because we didn’t have a working phone. At last my husband got an online representative to help him sort the matter out.

I’m relieved to say that after that, the worst of our troubles was discovering that some toilets in the UK do not function the same as toilets in the US! I was embarrassed to report to the kind host of our bed and breakfast that the toilet seemed to be broken, but later she assured us that it was working just fine. After that we went to the good ole internet for help, and learned the following:

Advice on how to flush a British Toilet

  • In a decisive and authoritative manner, press down on the “toilet flush handle” applying a downward force in a manner to achieve a constant velocity such that the action is completed in .5 to .6 seconds. (To fast or slow can be the difference in achieving a successful flush of a British toilet – and using a constant velocity is not an option).
  • Hold down “toilet flush handle” for approximately four (4) seconds.
  • The toilet should flush on the 2nd to 3rd second.
  • Be proud of your achievement in the skilled use of British sanitational hardware!
  • Don’t hide your sense of increased self worth. Your ability and dexterity in flushing a British toilet means you are right up there in the gene pool. Feel free to mention your success in operating complex “high-technology” British machinery to friends, colleagues and passing strangers.
  • Buy a “I know how to flush a British toilet” T-shirt to impress your friends and family back home.

Yes, we are indeed proud to say that now we have learned the ways of the British toilet.

The good news is that we finally made it, and I am so very happy to be here.

Here is Shrewsbury Castle from the northwestern side, or from within the town

Just down the street from where we are staying the night, here is Shrewsbury Castle. As a lot of you know, this castle (or timber stronghold, as it would have been in Eadric’s time) is an integral part of my Mercia stories. Throughout the Sons of Mercia series, each one of my heroes lives here at some point or another: Eadric the Grasper, then Godric the Kingslayer, then Edric the Wild.

A view of the castle entrance from the southwest



From within the bailey


Here is a view from the upper ramparts of what once was the ancient timber fortress. In "Eadric the Grasper," Eadric and Aydith share a passionate kiss right about here ... 🙂


Thanks to my jetlag–AKA inability to sleep on the first night–I was able to post all this. Not sure when I’ll be able to post more, but there certainly will be more soon!

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 9:31 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. No trip is ever without complications. The worst would be losing the debit card…horrors! But it seems you and Jon managed to overcome. Now you can enjoy the rest of your trip.

  2. “Yes, we are indeed proud to say that now we have learned the ways of the British toilet.”
    Haven’t encountered ours yet! 😉
    I’ll have to ask Kieren what the difference is!

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