Our drive to Calgary from Leduc was a busy one. Lots of traffic on Hwy 2 heading in both directions on Good Friday. We stopped on gasoline alley in Red deer for a break but line ups at all the usual haunts were out the door so we just kept going on into Calgary. We arrived at our hotel shortly after midday and after checking in, we went to do a little last minute shopping at Chinook Centre. We managed to pick up a medium sized roller bag at Eddie Bauer and I lucked in and found a pair of my favorite Merrell sandals at a shoe store for 50% off. The weather has been great in England these past few weeks so I’m hoping shorts and sandals may be in the cards on a few days, especially on Filey’s beaches. We met Chris’s brother and wife for supper at a White spot within walking distance of our hotel. It was nice to get out and stretch the legs after so much driving this past week.
Saturday morning we took the hotel’s free shuttle to the airport and were all checked in and through security in no time. It was nice to see free wifi at Calgary airport. Once we got through security we grabbed a bit of lunch at Tim Hortons while I recharged both our iPhones from a conveniently found wall socket. We were all charged up before we boarded our plane which was an Air Transat charter run by Thomas Cook. The airbus 330 was in great shape with reasonable space to move about freely. We left shortly before our scheduled departure time of 2 pm and enjoyed a smooth flight that arrived in Manchester an hour earlier than planned, so we must have had a good tail wind or else the pilot had the pedal to the medal all the way. In fact, the pilot told us we landed in Manchester only minutes after the runway opened for the day. Our early arrival surprised Jim and Jane who didn’t expect us until around 7 am.
It was great to see their smiling faces again. We last them both when we pulled out of TT Pio Pico in Jan 2010 when we headed back to Palm Springs. Big hugs and handshakes all around with lots of laughter, just the way it should be with such great friends. The drive back to Solihull, near Birmingham, went very quickly as we all and lots to say. Both were beat after a long flight so we finally had a snooze in the afternoon. Jane made a wonderful dinner and we had a great walk around their neighborhood. Spring has sprung in these parts with all the trees and flowers in fill bloom.
We both both slept the sleep of the dead last night and were right as rain for our first full day in England this morning. Jim and Jane had their tour guide caps on for us today and took us to Stratford on Avon, the Bard’s birthplace. Today being Easter Monday there were lots of people out enjoying the wonderfully warm spring weather. We enjoyed cream tea and scones with clotted cream and jam at a little cafe opposite the main Shakespeare complex. After that we were off for the short to Evesham where we strolled along the river to see the tour boats and the grounds of this wonderful church. There is simply so much history here. Buildings constructed as far back as the 1247 and still in fairly good condition!!