Trip to England 2009 – Day 6 – Final Bits of England and the Journey Home

My Final Shot of Gold Hill – and England

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth part in a week long series about our fantastic trip to England two weeks ago. If you’d like to see the rest of the posts about our journey, click here.

This will be a rather short post and will be the hardest to write.

I woke up again ridiculously early to photograph the morning in Shaftesbury. It was raining and blustery. One thing I was really looking forward to was picking up the Sunday papers and having a cup of tea on our last morning in Updown Cottage.

I set out pretty early, grabbed a few pictures, but then the rain started pouring and by the time I’d stopped at the news agents to get the newspapers, I was soaked from head to toe.

But I didn’t mind. It wouldn’t be a proper British Holiday if I wasn’t miserably wet, right?

Our flight was at 3:30 in the afternoon, so we had a half a day to enjoy the rest of our trip. We planned 3 hours to get us to Heathrow by car, which ended up being plenty of time.

We read our newspapers, Jackie didn’t have as much luck with breakfast as I did the day before, so we just snacked, enjoyed our tea, the newspapers and our last glimpses of the Blackmore Vale from the dining room.

One thing I had been afraid to do during our entire stay was drive the car up the cobbles on Gold Hill to Updown Cottage – it just seemed wrong to do so and it was quite a narrow squeeze to get up the hill and I didn’t fancy finding out how good the insurance was that we’d paid through the nose for. However, I didn’t really want to lug all our luggage back down Gold Hill and walk them down St. James to our car to load it up.

So, with much bravery and gusto – I managed to drive all the way to the top of Gold Hill, turn the car around and park it in front of Updown Cottage to load up the car. I was quite pleased with myself.

With much sadness we loaded the car, tidied up the cottage, left a small gift for Simon and Jane and piled into the car and left Updown Cottage for the airport.

We’ll be back.

Driving to Heathrow

I was still a little bummed that we’d missed our chance to see Stonehenge, but as we went down the A303 towards London, I realized that the A303 actually runs practically next to the national monument.

So, about 40 minutes into a drive, sure enough there it was, Stonehenge. I wish I’d been able to take a picture but I was driving. One thing that struck us about it was how rather small it looked – from the road at 50mph at least.

Still, it was rather amazing to see and we’ll definitely have to make a trip their on our next journey to England.

The traffic to Heathrow cooperated and we made good time. It was a drive that I didn’t want to end. The scenery was amazing and I was quite enjoying driving the British way.

Traffic got worse as we got closer to the airport and bad signage in the airport complex meant we had to make a big circle through the whole placejust to find the rental car return lot. We dropped off our car and took the courtesy shuttle to Terminal Five.

Even though we were leaving, I was very much looking forward to going through Terminal Five again – and it didn’t disappoint. The departures area is amazing is it’s massiveness. There were no lines and we got right through baggage check. The British Airways staff were friendly and helpful. There was a slight problem with our luggage as I didn’t know I couldn’t carry my new umbrella onto the plane with me and I had to check it as oversized baggage and hope that it made it to Chicago.

After we’d made our way through security – our goal was to eat a full meal before we were trapped on a plane, hungry. So we grabbed a bite at a pub in airport. The food was all right but it took forever for it to get to us and we were on a time crunch. We still had souvenir shopping to do and time was running out.

We were a little disappointed in the shopping selection in Terminal Five – but that may have been because we didn’t have enough time for a proper walkabout. We were especially dismayed at the Harrods in Terminal five that seemed to only carry luxury goods and none of the touristy stuff we were used to in the old terminal.

Still, we managed to load up on souvenirs for everyone at a tatty store right before we had to make a beeline for the plane. One thing I was looking forward to was being to board the plane at the gate – as that was the selling point of Terminal Five. Sadly, that was not to be the case, we were loaded onto a bus and driven to the plane sitting on the tarmac. We were delayed taking off as Heathrow is quite busy and we had to wait our turn. But it was no big deal, we had plenty to keep us entertained. I wanted to stay in England as long as possible.

The flight home from England is always the worse – you’re sad the trip is over and it’s actually longer because the plane is flying into the headwinds. Still, the British Airways staff on board managed to make it go by quickly and in 8 hours we’d landed at home in Chicago.

My parents were waiting for us at the airport and they were kind enough to give a lift home, which was wonderful of them and was just what we needed after being cooped up on that plane for so long. My umbrella also survived oversized baggage.

After souvenirs had been passed out and my parents had left, it was just us as we prepared to go to bed.

It wasn’t Updown Cottage.

It wasn’t the Park Lane Hilton.

But it was home.

We both went to sleep with the same question running through our heads:

When will England be home?

Read More at Anglotopia


  1. avatar says

    Hello Jonathan

    I am pleased that you enjoyed your visit, but did not see Stonehenge.

    It is a unique structure. There was nothing quite like it from that time.

    You may be interested in my discoveries at Stonehenge, and the new theory that I have developed. Details are given here:

    Best wishes

  2. avatar says

    Hi Jonathan,

    It’s a very quiet Friday afternoon here at work and I’ve just finished reading through your trip posts. Oh my! Well done! It was like being back in England. You did an excellent job and I loved reading everything.

    I’m happy to tell you that my husband and I have decided to return to the UK next year to live. We have to sell our house first and sort a few other things out, so we are hoping that by this time next year we will be there and settled. Fortunately, I can run my Tea in London trips from over there, so that’s not going to be an issue.

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.