This is the first of a series of posts describing my recent trip to England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Wales, from writing course to school reunion and more.

When you make a sandwich and you have a bit of filling left over, what do you do with it?

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Well, if you’re me, and especially if it’s my favourite – egg mayonnaise – you’ll eat it up first.

My extra filling formed my first two-and-a-half days, starting with an evening with my friend, M1. I’ve known her and her husband since our university days, and they’re both lovely and easy to get on with.

The bus ride to their house was a bit less pleasant. I understand it’s not usual to have air conditioning everywhere in Britain. I understand it’s not usually hot and, as everyone told me, I brought the heat with me. But right next to the seat I happened to sit on in the bus was a grid exuding HOT AIR! And all the other passengers sat there without a care in the world while I, used to heat outside but cool buses, felt sweat pouring off me in bucket loads. Or so it seemed. Never mind. I got there and the rest was fine.

The next morning, I left M1, but would be returning to her later. Leaving my suitcase at Waterloo, I went to meet the first of several people I’d never met before this trip – Rachael (Honest) and her two-year-old son, “Mushroom”.

Two-year-olds don’t make the best adult conversation companions, but we managed to talk a bit. In fact we said quite a lot as Rachael’s account shows, much more than I would have remembered the next day and certainly now that so much time has passed. I was surprised to read about Rachael’s embarrassment over two little episodes during the morning, as I didn’t notice it. I tend to think that only I could get embarrassed over such things. All-in-all, we both enjoyed our time together and I’m sure we’ll meet again in the future.

Isn’t it wonderful how suitcases have wheels these days. I don’t know how we ever managed without them. But what they need to invent now is a suitcase that can be wheeled up and down stairs. One thing I learned as I dragged my suitcase to my next temporary home is not to wear a skirt when you have to take a suitcase on the underground. You see, it gets windy in those tunnels. I was holding on to my skirt as I wheeled my case when I reached some stairs. I wanted to hold on to the handrail to pull myself and the case up. But I needed to stop my skirt from flying up and revealing too much, and I only have two hands.

Fortunately, a young man behind me saw my predicament [sorry – that’s a “Men from the Ministry” joke] and said, “Do you want a hand?”

“I’d love a hand,” I replied. Never have I been more grateful for a hand.

Family members had kindly let me stay in their house while they were away, but I didn’t have much time alone. Just enough to do some washing, because the hot weather meant that I had to keep dipping into the skirts, shorts and tee-shirts section of my suitcase.

The next morning, I met M2, another friend from uni, and we went for a long walk on Hampstead Heath, while catching up on news, and enjoyed lunch at the café at Kenwood and a tour of the grounds.

I returned in time to see the last set of Andy Murray making tennis history. Good for him!

So that was my pre-sandwich experience. In my next post, I’ll be eating the top layer.

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