Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Awake and in England

Well, here I am in England. Surprisingly awake (although waking up after a two-hour afternoon nap was rather difficult) and doing my best not to think about what time it is back home.

All thing considered, the airplane travel wasn’t so bad. Last year we went up to Washington DC to fly out. It was a cheaper flight, but with the train/bus plus, due to the timing, the hotel room, not actually cheaper. But still, it was a worthwhile detour – Husband had never done the monuments or museums before. From DC, we flew with Virgin Air. It was a lovely experience – they gave us socks and toothbrushes! This trip, conveniently direct from Ralight-Durham (thanks be to the pharmaceutical industry, which enables these direct flights to London!) I flew American Airlines (by myself). I wasn’t expecting the small luxurious details, which was good, because there weren’t many.

I absolutely freeze on airplanes. Every time, without fail, regardless of the length of the flight. So this trip I came prepared.

I wore:
- A sweater dress
- Fleece-lined leggings
- Wool socks

And I brought:
- A wool sweater
- A neck pillow
- Another pair of wool socks to wear over the first ones
- A duck-down blanket
- A large wool scarf that functions as a shawl
- An orange
- And a set of hummus+pretzels

I was actually warm enough through the flight! Amazing. I came properly equipped. And it’s really good that I brought some food items. The food was dreadful. I had a funny conversation with one of the stewards about how awful airplane food was. I was really glad to have the hummus, and actually was pleasantly surprised that there was enough for not only the accompanying pretzels, but also the airplane pretzels and the crackers that came with the mostly inedible meal. Also, there was complimentary wine. Which was also kind of awful, but drinkable. Practically chuggable, actually (not great wine, for sure). So I downed a glass of white wine, got pleasantly tipsy, and tried to settle in for some sleep. Sleep largely didn’t happen, or happened in fits. Economy-class seats are really uncomfortable, even with a pillow propping up your lower back. I woke up a lot and fidgeted a lot. Next time: bring an eye mask! In its place, I wrapped my scarf around my face and probably looked really silly.

Without a sleeping pill, I didn’t sleep much (although then again, even with the sleeping pill, I didn’t sleep much last time either). However, this proved to be a really smart choice. Without being drugged up with a sleeping pill that hadn’t worn off when the flight landed, I was surprisingly awake, and dealing with the border crossing and customs was actually pretty smooth (instead of the groggy nightmare of last time). It helped that the line at border control was really short. Also that I'd practiced my answer ("I'm an American Ph.D student on a fellowship from my university to research at British libraries) so even when totally exhausted I wouldn't get tongue-tied or say something totally incomprehensible.

So they let me through, and thus begins my summer of archival research!

Tomorrow: why my first night in England was culinary perfection.

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