After only a day and a half in Ireland, we flew back to England to spend a few days with a couple of friends who live in Southampton, a city about 80 miles south of London. While in Southampton we stayed at a hotel called the Botleigh Grange. Built sometime in the 17th century, the Botleigh Grange was originally a private country home. It is said to be haunted, but I think the only ghosts we saw were the old men that were drinking in the hotel’s lounge one evening.
While in Southampton we were once again treated with warmth and kindness. Our friends Lesley and Stuart shared their time with us and showed us more beautiful and historic sights. We saw where the Titanic set off on its fateful voyage, and we took a ferry across The Solent to the Isle of Wight. This was another place I had always wanted to visit, not only because it is mentioned in the Beatles’ song “When I’m Sixty-Four,” but also because it was the sight of one of the last concerts that Jimi Hendrix ever played. I guess you could say I am a little obsessed with the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix.
Because this trip was not all about me, Lesley and Stuart also took us to the home where Jane Austen spent the last several years of her life. The gardens around her home were so vibrant and it was nice to see how well everything had been preserved. We then spent some time in Winchester, which is where Jane Austen died and is buried. Her final resting place is inside Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe.
After being welcomed with open arms it was difficult to leave Southampton, but all good things must come to an end. So, we hopped a train back to London where we spent one more day and night before flying back home.
Oh, and that wheelchair, well we were supposed to leave it at the hotel we stayed at our last night in London. The service from which we had rented it instructed us to leave it with the front desk staff of the hotel where’d we be staying our last night in London, so that they could retrieve it the morning of our departure. However, when we explained these arrangements to the front desk clerk upon check in he told us that the hotel would not be held responsible for it. So, I called the company and let them know this, but I never heard back from them. We even called them twice the morning of our departure, and we still heard nothing. So, we asked the ticket agent at the American Airlines check in desk if we could leave it with them. Once again we were told they would not be held responsible for it. So, we parked that chair outside security and made our way to our flight.
A few days after we arrived home the wheelchair service called us and asked us about the chair. I explained to them where we had left it and explained how we had attempted to contact them about it before we left. They were never able to locate it, and to this day it remains a mystery as to where it is. When I think about where it might have ended up, my mind instantly goes to the final scene of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Maybe, it was packed away in a crate in much the same way the Ark of the Covenant is at the end of this film and was wheeled into a storage room somewhere deep in the bowels of London’s Heathrow Airport.