Friday, April 4, 2014

Back along the road

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Let me know if you need anything?  It’s always the offer among expats when one heads back to the US.  People miss the little things:  a bottle of sweetener, some snack crackers or cooking spice, a USB hard drive for half price.   Familiar things, scarce in Tesco or Blokker.

Let me know if you need anything?   And on the way over, it’s cheese or chocolates, single malt, gehaakt spice.  Rare things, unfamiliar in World Market or Pier 1.

So, again, one big case of clothes, one small for goods, arriving at the Bournemouth station for the three legs back to the US for a few days.  Business is wholly in Europe, so family events determine trips back across the Atlantic.  DSC04581 (1300x972)Next week it’s my children, my parents, my brother: my birthday.

The cheapest flight to Seattle departed from Amsterdam, so I planned a three legged journey.  Rail to London first, where I scored a club room a block from St Paul’s for half of what a hotel costs.   The trees were all budding, pink scented flowers and shoots of green leaves.  Streets were filled with shoppers: I worked my way from Selfridges foods to sports shops and watch repair, provisioning.

The prior week had filled with experiments, meetings, and fundraising preparations: we’re almost ready to get back out to investors and lots has to be put in order, clearly, to explain where we are and what we plan.  Our clinical and technical partners finished their planning work on time: we handed off across meetings and phone calls and reported status in a flood of emails.  There were a lot of late nights to enable a few days away.

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‘no time for museums this visit, but I spent the evening in light social conversations at an alleyway Italian bistro and a wine bar alongside the lit dome at St. Paul’s.

DSC04512 (974x1300)Do you prefer the journey or the arrival?  The Arrival, but differently.  The British want to settle into a their room with a cup of tea and a talk.  I always want to get outside for a cafe and to sample the ambience, people, pace and tenor of a new place.

Okay, right, I do take pictures for TripAdvisor first…

“I think those old people are talking about us?”  I had been studying a woman’s face on the Tube, thinking about curved lines and charcoal drawing  class. Her hair had a unique wave, framed an oval face with pointedly arched eyebrows.  She met my gaze; I glanced to her traveling companion, a man with a very oval face and pointedly arched eyebrows.  I whispered to a friend, slightly too loudly over the din of the carriage, who  looked and agreed.  I’d have been embarrassed except for the ‘old people’ remark.

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Around St. Paul’s, restaurants close early after dinner on a Friday, brasserie’s open late for breakfast on Saturday. It takes the pressure off of early rising, give a bit of space for catching my breath ahead of the journey.

And for packing and cushioning the provisions headed across with me.

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