Anyway, having got the introductions out of the way in Part 2 let’s return to my narrative which, as you might have expected from the title, is intended to cover the events of my journey from Peterborough to Casteggio.
I awoke on Sunday 15th July to an empty house! This was not too surprising as one daughter was away for the weekend and the other, along with her boyfriend, my wife and my mother-in-law had all departed for a week on the Norfolk Broads the previous day. So I had been able to finalise my packing on the Saturday night, had my suitcase and hand luggage closed up and left by the front door without blocking anyone’s way and was ready for a (literal) flying start next day.
My long-stay parking at Luton had been pre-booked from 9.30am and the check-in desk opened at 11am so given my abhorrence of being the tiniest bit late I set out on the 60-something mile trip at 8.45.
First problem! The only long-stay car park that I could find (the Sat-Nav co-ordinates I had been given wanted to take me ONTO the runway!) did not have any signs mentioning the name of the company with whom I had pre-booked and pre-paid so I had to go in and park not knowing if it was the right one and whether I would have to pay again to get out in 12 days time!
I figured, logically, that there was nothing I could do about it until I returned and tried to put it out of mind while I loaded my bags aboard the bus to the terminal and rushed in to find that (phew!) I was a whole hour too early to have the large case booked in.
Second problem! Unless you want to spend an extortionate amount on hiring a cup of coffee and a sandwich in the Starbucks cafeteria or go to the “disabled passenger” area and pretend you are waiting for a wheelchair there is NOWHERE to sit in Luton Airport Departures while waiting to check-in! So I had to mooch about towing my case behind me, trying to spot the other five of the team also booked on this flight and finding something to do.
I amused myself by paying 50p to have my case weighed to confirm the finding of the somewhat hit and miss attempt at home on the bathroom scales that I was, indeed, a couple of Kilos under the 20Kg limit. Shortly after that excitement was over I finally spotted someone I knew in the crowd.
Using the designation that I gave you in Part 2 of this series this was Engineer 1 who I had met briefly once before and he quickly introduced me to Project Manager and Helpdesk who were not previously known to me. While making use of Easyjet’s priority check-in we were joined by Network Support and as we were now only missing Engineer 2 (with whom I had been working for the previous 2 weeks at Twinings in Andover) we decided to get the irksome security checks out of the way and move to the comparative comfort of the Departure Lounge.
After we had stocked up with bottled water for the flight we gathered for a coffee and to wait for the tardy Engineer 2 who phoned to tell us he was finally through security after having virtually to strip off to make it through the metal detector! As he arrived we were called for boarding and had the good fortune to be at the front of the “speedy boarding” queue – being allowed onto the aeroplane first meant I had a chance of LEGROOM!
Sure enough we secured the six seats on the front row and I was able to stretch out (instead of having my knees up under my chin as usual) for the entire 90 minute flight to Milan Malpensa Airport. Sheer luxury!
At Milan our bags came through remarkably quickly and we proceeded to the car rental stand to take possession of 2 out of the 3 cars previously booked – the third had to be signed out by someone from the other three team members who had arrived from Manchester at roughly the same time but at the other terminal over a mile away. By the time they got over to us, had got all the people and their luggage into the right cars and were ready to set out in convoy, nearly two hours had passed since landing.
We eventually reached the hotel (which you can view here: www.torrazzetta.it ) at about 7pm (6pm UK time) and as the temperature was in the 30s Celsius were told it was OK for us to use the pool before dinner at 8.30pm. So before I had even unpacked I was leaping into about six feet of water to cool off!
A bit of a contrast to the cold, soggy England I had left behind about six hours earlier!