I love flying. I have been doing it since I was little and have been flying with my children since they were six weeks old. In fact as they were born in the Middle East both C and J had been on more planes than buses and trains put together by the time they were five.
Our main family holiday for the past three years has been a pilgrimage to my family’s villa in Barbados and we begin to look forward to it the minute the wheels touch down at Gatwick from the current holiday. If the villa was ever sold I think Mr B might divorce me (he nearly did when they sold their Swiss chalet after he had only been once. NB that sale and his one visit are in no way connected.).
So having got up at 3.30am on Saturday so Mr B could go-downstairs-to-investigate-a-noise-whilst-only-wearing-pants (why do men do this?) we were both awake, and as my alarm was set for 4am I got up. What happened next is well documented and so when we got woken up by noisy people outside our hotel room in Gatwick at 4.30am on Sunday we were not amused. And as for why on earth housekeeping might think we want our room made up at 6.30am is beyond me.
Anyway, we arrived at the plane at 10am a bit shabby but I was focussing on the idea of eight hours in a Faraday cage with no internet / phone / washing machine / dog needing walking and being able to catch up on some much needed sleep.
The children had been on the Virgin website and had found out which films were being shown and had planned to the last minute the order they were each going to watch them.
I had barely wedged my arse into the seat when J mumbled “it’s not on demand TV and there are only ten films”.
The first delay to sleep came when we were still sitting on the tarmac at 10.15. Now normally a fifteen minute delay is nothing but given our recent history I was all geared up for seeing our luggage being off-loaded and escorted back to room 3289 of the Hilton.
As I started to doze off I was prompted to prove my seat belt was done up. Sleep further delayed by trying to watch the inflight safety info on the tiny screen. No longer do we get a live demo of how the top up valve and whistle work and how to cross the life jacket ties over at the side. All on a screen with the sound so low you can barely hear it over the air conditioning system. I did notice Richard Branson thanking us for chosing Virgin. Good job he hadn’t done it in person or he might have got short shrift from MummyB about our delay. NB my mum recently did get a personal thank you over the tannoy system from the man himself as he was on her flight. There’s posh.
The plane finally in the air and I realised I was not going to get any sleep in the immediate future as Small Child in 30C was making his presence known to all and sundry. His dad tried to pacify him by rocking him but it looked more like he was going to get Shaken Baby Syndrome so it was no wonder the poor child carried on screaming. “Can’t they just give it a dummy?” enquired C. Maternal to the core that one.
Finally Small Child quitened down and I could sleep.
In time for the food to arrive. Groan. Technically I could have missed the food for the sleep but I have never been known to turn down free food and wasn’t about to start now.
Once that had gone, and the tea arrived, and the rubbish collected, and the tea replenished I thought “right this must be it now, I can get a good five hours in”.
Just as Twins from Behind started. Swapping seats. Shouting. Kicking the seat and generally doing what children on planes do. I harumphed. Loudly. Crossed my arms and put my seat back.
Instant silence. Bliss. I nodded off. It was heaven
For eight minutes
“any duty free?”
Oh for the love of God.
Please go away.
I managed to squeeze in 23 minutes before choc ices appeared.
That devoured and I got about 17 minutes before a glass of juice was proferred.
I was starting to wish that Virgin’s in flight customer service was a bit rubbish.
Cue Small Child in 30C starting again. Mum’s turn to take him for a walk and that seemed to do the trick.
That must be it, now surely? I can sleep.
Yes, everybody is watching films I can nod off.
“This is your captain speaking. We are about to hit a pocket of turbulence so would you please return to your seats and fasten your seat belts”.
Right, I am starting to get really grumpy now. My seat belt IS done up. It hasn’t beeen undone since I wedged myself in the seat
Sleep. Now. I got comfy. Ish. As well as you can do in one of those airline seats. I imagined we had turned left and gone upstairs and were lying in a flat bed with a duvet. I counted three sheep. That was all it needed.
And then afternoon tea arrived “egg and cress or tuna and cucumber?”
It’s a damn good job I don’t know how to cross check those doors and get them off manual, I tell you.
As the wheels touched down I don’t think I have felt as tired since the children were tiny. But as we walked down the steps I could have cried. We had arrived. 40 hours after getting up on Saturday we were here.
I could have got down and kissed the ground, Pope style. Except I am not sure I could have got back up again and I knew that 20 miles away there was a Pina Colada with my name on it.