Saturday, March 9, 2013

My First Experience in England

In April 1981, I got married.  I also moved to England in the same month to work on a military base (Menwith Hill Station) near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

I had some misgivings about leaving everything I knew for everything I didn’t know, but I suited up and we made the flight.  Now, I was 23 and not very travel savvy.  I figured it was April in England just like it was April in Texas!  So, I donned my jeans, a tshirt and a light tennis jacket.

Away we flew! 

Right into major jet lag (which I’d never experienced before).  It was debilitating!  But worse, our flight couldn’t leave for Leeds because it had been held up due to a BLIZZARD!

“Not to worry,” we were told.  We could catch a flight that had been delayed from earlier in the day. 

We went to the waiting room and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

We were finally told that we would be flown to East Midlands airport and then bussed to Leeds from there.  Again, I was completely oblivious of English geography.  I had no idea where we were going.  We got on the plane and headed for East Midland.

But, what I hadn’t counted upon was that we would not be allowed to stop by a restroom at the airport!  We were whisked on board a loo-less bus for Leeds.  The snow was heavy and the roads were barely passable.  With each bump, I was sure there would be an “accident”.

By the time we got to Leeds, I honestly had to drop my bags and run for the ladies room.  I had never been so relieved in my life!

Only to find out that our reception committee had decided it was too hazardous to drive to Leeds, so we were going to have to make our own way to Harrogate.  Only…

No taxis were stopping.  None.  We waited about two and a half hours before we finally got a cab.  As we tossed everything in, the cabbie asked us where we were going.  “Harrogate,” we told him.

His foot eased off the accelerator.

“I can’t take you that far,” he said.  The roads are really bad.

“We’ll make it worth your while,” we told him.  And so… we finally made it to the B&B.

I was about to be in for another nasty surprise.  The B&B manager hadn’t turned the heat on in our room.  It was a frozen wasteland.  The carpets were axminster red and gold with floral curtains and striped wallpaper.  I wondered… don’t these people know anything about interior decorating?  But only for a brief second – because I wanted a bath.  A nice, hot bath.  With lots of steam.  And heat.  

But we didn’t know that water pressure for the bath came from water storage in the attic and having gravity take the water down the pipe.  The only water pressure we had was a slow drip out of the shower head.  And the room was (as I said) a frozen wasteland.

I was only 23, newly married, in a strange land… and I finally had enough.  I just wanted my mother… and I cried and begged my poor husband to take me home.  We both knew that wasn’t happening.  So, exhausted, we fell asleep.  Only to be awakened almost immediately by the crack of an intercom  sqwaking and our landlady asking if we wanted dinner that night.

Groggily, we responded.  I have never been so despondent, tired, and hopeless.  “Three years of this,” I thought, “could drive someone completely insane.”