Thursday, 5 February 2009

Fun in the snow

Sunday, Feb 01.

11.40ish: Snow begins to fall
18ish: P's mother no longer willing to drive to Gatwick Airport tomorrow morning
18.00 - 00.00ish: Panic and packing (and last-minute overlooked translation)
00.05: P sets alarm for 04.45: so early it's practically already happened

Monday, Feb 02.

04.30: P's Dad, loudly: 'What time did you set your alarm for?" P (very unhappy): 'about fifteen minutes' time'.
04.40: P gets out of bed.
05.10: P and Dad drag cases up the drive, through powdery snow, into car.
05.11: P rolls the Spaniel on its back in the snow.
05.12: Yellow snow.
05.14: P and Dad drive - very gingerly- to Sevenoaks station.

05.20: P purchases train ticket to Gatwick Airport, at extortionate peak commuter time price.
05.21: P and several haggard-looking suits (all male) are only people in station (apart from one Canadian guy with a big rucksack). Next train is due at 06.12.

05.40: Network South East operators come out and tell everyone that all trains are suspended*.
05.41: P and Canadian guy exchange looks of disbelief.
05.45: P goes to get refund on expensive peak-time train ticket. 'You'll have to go the ticket office', replies train operator. It is not yet six in the morning. Ticket office is closed. P can't answer that one.

05.50: P calls Dad.

05.52: Taxi driver pulls up at station. P accosts him in normal fashion.
05.54: M25 completely impassible. Apparently. P's Dad arrives at station.

06:00-06.20: P on phone to anyone, anyone at all alive at Gatwick Airport.
06.21: P gets through to A Real Person who is definitely alive and breathing at Gatwick Airport.
- 'Sorry, I can't help you with that: I'm the disability liaison officer'.
Britain is nothing if not politically correct.
06.25: P and Dad reckon the taxi driver was wrong and decide to give it a shot.

(Check in opens at 07.10)

06.30: small slide on snowy road.

06.40: P and Dad hit the M25 and wonder what they ever worried about. Lanes are clear, going is good. Phew.

06.55: QUEUES.

07.00: P and Dad in car

07.10: P calls airport. Automated system.
- 'There is no information for that flight. Please hold, while I put you through to a customer services advisor'. Music.
P holds.
07.20: P's phone runs out of credit.
07.25: P calls Orange and tops up phone.
07.31: 'All of our advisers are busy. Please hold.'

08.15: Junction 6**. P's Dad knows a shortcut. But it's through dangerous A-roads, which might not be cleared and gritted. Should they turn off? Should they stay on track?
08.16: Car inches past slip road.
08.18: Car inches just a little further.
08.20: P's Dad makes sharp skiddy turn back onto sliproad.
08.21: Hooting.

08.22: Classic FM plays Winter from Four Seasons, only for first time today.
08.25: A-roads are fantastic!

08.35: Drivers who are afraid of the snow and drive at 20mph in a 60-limit are not fantastic.

(Check-in closes at 08.50)

08.49: Gatwick Airport!
08.50: P hugs Dad goodbye and legs it, dragging two cases and one laptop bag into terminal building.
08.50 and a half: P jams credit card into automatic check-in machine. Yesssss!

08.55: Flight very delayed. Check-in open late anyway.

09.10 - 10.20: P becomes very well acquainted with departure lounge.

11ish (P has stopped counting):

*Due to lack of 'safety staff'. Hands up who's ever seen 'safety staff' on a PKP service?
**Sevenoaks is junction 5.


peixote said...

I expect the tension in that car was almost palpable.

Anyway, how did you know he was Canadian if you only exchanged looks of disbelief? Was it the lumberjack shirt that gave him away?

pinolona said...

Ah no, ok we had a short conversation about how crazy it was that things were closed down just cos of a few paltry inches of powder. He had a Canadian accent too.

Karolina said...

Pino are you in Krakow already?? When are you coming for coffee to NH? Where are you staying?

pinolona said...

Hey, how was Rome? You have to tell me all about it!
I was in Warsaw this weekend, back now, I'll send you a proper email instead of writing in the comments box...

Sylwia said...

Seems you're a hero for managing to get here!

What is the safety staff and what they're supposed to do on a railway service?

pinolona said...

Thanks Sylwia!

Re the 'safety staff', I have absolutely no idea :)