8th February 2002
I booked an aerobus which picked me up from the hotel and delivered me on time to the airport. It only cost 2.5 euros for a door to door service – absolute bargain. Portugal seems to have really nailed their public transport network.
The flight was uneventful other than a bit of turbulence. I was on my way to the toilet when it started and the hostess asked me to return to my seat. I wondered what she would have thought about the ‘turbulence’ I had experienced on the Santa Maria.
When I arrived in London I decided that I’d get the tube from Heathrow into the city and go straight to Victoria where I could leave my luggage and where I’d later take the train to Gatwick. I doubled back on myself after leaving my bags and got off the tube at South Kensington with my survival suit, books and reports for the office. I was not best pleased to find that Ed in the office had forgotten that I was due to arrive and had gone off to play squash! I had to wait an hour for him to come back.
After a debrief of about 45 minutes I was again travelling back to Victoria. I didn’t realise there was a British Airways desk at the train station but was glad to find that I could book my flight and check in my bags from Victoria allowing me to make my own way to the airport later. It saved me lots of stress and carting of luggage. I had only eaten the aircraft food all day and so I was starving when I ordered my meal at Gatwick. I didn’t have much time but packed down a big meal and a small bottle of wine just in time to check into departures 30 minutes before my flight. I was feeling quite smug about how well all of my travel plans had gone, and then I learned that my flight to Newquay had been delayed! I resigned myself to people watching from a pub in the departures lounge, and it was all quite enjoyable. My first couple of pints of lager went down an absolute treat; they only had bottled beer on board and it was scarce as gold dust. I realised how the trip has given me a new appreciation for things, even such that a flight delay was a real treat!
After a delay of 2 hours I boarded the little dash propeller plane and off we set for home. The flight was very comfortable and the take-off and landing very smooth. As I climbed down from the plane I could see Mum, Dad and Abs. It was absolutely fantastic to see them again, they hardly recognised their bearded son and I hardly recognised Abs in her huge heels.
We spoke non-stop during the drive home, and it was such a pleasure to be able to speak openly and freely without censure or without fear of judgement.
Mum and Dad had put a up a Christmas tree in the garden for my homecoming and welcome home banners and balloons. My bed was made ready for me. It was bliss beyond words though it was difficult to take it all in and still is.
It’s hard to summarise a trip with so many good and bad experiences. I don’t have a single regret and all the experiences whether they were good, bad or ugly have enriched my life. I have one more thought on goodbyes……they make great homecomings.