My husband arrived home early in the day before our trip from one he’d taken to Washington, D.C. Did I mention that I’m a registered nurse? Nurses work awful hours. Really awful. Unfortunately, I had to work that night, and the problem with that is that I don’t sleep well during the day. Add to it the double triple excitement of seeing my husband again after a week away, knowing we’d spend the next week together sharing a lovely adventure, and the anticipation of the journey itself, and sleep before work was near impossible—even though I’d worked the night before.
After arriving home from work around 0800 hours (that’s eight o’clock a.m. to you non-nursing, non-military landlubbers) I still had to finish some last-minute packing, scrub myself clean from the night before and try to make myself somewhat presentable for the day and the trip ahead. We stopped on the way to the airport for an early lunch and once more to pick up a few munchies for the long flights ahead. We arrived on time at our nearby regional airport and made our way to the departure lounge where we waited for our plane to arrive. We waited…and waited...and waited.
It eventually arrived, we boarded and soon we were off. Little time was left
between the time we expected to arrive in Charlotte and the time our connecting flight departed. Still, no problem. That is, until we arrived in Charlotte and had to wait in a holding pattern before we could land. As soon as our wheels touched down, my take-charge husband approached the flight attendant and ordered him (that’s right--ordered) him to call our next departure gate to notify them that we’d be there. Well, it seems that some folks don’t take well to steely-eyed killers of the deep giving them orders. (What’s wrong with those creeps?) The flight attendant replied, with a casual wave of his hand, that the airline determined that we couldn’t get to the gate on time so they gave away our seats to others. Wrong response—really, really wrong response. My husband stared him right in the eye and said, “Well they’ll just have to take them back. We’ll be there.”
Once off the plane, I felt like Secretariat at the Belmont, sprinting through two different concourses to reach our departure gate. What should greet our eyes, once there, but our plane slowly backing away from the gate. My masterful guy let his displeasure be known before we retired to the Executive lounge and got new reservations in order to reach Philadelphia on time that night.
The airline was apologetic and provided us vouchers for food and drinks in one of the concourse restaurants so we adjourned there for an hour or so. Drinks? Yes, I had two of them. Did I also mention that I’d had less than three hours’sleep during the past forty-eight? My thought was that there wasn’t that much time before climbing aboard our next flight. My plan was to grab some sleep once we were aboard. Hah! That flight wasn’t longer than seventy-five minutes.
Philadelphia: The city of brotherly love. We made our way to the International terminal and had a seat a good bit away from the desk. Soon we were surrounded by the flight crew, all waiting for the elusive plane. We waited and talked with these very nice people…and waited and waited some more. The pilot departed for wherever it is that pilots can go and returned with the news that they had to change planes—who knows why. He may have told us but I don’t recall. My brain registered little except staying awake until we were aboard. It seemed like somewhere near midnight when the plane finally arrived.
Wow . . . first class flights to international cities are really comfortable. Wine? Here you are, ma’am. Supper on china. Supper? Yes—at midnight or whatever time it actually was. I recall that it was good—but that’s about it.
It hardly seemed like any time since our lunch and (other) supper, though.
Afterward, husband settled in for a movie on his own video monitor while kicked back in the most comfortable seat in the airline world and fell sound asleep. Some three hours later, the cabin was light again and Land’s End was in sight. After a beeline to the lav, I returned to a magnificent breakfast. Breakfast! I knew I might never be hungry again. Eventually, Gatwick was below us and an endless taxi to our gate ensued.
Once through Immigration and Customs, our bags were right there. Then, we strolled through the terminal to the train kiosk and tickets for Bath. Another run, yikes!—“the train leaves in six minutes, sir and ma’am.” English trains are wonderful. They arrive on time and are quite clean and tidy. The conductors are businesslike and friendly and the other passengers are courteous. Once out of the city, the countryside was beautiful. Hedgerows marked the edges of lush green fields—yes, hedgerows!—those
things we read about in novels and see in movies that don’t exist in America, at least as far as I know. Here and there, gorse turned fields to blinding yellow. The train occasionally wound through the most beautiful woods where there was no underbrush or tall weeds growing. That’s nothing like those one finds in America.
By mid-afternoon we arrived in Bath and strolled across the Avon River to our hotel. By that time, fourteen hundred hours Zulu (that’s two p.m. GMT) had passed and I did a mental calculation that I’d been awake for all but about six hours out of the past seventy-two. After a phone call to a friend to arrange for lunch the next day, we settled down to a nap to fight off the effects of jet-lag. Later, a supper at the Sally Lunn Shop and the best soup and “buns” I’d ever eaten and a pint of Beamish Black back at our hotel, the night closed in and that is the end!
Oh, Bath? It is lovely. Just take a look!