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July 4 & 5 – Where Any Two Roads Cross
Back in the USA

I awaken to find my travel companion smiling at me. "It's like a different dimension isn't it," he says. "You just drift off to sleep and when you waken it's as if no time has passed at all." But time has passed, we are over land now; Martha's Vineyard, the pilot announces. And then Manhattan, and sooner than it seems possible, we are flying over the docks and warehouses of Philadelphia and the wheels touch down on the runway.

We walk through the airport together until we come to where we must part ways. Shaking hands, we agree that we have been fortunate in being seated next to each other. This has been a very good trip for both of us, me leaving his country after my first trip there, him traveling to my country for the first time. I walk forever, or at least it seems forever, before I reach customs.

There is an agent here with a dog that is making the rounds, sniffing everyone's luggage as it is claimed. While I stand and wait for mine to appear on the carousel (some very anxious moments) the agent has the people next to me open up their luggage. The dog has found something. Turns out to be only sunflower seeds, and I'm hoping the dog doesn't sniff out the several Milky Bars I've brought back for my children.

The same friend who met me here on the day of my departure is picking me up for a few days' visit and I am excited to be seeing her again. Luckily the dog is not interested in my luggage and before long I am greeted by my friend.

We step out into the heat and humidity of Pennsylvania in July, something I haven't missed in the slightest. She has a surprise for me – a special stop along the way to her house for a meal. After a short while we pull up to a pub, somewhere in Delaware, which was built in the 1600's. It looks as if it has been transplanted from Yorkshire and is perfection.

I have a cheese and tomato toastie and a half pint of Tennants while Celtic music plays in the background, which makes for a few surreal moments – it's almost as if I never the UK at all. Then we're off to her house where, after a quick call home to announce my safe arrival, I dig through my luggage for the gifts that I have brought back for her. We kick back with glasses of wine and start looking through the guide books of the places I have visited.

I'm searching for Castle Howard, knowing that she would have loved it as much as I did. I hand the guide book over to her, and as she flips through the pages, out flies a midge. I dissolve into laughter, blinking back tears at the same time. I'm off to bed by 9:30 and sleep for nine blissful hours, avoiding the jet-lag monster once more.

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