There’s a part of me that feels very sorry for the people stranded in the UK and most of Europe by the volcanic ash drifting down from Iceland at the moment. Especially because I know people it has affected. Joanne, of course, who can’t get to Ireland to see her mother and the two American women who have been working with Mirinda for the last 8 weeks. Also the poor women I heard about this morning who have been stuck in Spain and have to keep moving hotel rooms because of other bookings which the hotel needs to wait for a cancellation. There’s clearly a lot of misery.
I heard an interview with a pilot who flew a 747 through a volcanic ash cloud on a test flight a few years ago. He said all the engines suddenly stopped. It was the scariest thing he’d ever experienced. About 20,000 feet in the air, sitting in a massive metal cyclinder and, bang, no engines. They are not known for their gliding abilities. As he approached the ground, he managed to get them to start again but it was a very close thing. And so, the planes are grounded. I don’t care how put out I’d be by grounding a plane, I’d rather they stayed on the ground. Though that’s probably scant relief for the thousands sitting in airport terminals right now. And any dead Germans in wheelchairs who will start to smell pretty soon.
On Breakfast this morning, a group of three people from Richmond, who have fought against the third runway since it was first announced, were filmed standing on a green space, looking up, their faces full of joy. Once you’ve been to Richmond, their looks are completely understandable.
Richmond, though an expensive suburb, is constantly flown over as planes make their final approach into Heathrow. It is constant. People can’t open their windows unless they’re deaf. It was a big decider in us not buying there when we were considering living closer to London.
On the radio yesterday, a listener rang in to say she was listening to the birds in her garden for the first time since she moved into her house. She lives under the Gatwick flight path. This seems to be the most popular result of the ash deluge in the upper atmosphere. The birds can be heard.
Walking back from the shops this morning, it suddenly struck me how blue the sky was. It looked glorious. Then I realised why. A complete lack of contrails. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sky without contrails. We get a lot of planes flying very high over us (so no noise) and they leave a constant criss-crossing of vapour trails but not today. I feel like I’m in pre-flight Britain. It is wonderful.