Thursday, March 11, 2010

No Wildflowers On This Spring Journey

I understand the weather is pretty nice back home in Santa Barbara. Clear sunny skies and temperatures in the high 70's or low 60's.

Where I'm at it's freezing cold (at least to a Southern Californian) with highs in the low 40's and lows in the mid 30's. Usually if I'm going to put up with weather like this it more often then not involves a ski lift and a bar named "Grumpy's" at the end of the day. But not this time. I'm writing from London, England, where my son and I have traveled for our second annual spring break trip. Leave it to the British, they sure know how to take the spring out of the vernal equinox.

Of course, if I tell any of the locals here where we're from and why we're here they are probably thinking, "What some parents won't do to keep their kids off of the beaches of South Florida." We left LAX Tuesday evening and arrived in London's Heathrow Airport after a 10 hour flight. Now I know what a sardine packed in a can being tossed across the room feels like. The only thing worse is being stuck in an elevator by yourself. (An experience I also had at the hotel here on my first day.) But, as you can see, I've been liberated and am now free to blog.

The time difference between here and home is eight hours, meaning that when it's 9 a.m. in Santa Barbara it's 5 p.m. here in London. In other words, the crowd down at the Sportsman is starting happy hour at about the same time that I am.

Not that I want any of you (least of all my 20-year old son's mother) to think that we're spending any of our time in the local pubs. Yesterday, on our first day here, we visited the Churchill Museum which includes the Cabinet War Rooms. That's where Churchill, along with his ministers and generals, holed up and directed Britain's efforts in World War II. After being shuttered for 50 years the War Rooms were opened to the public in 1995, so this was my first time seeing them.

Britain's current economic crisis appears to be every bit as bad, if not worse, than ours. That is a plus because it means a very favorable exchange rate between the dollar and the pound. On the other hand, things aren't necessarily cheap. A ride on the London Underground (which is how Londoners refer to their subway) is $6. That's more than twice the price of a subway ticket in New York City!

So, the plan today is to go over to the Palace and call on the Queen. As soon as we get turned away we'll probably search for some good fish and chips and plot where to go to get the most educational value out of this trip. My son has been concerned that I haven't been learning enough lately.

I'll be happy to share my newly found knowledge with you as I go.
© 2010 by Craig Smith and