What an incredibly quiet house I woke in this morning. No poodles, no Mirinda, just me. Even the birds had flown south. Of course, I still woke at 7am but then, I’d intended to get little sleep last night (in bed at 1:30am) so I could, maybe, sleep on the plane.
Waking up properly (lying in bed listening to John Humphries on Radio 4 with a coffee and my eyes closed) took a lot longer than usual. I couldn’t tell you anything that happened in the world except that England were in a commanding position against India in the cricket. Everything else washed over me, through me, didn’t really wake me up.
Before I knew too much, it was 7:30 and I hadn’t finished my coffee. I dragged myself out of bed and made a second cup of coffee (which I managed to drink in the lounge room) in preparation for ringing Mirinda in Newcastle.
Mirinda went to Newcastle yesterday in order to give a ten minute talk about higher education. The train takes over three hours. She was staying in a hotel that has the most excited receptionists I think I’ve ever spoken to. Apparently they were given new uniforms today and were carrying on like Tom in a soft play centre. Their joy was very obvious, even on the phone.
Mirinda said her talk went well but she wasn’t as sure about the Q&A session afterwards. The hotel room was icy cold and she had to ring down for a doona. When the receptionist said there was a spare blanket in the wardrobe, Mirinda informed her that she was already using it. Eventually she was given the donna (which was massive) and could sleep through her chattering teeth. Hopefully, the whole thing was worth six hours travelling to deliver the ten minute talk.
Anyway, I woke her at 8am then went into Farnham. I didn’t really HAVE to go into Farnham but I wanted a Starbucks and a new wash bag so figured I’d start the day properly. The weather disagreed as I fought against the wind, cold and sleet. Still, Starbucks was lovely, as usual, and I found a rather distinctive wash bag in Boots before heading back home to pack.
I never like rushing so I’ve been putting things in the suitcase as they emerge from the dryer. This morning was all about the extra things (why is there SO many extra things?) like cables, camera, lens, electronics, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Eventually (following cheese sandwiches and an unscheduled return trip to Farnham to get Mirinda some food for tonight) it was 3pm and I walked out of the house. Mirinda suggested I get a cab up to the station and she convinced me. Sadly the taxis are all massively busy at 3pm because of the school trips so I walked and wheeled instead.
Of course everything linked up perfectly which found me at Heathrow ridiculously early. This meant there was a lot of wandering aimlessly, drinking coffee, looking at things in shops I’d never buy (there was no Nexus 10 in the electronics shop), reading then wandering aimlessly again.
Eventually I boarded the plane along with hundreds of other passengers. When I checked in online, I had an entire row to myself (naturally I selected an aisle seat) but these had all been taken. Like the entire plane. Essentially, it was full.
There was some argy bargy with a strange woman who had the seat next to me but wanted to swap for the aisle seat. I told her this was not going to happen. She also asked the guy sitting on the other aisle seat. He also gave her short shrift. She sat down next to me and her perfume was overpowering. This wasn’t going to be a good flight.
Eventually, however (and I thank whatever is appropriate in these situations) she grabbed a stewardess and complained that she couldn’t sit in the seat. To give her her due, the stewardess was brilliant. She told the woman that if she’d asked other passengers and they’d said no to a swap then it was too bad. The woman then went off with the stewardess. I have no idea where they went but the smelly woman never returned.
Eventually I was joined by a young French woman who didn’t move out of her seat for the entire trip and didn’t smell of anything obnoxious.
Needless to say, during the seven hour flight, I managed about ten minutes of sleep.
I’ve never flown with Etihad before and they were just fine.