Woke to a slightly warmer morning than yesterday. After a couple of coffees the first task was to go on-line with my tablet (very fast, free WiFi in the room) and check in on our flight this evening. With that accomplished, I took our passports etc. from the safe deposit box in reception and then completed packing in the room. With that done we decided to visit Central Park for the last time.
The earlier blue sky had started to cloud over, but the temperature remained pleasant for walking. On the News last night we heard that a winter storm was forecast for this evening with snow accumulation of several feet, hopefully we will be gone before then. We stopped at a few stores on the way to the park and marvelled at the meat counters, the cut of all the meats were ridiculously thick compared to UK standards and is no wonder why your average American is so huge.
Once in the park we attempted to walk those paths that we had not done previously and we stopped and chatted to a few of the many squirrels that were busy among the leaf litter hunting for nuts. They are very tame and will stop and look at you if you talk to them. Inspired by the squirrels nut hunting I bought a couple of bags of warm toffee coated nuts from the many temporary stalls that are prevalent throughout the park. Sue was so impressed with them that when she had finished scoffing her bag, she bought another one. No we didn’t feed the squirrels, they tasted too nice to share. A little later we came across some artists stalls and we bought a couple of framed photos of the park.
Returning to the hotel for noon we checked out of our room and sat in the bar and had lunch while we waited for our transfer to the airport. It arrived 10 minutes early and with 7 other passengers we squeezed into a minibus that was uncomfortably hot, but thankfully the journey wasn’t as long as we were anticipating. Around half an hour later, despite heavy midtown traffic we were dragging our cases into JFK. As I had already checked in on-line I printed our boarding cards out from one of the terminals at the entrance than dropped our suitcases off at the Delta Desk. That was the quick and easy bit. From there on we joined the queue to pass through security and passport control. The signage at JFK is the worst we have experienced in all the years we have been travelling through airports. It just added to the confusion of endless lines of passengers having to rely on staff actually physically moving people around. If you stood and watched for a while as we did, you could work out what the procedure was and where to go next. But passengers late for flights or those who don’t pay attention just added to and created a massive backlog. Understandably the airport is manic on security. I would be if I had just spent the last 50 years or so bombing the hell out of great numbers of the Earth’s population. But come on, you don’t have to be Havard educated to put up a few arrows pointing in the direction you want people to go. Plus, the rather sophisticated body scanner we went through, we think wiped the electromagnetic data off our return rail tickets in the UK.
Well, eventually fully dressed and feeling tired, we found a seat at our departure gate and waited the couple of hours for our flight. Sue managed a tour of the duty-free and I a comfortable sit down in a bar with a pint of porter and watched the planes take off and land. We boarded the plane without hassle and took of on schedule. We were surprised that the flight appeared to be only a quarter full so there was plenty of space to spread out. After dinner, Sue settled down to watch a film and I stretched across the centre seats (we had a pair of window seats) and I went to sleep until woken an hour before landing, for breakfast.
Passage through Heathrow was quick and easy though at passport control I chose to use the epassport facilities and Sue used the normal one as her passport was older. There was no difference in speed, we exited at the same time. Surprise, surprise a human being can check the picture on the passport and match it to the face of the person standing in front of them as quick as a machine.
A relatively empty train was waiting on the platform to take us to St. Pancras. The closer we got to the city the greater the number of commuters boarded. We English are refreshingly quieter that the Americans. Not a word was said in our carriage over the 3/4 hour journey, despite being jammed towards the end. We had a couple of hours to waste at St. Pancras so we had drinks in a cafe and waited it out. Luckily there is free and fast WiFi throughout the station so I didn’t get bored and Sue read the Metro. We had reserved seats on the train and it was direct to Harborough. A very fast but bumpy journey as I attempted to write this blog.
Sarah picked us up from the station and Nan kindly offered to take us out for lunch. We said yes, of course.