LOOSE IN LONDON: KRISTINE LEAVES FOR HEATHROW







I must confess that I had a bit of struggle preparing for my journey to England. The trouble began, as it often does, with the packing - the London weather was throwing me off. I'd been watching the weather reports and the temperatures were in the 70's. No rain. Blue skies. I couldn't believe it. In fact, I refused to believe it. Or, I refused to believe that the fine weather would hold once I'd set  foot on British soil. It's never been nice weather when I've been in England. Ever. There may be a fine day or two, but a veritable heat wave? It couldn't last.

So I began pulling out clothes for every kind of weather, including boots, scarves, an Eisenhower jacket with a fur collar, a trench coat, a velvet winter coat . . . . and all manner of assorted clothing in between. I felt that, like the Duke of Wellington, I should prepare for every eventuality. Wellington prepared for every battle by taking into account the possible conditions of the field in any event - fine weather, rain, mud, searing sun, thunder storms, etc. Knowing that English weather could very well include all of those conditions in a single day, I  thought I should be prepared, as well. Of course, Wellington also had myriad packing cases and baggage carts at his disposal, along with a full compliment of ADC's to do his packing for him. I had only myself and a single large, red suitcase.

So in the end I took half of what I'd packed out of the equation, sorted everything into those clear plastic travel bags, rolled them up to get the air out and flatten them and threw in a few pair of shoes, hair curlers, a bottle of rum, a book, various other sundries and the two flat boxes of tour stuff I'd previously packed. I put my computer. camera, power cords, cosmetics and essential paperwork in a hand held carry on and slung a large, slouchy hobo purse over my shoulder and deemed myself ready to head to the airport for the first leg of my trip - the flight from Florida to Newark.

"Are you sure this bag isn't too heavy?" Hubby asked as he wheeled the red suitcase out to the car. "Maybe we should weigh it."

"I can't take any less than that, I'm going to England for a month, after all. I need more than just a change of underwear and a toothbrush."

"Well, okay, but don't say I didn't warn you," Hubby said, struggling to lift the suitcase and tip it into the trunk of the car.

We drove in silence for a few miles before Hubby said, "I really think we should have weighed your suitcase."

Sigh. This was beginning to grow tahrsome. "You should have come to England with me," I said, more to take Hubby's mind off my luggage than because I actually meant it.

Hubby took his eyes off the road and cut a horrified gaze in my direction. "For a month of Wellington stuff? No thanks! You go with Vicky and have fun. I'll hold down the fort."

We were silent for the rest of the trip to the airport, Hubby no doubt thinking about his close escape while I thought about Hubby's forgetting to water my garden for an entire month whilst he held sway at the fort.

Before long, Hubby was pulling the car in front of the JetBlue departure's area. I pushed the trunk release button while he popped out and round the back to wrestle with the suitcase.

"You want me to help you in with this? It's pretty heavy."

"No. I'll be just fine," I said as I wrapped my arms around his neck and leaned in for a kiss. "Please water the garden while I'm gone."

"For the last time, plants don't need to be watered every day."

"The ones in pots do. Please."

"Okay, okay. Do you have everything you need? Plane tickets? Passport? Money?"

"Yes, I've got everything. I'll miss you," I said, giving Hubby a last kiss.

"Yeah, me too. Say hi to Artie for me."

"Will do," I told him as I raised the handle on the big, red suitcase and started off

"You sure that's not too heavy?" Hubby called after me.

I waved a final goodbye and entered the terminal, making my way to the JetBlue counter, where I handed over my passport.

The representative tapped a few keys before asking, "Are you checking any luggage today?"

"One piece," I said, grappling with Big Red in order to place it on the scale.

"It's over weight," the rep said.

"By how much?" I asked.

"Four pounds. Can you take something out?"

"And put it where?" I asked. "I mean, if I take stuff out of the suitcase and put it in my carry on instead, I'd still be four pounds over the limit, wouldn't I? It's all going on the same flight, whether it's in the hold or in the cabin, isn't it? How much extra would I have to pay in order to keep everything where it is?" I slid my JebBlue Amex card across the counter to him.

The rep looked at the card and sighed. "Well, I'm willing to put the bag through as it is, but they might catch the overage in the baggage area."

I smiled at him. "Thank you."

"Right," he said, handing over my boarding pass. "You've got priority for the security screening and extra leg room seating. Enjoy your flight."

"Thanks again," I told him before heading to my gate.

So much for overweight luggage. All of Hubby's worry had been for nothing after all. This trip was going to be a lark.

PART TWO COMING SOON!