The International Chocolate Smuggler

So I find myself at Heathrow, Terminal 3 waiting to board my next flight. My suitcase is 20kg; about 5kg of that is chocolate and I also have 400 tea bags! If you remember my post about Hershey’s back in January you will know why! It was good to be back and see friends and family but now I can look forward to a warm Boston summer. Goodbye England 🙂

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I may have a Iot of British chocolate to bring home!

Delayed Flight

I’m sitting in the departures lounge of Logan International and I’m really bored. I feel like I’ve read every page on the internet and eavesdropped on every nearby conversation. I’ve discovered that nobody at this airport today has an interesting life. My flight has been delayed by two hours so I’ve turned to the only possible solace that I have; writing. I can almost feel myself turning mad as the piped Christmas music in the hall permeates my ears (they are too cheap to pay for hits so have music that resembles traditional songs) and the greasy miasma of the nearby Burger King hangs in the air.  We were given a $10 food voucher by Virgin Atlantic to compensate for the delay and I was reasonably happy at that until I realised that they are valuing our time at $5 an hour! Even so the delay wasn’t their fault so after a peppermint latte and chocolate crossaint from Starbucks I feel refreshed, if not any less bored.

The best thing about being bored is that it takes you places you would never go. How many other people in the world right now can say that they read the news article on the BBC about the Jews that used to live in Arabia or the fact that the wife of the Thai royal prince is out of favour because of the corruption of her family. That information will never be useful to me but somehow I now feel a little more up to date with current affairs, and I wouldn’t be if I’d stuck to Reddit or Facebook. I only pay so much attention to things that don’t affect me when I’m trapped at an Airport or procrastinating to a gold medal standard. Airport delays may have a certain use after all.

Sometimes delays like this give me a time to think and reflect, sometimes they make me mad, today I just feel resigned. It isn’t Virgin’s fault and theres no point in raging at the staff, we are all in the same situation here. I’ve learnt something by sitting here (London is 3280 miles away from Boston) and that will have to suffice. I hate flying, I hate how people have carry on bags that are the same size as my hold luggage and delay takeoff by trying to find a space for them. I hate how people are so desperate to get onto the plane first even though we all have assigned seats and I hate how you get treated like cattle when you fly, despite transatlantic flights costing more every year. But at least they haven’t taken away the free alcohol on Virgin or BA yet, we can all be grateful for that!

What do you do when you are stuck somewhere for hours?

Flying Home For Christmas (Nearly)

I’m going to start today’s post with a bit of news; my first trip back to the UK since I moved to America has been booked. We are pretty happy as the flights were very reasonable and quite close to Christmas. We will be arriving at Heathrow on the 13th and flying back on the 21st. We decided to do that week instead of Christmas week because the flights were a lot cheaper (we save $750 flying when we do) and also so that I can meet Kat’s extended family at Christmas as that is the one time every year they all get together. I’m really looking forward to being back in England to see friends and family and I’m also really keen for Kat to experience new things like Christmas Markets and British seasonal food which is quite different to what you find in the US.

What makes Christmas different in the UK to the US? A lot of things are the same; you put up a Christmas tree, write lots of cards and argue with your family. You buy people presents they don’t want and they are too polite to tell you so they pass them on to someone else. In the UK Christmas Day is followed by Boxing Day when you can relax after all the excesses of Christmas Day or spend more money on shit you don’t need because it’s on “sale”. I like Boxing Day because it’s usually a good family day where you can wake up really late, watch the football then come home and finish off all the food you didn’t eat at Christmas. It’s also a bank holiday, the UK equivalent of a federal holiday. The main thing I’m looking forward to about Christmas this year is to spend my first ever Christmas Day with Kat and the fact that Massachusetts is about 20 times more likely to have a white Christmas compared to Devon, my former home in England. As I have yet to spend a winter in the US snow still really excites me, something that my first big snow storm will probably cure me of!

Things that I want to do in the UK include visiting the excellent Bath Christmas Market, have a couple of days in London and have a cream tea. Much as I love a lot of American food (with the exception of bread, cheese and chocolate) I have really missed clotted cream and you don’t seem to be able to find it anywhere here. not even in import stores. I’m also looking forward to doing some walking (it will probably be a lot wetter but a lot warmer than Massachusetts) and visiting proper country pubs with roaring log fires. I’m aiming for Kat and I to pack our suitcases half full so we can fill them with things like tea, chocolate biscuits and Roses on our return. I saw a tin of Roses in an import store in the US once and they were about 10 times the price you pay in the UK and even though I love chocolate I can’t justify paying that much. I promise I won’t post about Christmas again for at least another 6 weeks!

Packing Blankets

I’ve just informed all of my Facebook friends that it’s now less than a week until I leave England so of course it’s now official. My flight is at 8 in the morning from Bristol next Wednesday and I’m going via Dublin so I can go through US immigration there and not have to face the mess that is Boston. The only seats left when I booked were in the middle of four so I just know that I’ll be sat next to someone who craves extra territory like Russia and creeps into my personal space but the flight is only seven hours so I’ll survive. Long distance flights seem to attract those with little regard for others and a marked lack of a personal hygiene routine but next time I’ll fly I’ll have my wife beside me so it’ll be a much better experience.

    It’s rather strange to think that it’s less than a week until I’m living in the USA, I would never have imagined this happening a few years ago. A land where a tap is a faucet (why?) and where they call a sport where you carry the ball football and actual football soccer. I’m excited about it though, it’s a challenge and an opportunity and something completely different. As long as I can import British chocolate and marmite, I think I’ll cope pretty well. I’ve found this blog to be a good way to air my feelings on the Visa process and the long delays and no doubt it will help me cope with adjusting in America too. Writing is really helpful to me.

    I’m learning new things all the time at the moment. Yesterdays lesson was that sunburn on the feet is really fucking painful. Today’s lesson is that trying to cram your entire life into two suitcases is not remotely feasible, even when I’ve already got rid of half of my clothing, books and DVD’S (If you visit a charity shop in Exeter you may just find the worlds biggest collection of stripy jumpers on sale). I’ve also learnt that some people are a lot nicer when they realise they don’t have to see you any more! Such is life. Today marks three whole months until I last saw my wife so I’m more excited than ever about getting to live together and I know that it will make all of the stress and hardship of the last year completely worthwhile. 🙂