Home again

I have spent the weekend in Wales, well, Friday to Monday so a long weekend. I feel better for it and I think my mother and my brother does too. I met a few of the family, there are far too many to meet in a few days. I expect there will be many of them at the funeral in March. I think it really hit home when I got there, and for the first time ever, my father wasn’t there. It’ll never feel quite the same.

I took the plane for this trip. I’ll drive down in March because that gives more flexibility over coming back and also it’s a lot cheaper than flying. CStM will come along, as will Gloom Dog. The remaining Fat Hamster will go into pet storage here, hopefully the pet storage facility can be a little flexible over the return date just in case. It’s not holiday season so I hope it will be okay.

Gloom Dog will go into pet storage in Wales for the few days around the funeral. There will be so many new people she might bark herself to death otherwise. I just hope she doesn’t come back barking in a Welsh accent or the Scottish wildlife will have no idea what she’s on about. Not that they pay much attention anyway.

Anyway. It was a short trip so I was able to check in online both ways before I even left the house. Brilliant, I thought, this is going to go smoothly for once.

I arrived at Aberdeen and tried to check in. Too early, apparently they can only check in luggage after a certain time. Okay. I had a couple of double espressos and a few smokes and tried again. I presented my already-checked-in printed boarding pass. I had selected seat 15F.

The check-in wench looked puzzled. This plane only had 14 rows. I was booked in on the tailplane. I didn’t want to sit there, it would be a bit draughty. It seems they changed the aircraft after I booked in a few days earlier and I was reallocated a seat. Meh, I got a seat, it was okay. I did my smoking before security, and good thing too. The ‘smoking area’ after security in Aberdeen costs a pound to get into and no cash, you have to use a credit or debit card. Given the SNP’s propensity for lists of undesirables, I refuse to use it.

This was Friday night in high winds and they put on a smaller aircraft. During the ‘what to do to comfort yourself if the plane is about to go into the ground like a high speed exploding lawn dart’ speech, there was a lot of emphasis on ‘brace position’. When we took off it became apparent why they really needed us to know this. Taking off was… wobbly. We got airborne, and soon found out the pilot thought he was in a damn Spitfire. A left turn had me looking directly down at the ground. This was the point I thought I might have been better with an aisle seat. Especially when the reflection of the seat back looked like a hooded figure looking over my shoulder. I thought ‘If I die on this flight, my mother will kill me’.

There were more mentions of brace position on the way into Bristol. The landing was equally wobbly but the Spitfire pilot got us down in one piece. So kudos to him/her/it.

Coming back Monday, it was much calmer. This time check in went a bit better. Although I did enter the airport near check-in desk 1 and saw the flight to Aberdeen listed at check-in desk 37. Sigh. Well, at least this time there really was a Row 15. Oh, and the way into security is back at check-in desk 1 but the outside smoking area (sealed from the eyes of the offended but with no roof of any kind) is past check-in 40. Airports hate smokers. They do like to profit from us though.

Only three flights left from Bristol on that Monday evening. The other two flights were delayed, by over an hour. The Aberdeen flight’s gate wasn’t going to be listed until 19:05, with boarding at 19:30. I hit the espressos again. Oh and they claimed there was a smoking area after security. Well I couldn’t find it so can’t comment on it.

After 19:05 the screen changed to ‘gate will be displayed shortly’. Okay, I was ready for a delay but there wasn’t one. We’re all at gate 1, where the screens and shops are. At 19:25, five minutes to boarding, the gate came up.

Gate 33.

By the time we all arrived, boarding had started. Straight through. Now, remember there were only three flights that evening so why send us to almost the furthest gate they could find? I suspect bored air traffic controllers deciding to boost our exercise regimes. Especially because the gate put us on a bus to take us to the aircraft. They could have done that from any gate.

It was amusing to watch passengers standing at the doors as soon as the bus reached the aircraft. I remained seated. It was obvious they only planned to open one set of doors since there was only one staircase into the plane. My seat, like everyone else’s, was allocated. It really doesn’t matter when you get on and the plane isn’t going anywhere until everyone is seated so being in the way just inconveniences yourself. I’m in no hurry.

The flight back arrived early and this felt like a good thing until we had to wait to get to our gate. It wasn’t ready. It was, of course, almost the furthest from the terminal but hey, I had to wait for a bag to come through so no need to rush.

Then the drive home. In snow, the first real snow we’ve seen this year. Scotland must be the only country that can put mega-puddles halfway up hills and none in the dips. And given the crappy state of Scotland’s roads, you can never be sure if a puddle is splash-deep or axle-deep. It’s best to avoid them all. Scotland, the inventor of tarmac, can’t seem to keep the roads covered in it.

I made it. I’m home for a couple of weeks then we have to drive down to Wales for my father’s funeral. It is going to have a lot of people at it, he was a very popular man and well loved even though he seemed to be a grumpy old bugger most of the time. I aspire to that level of grumpiness. I’m working on it.

Father is going to be cremated. His ashes will be buried in a box, which my son is making. Dad would approve, since he taught my son most of the woodworking he knows. As for me, I’ll be reading that blog post at the funeral at my mother’s request. It will probably be embellished, since he only spanked my brother and myself once in our lives and that was when sibling rivalry turned into bloodshed.

We weren’t punished when we fought with battle axe and morningstar (I still have the battleaxe with the scars in the handle). It was the time my brother slammed my head in the door and made my earlobe bleed profusely that did it. There was so much red, I think it made Dad panic.

I think it was the only time he ever spanked us. Since he worked the coal face in the mines, he never needed to hit us. He just had to look as though he might and we’d give in. It’s hereditary. I’ve never been down a mine but I have terrified people by looking at them. Although, people weren’t as easily terrified in his day.

Well, the limbo continues. Nothing can progress yet, not untill after the autopsy.

6 thoughts on “Home again

  1. I buy all my cigs in Poland, so I fly a lot.

    I go for row 2, 3, or 4.. Getting off early puts you nearer the front of the painfully slow passport queue.
    Of course, I then still have to wait for my hold luggage. But the sooner i get there, the better my chance of not being last away.

    I want to get to Customs as soon as possible. If they haven’t pulled anyone, they’re more likely to pick on the stragglers, just for amusement.

    So, even with an allocated seat, I fight to board early on the return flight. The luggage rack fills up, and I don’t want to swim upstream for my hand luggage when we land. That’s a nightmare.


    • This was just a domestic flight, Bristol to Aberdeen, so no customs to worry about. Although when I’ve come in from overseas I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone at the Aberdeen customs desk anyway!

      Hand luggage for me is always a small backpack that fits easily under the seat in front. No overhead lockers needed 😉


  2. A big manly hug from me re your dad. We all know these things are to come but no time ever seems to be the right time.

    I’ve never been on a package holiday but having been an air cadet I love flying. Recent flights have almost cured me of it, though, because as you say everything about airports seems to be organised so as to inconvenience the paying passenger as much as possible. I understand that there has to be random change so that those who wish us ill can’t easily plan their tantrums, but the level of unnecessary trudging about is a real pain in the buttress.


  3. Commiserations, and may the funeral go well. Death of parents is a very weird and horrible time. Watch out for the old sibling rivalry rearing its head – it often seems to.


    • The funeral is descending into a farce my father would have approved of. Twelve days and still no death certificate. The coroner here is useless.
      Sibling rivalry won’t be an issue, I only have one brother and he lives near my parents so he’s been doing most of the work. I wouldn’t dream of trying to take over.


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