It was the last day of our first visit to the ancestral home of Carol's family. Both of her grandfathers had come from Scotland about 100 years ago and we had recently discovered relatives on her father's side still living there.
It had been a grand three weeks meeting them and traveling around the
with our own personal tour guide, her cousin Karen Marr. I even got to play a round of golf at St. Andrews. Karen and her brother, David, had dropped us at the airport for our flight taking us to Heathrow for a plane change then on to Washington, D.C.
As we headed to the gate we were surprised to hear the voice of Brian Gumbel on a TV monitor. He was announcing that an airplane had crashed into a building in New York.
Before any more details were reported the station changed and we headed onto the gate thinking it was like an incident a few years before when a small plane had struck the Empire state Building. We heard nothing more about it on the short flight to Heathrow and were rushing to find the gate for our next flight after we arrived.
Imagine our surprise and concern when at Heathrow we found the terminal packed with people, luggage and armed guards and were told that our flight had been cancelled. We quickly learned of the additional attacks that were definitely not, as we had thought, unfortunate accidents.
With what information we could gather, it became apparent that we would not be taking a plane to the US for some time. We were able to gather our luggage and found our way to the "tube" and a train to "Earls's Court" where we were told we should be able to find a room.
course this was before the means of communication we now enjoy was available so we also wanted to let our family know where we were. Luckily, we did find a hotel room at Earl's Court and located a cyber café nearby where, for a small fee, we were able to get on the internet and use our AOL account and instant Messaging to let family in the US and Scotland know where we were.
One week later we were again at Heathrow and heading for Dulles Airport. Our unplanned week in England gave us a chance to see London, we would not have had. and brought us many examples of the concern and support of the people we met there for what had happened in America.
Perhaps the best thing for us at the time was that we were so far away we missed the worst impact of what actually happened. Still, in many ways, the high point of the trip was being greeted at Dulles by children and grandchildren when we finally arrived safely home. Now looking at what we are learning about that day in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, it is far more shocking than anything we felt in England.