Saturday, November 10, 2001


It was finally after four when I was able to get to sleep last night. It seemed wise to just turn on the bedside light and read rather than lie there and stew. Punching Ron in the ribs is just as easy in a sitting position with a book in one hand. When I opened my eyes the first time, it was 8:00, so I could sleep a little longer before the alarm went off and we showered for breakfast. The next eye opening was at 9:45 and the realization that we were about to miss breakfast. We hopped into clothes promising ourselves a shower when we returned and started out the door. The male maid/breakfast waiter was in the hallway and said, “Too bad you missed breakfast. It stopped at 10:00.” It was one minute past. He handed us a note. It was a message from Jean saying she would be at our disposal all day today and to call her. It was marked at 8:20 am. Ron showered and then went to call Jean while I showered. He had arranged to meet her at 12:30. She was planning on taking us to Chester for the day. That is one of the side trips we had intended to take, but was running out of steam and time. Jean and her daughter Amanda picked us up and whisked us to Jean’s home. Jean is a General Practitioner and Senior Partner of a private medical group. Her daughter Amanda just returned from Kuwait where she was studying Arabic for the last year. Amanda is in her last year of college and speaks five languages. She is currently studying Japanese. Quite an amazing young lady, she was a pleasure to talk to. She has vibrant ideas of what she would like to study and her thirst for knowledge is refreshing in a young person. Jean and her friend and neighbor, Christine were taking us to Chester. Christine’s parents live there and she is familiar with the area. The ride and conversation was so delightful that taking a nap never occurred to me. They were excellent company. Christine is a computer consultant and has done some extensive travel in the States for work. Chester is an old Roman fort and port city that sits on the River Dee. Romans founded the city in 70 A.D. It borders Wales. There is still a Roman wall that surrounds the city center, which we walked for a section. It is the most complete circuit of city walls in England. From the wall, in one spot are the remains of the Roman baths. Black and white buildings called timber framed townhouse and shops called rows are famous in this city. Some date back to the 1600’s. The streets were teeming with shops and people starting the Christmas shopping rush early. There are dozens of antique shops and jewelry stores amongst boutiques, toy stores, books, and other interesting wares. I always think that you can tell the wealth of an area by how many jewelry stores they have and how fancy the jewelry is. One of the shops had a diamond ring that was 2.25 carats and cost over nineteen thousand pounds. Multiply that by 1.63 and you will have the cost in dollars. Well you just look too comfortable to get a calculator, so let me give it to you in dollars. That comes to $30,970.00 give or take a few bucks for the exchange fluctuation. Wouldn’t you like to have the Santa that can afford that? The main attraction for us was the cathedral, which was started in 907 A.D. It is dedicated to St. Werburgh. She was an Anglo-Saxon princess and abbess. Some of her relics are stored in the church therefore making it a place of pilgrimage during the medieval times. In 1092, a Benedictine abbey was founded there and continued for over 500 years. When monasteries were dissolved in 1540, the abbey church became the Chester cathedral. Jean took the three of us to a tearoom in what was once an old Roman crypt, but is now a fashionable little restaurant. When I explained why I was passing over something sweet with my tea, Jean said that this type of problem is common with sinusitis and that sounds like what I described. She said it could take up to three months to resolve. Just what I wanted to hear! After tea, we continued to look through shops and then drove back to Jean’s house, where we had playtime with her puppy, a miniature poodle named Puppy. He is a little black curly energy surge and loves attention. Jean rang up Michael and her daughter Amanda to see if either wanted to join us for dinner, but Michael was in pain from the day’s labors and Amanda was studying a Persian show. The four of us drove downtown to Chinatown. At a little Chinese restaurant, Jean ordered an appetizer platter for four and each of us ordered a main dish to share. The smells were heavenly and the food looked great. The conversation was wonderful and lasted for an hour after we finished eating. It seems no one wanted to leave our little comfort zone of camaraderie and good food. We found out over dinner that Christine has written quite a few poems that she has collected into a book that she hopes to publish some day. She recited a few after eating and they were smashing. I would love to have a copy if she ever does publish. We said our good-byes to the two of them at the car, since we had to go to the Internet café and it was only a short walk. It was great seeing Jean again, plus the bonus of meeting Amanda, whom we had heard so much about. Meeting Christine was an added dividend to the day. This was another outpouring of generosity with what we hope will be a lifelong friendship with all of our cruise friends we are getting to see. I had to get the food review after from Ron. He said it was some of the best Chinese food he has ever eaten. I will have to take him at his word and savor the memory of the aromas. My friends Daphnee and Ellie who are the recipients of our mail e-mailed to say that Budget Rental car is charging us $48.00 for a lost hubcap since they have not heard from the credit card or our car insurance. What incentive would our car insurance have to pay it when we cancelled our policy a week after it happened? It was when we were in Colorado, that Ron noticed a loose hubcap, but didn’t mention it until we returned the car and they noticed it. This is one of the trials of travel. A second similar problem is that I forgot to pay the second newspaper for an ad that I took out to sell my car. It really seemed to me that I wrote the check from New Jersey before leaving, but there is nothing in the checkbook or bank statement to support my theory, so they put me into collection for the $25.00. So they will be getting a check from England, better they should wait longer for it then not get it at all. Fortunately, I can e-mail them to let them know the check is coming. Returning to Daphnee, Daphnee and I met when we were both returning students for our Bachelors degrees. We met in the very first class I had taken, Comparative Religions. We started talking after class one night, and then decided to go to a diner and continue our chatter. At 5:00 am, we decided we had better get to our respective homes and get some sleep. That started an instant friendship and it was not long after that that I had to have my second eye surgery. I was bandaged on both eyes for two weeks after the surgery and my mother came over days to stay with me, as I could not get around on my own. Daphnee volunteered to come over every evening to stay with me after work until my roommate returned home from his second job. This certainly was above and beyond what anyone would hope for from a new friendship, but it has cemented our friendship and it has been twenty-eight years since we met. Her partner, Ellie is equally generous and willing to assist us in whatever we need for them to do while we are gone as they both are willing to assist us when we are State bound too. I cannot say it enough that I do give thanks every day for all of the people that have come into my life. Some were visitors and other’s created a home in my heart, but I know that all of you and those who are no longer around have made me a very prosperous person. Tonight, we are anticipating the hoopla to start again since it is only Saturday night. I am not going to try to get to sleep until the noise dies off. After the fact, what I did not anticipate was that the fellow travelers in the hotel would be as loud and obnoxious as the street urchins. The other people in the other rooms must have invited the crowd from the street into the hallways for more reverie as now the commotion was in stereo, coming through the window and through the door as well. My temper was rising like bread with too much yeast in it, but I was dubious about doing anything too overt since they ‘know where we live’ and Bacchus only knows what type of problems they would cause after the fact. Since we do not have a phone in the room, there was no way of calling the reception in the other building to complain. Sit it out and in the morning slam doors and blast the television. Ah, sweet revenge! My mean side comes out when I have less than six hours of sleep.

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