We landed on time and after a 10-minute walk, started standing on the Immigration queue (they have queues here, not lines) at precisely 9am GMT. 28 minutes later, we were through – considering the line was twice as long as last year, I was pleasantly surprised that it only took half the time to get through.

After picking up our luggage, we met John in the terminal. There was a slight change in plans in how we would get from Manchester to Leeds – instead of us all using the train as John originally thought we would do, some of us (Marcia and Marge) would go in John’s car and the rest of us would take the train (he told us why – something about he would have had to have gotten to the airport at 4am??? It didn’t make any sense to me but I was one of the last ones to get luggage so I missed the beginning of the story.). John led us to the train station (which involved taking not one, but two elevators. Fortunately, neither got stuck), bought our tickets for us and told us which train to go on and where to get off.

The train ride was an uneventful hour and change, when we exited the train at Leeds. The station had only 1 exit and (after 2 more brave elevator rides) John and Caroline met us there. It really WAS only a 5-minute walk to our hotel – John had told us as much but we were always suspicious that he meant HIS 60mph gait, without luggage, no less, LOL! But a 5-minute walk it was when we arrived at the Leeds Marriott Hotel.

All of our luggage combined

All of our luggage combined

From the back of Joe's head clockwise: Joe, Carol, Stephen, Barb, Marcia, Caroline, Peggy, Marge

From the back of Joe's head clockwise: Joe, Carol, Stephen, Barb, Marcia, Caroline, Peggy, Marge

It was still early, barely past noon, so we left our luggage with the concierge. John said that the receipt should go to the most responsible one, but none of us really were. I was standing close to him though, so I put out my hand and he gave me the receipt. Foolish man, LOL!

With 2 hours to spare until official check in time, we went to the hotel’s lounge area and got some stuff to eat and drink, chewing the fat and passing time. We all noted how John’s English accent is starting to come out thicker already…”shootle” for “shuttle,” “poob” for “pub”, etc. Give it another day or two, he’s going to lose his Texas accent altogether and we’re going to have to start asking each other, “What’d he say???” LOL! Good thing he has a good sense of humor, hmmm? I also used this time to as Caroline to call my friend Nettie in Nottingham, to see if she would be able to join us for our traveling plans on Tuesday. Things were a bit more “iffy” for her because of some family issues that had come up, but if we can’t get together this trip, there’s always the possibility of Candlelight in December. We’ll see.

Our rooms were ready around 1:45pm so we all went up to check them out. Very nice place!

We met back downstairs at 2:30pm. John was already outside but Caroline was not. Apparently they had changed a lot of the roads in Leeds and she was having a lot of problems getting to the hotel (she had been parked at the train station before). She eventually got there and we were on our way!

The plan was to visit with John’s family at their house, so we first stopped at Morrisons supermarket to do our share and buy things for the party. With crisps (potato chips), dip, cake and I don’t know what else in hand, we headed to the Morris’ house.

I had met Jim and Eileen during our last Royal Albert Hall-related trip, last September and they were sweet, charming people. Of course, they still are and we had a wonderful time getting re-acquainted (or, for those who had never met them, acquainted) with them, as well as with John’s uncle, aunt, cousins and (I think) a childhood friend (his oldest friend? Darlene K., if you’re reading this, Joe and I both SOOO thought of you!).

Their house was lovely, with a gorgeous traditional English front and back garden.

Front yard

Front yard

Back yard

Back yard

Have you ever gone to someone’s house and been inordinarily impressed with something quite ordinary? That’s how I felt about the wallpaper in Jim and Eileen’s house. It was textured wallpaper, designed in a checkered pattern with alternate squares appearing to be made of rows and rows of thin rope hat were in their own X pattern in their own square. I know the description didn’t do it any justice but, well, I liked it, LOL! It was simple yet complex, artistic and elegant, yet homey.

Oh, and the food everyone brought was great, too! Ham, quiches, chicken, cole slaw, bread and butter, salads, potatoes, sausage, meat pies, cheese, you name it. And the desserts! Cheesecake, apple pie with custard, fruit salad, chocolate cake with fruit on top, and the most rich, delicious dessert that Caroline made, with shortbread, caramel and chocolate (and she’s sending me the recipe! Woo hoo! Hello, CHRISTMAS BAKING!)

Jim & Eileen in front of their house

Jim & Eileen in front of their house

So yeah, it was a terrific few hours, with lots of fun, funny conversation with some darling people. Unfortunately we had had a long, LONG day with very little sleep, and we travelers were all fading fast by late afternoon, so we bid our goodbyes to our hosts.

The plan for most of us tomorrow is to go to York. Marcia has already been there so she is planing on staying closer to home but the rest of us are going, albeit in varying “waves,” depending on how early we’re willing to wake up, LOL! Let’s see how many times we wind up bumping into each other, LOL!

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