When I returned to Tonbridge after my Magical Mystery Tour, I only had 2 days before it was time to leave the country. I decided to use one day to go to London for the final time and one day to stay in Tonbridge to get everything packed and cleaned.
When I went to London I was surprised to find a new statue in Trafalgar Square--a blue rooster! I'm not really sure of the significance, but to tell you the truth, I prefer it to the golden kid on the rocking horse that used to be there.
|Do you like the new statue?|
Behind the cockerel, you can see the National Gallery. That's one of the places I'm going to miss. London has so many wonderful museums, and they are generally free to the public. I'll also miss the street artists in London.
|Street Artist Reproducing Works from the National Gallery|
|Very Tall Guy with the Union Jack Painted on his Face|
|Very Still Bicyclist|
But even more than that, I'll miss the London Theater!! It's so great to go into town any day of the week and know you can get a last minute ticket to some wonderful show. On my final visit, I saw a fabulous production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I enjoyed reading the book a few years ago, and the play really took you into the mind of an autistic teenager. I highly recommend it!
And like most Americans, I am enamored of the castles in the UK. I haven't stopped to count how many castles I have visited this year, but it's been a lot. Tonbridge Castle is less than a mile from my flat and I pass it twice a day. I had been saving it for a day when I wasn't busy, and that day never came, so I visited it on my final day in England.
|Here's my local castle!|
|I think he made this arrow for my farewell present.|
I climbed to the top of the castle and took these photos of Tonbridge:
Tonbridge also has a pretty waterway, the River Medway, running through it.
But of course what I will miss the most about living in Kent are the people. On my way to the airport I was surprised by a group of my pupils and their mums and siblings that came to see me off with singing and flag-waving.
|Kids and Mums|
|Kids and Me|
The children and staff at Stocks Green have been absolutely wonderful to me! I could not have asked for a better team in my Year 1 class than my amazing teacher's aides and student teacher. They went above and beyond to drive me to the airport and help me lug in my suitcases and wait for the plane with me, while enjoying a final cuppa tea and scones.
|Julie, Jack and Yvonne at the Airport|
It was hard to say "goodbye" but the time came to board my plane. The flight to San Francisco was smooth and the time flew by as I watched Hitchcock, The Big Chill and an episode of The Big Bang Theory. When I landed, I found that instead of a 2 1/2 hour layover until my flight to Sacramento, there would be a 4 1/2 hour layover. That was okay. Then after waiting the 4 1/2 hours, it was announced that our flight was cancelled, there were no other flights that day and no hotel rooms. That was not okay. I called Carl and told him what had happened, and he said he would drive to San Francisco. What a guy! It was a long day, but I finally got home at about 2 a.m. We were up for church the next morning, and it was great to see my Bethel friends again. I missed everyone while I was gone, but the hardest part was being away from my little granddaughter, Anna, as she was growing up so much in my absence. I had left 52 books wrapped up for her last August, and Levi and Erin helped her open one every week that I was gone. I got back in time to help her open the last one.
|Me with Anna and Carl|
|I remember reading Curious George to Anna's daddy!|
|Daddy Levi and his Darling Daughter|
|Anna liked the mice I brought back from |
my trip to Budapest.
|Mommy Erin watching over Anna|
|I left a tiny baby and came home to a little|
girl who is already cruising along!
And I need to be cruising along myself. There is so much to do when you've been gone for a year! School starts next week, so there's lots to prepare for my new group of students. There's loads to unpack and so much to catch up on. There's also just a lot to process after a year like this. It's been a very busy 12 months in which I've visited a dozen different countries and have had countless new experiences. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes it was amazing, and always it was a learning experience. I'm glad I did it, and I'm glad to be home. I look forward to seeing the rest of my family and friends soon. Since I've been back, many of you have told me that you've really liked reading my blog, which makes me happy, as it has been time consuming to write during a year in which time was always in short supply. Knowing that you have taken time to read it and have enjoyed it makes it all worthwhile. I intend this to be my last blog post since this is the blog of my Fulbright Year, and that year is complete. Now on to the adventure of being home. Blessings to you wherever your next adventure takes you! Thank you for traveling with me!