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For this year’s Christmas season I’ve traveled to England!  Frances is back visiting her family here in Kent before she takes off for Thailand in January.  We’ve had a lovely Christmas together here; it was my first time to experience this holiday in the UK.  My flight from Oslo to London was significantly delayed due to weather, but luckily I was flying to Gatwick Airport rather than Heathrow Airport, which had been closed.  With a few extra hours to kill at Gardermoen, I entertained myself with some reading & writing, and observing the zombies around me.

When the aircraft arrived at Gatwick we had to wait an extra 30 minutes for a terminal gate, then another 20 for airport staff to fix the malfunctioned jet bridge; grumbles all around.  It felt nice to get off the plane and walk ahead of the grumpy mob.  When I came to the passport control desk I handed the officer my form and offered a friendly greeting and smile, but it was not returned.  All I got was a frown to go along with the dour interrogation of my purpose as a tourist.  She certainly succeeded in making me feel sorry just for coming to visit.

Baggage claim required another hour and a half of wait time, in a big, dreary room with no seating for the upset crowds.  I’m not one whine and complain around airports but rather am driven to wonder why these sorts of situations are not better handled by the facility.  Everyone can expect travel delays and cancellations when it comes to unfavourable weather, especially during the winter, so why can a facility not be prepared for it?  Bring in some extra seating, provide some refreshments (at least more than one vending machine!) to the upset travellers.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to mop the dirty floor people are sitting on.  Really, it’s no wonder people get upset.  As travellers, we are customers to the airlines and the airports.  If you want to run a good business, do everything you can to keep the customers happy; at least show us you’re trying!

Now where was I?  Oh, yes…

It was absolutely wonderful to see Frances again and to meet her family.  We drove to their home in Kent, where we’ve spent most of the time.  There were two days that were spent in London but among the hustle of Christmas shoppers was not where we wanted to be.  The highlight of the London excursion was definitely our dinner at a restaurant called Masala Zone.  Great food, great service; highly recommended!

For Christmas here we had a tree, a special meal on Christmas day, and gifts to open afterwards.  As the family enjoyed a traditional turkey with all the trimmings, Frances and I opted for a delicious vegetarian course!  A tarte of caramalised onion, stilton, cheddar and cherry tomatos, a side of roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and homemade cranberry sauce to go along with our cranberry, orange, and nut “stuffing”.

The other day we all took a walk through the countryside to Chiddingstone for lunch at a little pub in the tiny village.  We visited the Chiding Stone, and traversed the fields to Penshurst.  I took a few photos along the way.  Enjoy!