And so it begins! A decent flight with a strong tailwind got us to Heathrow well ahead of schedule. In an attempt to avoid the awkwardness of our Customs experience in June, we placed our landing cards in our passports such that the visa pages would be the first thing the agent saw. It worked well, except the agent then stamped those pages as they would any other blank page in a passport; you can't even make out my birth date or nationality now. *sigh* I think both Tea and I cried a little (inside) to see the fruits of no small amount of labour vandalized in such a fashion. Of course, we said nothing, and were through in no time; here's hoping the next Customs agent who looks at them doesn't bat an eyelash.
Oh, and one final note on Customs: I saw Michael Geist in line behind us with his family. I didn't introduce myself, however, so that's all I have to say about that.
Since we were well ahead of schedule, we decided to see if we could catch an earlier National Express coach to Cheltenham. Tea had paid extra for this option -- in case Customs tripped us up -- and for an additional fee, we were on the 7:15 a.m. coach, Caffè Nero snacks and drinks in hand.
We sent James, our landlord, a text message on the way asking if showing up early would be a problem. He said that so long as we didn't mind him under foot for a bit, it was fine with him. He's quite the funny guy, actually -- Tea says he reminds her of our friend 'W', and I can see why -- and we all hit it off really well. (We'd met his wife, Linda, on our house-hunting trip.)
Malvern Road BridgeAfter dropping our bags, and going through their list of important things to know and the inventory (they're very organized), it was off to Waitrose to see what the nearest grocery store had to offer. As if the fifteen-minute walk door-to-door (with convenience stores much closer than that) wasn't sweet enough, we got to take in the beautiful Honeybourne Line Cycle Path while doing so. Add to that that there are many lactose-free products available at Waitrose -- there are none at Tesco, and I was beginning to wonder if that was indicative of the whole town -- and a free delivery service, and you can understand why I was grinning from ear to ear as we left for home.
Our kitchen tableThen it was time for a nap; Tea's was only slightly longer than mine, ;-) leaving me time to finish The Falcon and The Snowman and have a good long chat with Kae.
We decided to have take-away delivered from The Everest -- a favourite of ours on the June trip -- for supper, and used the Waitrose and Tesco Web sites to plan what groceries we'd like delivered over the next two days while we waited for it. Our supper arrived in no time, piping hot; the balti chicken was just as good as I remembered, and it was a great experience all-round: I've never shaken a delivery guy's hand before! :-)