December 18, 2004

Arrival Update

Below is a group email that I sent out to some of my friends on Friday 10th December. I've decided that since I can't be bothered to update my blog with original ideas/words at the moment, I thought I would copy and paste, change the odd word here and there and ta-da! What do you know, I have a blog entry. Ingenious, oder?...

NB: Please bear in mind whilst reading this that my Grandparents do in fact mean the world to me…they just provide such entertaining things to write about that I can't resist :-)

Well hello [hell-low] there, how are you today?

As you may have gathered by now, I made it. In the literal sense of the word anyway – not sure about my mental state and consequently my sanity, but I'm trying to claw my way back from the depths of ARGH!! (that's me after explaining how to work the entertainment system on board for the 15th time…more on that later, it's riveting, please try to contain your excitement and refrain from scrolling down before reading the rest of this wonderful entry).

As far as I'm aware I did actually tell you where I was going, and probably a lot of random other information too, but perchance you lost concentration for a crucial second, I'm in Naples, Florida. I arrived on Wednesday and am here until December 28th (arrive UK Dec 29th). I'm here with my Mum and the Grandparents (hereafter referred to as G&G). Mum was already in America so it was just the three of us making our (traumatic) way over on Wed. My mobile phone works here and after a day or two of refusing to send texts, it's now temperamentally sending them, so if you're lucky enough you may receive one at some point (probably at some unearthly hour cos I keep forgetting the time difference) but for the time being this will have to suffice – not only can I write much more (what luck!), but it has the added bonus of being free :-) .

So, Wednesday 8th December 2004. What a day. We were up at 0430, at Grandma's insistence, to be ready for the collecting taxi's arrival at 0630. Yes people, two hours to get ready. Needless to say we were all gathered in the hall downstairs, coats and shoes on, by 6am. Fortunately the taxi arrived 15mins early. Well, fortunately for us anyway – any hopes the taxi driver had of sitting quietly for a quarter of an hour to maybe eat some breakfast or have a drink were thoroughly dashed thanks to Grandma's vigilant lookout at the wide open front door – we were out there like a shot, suitcases loaded and us strapped in almost before the guy could introduce himself (and indeed confirm that he was there for us…luckily he was, who knows where we could've ended up?). The journey from home to Heathrow was pretty uneventful, except for Grandma's realisation that she'd forgotten to remove the metal spoon from her handbag (don't you just hate it when that happens?) and consequent continuous worry about whether she'd be allowed it in her hand luggage on the plane or whether she should just [whispered] "leave it in his car" – Grandma, the taxi driver can hear you. Please stop. Arrival at Heathrow and check-in were fairly smooth, although we had booked assistance which was a bit of a pain but eventually two guys turned up with two wheelchairs and by shouting "mass murderer coming through" we managed to successfully skip to the front of every queue and board the plane without too much hassle. Nice. What followed however, wasn't. We were due to take off at 1115. We didn't leave until 1400. The 2h45m inbetween? Spent sat on the plane at the gate – there was an inconsistency regarding the cargo weight figures on the paperwork, which at first we were told would only take half an hour to rectify. Which turned into an extra hour. And another. During this time there was nothing to do but wait – the entertainment system wouldn't work until the engines were turned on and the engines weren't going to be turned on because they had to unload all the baggage and cargo, then reload the baggage. Unfortunately there were no trucks available to unload the baggage onto so everything took twice as long. Bonus – free drinks! All Virgin-branded of course, but free nonetheless. So we nabbed a few of those. When we eventually took off I couldn't wait to get started on the films – I'd read the in-flight magazine (about 5 times over…) and it said there were 52 films to choose from, TV series (Friends, Little Britain, etc.), games, music and more. I discovered "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" was one of the 52 films on offer, so for me there was no contest (I'd been wanting to see it for ages). The system consisted of individual screens integrated into the seat-back in front, and a remote control/telephone in the arm rest. Despite a crew demo, a written instruction leaflet and step-by-step on-screen instructions, I anticipated some comprehension problems with the system for G&G, so I attempted to set them up with something to keep them quiet in the hope that I would be able to watch my film in peace…who was I kidding?!

"Fliss, I can't hear anything." – plug your headphones in.
"Fliss, it's too loud." – yep, you're leaning on the increase volume button.
"Fliss, mine only offers four films." – try clicking on page two.
"Fliss, mine's broken, it's stuck on this page." – how about "next"?
"Fliss, it's in Japanese." – no joke!! The startup page gave two options, English or Japanese – a tough one, I know.

So, having learnt from the Eternal Sunshine mistake, I proceeded to put on the Snow Patrol album and pretend to be asleep. Obviously I was "woken" every 10 minutes or so to answer some query or another, but I could deal with that. Until I actually did fall asleep, then it was less amusing (although how amusing was it in the first place?!). Anyway I/we (they – only just) survived and eventually arrived in Miami at around 1130 GMT. We once again got to skip the (horrendous) queues what with having the old folks in wheelchairs, so that was handy – getting into this country would've been a nightmare otherwise, it would've taken hours. We had to get fingerprinted and have photos taken (just what you feel like after a 9hr flight – hate to think what I looked like!), and the luggage had to be put on scanners and such like. Wouldn't have packed such a heavy case if I'd realised how many times I'd have to lift the darn thing…yeah right, like I'll ever travel light! Five pairs of flip-flops are definitely essential in my opinion…

So, it's Friday evening and guess what, it's raining! I should've written this earlier, when I could've said it was hot and sunny, but in actual fact it's been raining all afternoon and the forecast is for cool weekend weather. Though cool here still feels warm to me so one can't complain :-) I haven't been swimming yet but am planning a trip to the pool tomorrow morning, assuming the rain has stopped. Failing that there's a clubhouse with a gym room which I've convinced myself I'll use (we'll see) so there's plenty to keep me from doing any uni work…

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