D-Day

Sadly, my departure day has arrived and it’s time to get back to my life in Toronto.

It was going to be a long day of travelling today so I had the largest Full English I could manage in the hotel’s breakfast room. Checkout was at 11:00AM, so I had lots of time to pack up and make my way out to Heathrow International.

Before I left, I took a few pictures of my room (#202) in the Holiday Inn Express London – Southwark for those who might be interested:

This was definitely the most modern U.K. hotel I’ve ever stayed in. There had been a major reno in this hotel and it really showed.

I caught a London Black Cab (which are the coolest, by the way) from the hotel to Paddington Station, where I will catch the Heathrow Express out to the airport. The traffic was brutal, even late on a Monday morning (gotta love that central London congestion) but I finally reached Paddington Station. My cab driver was an incredibly nice man who very entertaining and chatty with his stories about little towns in the U.K.

I reached Paddington with plenty of time to spare, and caught the Heathrow Express to the airport:

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Heading back out to Heathrow International

I treated myself to a First Class ticket for this, my last train journey on this U.K. trip; it was a very relaxing ride out to the airport. One of the benefits of the Heathrow Express is that it gets you either to or from Heathrow airport in 15 minutes:

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I arrived at the airport, and stopped to check out this perplexing sculpture that sits outside the departure area:

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This piece is entitled Slipstream. It is one of the U.K.’s most-viewed artworks. The notes on the sculpture’s plaque say that it was inspired by the slipstream of a stunt plane’s flight path.

I printed off my boarding pass and baggage tag and got into the long bag-drop queue. I was standing there in the queue daydreaming and thinking of nothing in particular when I heard someone calling my name. I turned around and, much to my absolute surprise, there standing before me was my old friend Cindy. Her July 2018 visit to Toronto notwithstanding, I hadn’t seen Cindy since the early 2000s. We worked together remotely at Canada Life Assurance for many years – she in Vancouver, I in Toronto. I’d never yet met her children Thomas and Paige, and it had been years since I’d seen her husband Andrew – and there they all were. I just could not get over this encounter. What are the chances of such a fluke meeting so far from home? Incredible odds.

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Hugs and greetings were exchanged and then we all had to pass through Security. We lost each other at that time but were able to meet at the other side of the screening. While I was waiting for them to pass through security I grabbed a few shots of Heathrow’s Terminal 2, which we were in:

After rejoining post-security scan, we all went for lunch together in the airport. Unfortunately, I had to cut it short and make somewhat of a dash for my plane as I’d lost track of the time during our reminiscing.

I made my way out to the boarding gates:

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<Heavy sigh>

… and down endless people movers…

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… past the tributes to British music for the Beatles, Ziggy and the Spice Girls (yes… the Spice Girls):

… past the farewells:

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… to the boarding gate where my flight was boarding:

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… and down the bridge:

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Too late to turn back now, even if you wanted to

We departed slightly behind schedule. It was a mostly smooth flight back to Toronto except for a very bumpy patch over Ireland:

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This was one packed flight!

We arrived in Toronto a bit late but otherwise without incident:

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The dreaded kill-or-be-killed baggage carousel at Toronto’s Pearson International

I had a pre-arranged car waiting to whisk me home and that is exactly what happened next.

… And, well, really that’s about it!

Over and out from the final day of the Cornwall and U.K. tour.

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