Home sweet wine Home ….

Finally got home <I have been playing airport lounge since Sunday lunchtime, so I am pretty much done>

I had my bag — I have seldom been so happy to see something yellow on a carousel.  I have not seen that bag since Sunday morning, so I was pretty emotional about our reunion.

I am a guilty traveller.  I always assume I have done something bad and it is just a matter of time before a custom official with a latex glove finds out.

At Heathrow, travelling back, I had to get out of my boots and take my belt off – there were no drinks involved, or mutual sexual attraction – it was me and the nice customs official.  It is a challenge to hold your pants up and unpack your things out of the black plastic boxes, while trying to look nonchalant about the entire process.

My handbag = large really overpacked tote bag kept getting beeped, and they had to keep unpacking it.  Of course I was then convinced that there was something smuggled in there.  I started to look guilty.  I started to act guilty.  I started to sweat profusely.

They had also taken my deodorant can away, so really it was me and fast yellowing armpit shirt!

I get to the check in section and the man checking my passport directs me to a smaller-glassed-in-lounge away from the other passengers.

Me = sphincter a bit tighter than it was before.

I must confess I eventually begged ignorance and when my row was called for the flight I just stood up and walked out of the “holding area” and climbed on board.

I had a great seat.  I had all my bits and bobs – which is unusual for me.

I had sufficient overhead space to shove my stuff in to.

I did not have clean underwear, but I had washed the pair I was wearing and was now wearing wet underwear.  There were bright orange flight socks, which I was so excited to get in to – just so I could get my boots off and my no-longer-white-socks off my feet.

Ah the happiness.  Really the happiness.

I was seriously stoked.

Flight was pretty good.

My best part was that Nicole the flight attendant who was serving my side, appears to be straight out of Mitchells Plain accent wise.  I could not get enough of her.  It was so disarming in comparison to the rather “british accents” I had been hearing for the past few days.

She also had no qualms about serving me repeatedly with little bottles of wine.  Bless her.

It really was a good flight.  Thanks SAA.

Got to carousel, security had two Beagles who hung around my baggage.  The handler kept going: “Find it, find it!”

Me = very very tight sphincter ….

It appears Beagles do not find it.

I got my stuff and skipped through the “nothing to declare” section – they pulled over the two people in front of me for a quick “hey lets see what you got then.”

I might have squeaked in relief.

I got home.  Finally.

Had a cuddle with Isabelle, a bath and then a nap – I would like to say it was a little nap, but it resembled a coma victim who had lost all control of their salivary glands.  Pepe had to come and wake me up so I could go and fetch kids from school.

It was really great being away, but it is even better being back.

Dear BA … please get me the fk home!

I got off the plane at Heathrow.

I knew my Cape Town flight was long gone, so I joined the queue at the help desk at BA.  Got to the front, and was told the next flight was Monday night.

I am in London, little to no money, no SIM card, and way-way too much hand luggage, that is really heavy.

I also have no access to my baggage i.e. clean clothes and other comforts, and no way to know where those bags actually are.

I had to venture out to Section E in the land of where-the-fk-am-I-of-Heathrow to get to the “client services” desk of British Airways.

I thought I was special and would get oh-god-we-are-so-sorry-for-the-inconvenience-and-what-can-we-do-to-make-this-really-shitty-situation-any-better-for-you.

I joined a queue that was about three hours long, and filled with nearly every nationality and it appeared I was no longer as special and unique as I had thought, and clearly my problem was pretty minor based on the rather haggared and over worked faces of the “client services” staff.

I was one of several dozen/hundred people who had been dropped by BA into the nether lands of all-things-wrong-with-travel.

Fortunately I was on a BA flight, that was delayed, and it was BA’s fault.

Fortunately the connecting flight was a BA flight.  Fortunately I had both check-in vouchers so I could prove I was there and available.  This is a total BA problem.

There were few things to hold on to and take comfort from, but this was definitely one of them.

Basically BA has had a shocking day and there were phrases about fog and other weather issues thrown around.

I stood in this queue that just did not go anywhere.

Eventually (=three hours later) a very nice customer representative started working her way through the queue and sorting out people.  People who looked like they were ready to drop.

The 4 behind me had been delayed on the Paddington>Heathrow Express train and had missed their flight to Paris as the Express train was experiencing some problems.

After more than three hours in the queue, they were told that their problem was not BA’s problem, so sorry for you, but no hotel, no vouchers, but come and stand in a corner while we all speak in raised voices and try to sort this out.

Total humour failure.  Glad I was not them.  I decided to remain in the queue, rather than walking vaguely around after a person with a hotel voucher.

Jenny – the BA person – I told I could get onto a Wednesday flight!  W.H.AT.? I might have severely cussed at this point. But there is a sign in CAPS LOCK saying you are not allowed to verbally abuse the staff.  I think if you write anything in UPPER CASE it must be pretty serious.  It is not as bad as UPPER CASE WITH BOLD AND ITALICS.

Wednesday – seriously??  I really wanted to poo in my pants.  But good sense held me back as I knew I did not have a change of underwear or more jeans.

Good sense reined supreme here, and I tightened my sphincter, and rested my face in my hands for a moment.

Jenny spoke with a bit more determination to whom ever was at the other end of her cellphone.

I got onto a SAA flight for Monday night.  I was  given a voucher for a hotel and a bus, and then directed out of a large door into the general direction of …… I really had no idea.  It’s late.  I have too many heavy bags as hand luggage.  And I have seriously lost my good-humour-shine.

I sort of followed the signs to where I hoped would be a bus going to be hotel.

I sat there for about 60 minutes …. then the right bus came … two of them actually.  But it appears 300 people trying to squeeze onto 2 busses that really only take 100 people does not fit.  It wasn’t one of those 200. I don’t squeeze, I hang back and wait for a polite gap.

Needless to say, this was survival of the fittest and good rules and polite behaviour seemed to have been abandoned.

The buses left and I was still standing there.

At this point it was after 23h00 and I was getting a little tired of this jamboree festival I was starring in.  There was one more bus coming, but a ton of people had already started milling around.

I sensed we would repeat the cycle, and again I would not make it on to a bus.

I hooked up with two other people who looked equally despondent as I was as I was.  We were all going to the same hotel.  We grabbed a taxi and said “heigh-ho Silver” and off we went.

Because it was a fun night, we arrived at the hotel and yay, another queue to stand in to check in.  My brain was telling me there was a finite amount of rooms, and at some point, well things would get ugly.

On the bright side > we (the 3 who hopped in to the taxi) arrived before the bus carrying the rude people  who pushed in before me, so that was a bit of a moment that made me smile with glee and a bit of delight.

Eventually got a room.  On the plus side it was a really nice room.  It’s really a nice hotel.

I had a toothbrush and toothpaste, and well, pretty much nothing else.

I had a sleep, a shower in the morning.  Weighed up whether to wear the same underwear – but not really a wealth of choices available to me …..

I negotiated with the Eastern-European housemaid if she can clean two other rooms first and then I could have another 30 minutes sitting on the bed watching Jeremy Kyle Show on BBC (I think this is a British version of the Jerry Springer Show…..) and checking out.

I have found a corner of them hotel bar/lounge to sit in that has wi-fi, reasonably comfortable couches and annoying music …. this is what a cup of tea that costs £4.22 looks like … not dissimilar to one that costs R6.50 from the Wimpy it would seem …..

I also realised I do not have any pounds on me, I used it on the taxi last night … interesting little mystery how I am going to pay for the tea … I already ate the little muffin thing, so can’t send it back now …..

It’s a bit different over here when the sun sets ….

I have not had that much free time while being in London.

I go to work.  Before i leave the hotel, I eat my body weight in bacon lathered in honey.  I sometimes throw in a croissant just to jazz it up a bit.

I am at work by 9am or before, and then I usually finish off and head back to the hotel.  I sometimes do a little walk around on the way to the hotel, sort of, but I am a bit nervous being alone. At night. Lost.

It starts getting dark around 6pm or so.

I am not sure how it works in your world, but in my world, when it gets dark you start thinking that you need to get inside and out of the city.  Well that is how it is in my normal life.

Cape Town is lovely.  Truly.  But there is a very slight chance I am going to walk around by myself.  At night.  And get lost. And keep pulling out a map book.

Seems unlikely, unless I want to get hit over the head with a giant stick and relieved of my possessions and normally some type A+ bodily fluid.

It is difficult to break this rather life-affirming habit.

The sun sets.  You quicken your step.  You head indoors where it is safe. (not dissimilar to the movie I am Legend!)

Kennith has assured me that London is a bit different and a girl on her own can wander around, map book in hand, getting herself lost without risk to limb or property.

Today after work, I headed to a museum.

Unfortunately I dawdled as you do, and wasted all my time on the crappy bits.

Museum closed, I had to get my arse out the door – because the friendly-polite-yet-exhausted looking staff aimed me to the door and in no uncertain terms told me to get my arse out.

As I shot to the “way out” sign I realised the museum had kept all the best stuff for the last 1/4 of the museum.  Sh*t I felt short-changed, and annoyed as it was too late to go to another museum, and my trip was nearly at an end.  (I adore looking at clothing and household items from the Tudor/Stewart period in history.)

Trying to make myself feel better, I decided that nothing cheers a girl up as much a little shopping in Oxford Street.

I shopped a bit. Shopped a bit more.  And then it was 21h00 and I really thought I had pushed the envelope of hanging around at night by myself long enough, and headed back to the hotel.

I got on a bus.  Had no real idea where it was going.  I sat with my mapbook and listened as the “bus announcer machine” kept telling me which road we were in, and reminding me which bus I was on and where it was going.

How clever is that?  Very.

The part that impressed/amazed me was that even though I was clearly much-in-need-of-a-map-book, and had no idea where I was, no one bothered me.  I did not have to shoo off beggars and small homeless people clinging to my leg and begging me to feed or comfort them.

If it was Cape Town, and I was a single woman ,alone, and lost, and holding a map book, at night, in the middle of the city, odds are I would be a crime statistic.

Sad but true.

 

<I really am impressed by how good the public system is.  That I can get from Point A to Point B reasonably easily.  No one seems to bother me.  And the weather has been jeans and t-shirt weather.  There is so much I would have loved to see, but time was not on my side.  But it has been way cool, and I have thoroughly enjoyed this week.>

Reluctant Mom Lost in London …. one of many times it would seem …..

Let’s bear in mind I get lost at Century City.  Regularly.

I also lose my car in mall parking lots.  Most times I park.

I often walk around and just push my “beep-beep” thingy on my car keys so I hear my car going “I-am-here-I-am-here” and then I walk towards it.  Not unlike a chick to it’s mommy chicken.

So I am pretty sucky at sense of direction.  I do not even attempt to show strength in this area.  I have a GPS in my car and a map book.  I use both. Often.

I am travelling to London by myself.  Alone.  No map book.  No GPS.

Fortunately I did not have to fly the plane or have any influence of the direction of the flight.  Which was really useful to everyone on board.

I slept – granted it was with three Russians behind me who smelt like they had eaten garlic and onions for about 5 months prior to the flight, and had it oozing out of every pore.

The problem with “economy” is that you are practically in the lap of the person behind you.

You recline your seat, and if the person behind you is still upright, they get their meal in their lap, and you staring up at their nostrils.  It is all a bit awkward and invades every rule of “people’s space.”

If you recline your seat, the person behind you has to as well.  And the person behind them.  And so on.  Not unlike the domino effect.

I got to Heathrow.  Followed the signs.  Found myself deposited at Paddington Station with a really heavy bag, a daypack on my back, and a really heavy handbag and a jacket.

I was sweaty, and somewhat tired.

From there I stumbled into the subway system.  Fortunately it is really a case of following a colour to where every you want to go.

Seemed easy enough.  Problem was there was construction on two of the lines, which made it next to impossible to get to my destination.

I also managed to get lost at one of the subway stations and for love or money could not find platform 2.  It was elusive, and I kept ending up at platform 3 and 4, no matter how much I tried to find fkn platform 2.

Interesting fact – some subway stations do not have escalators, and you are dragging your gear up and down stairs, while other sweaty and very impatient people are rushing past you.

No one appears to give a sh*t, and everyone walks really fast, and looks down.  No eye contact.  No smiling. No nodding.  No acknowledging anything.

I eventually got to my hotel, which included an express train, underground tube, bus and lots of walking.

I did not arrive at my hotel, as much as I fell through the automatic door.

I was too early to check in to my room.  Fk I was exhausted.

I fell into a heap in the bar area as the restaurant area required me to go either down a flight of stairs or an elevator, and seriously I was not moving.

I ordered a bottle of wine (it was a small one) and a chocolate muffin.  Probably not ideal fare for 09h30.

I told the waitron that I was from another time zone so that it made it easier on her to serve me wine while others were having tea and coffee  C

Cape Town is actually an hour ahead, so that made it almost lunchtime.  But it felt like about 4pm with the morning I had experienced.

I finished my wine and my muffin – both very good.

I decided I would do a quick wash and clean in the bathroom.  I am so glad I packed a packet of Cherub wetwipes. I took the equivalent of a bath and got a clean shirt on and brushed my teeth, and attempted to give some semblance of order to my hair.

Left my heavy bags in the “baggage room” and went to explore London.

Weather was lovely.  I had a skip in my step, and it was one of the first days I have had in what felt like a long time, where I could just wander around and it did not matter where I was or when I was.

Of course I got horribly lost. But I saw some lovely bits and pieces.  I eventually stumbled back to my hotel around 18h00 and my feet felt like I had run the Comrades.

I have seldom been so happy to see a shower as I was then …… or my bed ……..

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