I was back in Eton after a successful trip within a trip. That is, a foray into London, then out to the southwest, then a boomerang back into London and back out to Eton and Windsor to my housesitting gig. I was feeling grungy after wearing the same clothes for three days, but that was more than compensated for by the fact that I hadn’t had to drag a roller bag on and off of trains, tube cars, and buses.
The first thing I did was check the window boxes. Gwen had admonished me not to skip a day of watering, and I had skipped two. I was fully prepared to go out and buy replacement geraniums and hope she wouldn’t know the difference. Whew, they were still moist. Sorry about that, if you are sensitive to that word—moist, moist, moist!
After thoroughly shampooing, conditioning, exfoliating and moisturizing, I sat down to check my work emails. No I didn’t. My first priority is always travel, so I picked up my messaging with Heidi where I had left off on the coach.
“We can take the chunnel to Paris and catch a train to Brussels, then take a coach out to this small town in the countryside that I went to once. Oh Annie, it’s lovely this time of year!
Or we could rent a car in Paris and drive down to Bordeaux and drink wine for a couple days, or we could catch a RyanAir flight to Zagreb. Whaddya think?”
I am usually enthusiastic about travel. Traveling to Paris through the Channel Tunnel on the Eurostar, as it is officially called, is on my bucket list. Normally my adrenaline would be pumping and I’d be all in, but on the heels of the weekend I found myself reluctant. Plus, the Eurostar would cost around $250, then there would be train fares or flights and hotel rooms and maybe a rental car, and for some reason I was feeling fiscally conservative. Heidi and I agreed she would come to Eton later in the week to talk about it.
I checked my work email and found the usual post-weekend deluge of emails but most importantly, our concept note to DFID, the British aid agency, had resulted in an invitation for a full proposal, and it was due in a month.
A month may sound like a long time, but it’s not. These things are always a group effort. Four people were in Amman, Jordan and three were in St. Paul, Minnesota. I was in the UK and another colleague was in Denver, Colorado. The US work week is Monday through Friday, while the Jordanian work week is Sunday through Thursday. Everyone worked long hours, but still I never assume they will check email on weekends. If we didn’t plan carefully we would lose entire days due to the nine-hour time spread from Denver to Amman. There would be holidays in Amman, and people would take time off for summer vacations.
The next day, Monday, I had prepaid ticket for Windsor Castle. I thought about skipping it, then shook my head and plunging into the coordination work for the proposal, first scoping out a backwards timeline. I actually made a chart showing that when it was noon in Colorado it would be 9pm in Amman—and so on—too late to expect anyone to respond or attend a Skype meeting especially if they had kids. Conversely, when my Jordanian colleagues were logging on in the morning, fresh and ready to talk or crank out emails which needed replies, it would be midnight in the US. It would be an advantage, I thought, for me to be in between.
Speaking of Windsor Castle, I’ve seen a fair amount of commentary about how Meghan Markle marrying into the British royal family is either “inappropriate” or “fresh air” due to her being half black, American, and divorced. I haven’t seen anyone comment on how her father is of Dutch-Irish descent. I’ve only heard racist remarks uttered by British people twice (first-hand, that is—not on TV, etc), and both times they have been about the Irish. Regardless, Markle will bring new blood to the fusty royal gene pool.