It is generally a great pleasure of mine to anticipate and plan and savor the preparations for big trips like these. I spent thirteen months dreaming of Australia, before going there for the first time a few years back. In 1984 I made my first trip to England, and it was a big one; I spent 11 months doing research and taking notes and making plans. I realized I'd taken this a bit too far when about a month before my departure I found that I could, from memory, draw a map of London -- both before and after the building of Charing Cross Road in the 19th century. Yeah, I know.
But lately life overtakes me a bit more, and I find these trips are upon me before I've had much of a chance to imagine and anticipate. Technically I've been planning this trip for nearly two years, since I learned from my Brit shapenote friends Judy and Chris that this year's convention would be in their area, in Yorkshire. I've been to England three times previous specifically to sing with my friends there -- one memorable time I was pretty much there for the weekend only. But my overseas companions have come here to the US many more times than I've gone over there, and the tradition is that when somebody comes to your singing you owe them payback. Poor me, alas, to have such an obligation to go to England.
I'm pretty short on vacation days with my current job, so I've been hoarding vacation days and even putting money aside for this trip for a long time. It was going to be a big vacation, maybe two weeks or longer. But my somewhat last minute decision to attend Morris Intensive at Pinewoods took away one week of vacation days plus a good bit of my vacation fund. I have no regrets whatsover about that decision, but it does mean that this trip will be only about a week long.
I arrive in London on Thursday September 9 where I'll be staying with pir (waves to Peter) but only briefly since I leave for Yorkshire the next day for the weekend of singing. I may stay on an extra day or two in Yorkshire before returning to London, as I've never been to that area of England, But then I fly out of London to head home the next Friday so this will be pretty whirlwind. My only real plans for London are to do some very specific shopping: I need a new Mason Pearson hairbrush in a size and style that's not available here, I desperately need new Havana Joe cap-toed boots which are no longer distributed in this country, and I want to make my way to the London branch of the Japanese sock store Tabio because they sell the most durable most vivid yellow sports socks, which I require for my Morris kit. Other than that? Who knows? This is my sad attempt to play things by ear -- I've left, oh, nearly an entire day unplanned!
I wrote my friend Judy yesterday to let her know I was coming and to ask about hotels near the singing convention. Almost immediately she wrote back, having made reservations for me at what looks like a fine and reasonable hotel and she has arranged transportation from London for me (it's otherwise three trains and over three hours) and she has invited me to her home for a social event or two. Talk about being made to feel welcome!
So now I have just over two weeks to fall into reveries about this upcoming trip. My friend Bob Walser may even be in Yorkshire while I'm there, so I have to check on that. I need a new suitcase. Since my last visit to London I've purchased a couple of books about London landmarks and architecture so maybe I'll plan a nice little walking tour -- oh wait, I guess I've just filled in my free day. Ooops.
Yes, the fun begins!