Sunday, 9 June 2013

On a grueling flight

I must remember not to book long flights on nights after work ever again if I can possibly help it. I found my flight over a grueling, sleepless chore. Thankfully, the seat next to me was empty so I had a bit more space.

When I got to immigration control, there was a huge lineup as it seemed flights from several countries had all arrived at once. This included an Emirates flight and one from somewhere in the vicinity of Oklahoma as I overheard some people talking about the tornado. There was also a guy in a cowboy hat and jeans held up by a big buckled belt who opened a can of chewing tobacco and put some in his mouth while waiting. There was a discouraging sign saying the wait could be as long as 90 minutes from that point. Thankfully, I was through faster than that.

The delay meant that my luggage and Leonardo were waiting for me in the luggage retrieval area. I put the wheels onto Leonardo's box and pulled it and the rolling duffle off to find the exit.

Once out of the secured area, I sought out a cashpoint machine to get some pounds. The last time I tried to do this in Heathrow, I managed to get my bank card cancelled. Consequently, I approached the machine with a certain caution born of bitter experience and cash advance credit card charges ;-) and a depiction of an alphanumeric keypad as I remember my PIN as series of letters not numbers and European cashpoints don't show the letters. As I was doing this an oddly accented voice from behind me asked about where I was biking to. I turned around to see an older man with a large rolling suitcase. I am afraid I said to him slightly curtly that I had to concentrate so please don't bother me. I don't think I insulted him, but as he walked away I noticed that his suitcase was marked "Tern" which is the brand name of a folding bike maker, meaning the suitcase contained a folding bike. I felt I had been a bit unfriendly.

As luck would have it, the same man was at the railway platform when I got there. I apologized for my behavior and we began to chat. He was on his way to a Land's End to John O'Groats ride! I don't know where he was from, but it wasn't the UK. Among other things, it was hard to explain to him that he should take the Heathrow Express train to Paddington rather than the Heathrow Connect train that also went to Paddington but stopped several times along the way.

I took the Heathrow Connect train one stop before changing to another train. This involved hauling my luggage up and down stairs to reach the right platform where I caught the train with no time to spare. Once on the train, I phoned cousin Elly to give her an ETA of my arrival in Didcot.  She met me at the station and drove me and gear to her house where after a couple pieces of toast, I collapsed into bed for a four hour snooze. Elly later said I had looked completely wiped.


Susan Gwyn said...

I assume the cash point obliged with lovely pounds?

Bikemoose said...

Yes, it did.