We squeezed in one more sight before we headed to the airport. We had breakfast in Leaden Market which doesn’t sound like a big deal until you see the pictures. It’s the site of where they filmed Diagon Alley.
We also saw the restaurant where they filmed the entrance into Hogs Head. It’s currently an optometrist’s office. That was fun and in addition it was the cheapest breakfast we bought in London (11 pounds total.) We then picked up our bags and got our train to Gatwick Airport. We arrived almost two hours early at the departure area where there was a huge line and we joined the back of it. The group was buzzing about a close call they had just had. They were on a plane to Cuba when they had a hydraulic failure and made a rough landing. Everyone was quite unnerved. They were now departing for Cuba on another plane from Gatwick and were waiting for the gate to open.
After about 10 minutes I asked an airport guy if I was in the right line and he said, “No sir, you can come right in. This line is for the plane that is going to Cuba. I was about to close the gate. Your plane is boarding right now!” We were both shocked. We checked our bags and ran like maniacs to Gate 31, about 3 miles away. We got there breathless, only to find that our plane is not boarding after all. We waited for about 45 minutes before hearing that our plane was having a repair done. Something hydraulic… They would give us an update in about an hours time. Julie and I sprinted out to the concourse to send an email home to inform our ride of the change (no Internet again). We grabbed lunch to go and got back to the departure area to find it empty. They had loaded the plane and were waiting for us. WHAT!!!?
All was forgiven though. They upgraded us to first class, my first time in the big leagues. What opulence. In my seat was a complimentary water bottle, a blanket, pillow, and today’s Telegram. Awesome. We settled into our thrones and were served gobblets of cool refreshing beverages. Someone from coach came and played a fiddle. Now I know what goes on behind the curtain. The meal was incredible. The best airplane meal I had ever seen. Julie said she was full afterward.
We had such a wonderful time and while I cannot pretend it was relaxing in the sense of being sedentary and boring, it was exhilarating and inspiring: A diversion like nothing I could have imagined. I learned more about the history of England (and Europe for that matter) than I had previously known. Scotland was a delight and Julie and I both loved it. It will likely take another ten years to line up all our ducks so that we could do something on this scale again but we sure had fun while it lasted. It was fun, but now…