August 18, 2008

My final days in England

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near
~Andrew Marvell
I came across this quote a few years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I have found that my life has been divided into many chapters and as I near each chapter's end, however long it may be, I find myself very pensive. There is a certain sadness that comes with the ending of each chapter as I feel it approaching. I find myself wishing that I could stop time dead in its tracks. But for me, the important thing is that at the end of each chapter, I can look back and truly appreciate all I experienced and all I learned about myself. My chapter in England has been no exception.

My last two days of work for Richard Language college are on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and then I fly back to the US on Thursday. I will be ending my job on Wednesday with a half-day excursion to Winchester. My friend Jane is going to drive me to the airport on Thursday....such a sweetheart. She volunteered to do that for me and it means I don't have to pay to ride a coach for four hours to the airport!

I'm trying to squeeze in as much as I can these next two days, but my job doesn't leave me much time for that. I have a few things I'd like to do in/around Bournemouth, loose ends to tie up as I prepare to pass my job along to the next person, and of course, lots of packing to do. The amazing thing is I think I will leave England with less than when I came in. For anyone who knows me, that is truly a miracle!

This past week, my host "parents" had their three granddaughters stay with them. The girls are ages 7, 6, and 4 and they are absolutely adorable. They are so sweet and polite, and full of questions! I always wanted to laugh because each time one of the girls would want to ask me a question, they'd begin with, "ummmm.... (long pause while they're trying to remember my name)....Dee Anne?" I loved the way they turned my first name into two names. The littlest one especially took a liking to me. Her name is Bea and she is a tiny thing with wispy blonde angel hair, little freckles across her nose and cheeks, and a precious little voice. She asked me, in her sweet little English accent," Um, Dee Anne? Will you come back next year please? When we're here?" I wish I could have spent more time with the girls but unfortunately my job keeps me on the go and leaves me little time with my host family. Each of the girls gave me a great big hug on Saturday morning when we said our goodbyes.

On Saturday, I led my last full-day excursion. We went to London and I was the only guide since we were a smaller group. After I led the walking tour through London, I released the students for their free time. I suddenly found myself standing completely alone in the center of London. I was so excited! A few hours all to myself in London? I couldn't believe it! All the other times I had been to London, I was with Marco, the other social organiser, and many times a few students would choose to stay with us during their free time. The unfortunate thing is that though I have been to London many times now, I still have never had the time to do some of the things I've really wanted to do there. When it gets to be "free time," I only have two hours or so before I have to meet the students back at the coach, so I don't have enough time to say, for example, go visit the Tower of London (which I'm still dying to do). I technically could have visited London on my own on one of my days off, but I've had so few days off that I've really never felt ambitious enough to do something like that. Mostly, I've just wanted to catch up on sleep! It was lovely to eat lunch sitting in Leicester Square and then spend the afternoon wandering the streets and shops of central London. I can't wait to go back someday!

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about some of my adventures in England. It has been fun sharing updates and photos! I have learned so much about myself in my time here and I know, in ways, I will be forever changed by England. One thing I so relish about traveling is falling in love with a place, whether it be a restaurant, a coastline, a village, a city, or a country. When you leave, you take a part of that place with you and carry it in your heart. It is always with you, and always whispering to you, calling you back once again.

Signing off for my last time from England......


About to start our Friday night BBQ...

Grilling some burgers and chicken with Chris, a student.

The sun shining on Leicester Square.

I took this picture just because I thought this building looked lovely.

Trafalgar Square. You can't see it in this picture, but there was a giant
screen in the square broadcasting the Olympics live.

Love these trademark phone booths.

Looking out over the River Thames, saying goodbye
to London (for now).

A cream tea. Very English.

Me with my cream tea and scone. I think I might adopt "afternoon tea"
into my daily routine when I go home.

I had to chase this little guy off of the road in the New Forest.

He decided to come back to get a second look at me.

We found this small estate for sale. I was SO tempted to buy it!

We found this randomly on the side of a country road in the New Forest.
It reads, "Community Service Bisterne Style." I was just checking
to make sure it wasn't a real person!

Fields of heather.

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