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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life and the funny things that happen to everyone.

   She has written for  the Daily News of Kingsport,   Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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London on the Budget Plan....

London on the Budget Plan

It seemed like a great idea when my sister suggested a vacation tour to London.  I haven't been anywhere like that before, so I was looking forward to it.  We found cheap tickets on the Internet for an evening flight.

The plane for the flight was the size of a high-school auditorium.  First class had seats that made into beds, free drinks, TV and kits with personal convenience items. Cheap tickets got us seats in the back with our knees under our chins.  My bottom soon became so numb from sitting in one place that I felt like I was sitting on a church pew.

They showed us a movie, fed us, and gave us pillows and blankets, as if we could sleep setting in a fetal position.  They turned out the lights for a few hours, and then turned them back on, pretended it was morning and served breakfast.  I think I've learned the meaning of "red-eye special."

London is 6 hours ahead of us in time, so it was morning when we arrived. The first thing I noticed from the plane was that all the roofs were red. It wasn't until we were on the ground that I realized the roofs were clay tile. For some reason the entire city from the air reminded me of Disneyland.

We landed on a remote airstrip and had to climb down steep stairs to get off the plane. The terminal was like a huge shopping mall tiled in yellow. Heathrow is one of the world's busiest airports, with everyone talking in different languages and a jungle of immigration officials, customs officers, escalators, and directions.

The subway was called the Underground.  Fortunately for me, my sister was wise in the ways of travel or I would still be there wandering around in the airport, figuring out the signs, which were printed in half dozen languages, and trying to find my way through the international maze.

There were masses of people and all of them seemed to know where they were going except us, even the numerous Japanese tourists.  There were many young people -- all in a hurry.  They literally ran down escalators and on moving sidewalks in the terminal, dragging suitcases, briefcases and umbrellas.

The Underground makes frequent stops where people hop off or on quickly before the doors slam.  There are maps on the wall to show you where you are and a number of different lines.  An electric sign said "This train for Cockfoster."  I was afraid to ask in case it was something dirty, but found out later it was just the name of the final stop on the line.

We finally arrived at our stop and jumped off with our suitcases.  "Mind the Gap," said a recorded message.  I thought it was advertising for a store, but found out later that they were just saying, "Watch your Step" in

The hotel looked like a row house with a wrought iron balcony, which is typical in parts of London I found out later.  It reminded me of the French Quarters in New Orleans. Our room was tiny with wall-to-wall beds and large, floral print drapes -- a pattern repeated all over the hotel in numerous upholstered pieces.

London was unseasonably hot. We were hot in the plane, hot in the terminal, hot in the Underground, and had a hot and stuffy hotel room. They have never heard of air conditioning.  The hotel did have a "lift," which is British for elevator.  We learned to be thankful for small things, such as not having to drag our luggage up the stairs.

The room had only one 220 electric outlet for the television, refrigerator, fan, cable box, hair dryer, battery chargers, hot curlers, and anything else electrical.  Before the trip was over, we would be experts at juggling plugs.

Welcome to London on the budget plan.

Copyright 2005 Sheila Moss

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