Sunday, August 10, 2014
November 2013 we had booked flights for me to go to England, for a week, so I could see my family and return with Paul's youngest 2 children, Ruby & Jim. Although Ruby is old enough to fly alone the airlines will not let her supervise her younger brother, they use age as a deciding factor, despite Ruby being more responsible than some people, at least, 10 years older than her.
Because of my flight time, from Sofia, I had the option of getting a middle of the night train and spending 9 hours at the airport or travelling up the day before and booking into a hotel. Although Sofia is Bulgaria's capital city the Hotel Accord does rooms with breakfast for 39 leva (about £17), 9 hours at the airport would have cost me more than this, through sheer boredom. I arrived at the hotel about 10pm and after dropping my bags in the room went down for dinner - 2 starters and a beer for 10 leva (less than £5), I dread to think how much an overnight hotel and dinner would have cost me in London. A leisurely buffet breakfast, with unlimited coffee, was followed by a taxi to the airport as late as possible, I dislike the waiting around involved with air travel. Because I was travelling with British Airways I had a 23kg baggage allowance plus a cabin bag plus a personal bag, on the journey to the UK my cabin bag was IN my rucksack, I planned on coming back with books for Ruby amongst other things.
At Heathrow I left security and re-entered to check how long it took, so I would know if I had time to go through security with Ruby & Jim on the return flight (I was taking a connecting flight from Newcastle). The security took so long I realised I would need to meet them airside so just hoped the fact that I would make sure we had seats together when I checked in would be enough for the airline to let them through unsupervised. Despite me informing my mother that in addition to no pasta I wanted no fuss during my visit my arrival in Newcastle turned out to be a family affair.
Talk about embarrassing.
I nearly didn't get time to have an eye test - more expensive than having one here but we'd heard so many bad things about wrong glasses being prescribed I didn't want to risk it. My eye test results weren't as scary as I'd been expecting, a reasonably mild prescription for reading glasses. What was scary was trying to see anything in the distance with them on, they make the whole world blurry.
Because my baby sister was at work during my visit we had a lovely evening out, catching up with what was happening with each other, over Italian food and wine. The following night was another meal out this time with mum, sister and various children to celebrate Vikkis birthday. Day times passed in a whirl of shops but I did manage to buy some tins of paint at 20% of their RRP, neutral colours with feature walls. Sounds a bit silly planning colour schemes when I didn't even have a roof on the house but I needed something to work towards that was a bit none essential. I also found, and bought some Volkswagen wallpaper, we just need to decide where that will go, eventually. The results of raiding mum's attic and the shopping trips means that a local transport company are bringing about 6 boxes over for us on their next trip. Some things just couldn't wait until then, in addition to the books Ruby wanted to read Nutella, Peanut Butter, a selection of cheeses, window putty and some replacement swimming trunks for Paul were packed into the rucksack, along with various other bits and pieces. I should have packed the peanut butter into the boxes coming over in September as Jim seems to be on a mission to finish the jar off during his five weeks here. As I was spending my birthday in airports and planes my baby sister decided we were all going for a Chinese the night before. I was pleasantly surprised my niece, and her daughter, came along and had a great time getting a one year old to eat rice off chopsticks. Airport departure was much more sensible, than arrival, with only mum there to make sure I left the UK.
My flight, to Heathrow, was late taking off and then we had problems on landing, we were sitting on the tarmac waiting for a gate when Jaye (Paul's ex-wife) 'phoned me to see what was happening. As a plane was blocking our designated gate we ended up taxiing to the international terminal to be bussed back to domestic, I was not allowed to enter the terminal at international so had a mad dash back over there after being disembarked at domestic arrivals. I had told Jaye that the safest course of action was as soon as a gate number was displayed for our flight, to Bucharest, she should send the kids through security with instructions to go straight to the gate, and I'd meet them there. As I reached international departure lounge I 'phoned Jaye to let her know and she told me the kids had gone through security and we were departing from Gate 20 (this information wasn't yet displayed in the departure lounge). When I reached the gate the kids weren't there so I walked part of the way back to security, if I'd walked further there was a chance that we would miss each other because of the escalator layout. 30 minutes later there was still no sign of the kids and only 10 minutes until boarding, I found out it is impossible to put out a tannoy message airside without it being heard landside other than one for the immediate vicinity of the departure gates. I was beginning to seriously panic when Ruby and Jim came running around the corner, their mum had told them to wait at security for me. Luckily Ruby saw the announcement signs saying the flight was beginning to board and decided that as we were being collected from Bucharest airport they'd go and see their dad whether I made the flight or not - smart kid.
Previously the kids had flown with Sleazyjet so British Airways, with inclusive food and drinks was a pleasant surprise for them. After an uneventful flight we arrived at Bucharest airport, where we got another stamp added to the kids passport, and following an excessive wait for our hold baggage exited to find Paul and the neighbour who'd driven him up waiting for us. The drive home seemed to take forever and although the roof was nearly finished I was slightly disappointed to learn we still had builders on site. Paul had been warned that ignoring my birthday was not a sensible option so had found the time to make me a sign, which I appreciate more than if he'd gone out and just bought something (he still needs to make me a wooden pendant though)
Despite the builders on site and the fact that we still had lots of work that needed doing, so the kids wouldn't have the holiday they were expecting, it was good to be home.