Jimís United Kingdom Visit

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On Friday, February 19, hitching a ride with my Pastor, Peter Narum to the airport, I left Minneapolis for London around 4:00 p.m. on TWA by way of St. Louis.The round trip ticket was $308 but I didnít realize that airport fees, customs fees, etc., would add almost $100 to that.Guess they do that on international flights.


I arrived at London's Gatwick airport a little after 9 am Saturday morning to be greeted by my daughter Paige who had a sunflower in her hand for me.  We took the half hour train ride into London. 

Then got on the "Tube" (the subway) to get near her house. 

It is a good ten minute walk from her tube station - Willesden Green to where she stays.  Her flat isn't the big house you see but a small addition to it back behind the truck on the right.

Here are a couple of Paige's flat-mates, Tara and Kim from Tennessee having their supper

We went out to a pub for lunch, bought some groceries, then mercifully we came back to the flat and got a good Saturday afternoon nap in.  That saved my life.  We took the tube downtown to Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus for a little night life.

Meeting us at, where else but Burger King are Paige's friends Alessandro and Vincenzo in London from Italy to take English courses

Then Vincenzo and I watched Paige dance with Alessandro.  Yeah, it was a big night for us.


Sunday, we slept in, then took the tube downtown again for some sight-seeing. 

This is the Tower Bridge, next to the Tower of London. 


I had to re-learn English over there. 

When you get on and off the Tube, you are are warned to "Mind the Gap" - watch out for the space between the car and the platform.  Americans would say - "Watch your step".

Just a meandering observation, but I believe 70% of Londoners wear black coats.  It must be their favorite coat color.

Jim's Incomplete British to American English Conversion Table



jacket potato baked potato
chips french fries
crisps potato chips
biscuits cookies
garden yard
kitchen garden garden
Way Out Exit
toilets rest rooms
toilet is "engaged" toilet is "occupied"


Other little observations...

When you order a cup of coffee, they pour about a half an inch of milk in the cup then pour in coffee.  If you want black coffee, you must order it black. 

Clothes driers are not common.  They use energy efficient vertical clothes washers that get most of the water out then most clothes are dried by hanging them over modern radiators.

The sidewalks in the residential areas in London are made up of about 2 foot squares of cement, placed like tiles.  Apparently, if one goes bad, they just remove that square and replace it.  Americans pour large continuous areas of concrete, then create grooves in them.

If you order milk with your meal in a London restaurant, you will be asked if you want it hot or cold.

There are no trash cans in the Tube.  That's to protect from IRA bombs, yet the Tube is relatively clean.

The middle of my week was spent doing some Latham family genealogy and just rubbing shoulders with regular Brits.  I'll spare you that.  I had a ball.

Would you like to look at a menu from a regular, common, English cafe?   The owner of the Legends Cafe, at Buckhouse Hill in N.E. London gave them to me. One F (one pound) is worth $1.66 American.  There are 100 pence in a pound.

The second "Sweets" entry is a sponge pudding with raisins and with custard.  Hey, if you never ask, you never learn.

On Thursday night, I took Paige and Emily out to see the musical "Buddy" at the Strand Theater in London.

I was astonished to realize that this has been running for almost 10 years, 8 or 9 times a week to 1000 - 1200 theater goers at each performance.  The last 30 minutes of each performance is all about Buddy's final performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa - my home town.  A beautiful neon "Surf Ballroom" sign descends above the stage and then it's Clear Lake this, and Clear Lake that.  It was very positive about Clear Lake.  What a wonderful feeling to travel half way around the world to see your home town lifted up like that.  By the way, it's a great show!!!  They are booked through next year in London.

Friday morning, I took the three hour train up to Preston, England, to visit my "cousin" Brian Latham and his family.  Paige came up that night after work.

Left to right, Mary Clare, Tony, Joan, Brian, and Helen

Brian met me at the train station.  When we arrived at his house, there was a welcoming sign for Paige and myself.

Don't they have a great looking front door?

He gave me a list of things to do.  When I heard that he had a 100 year old mother, I put that at the top of the list.

What a beautiful lady.  Here is Brian and his mother.  When I talked to her, she thought I had warm hands.  I kissed her on the cheek.  We like each other.  She is well taken care of at a local care center.


Then we visited Brian's nephew, Richard, at his business.

Richard's mother, Gwen, made great desserts and she and her husband Bill, Brian's brother, started to sell them to area restaurants for their dessert trays.  Richard built on that and today he has a very large business making and delivering desserts to restaurants.  He also has a very pretty girl friend, Gel, (pr. Jill).  Brian works there part time in the office since retiring from the insurance business.

Paige arrived later that night, plus Helen, and Tony came up also from London.  Mary Clare lives at home and teaches Greek language and history at a nearby school.

I brought them a bag of un-popped, , processed in Iowa.  They of course have had popcorn before, but they had never seen the seeds pop.   Not used to popping in olive oil, I unfortunately scorched part of Joan's pan, but it was a big success.  They have since popped it by themselves.

On Saturday, Brian took Helen, Paige and myself over to Blackpool.  Preston is located halfway between Liverpool to the south, and Blackpool to the north. 

The highlight there is the world famous Blackpool Tower, which gives you a view 500 feet above the Irish Ocean to the west.  It was windy that day, so the tower was closed.  Click here to ride up the tower today.

We had a great time with all the other sights there including the most beautiful ball room I've ever seen in my life. 

Here's Brian dancing with Paige.  The white organ and the organist on stage are world famous and the whole thing decends into the stage when he's through playing.  We had a great day at Blackpool.

That evening, all the area Lathams got together for dinner out at the Corporation Arms restaurant.

The food was fantastic and the company of these good looking Lathams made it a great evening.

We enjoyed a nice Sunday with Brian and family attending their church, Our Lady & St. Edward, playing Scrabble, and relaxing, before Brian and Joan put us back on the train to London.  Thanks, Brian, Joan, Mary Clare, Helen, and Tony for a wonderful weekend!  Also thanks to the other Lathams, Bill & Gwen, and Richard and Gel.

Sunday night, Paige and I relaxed back at her and Emily's flat, packed my suitcase with stuff Paige wanted to send home to me and went to bed.  The next morning, I kissed my daughter off to work, then I took the tube and the train to the airport for the return to the United States.

Thanks, Emily, for putting up with Paige's Pa.   I thought we had a picture with you eating out before the "Buddy" production, but it's not on one of my rolls!  Darn it!

Thanks, Jed, for picking me up in Minneapolis.

Thanks, Marcia, for sending me off and missing me while I was gone.

Thanks to you, for riding along.

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