The day had finally arrived, I was off to join my husband in Toronto. In bed by 9.30 Friday night, alarm set for 4am, excited and unable to sleep without my mind whirring and ticking over such quandaries as ‘Have I forgotten to pack something important?’ ‘Which terminal do I go to at Heathrow?’ etc etc!
But sleep came, and soon enough it was time to be up and at ‘em! A few last minute things in the case, such as my make up from that morning and the hair straighteners I had just used and before I knew it my parents had arrived to drive me to the airport. Dave came along too, just to make sure I definitely buggered off I think, so he could have his house back to himself! 😉
We had all decided to treat this as the extended holiday that it is and save the big goodbyes for when we actually make the move to Boston, permanently. A practice run if you like! So the car chat was filled with advice on how I needed to take it easy as I was only a couple of weeks out of surgery, to have a great time and to stay in touch. My Mam and Dad are just getting to grips with the wonderful world of Skype and emails, so this will be a good excuse for them to brush up on their skills by putting them into action. Which they certainly need! Dad’s last 2 email attempts; one had random bullet points throughout and the other was a reply to an email I sent him last November!
The airport was relatively empty, and I had checked in online so great I thought, just need to check my luggage in and away I go. Unfortunately for me, nothing is ever that simple.
“You do know you are exceeding your maximum luggage weight by 3kg Mrs Randle?” Errrm, no, I did not! Oh no!! It was pay the £40 excess weight charge or take my case off the conveyor, open it up in front of everyone in the queue and try and take out 3kg worth of stuff.
So this is how the whole of Newcastle airport ended up seeing my knickers, that had been packed ever so carefully in my case but were now getting pulled out and strewn around ungraciously, and how my Mam ended up with her arms full of dressing gowns, handbags, toiletries and jumpers as we tried to make 3kgs’ worth of essential items disappear!
With not a scrap of room in my two hand luggage items, it was with a tricky no arms (‘cos they were full) hug over half of the contents of my case that I said my goodbyes to my friends and family and watched them trudge off back to the car with all my gear!
A quick pint of cider (obligatory when in an airport, no matter the time!)and a jot down of my morning so far in my notepad and it was time to board the plane.
I had already checked in online and picked my seat -very front row on the aisle, so I could be straight off and away once we landed. I was quite excited that I had some minor celebrities on board the plane with me; the boys and girls from MTV’s Geordie Shore, who were on their way to Frankfurt for the EMAs (European Music Awards). For anyone outside of England (or in England come to that!) who is thinking ‘Who??’ then they are basically a group of people from my neck of the woods (Charlotte is a mackem, therefore she is by far the best member of the show) who get fuelled up on alcohol and party like its 1999. They are well known for their loud mouth shenanigans and drunken sexual antics. So you can imagine my disappointment when my 1 hour flight was quiet and peaceful, and there were no miscellaneous shags or swear words to be seen or heard!
Anyway, I arrived at Heathrow and easily followed the signs for connecting flights with no problems. I had some breakfast and found another bar to prop up and fill the 2 hour wait between flights.
My flight was called and I headed into the gate watching people getting flustered all around me as they were unable to get seats together, and felt rather proud of myself for checking in online, and paying an additional £60 to choose a seat with extra leg room. I could really start feeling the effect of lugging a case and a bag around with me for 5 hours so quickly after my operation. My abdomen has approximately 35 stitches after surgery, my gullet has over a hundred little cuts in it and my 5 wounds on my skin are not yet healed, so to say I was relieved when I got on the plane and found my seat is a bit of an understatement. It was an emergency exit row, with loads of leg room and the very kind gentleman over the aisle helped me to put my bag and case in the overhead lockers.
I sat down, stretched out my body to much relief and thought to myself how well everything had gone, inwardly scolding myself for being such a worrier. And that was my downfall. I believed the worst was behind me, I thought the heavy case incident back at Newcastle all those hours ago was as bad as the day could throw at me, but how wrong I was.
Just when I thought everyone was seated and we were ready to go, a family of approximately 12 came rushing onto the aircraft. They were not as well planned as I and had not checked in online, or got to the gate with enough time to get seats together, so they started to dot themselves around the plane separately.
Obviously, the father with the 3 month old baby sat in the empty seat next to me. I work with children, and to be honest I can turn off crying babies like a mute button in my mind, so I smiled and cooed over the very cute little bundle of screams thinking to myself that it is only 8 hours, I can cope, and anyway, surely he would sleep during that time. Apparently not. Just before take off, the mother of the noise maker came over and crouched down in front of her husband and started to give the baby it’s bottle. The air hostess explained that she could not do this, to which she started to become very unladylike. Next thing I know, I have been asked to move 4 rows back to her seat so she could sit next to her husband and her baby. Air hostesses were nodding in agreement and without really a say in the matter I was bustled out of my seat and moved 4 rows back into a normal seat, no extra leg room.
Being English and not liking confrontation in these situations, I pretended this was fine, as the whole plane watched me move. She wants to be next to her child I kept repeating to myself as I was scrunched up in my new chair, unable to straighten my legs and already feeling the pain starting in my stomach. After 10 minutes I built up the courage to call over the air hostess and ask if there was another seat with extra legroom, explaining that I had paid extra for it because of surgery. She was very apologetic and after she couldn’t find me one, she explained to the lady who was now stretched out in my seat, with her baby fast asleep in her husband’s arms that there had been a mistake and I would be coming back. I knew nothing of this until a very unhappy mother came strutting over and said “Your seat is empty now. I’ve had to move.”
I felt like a Grade A bitch moving this mother away from her husband and child, and with the whole of the plane watching I slunk back into my chair like the bad guy in all of this. Just after take off, the man across the aisle leaned in and whispered that he would never have moved seats for her, and he heard the hostess explaining my situation and that he thought I was right to move back. I smiled politely and nodded, but couldn’t speak as I knew my voice would break through embarrassment. I feel like I should never have been put in that position in the first place, and that feeling of annoyance only doubled when the rest of the family started to pass the baby amongst themselves, even when it was asleep, to have their turn of holding their new little grandson/nephew/cousin. The mother or father never held that baby after take off for the full duration of the 8 hour flight. But would she have given me my seat back? Like hell would she! She would have stretched out in full knowledge that I was squeezed in her tiny seat 4 rows back and not felt the slightest bit guilty!
So 8 awkward hours passed and I managed to read most of my book, watch a few films (The Watch and Ted, which were so funny I caught myself laughing out loud much to the amusement of people around me) and some of Harry Potter. The dad to my left was absolutely rat arsed by the time we landed, he had done nothing but drink beer all the way, and getting off that plane was the best feeling in the world!
With a banging headache and aching body I just kept telling myself not to worry, it was over with, at last I could finally see Phil!! Wrong.
Sensing my bad day, and thinking how much fun it would be to add to it, Immigration decided to take me into another area to ask me more questions!! After what seemed like forever, I came out to find my case the last one lonely circling the conveyor and thought to myself what a downright awful day!
Then I walked through the doors into arrivals and saw my husband standing there with his Julie Randle sign, and it was as if the past 16 hours hadn’t happened!
My absolutely horrible day and awful journey gone, in that instant. He has a way of doing that, does Phil 🙂
Gone, but not forgotten!! Obviously. Just put on the back burner until I got here to my blog and started writing…