So here we were, in the well-appointed bar at Kings Cross Station. I perused the menu trying to remember fries were chips here and chips were crisps and bangers were sausages and the pound was equal to 1.7 dollars. Which meant the bangers and mash meal cost 12 x 1.7…sigh! never-mind. I was too tired and excited to worry about it all. I ordered a curry, declined an adult beverage on account that I wanted to keep my wits about me when I met my mother in law. We set about consuming our chosen meals while plotting our train route to the destination. I understood we were to take the over land rail from our present destination to Lea Graves.
From there we would take a mini-cab the rest of the way. Mini-cabs are privately owned cars that are employed by a company to serve as taxis. Sound familiar? Well, Uber/Lyft did not event this concept as it has been happening in England for years I am told. After our meals, we left the bar with our luggage in tow and headed towards the center of the station. There we were met by a huge imposing display lit up with names of places some of which I had only read about in books or seen in movies. Oxford, Bath, Liverpool and Paris. Oh Paris! I thought faintingly, how romantic. I could barely believe I would be aboard that train in a few days! An announcer would periodically come on announcing the trains impending departure, it’s intended destination and where it was “calling at”. I found it rather charming that even though the trains looked sleek and modern, everything else including the employees’ attire was vintage British. There were men dressed in traditionally looking uniform yelling “All aboard?” when a train was due to leave. They would then ring a hand bell to announce to the driver that it was all clear to depart. I couldn’t help smiling to myself at how traditional and ritualistic it all was.
Having found our train and settled into a booth, I could now turn my attention to the impending introduction. I tried with little success to extract any information regarding my Mother-In-Law from Stephen and resigned myself to admiring the English country. We passed through various quaint little towns along the way. We spoke little, everybody seeming entranced by the views. I was amazed at how green it all was. The fields and rolling hills with well manicured grass and neat hedges dividing the land and little cottages dotted by a mix of livestock lazing about in the fields with only scattered trees for company. It was picturesque. Mind you, we were less than an hour out of London.
We arrived soon enough and loaded our luggage into a small minivan that barely accommodated it all. I could not get over how small the cars were in England compared to the ones in the US. I tried to distract myself from my nervousness by trying to identify the various cars that we passed by. I say a Vauxhall Zafira or something that looked like a shrunken Ford Focus and a tiny VW which I was happy to recognize. My palms were sweaty. Stephen was saying something about it being unseasonably warm, I was barely listening. I heard John ask if I was ok having taken my sweaty palms into his. He had been so sweet throughout the journey. He knew I was nervous and had been very understanding when I got irritable. He had down played the introduction even though I knew it was important to him too just to lessen the pressure. He had been the perfect travel companion. I forced a smile to reassure him but could not bring myself to say more. It was a short ride.
We pulled in front of a brick townhouse with a brick wall that could not have been higher than 3 feet and brick stairs that funneled out to form a perfect semi-circle in-front of a solid oak door with a house number that I recognized. It was John’s Mother’s address. The door opened and a Woman came bounding down the stairs and she and John hugged. I recognized her. I awaited my introduction somewhat awkwardly standing by the roadside with my suitcase in my hand. Meanwhile, someone else had come down the stairs and was enthusiastically taking the suitcase from me, it was John’s step dad. I smiled, took his hand trying hard to understand his Irish accent and failing. I tried to compensate for this by smiling more and mumbling it was a pleasure to meet him too. He smiled and looked over me. I turned around to find John’s Mother facing me. She came up to me and hugged me saying “Sylvia, nice to finally meet you.” I was relieved. Over Mum’s shoulder I could see John smiling with a ‘see, there was nothing to worry about look.’
Next week; I get to know my In Laws and John and I set off to Paris!