This is the final part of our European Adventure. After saying goodbye to Joanne in Leeds, we drove back to London. It was Friday, May 26th, and we were to fly home on Sunday morning, the 28th. The drive back to London was smooth until we hit the M25 (the ring road around London). It was about 2:30 in the afternoon but Monday was a bank holiday, so we hit the rush hour. Everybody left early in order to start the long weekend. So it took us about 2 hours to get from getting on the M25 to Surrey, and I was cursing under my breath the entire time.
Anyway, we made it back to Mei’s place, safe and sound, and we thankfully collapsed on their sofa. We relaxed and waited for Mei and Colin to come home from work. We were having dinner at their favorite Indian restaurant and then off to a performance of Madame Butterfly.
The restaurant was yummy! The menu was huge and we ate like kings. The opera was great, too. The next morning, we set off for Bournemouth (it was funny to see us all 4 pile into the Kancil-sized car). Bournemouth is a sea-side town southwestish of London, and is where Colin’s parents Jane and John live. The drive took us longer than normal because of the bank holiday traffic. But Jane had a lovely lunch waiting for us when we got there.
After our very big and very delicious meal, Mei and Colin conked out on the sofa, so Jane and John took Vin and me around Bournemouth. In particular, we wanted to see the venue where Mei and Colin were married last year. I was supposed to be a bridesmaid, but had to cancel at the last minute because of visa issues 🙁 so this was as close as we would get.
Here are pictures of Highcliff Castle, where they got married:
[[image:eur145.jpg:The hedge formation in front of the rotunda:0]]
[[image:eur149.jpg:Another view of the hedge:center:0]]
[[image:eur142.jpg:John, Jane and Vin by the gift shop:center:0]]
[[image:eur146.jpg:John, Jane and me:center:0]]
We’d arrived too late to tour the castle, and there was another wedding taking place at that time. However, we snuck into the wedding hall while the wedding guests were in the reception hall and snapped a quick photo:
[[image:eur144.jpg:The wedding hall:center:0]]
We also drove around Bournemouth and looked at the hotel where Mei and Colin’s wedding reception had been held, also viewed several other venues that had been considered as possible venues for the wedding. Bournemouth is beautiful and there were people sailing, windsurfing and swimming. Unfortunately it did start to drizzle and cloud over so we didn’t stop to get out at these other places.
We spent a lovely day with Mei and Colin, and Jane and John, and thank them so much for their hospitality. In the evening, we drove back to London for a final night with Mei and Colin, and in the morning, we flew home. And that’s the end of our European Adventure! We hope to come back and visit with all the wonderful people – Mei, Colin, Chico, Alfonso, Joanne, Jane and John, and thank them all for their wonderful welcome. Especially, a huge thank you to Mei and Colin who welcomed us into their home and gave us free reign of their place, a roof over our heads and a lovely guest room, the food in their fridge, and spent lots of time with us. To everyone, thanks so much, and you are always welcome to look us up if you are in our neck of the woods! We will try to repay your hospitality in kind!
And to close, one of my very favorite pictures ever, a group shot of us (Mei and Colin figured out how to use the timer feature on our camera):
[[image:eur150.jpg:Vin, me, Mei, Colin, Jane and John in Jane and John’s living room:center:0]]