A Return to Zoe :-)
We were not hard pressed to accept the invitation to return to one of our favorite pets and places when asked to by pet owners Vivien and Mark. They live in Teddington, just outside of London. We first sat for them in late September, just nine months earlier. They had invited us to return to pet sit so that they could go away to celebrate their 25th anniversary. It was an effortlessly easy decision, and before we had a chance to say yes, the deal was sweetened with an offer of a week at their vacation home in Devon.
In the past we have been pretty spontaneous with our travel plans. Once we accepted their invitation, we found ourselves with some solid dates nine months in advance. It was actually very exciting, and Ky laughed at me when I started saying, "I can't wait to see Zoe again!", months in advance.
All I can say now is, how did the time we stayed go by so quickly? Zoe was just as sweet as we had remembered. It was great to see Vivien and Mark again as well. For anyone who's ever had a human child though, you know the feeling of people coming to see your new baby and you felt a little like the afterthought when they approached with outstretched arms, not to hug you, but to take the baby from you, and you got a secondary hug. We didn't want to make Vivien and Mark feel that way, but well... we were just so happy to see Zoe again!
This may sound kind of ridiculous to all you advance vacation planners, but I hadn't realized how much joy that I would get from the anticipation of returning to Teddington. I heard one time that surprising people for a party or a reunion robs the surprised party of the joy of anticipation. What do you think? Would you rather be surprised, or get to savor the anticipation of an upcoming event? There are two sides to that coin.
The other side, which we've generally preferred, is tossing any currency of coin and regardless of heads or tails, we mostly made decisions at the last minute, not doing much research, preferring to be surprised. Ky and I would just show up to find what we found. It is hard to be disappointed when you have no expectations.
However, this time, In addition to looking forward to seeing Zoe, we were happy to be returning to Teddington. It is a fabulous little town of just over 10,000 residents, which is on the outskirts of London on the banks of the River Thames.
Teddington is full of history, beautiful scenery and homes, cute shops and a great trail along the water. The trail runs for miles along the Thames, connecting other riverside towns, like Richmond, Twickenham and Kingston-upon-Thames. The trails also meander all through the enormous parks like Bushy Park, The Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and Richmond Park.
Mosts travelers coming to England stop in central London and don't make it out to the boroughs surrounding the city. For a bit different pace though, for nature lovers and those who want to go a bit outside the most commonly visited tourist spots, I heartily recommend trying out these outlying gems, even if only for a day or two. They are easily accessible by train and bus from London. Most towns have cycle shops where bikes can be hired (rented) by the hour or day.
Mark happened to mention that there were bikes available that we could use. We had not known about them last year, and they turned out to be the best way ever to explore all of the aforementioned sights and trails. It's easy from a bike to spy herds of huge antlered deer, breathtaking gardens, and royal homes and grounds.
There is so much to see in one of the world's greatest cities, it is easy to understand why you might not make it outside of town. We went in one day, and of course enjoyed many amazing sights.
One really fun event of the day was getting to meet up with friends, Helen & Collin, from Australia. They rented our home from us way back in 2000 when we were away from the Seattle area for a year. They just happened to be in town too, and thanks to wonders of Facebook, their post let us know that they were there. We all decided that none of us had changed a bit in 19 years!
We also went to the Tate Modern Museum of Art, and it was interesting and unusual to sit in on a trial at The Old Bailey Court house. Wikipedia says Old Bailey is an "Historic courthouse where the public can visit & sit in on high-profile criminal trials." There were quite a few high-profile trials on the docket for the day, but we were only allowed to go in to one that was a petty theft trial. After paying at two different places (a realtor's office to keep our phone, and a convenience store to keep our backpack), we returned and made it through the security screening. (Note to future visitors, put everything in one place at the convenience store. The realtors office will tell you that you can take your bag in, but you cannot.)
There are no photos to share of course - no phones or cameras due to security. Truth be told, the trial was a bit boring. There was a windbag of a defense barrister (trial lawyer) who was reading reams of unimportant, irrelevant information, to the exasperation of the judge, and everyone else as well. It was almost comical though listening to the prosecuting barrister who tried repeatedly to trick the accused in to admitting to committing the crime. We left early. Pretty sure the guy was going to go free. The judge and attorney do still wear their profoundly comical but historical white wigs.
The train to and from London to Teddington is normally quite easy, Occasionally, as it did on our return trip, there can be interruptions. On this particular day there had been a tragedy on a track, and several stops were skipped. Ours was not one which was skipped, and we were delivered to Teddington. For those who had to get off early, they would have been able to get to their destinations on the reliable bus system. We heard a few people getting quite upset at the revision, but clearly they had no knowledge of the situation, or surely they would have been more patient. Brits in general are so wonderfully polite and generally patient.
In my next blog I'm going to tell you one of the best travel secrets that we've found for visiting the most amazing places in England as well as other European countries. This is a teaser to get you to sign up to be notified of future blogs. To sign up to make sure you don't miss one of the best tips I have to offer, go to: https://www.coffeys2go.com/blog-subscription . It's not a paid advertisement, it's just something I wish we had know about years ago.
If you've had setbacks or difficulties, and you've been wanting to travel, but you've been letting things get in the way, putting it off to a "better time", think about what Alexander Graham Bell said “When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
We could not be accused of looking back at doors. We've been so fortunate to enter over 325 doors to places we've stayed in just over four years. But now, I seem to be seeing doors from both sides a little more and wanting to return to the inside of some of them. Who wouldn't want to with this sweetie inside!