First day in the U.K., Thursday June 21st, 2007

We took off on schedule from Ottawa on our overnight flight with the (now defunct) Zoom Airlines. I had pretty much a sleepless night. Its not easy sleeping on a plane when you’re not used to it.
Once we arrived at Gatwick there was a long queue to get through customs. We waited an hour and a half. It was also very warm in the queue with so many people. There must have been two to three thousand people waiting to get through.
Once we finally got through customs we picked up our baggage then went to get our rental car from Europecar. We were quite pleased to see how much room it had. It was a vehicle similar in size to a Mazda5 and it was called a Vauxhall Zafira. It was black, with a four cylinder gas engine, 5 speed manual transmission and four doors. Once we got our gear loaded in the cavernous cargo area I took a few minutes to orient myself to the car and its controls. Once I felt comfortable enough to get going, we headed out from Gatwick north on the M23 with our destination York. We left about 1:00 PM.
It took a little getting used to driving on the left. I found myself constantly looking to the right to look at the interior rear view mirror, but its to the drivers left on right hand drive vehicles. It also took time to know which gear the car was in due to having to shift with my left hand instead of my right.
We stopped a couple of times along the way, first at a rest stop on the M1 an hour or two north of London. I was a bit surprised when a man in a little white utility truck asked if I was from Canada and I asked him how did he know and he jokingly replied “I’m from Vancouver myself” with a pretty thick British accent. I looked at him a little skeptical and he then said “No I’m just kiddin’ ya, I saw your sons T-shirt.” He was wearing a T-shirt with the Canadian flag on it. Nice that the people were welcoming of tourists from the colonies.
About two hours later, near Leeds we stopped a second time and got coffee and I had a little siesta as I was quite tired after the lousy nights sleep on the airplane. We arrived in York around 8:00 PM got a room at a Quality Inn near downtown. Lois and the kids went back out to get some dinner after we got settled in our room. They decided to have take-out and returned with some pizza and fried chicken.

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