So the big day arrived in a flurry of bag packing, weighing, repacking, reweighing with a bit of cleaning and tidying the house mixed in. Waves of nervous excitement seemed to roll around between each of us at different times, with periods of sadness in saying good-bye to family and friends added for good measure. It seemed a bit surreal to find ourselves with the bags on the train station platform and the journey finally beginning.
It seems to have been such a long time in the planning. Our response to the question ‘So when are you off?’ has transitioned from ‘oh, not until next month’ to ‘a couple of weeks to go yet’ to ‘tomorrow!’ and all of sudden here we are hauling more than our body weight in bags onto and off trains and trying not to imagine the ridiculous picture we must make with backpacks, biggest handbag ever (mine not James or Thomas’!) and an enormous roller bag in each hand. We probably looked like we had been evicted from our home or that we truly had no idea what to expect on a two week holiday!
Phase I: Getting to the airport
Much to Tom’s delight getting to the airport involved a total of five trains taking us from Manchester into London and out to what we thought was our hotel at Gatwick. London underground is not a friend to those with large bags, but we survived the dizzying highs of the escalators into the muggy depths and back out again. I even had an offer of help with my bags and a very kind gentleman acting as security for Tom and myself, preventing those who wanted to barge past from getting by as we were taking up the full width of the escalator. A big surprise from the London environment where we usually do not even make eye contact with those around us! Those of you who have not seen us out on a family walk may be wondering where James was at this critical time. Those of you who have seen us out and about will know that, being the bearers of slightly shorter legs, we are typically trailing 50 – 100 metres behind him at any one time and as such never in a good position to request his help or for him to be aware of what is happening in the rear view.
All considering everything went pretty smoothly. The only minor snag to the journey was that we initially pitched up in the wrong hotel! Having promised Tom a relaxing rest in the hotel room we had to do a bit of renegotiating and lug everything about a third of a mile down the road to the happy receptionist who was actually expecting us. The evening was saved however by news that children ate from an all you can eat buffet, which was ready and waiting to be raided on our arrival at the restaurant. His smile was large, as were the platefuls of food which were eagerly brought back to the table and devoured. The main meal was followed by a generous slab of chocolate brownie and the obligatory final slice of pizza to end the evening. James and I enjoyed a generous G&T, which we felt was well deserved and went down very well.
The night passed more or less without event. Apart from the pacer in the room above ours, who seemed to have put on their lead boots especially for walking from one side of their room to the other at about 2am for about an hour. We reckon they were on a long haul flight today and were making sure they got their step count up – damn these stupid fitbit devices!
Phase II: The plane journey
A beautiful morning dawned and a suitably British cooked breakfast saw us all set for the airport. The shuttle bus was taken to save the sweat, tears and blood that another walk would probably have produced and check in was all fine. No mention of bag weights at all! Phew! Slight wobble at security, as the new fidget spinner in Tom’s bag triggered some suspicion that meant it was quarantined for additional inspection. But Tom managed to explain himself appropriately and negotiated the bag back with no loss of personal items!
The airport lounges were not rated highly by Tom though, as there was hardly anywhere to sit and watch the planes. But we managed to find a quiet spot James and I were happy with to pass some of the time!
Time passed quickly enough and soon we were boarding. A delay involving debris on the runway meant we took off about 90 minutes late, but by this time Tom was on Mario carts so pretty oblivious to the whole affair.
Phase III: Arriving
The flight went well with nothing very exciting to report and we sailed through immigration with no problems. A bit of a wait for the paperwork to be sorted, but we are now all set with relevant visas and visitor records on very fancy Canadian Immigration paper!
Outside the airport we were met by brilliant sunshine and an old friend who is letting us use his house while we find our feet. So, next up – find our way around and an apartment to stay longer term!