Last Day at Home and Off to London

My last day at home wasn’t the flurry of activity one would think. I’m absurdly organised and good at managing my time. I methodically ploughed through my to-do list, including getting three loads of laundry done by noon. I was so on top of things that when Charles came to ask me to run an errand with him in the late afternoon, it didn’t throw a wrench in my plans at all.

When we came home from that, with me taking a good long last view of my beloved valley as we came down the hill into the hamlet, it was time to shut down the internet and power and do one final sweep. I almost forgot my toothbrush and… computer charger!

I trundled down the street with my two travel bags as well as a bag filled with what I needed to get me through the night at C&C’s. I’d brought a few things over earlier in the day, including a tote of things I didn’t want to freeze, and would stow the bag in that tote.

Caroline made me an extra special going away dinner. We started with Greek salad, then had roast pork tenderloin, beets, yellow beans, and rice. They bought a whole live pig last year and butchered it themselves, and boy was it delicious! There was a maple syrup glaze on it that was succulent! The beans were home grown, of course, as were the beets that Caroline canned last year. So good! The extra special part of dinner was that she’d made dessert, a strawberry rhubarb pie (with vanilla ice cream). I’m so spoiled!

Needless to say, the food and wine put me into a coma and I slept pretty well from 10:30 to 3, then, thankfully, I managed to fall asleep for nearly another three hours.

It was pouring rain when I stumbled downstairs, enjoying coffee on the porch with Caroline as we looked at our damp green hills. I forced myself to have a bit of breakfast, just some toast with peanut butter and honey, and then got ready, changing into my airplane outfit, closing up my bags, and stowing what wasn’t coming with me.

The plan had been to leave at 7:00 and we pulled out at 7:15. The drive to the airport in Regina took almost 2.5 hours, but they flew by! As we approached the exit for the airport, I once again expressed how grateful I was for the lift and Caroline replied, “We just wanted to get rid of you and the surest way to do that was to make sure you got to the airport all right!” Bwa ha ha ha. I love her and Charles so much.

We only had a few minutes at the unloading point at the airport to say goodbye and then off I went. I’d checked in the day before and had my boarding passes on my phone, so I went straight to security. There was a bit of a lineup, but it went quickly. It was rather a pain to get my electronics out of my computer bag since it was packed so tightly, but I got it done by the time it was my turn to put stuff in bins.

I got through the scanner without it beeping and then came what felt like an interminable wait for my stuff to get through the X-ray machine. But everything scanned okay and they didn’t make me open my bags or take off my shoes.

Then, came a wait. There’s not much at the Regina airport terminal. I got a second breakfast and a really good coffee and spent some time doing online stuff before calling SaskTel to cancel my service. That was painless and the reps I spoke to were very excited about my trip.

We boarded on time. It was very quick flight to Toronto and I bought a sandwich on board to eat. The airplane sandwiches are always good and fresh and no more expensive than what you get on the ground, so I don’t see the point of trying to juggle a bag of food onto the plane with my gear. Speaking of which, my gear was perfectly sized. My computer bag was really at the limit for under the seat stowage, but I could actually have expanded my suitcase if I wanted to.

My layover in Toronto was really short. We landed at about 5:10 and my next flight was departing at 6:00, which meant I really only had at most 40 minutes to get to the gate. It took forever to deplane and no one else appeared to be in a hurry. I was way at the back of the plane and pleaded to folks to let me through, but no one cared. By the time I got into the terminal, it was 5:30. There was no signage, no departures board, no one to give directions, nothing. I had no idea where I was supposed to catch my flight to St. John’s and didn’t want to risk going too far in the wrong direction looking for assistance. I finally spotted a WestJet agent who was in no hurry to help me. She was chatting with someone else about her plans for the weekend and gave me a dirty look when I said, “Excuse me…”  If there was a time for rudeness, this was it and I firmly said that I needed my gate info. She finally brought it up and the gate was pretty much clear across the terminal. OMG. I raced off and with Pearson being under renovations, there were detours. It took forever to reach the gate, where they were at final boarding call! According to the agent who checked me in, I was literally two minutes from missing my connection. PHEW.

Having made my flight to St. John’s, I could finally relax since I had a longer layover there and now knew that I would very likely get to London on schedule.

There was frost on the window near the end of that leg of my journey:

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Here’s how my two bags stack for easy transport through the airport. I do have to say that this got really heavy by the the time I got through Gatwick and I was happy to have a backpack.

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My layover in St. John’s felt like it took no time at all. I was disappointed that there was no food to be bought that late at the terminal. I knew I could get a sandwich on the plane, but had hoped for a “real” meal.

I was a little freaked out when I got paged, but it was because they wanted to make sure I was there since I hadn’t checked any luggage!

Before I knew it, it was time to board for the last leg of my journey. I’d hoped to sleep, but the 5-hour flight wasn’t conducive to that. There was a lot of turbulence, so there were constant announcements, plus I was famished and it took almost two hours to get our first beverage service, when I could get a sandwich. But like with my previous two flights, I did nothing on the plane, but close my eyes and at least attempt to doze.

The clouds were thick like snow as we pushed east:

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For the second time in my life, I watched the sun rise over the Atlantic.

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Sometimes, there was enough break in the clouds to see the ocean:

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Ireland!

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We flew over what felt like the whole of the south of England, coming up the North Sea coast. I was struck by how rural the country appeared, with so much farmland and only small clusters of cities. Gatwick Airport is well outside of London, so I didn’t get a first glimpse of the city from the air. We landed right on schedule at 8:20am local time.

All I wanted after we landed was to wash my face and brush  my teeth. The first bathroom I encountered was over crowded, but the second was empty. Feeling a little more human, I was ready to face passport control. The long lineup moved quickly. I’d already filled in my tourist card on the plane, so there wasn’t much to do when I got to an agent. I just confirmed how long I was staying and why and that was it, and got my first stamp in a passport since the last time I got to the UK!

Next was customs, but I had nothing to declare, so I just breezed through that. And then, I was in the main part of Gatwick airport and it was time to figure out how to get to London, then across London! Yes, I’d done my research, but it was contradictory and I’d made the decision to figure it out on the spot. To be continued!

6 thoughts on “Last Day at Home and Off to London

  1. Happy for you that you are finally there and starting on a new path in your life.

    A tip from a former Air Canada employee ( one of my 3 main careers ) is to sit at the front of the plane in order to get off quickly to make a tight connection. I knew you wanted a window seat which was likely at the back but sometime you have to make a choice. You could have asked the flight attendant if she would let you deplane first due to your connection. You also could have asked her as you deplaned to please get a message to the gate that you were on your way. The rude Westjet lady should have offered to call the gate to advise them of your imminent arrival.

    Meanwhile enjoy London.

    • Yeah, well, what should happen and what does happen are often two very different things. WestJet customer service is just terrible. When I had a similar situation with Air Canada, they moved heaven and earth to make sure I made my very tight connection in a non-frazzled manner.

  2. It’s always a bit of a frazzle isn’t it. Last December I found LAX to be a complete circus. What a mess. Welcome to jolly old England, where the youth is wondering what the heck happened…

    • I’ve been through Pearson a number of times and it’s never been awful!

      England is lovely so far… Life goes on.

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