The passports found their way to our mailbox at 1:30PM on Wednesday. We checked in at the airport around 3PM :) Talk about cutting it fine!
Everything went without a hitch after that point - they had some trouble finding us 4 adjacent seats on the plane since we were flying standby but they managed to at least get us 2 sets of 2 seats, so Em and I tag-teamed the kids and the 10 hour journey out was pretty uneventful. When we arrived on Thursday we got a cab to the car rental place - Practical Car Hire (highly recommended if you're visiting the UK) to pick up our car. It was a brand new (only 5k miles) Ford Mondeo diesel... A really nice car, I think it ended up costing about £170 per week (which is a great deal) including insurance, tax, and all that stuff that doubles the cost of the car when you rent one in the UK. We did have a bit of a problem getting the car though. See, there are two charges involved in renting the car. A deposit, for £500, and the actual cost of the car. They run them through the credit card machine as two seperate transactions, because at the end of the period, the £500 charge is refunded. Well, it seems Capital One sees large transactions in a foreign country as a fraud red-flag (rightly so) so after the first transaction went through, the card was cut off. Awesome! No problem, we'll use Amex. - NOT. There are actually very few places in the UK that take Amex short of very large retailers. We did get it figured out in the end, even though Capital One's systems were down for updates so they couldn't help us... so much for 24/7 customer service.
The 4 day visit went super fast, we met with our American friend Amy on Friday - she recently moved to the UK - and we spent the day in Stratford-upon-Avon (birthplace of Shakespeare and, well... most of my mother's family), with a trip to the butterfly farm being the highlight of the day for the kids.
Saturday was my sister Sarah's wedding, and it was an all-day affair. We started early and ended late; much food and drink was consumed, the kids managed to fight their way to being awake until well after midnight, and we got to catch up with so many people we haven't seen for a long time. It was an awesome day and my sister looked really beautiful (ok, enough of the mushy stuff now)
Sunday came and went, we got to visit with Dad and Brenda, had a post-wedding lunch buffet which was great, and by Sunday night we were well exhausted, just in time to have to pack for Monday's journey home. On Monday our seats were assigned at check-in (no standby this time) and the journey home (on a bigger plane than the way over there) was mostly quiet and uneventful. It really felt good to get home, even if I did feel sad about once again leaving my UK family behind. - I think it was less sad this time since I knew that going back soon was WELL within reach with my new flight benefits.
Back to work on Tuesday, with a major case of jetlag, and a nasty infection I caught on the plane on the way home :) (happens EVERY time!)