There are some things that, even after a very reasonable and refreshing 7 hours sleep, I simply cannot do at 3.30 a.m. and one of those things is……..
In fact I am reasonably sure that if I tried giving it anything more solid than a mug of coffee at that hour, my stomach would rebel and try to throttle me with my own small intestine!
So the mug of coffee was all I gave it and I remained unimpeded by my own pipework and perfectly able to drive the 65 or so miles from Peterborough to Stansted Airport in deepest Essex.
Faith and I set out at 3.45 a.m. and somewhat to my surprise there was very little traffic on the road. In fact, to relieve the boredom resulting from not having to do all the other car drivers’ thinking for them I resorted to counting trucks – with which these roads are usually awash.
Over the 30 miles or so to Cambridge I overtook 33 – my forebodings about the A14 were misplaced and there were none of those curious “traffic jams for no apparent reason” stoppages, usually caused by lorries far ahead overtaking each other very slowly and making the cars trying to get by them brake progressively harder!
On the M11 to Stansted the total rose to 65 and we reached the Long Stay carpark at the airport exactly an hour after leaving home and a mere 15 minutes after the time I had booked online as our earliest possible time of arrival.
The lack of traffic had led me to believe that the Airport would be reasonably quiet too but I started to have doubts when I saw the queue for the transit bus from the carpark to the terminal! We were at the first stop for the double length “bendy bus” and were lucky to get on it! People waiting further along its route were ignored and had to wait 15 minutes for the next one – which hopefully did not have the same problem.
And things did not get any better when we got into the terminal. The place was HEAVING with people!
When I first used Stansted about 30 years ago there was this massive new building in which there seemed to be more staff than passengers and in which anyone with a fear of open spaces would have been suffering greatly. Not now though!
The opposite phobia now comes into play and all of those people (except us, of course) are mindlessly charging about with no thought or consideration for anyone who crosses their path.
Basically, it’s like shopping in Tesco but with wheeled suitcases instead of shopping trollies!
There is no doubt that, in many ways, the “wheelie” suitcase is a boon to the Traveller. No longer do you have to risk the muscles of shoulder and back by having to carry that bag or case from car to bus; from bus to check-in; from airport to coach and from coach to hotel room – you just tow the thing along behind you!
That’s fine and once Faith and I have checked our wheeled cases onto the flight we are left with a rucksack and shoulder bag to take with us onto the aeroplane. We now take up a lot less floor space than we did and on the assumption that this is the “case” (sorry!) with all other passengers we expected that things would get easier as we moved away from the departure desks.
Just lately, however, a disturbing development has occurred – the wheelie mini-suitcase taken as cabin baggage!
When you are on the “outside” of the Security check area (that is, before giving up your main baggage to the uncertainties of the conveyor belts behind the Airline desks) you now have to contend with people towing TWO of the things with all of the attendant steering and personal space issues that brings about! It also means that the need to try not to trip over these objects does not cease once through the ordeal that is the hand luggage and personal effects scan and search – you STILL have to keep looking down!
Despite the blockages caused by a large number of fellow holidaymakers and what seemed to be the UK’s entire Eastern European workforce going home for the weekend we made our way through the crush and onto a flying machine named “Thomson” for an uneventful flight to Menorca.
By a strange stroke of fate we managed to arrange this holiday for that week of the year when the French Air Traffic Controllers were NOT on strike and thus arrived exactly on schedule.
At the start of the introduction to this series I posed a question about what exactly we are having a holiday FROM.
I now have an answer – we go on holiday to recover from the stress of…………
Going on holiday!