We arrived at Heathrow around 7:50 a.m. The entrance procedure went smoothly. The passport checker asked good questions by chatting with us about our occupations. We followed the signs for “nothing to declare” and there were no attendants. There were no trash cans anywhere, either, so my rogue banana made it from the US to the UK.
Next stop was the Vodafone store in the main terminal to purchase a pay-as-you-go mobile phone, because neither of us has unlocked US mobile phone that would accept a UK sim card. I got the cheapest phone and put £20 pounds worth of minutes on it, so I spent $58 overall, which is still cheaper than renting a phone. Next stop was figuring out how to get our rental car. We passed an alcove listing rental car companies, but Thrifty was not among them. We stopped at the information desk close to the luggage return area and the attendant directed us to car park 18 or 19. We walked out to the roadway and, in fact stop 18 had Thrifty listed, along with a phone number to call for a shuttle. As we were waiting, thankfully under an awning, it started pouring rain accompanied by gusty winds. The Thrifty shuttle came and the driver was a very nice woman who was a pleasant conversationalist. S and I were having serious second thoughts about jumping in a car and driving four hours in the pouring rain. We were tired and hungry. The rental car pickup was at a Sheraton on the Colnbrook Bypass, in West Drayton, about 10 or 15 minutes away from Heathrow. We discussed staying there for a night and starting fresh in the morning.
When we arrived at the Sheraton, the pick-up of the rental car went well. The rain had stopped. We asked the attendant for a recommendation of a nearby pub and got directions to The White Horse. S said he felt like giving the car a try, so off we went. On the first main road, a truck almost changed lanes in to us. It was close enough that S veered to the side and rubbed the front tire on the curb. That sealed the deal. We turned around, parked the car back at the Sheraton/Thrifty, and walked to the pub (10 minutes) as we discussed our change of plans to see north Yorkshire via trains and buses. I called the Harrogate Holiday Cottages representative to tell her we had decided to stay near Heathrow for the night. She didn’t question it or even have the slightest bit of hesitation in her voice. She thanked me for calling and said she would see us the next day.
At The White Horse, we ate fish and chips and a Ploughman’s lunch (a baguette, sliced apple, Branston pickle relish, onions, salad greens, stilton, cheddar, and brie). S had a John Courage Best Bitter with dinner. I had ale of some sort, which was quite warm.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the convenience store next to the gas station across the street. It had a nice selection of wine, so we chose a cab/shiraz/merlot blend called Anniston Bay: The Shore, 2007, from South Africa. Back at the hotel, we watched a show about Darwin and I called my parents.