Captain Christine, AKA my Beautiful Bride, completed her latest circumnavigation of the sun this past Sunday March 15th and as is our policy, we give experiences for gifts rather than “things” so we flew over to London for a few days as one of her experiential gifts was to fulfill a live long wish to see a play at one of London’s iconic theatres, the Apollo Victoria.
Happy Birthday Baby!
As usual in London, there are way too many great choices but I decided that Wicked at the Apollo Victoria would be the just right choice for my musical loving Captain and as her smile after the experience seems to indicate that I guessed correct. It was a great play and we both enjoyed it and the whole experience thoroughly.
We flew over to London Gatwick on Thursday night so we had the whole day Friday before going to see Wicked at the Apollo and the Spring weather was fabulous so we took advantage and drove the whole SE coastline from Brighton to Whitstable just north of Canterbury. It was cool and windy but very sunny so perfect for a good Birthday drive.
The ocean is like a magnet for both of us and it is constantly calling our names so we drove up around the SE corner to the little harbour town of Whitstable where I’d been once before and I treated my Birthday Girl to some of THE best Fish and Chips at Wee Willie Winkles.
Why drive all the way around the SE corner to the Canterbury area you ask?
Because that is were Mr. Gee, our Gardner 6LXB engine is from and we can’t be THAT close and not go for a visit to Gardner Marine now can we? Plus Christine had not been yet and of course there were a few “bits and bobs” I needed to pick up for Mr. Gee’s “born again” process.
In this photo I am talking with James who is an walking encyclopedia, as is everyone at Gardner Marine of both the history and the technical details of all things Gardner and he graciously let me pick his brain for several hours as we walked around the expanding Gardner Marine facilities.
This is a picture from my first visit to Gardner Marine several years ago to meet Mr. Gee for the first time just after he had been taken out of a tugboat on the River Thames after almost 50 years of non-stop service. Michael Harrison who is the CEO of Gardner Marine spent the better part of that day with me to answer all my questions and take me through the finer points of the 6LXB engines.
While we didn’t know it at the time it was a harbinger that was not able to meet with us this visit because he had just returned from a trip looking after some other Gardner engine installations in Spain and France so he was taking the precaution to self isolate himself at home until he could be tested. As we know now, we were all about to be in a similar situation.
Back to the present, James is taking me through just one of three of the side by side two story buildings which hold the treasure trove of “a few” Gardner engines of all ages and sizes as well as all their rebuilding equipment and eXtreme eXtensive spare parts inventory of Gardner Marine. They are about to expand into the fourth building next door as business continues to grow.
Can you tell that I’m in one of my “Happy Places”???
My fellow gearheads will appreciate that places like this are akin to the Louvre for the works of art and engineering that Gardner Engines embody.
Back to the Birthday Girl, we dashed back to London just in time to check into our lovely little AirBnB there and catch an Uber over to the Apollo Victoria to see Wicked.
Wow, Wee Willie Winkle Fish & Chips, Gardner Marine and Wicked at the Apollo all in the same day!?! Now you know why we call these “experiential adventures” and why we a life so densely packed with them.
Next day we continued the adventure by taking advantage of being in London where one of our “god children” and most special people Kate now lives as she attends the London campus of Florida Sate University.
While not sunny, the temps were Spring like and the lighting was outstanding for photos of beautiful women as you can see here.
We spent the entire day, 22,000 steps Christine’s watch says, strolling throughout “Kate’s downtown London”.
It might have been Christine’s birthday but I seemed to get much of the gifts such as chances for more hugs with the phenomenal and powerful women I am so fortunate to get to share this life with.
London’s skyline may not be as high as some but it is a marvel to see such a mix of the new architecture ……….
….. and the old.
But wait! There’s More!
While we had to fly back to Antalya a day earlier than originally planned we were able to meet up with some very dear friends, Robin and Jayne and go see the new acreage they and their children have just acquired out in the rural countryside not far from Gatwick airport.
This was on Sunday which was Christine’s actual Birthday and Robin’s is next week so we treated the both Birthday Babies to a fabulous Pub Lunch at a nearby 15th century pub.
What could be more fittingly delicious and British than roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding and gravy with such good friends?
The perfect end to Christine’s 2020 B’day experiential adventure.
Or so we thought ……………………….
Turns out that the adventure continued into the next day as our flights from both Gatwick to Istanbul and connecting flight to Antalya were both delayed and we didn’t get home until well after 3am on Monday. But it was GREAT as always come home to the welcoming party of Ruby and Barney. Particularly so in the the context of the current and rapidly evolving situation we all find ourselves in right now.
To Turkey’s credit everyone flying in from out of the country had to fill out new forms with all our personal info, flight and seat numbers and places visited so they can be aware of each person’s travel history. We were also all advised to “self isolate” ourselves at home and do as much “social distancing” as possible for the next 14 days. Naval Yachts to their credit as well has asked that we and any others who have recently traveled outside of Turkey self isolate themselves for the next 14 days.
Christine and I had decided to voluntarily join the new “self isolation Club” in any case so we will be staying home and won’t be going back to the shipyard for the next 14 days. While challenging and disappointing in the eXtreme, this was an easy decision to make as it is simply the smart and right thing to do right now. As my cousin who is also in a similar situation at her home in Qatar reminded me we are now members of a not very exclusive new Club!
As with the storms we encounter out sailing the world, Christine and I know that “this too shall pass” and we continue to count ourselves as most appreciative members of the “most fortunate people in the world Club”. We are both healthy and happy, we have each other and our friends and family and we see this as being the start of but our latest eXtraordinary adventures in this awemazing life we are so privileged to live.
I hope that all of you reading this are finding your own ways to be happy and healthy by doing whatever is best for you to get through this latest “storm”. As for me, I am grateful for this opportunity to be isolated with my best friend, partner, Captain, Bride and beautiful young lady. Could I be any more fortunate or appreciative? Me thinks NOT!!!