England Day 2

After about 4 hours of fitful sleep, the wake up call roused me at 7:30, my body screaming that it was only 1:30. I stumbled into the shower and turned the water on full blast. It never got past luke-warm, but the hotel provided some great shampoo. Pulled the towel off the warmer rack, cold because I had yet to figure out how to turn it on. Eventually I made it down to meet my work companions in the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The American contingent looked as bad as I felt, but the UK folks from the Manchester office who were also staying in the same hotel appeared chipper and ready to get to work. Evidently not traveling out of your normal time zone makes things a lot better. I was just glad we had had the foresight to schedule the first day's meeting at 9:00 rather than 8:00 to give an extra hour to those of us who had just lost 6.

Four of us crammed into a car about the size of a VW Bug and one of the UK people drove us to the office. We were told the reason everyone has small cars with stick shift is not just because of the little roads, but also because gas here cost about $8 per gallon! We decided not to complain about our $2.50 per gallon prices back home. The office was only 15 minutes away, but the ride was sure interesting. Not only do they drive on the wrong side of the road, but cars park in the street of the barely-big-enough-to-call-it-2-lane roads so we kept having to either wait for oncoming cars to get past or drive on the sidewalk. I tucked that fact in memory for when we walked around town.

The weather was a bit on the cool side, low 60's in the morning and low 70's for the high, which was a very welcome change from the 100+ we had been enduring back home.

We finally finished the first day of meetings at 6:30 and surprisingly, with the help of numerous cups of coffee, I only had to stand up and move around once during the day to stay awake. After getting back to the hotel, changing into jeans and grabbing my camera, wife, and youngest daughter, we met up with the two American guys on my team who had also made the trip and went walking around Marlow until we found an Italian restaurant that was crowded. Figuring that was a sign that it was good food, we entered and were seated by a very nice looking waitress. The food was decent, nothing to rave about, but we had a good time talking and just being excited about being in London. Wife and youngest daughter talked about what they had seen and done that day, which was interesting seeing as how the working stiffs had so far only seen the hotel, several miles of very, very crowded little bitty streets, and the few blocks we had walked getting to the restaurant.

We discovered that when it comes to eating, the Brits eat late and evidently linger over dinner. To us, the service, although friendly, was very slow. We also discovered they don't serve free water in a glass here. If you want water, you buy bottled mineral water. And you have to tell them whether you want "still" water or "sparkling" (carbonated) water. It doesn't come in plastic bottles; it's in heavy glass bottles. Food prices are about the same as in America.Our waitress seemed very surprised by our request to get seperate checks. She finally said she would have to ask the manager if they could do that. She returned later and said no, they can only give one ticket per table. Interesting.

After our enforced leisurely dinner, we made our way back tot he hotel, stopping along the way at an ATM machine to get pounds and pence. Not a very good exchange rate now, about $1.65 for 1 Pound.

Strange license plates - strange to us anyway.
Once back in our room, we set about figuring out how to make things work. I turned on the shower to see if the water would get hot, thinking the hotel just ran low on hot water in the morning when everyone was using it. Nope, still wouldn't get hotter than luke warm. I finally found a little button you have to push on the faucett to get it to turn further and was almost instantly rewarded with water hot enough to boil in! The toilets are a bit strange too. The tank is in the wall. I thought at first that it was just our fancy hotel, but found out during the day that no, all of them are like that. The flush handle is opposite from ours too; it's on the left side. It didn't seem to flush very well, just a gentle flush that took several times to flush poop. Finally figured out that one flush of the handle is for "number 1"and you rapidly turn the handle twice for a full-force flush to handle "number 2." That's a pretty neat way to save water. We finally found a little light switch on the wall outside the bathroom which turned on the towel heating rack. One other thing that is interesting - to get the lights to turn on, you have to insert your room card key into a little slot just inside the door and leave it in. When you take it out as you leave, the lights automatically all turn off. In spite of our best efforts, we couldn't figure out how to make the A/C work so we just opened the windows.

After answering a couple of emails, downloading the few pictures I had taken and uploading one with a post on Facebook, I fell into bed and tried to get to sleep. In spite of being dog-ass tired and the clock saying it was 11:15, my body was saying it's only 5:15 so once again, I couldn't get to sleep. The last time I looked at the clock before finally passing out, it was 1:30. Marvelous. Just 4 1/2 hours until another full day of meetings start. And my first full day in England thus came to an end. Not very exciting.