Friday, March 12, 2010

Trans-atlantic toddler travel


One maxim pretty much sums up travelling alone with a small child: if something can go wrong, it probably will. Like your taxi for the airport arriving half an hour late. Or south London being more grid locked than I've ever seen it. Even policemen were abandoning their "nee-nor" cars and continuing on foot. Suffice to say at 9.25am, 90 minutes after I'd orderd my cab and five minutes before I wanted to arrive atHeathrow, we were still the wrong side of the river and barely inching forward. At which point I was honestly doubting if we'd ever make it and was quite happy to divert instead to Paddington to catch the most expensive train in the world, aka the Heathrow Express. Somehow we made the 9.41am, but only thanks to my taxi driver dumping his car and running behind me, the buggy, my two bags and Louis pulling my big suitcase behind him.

Even at Heathrow I still felt cursed. The so-called fast bag drop queue was longer and slower than I'm convinced any check-in queue used to be. Then there was the umbrella incident at the security gate: apparently you're not allowed umbrellas on "eppa-planes" either anymore. Or at least that was the new law Sod decreed especially for me. I kid not: even the lady back at the Virgin desk said I'd been unlucky to get stopped.

I guess the lesson learned is that it pays to leave more time than you could ever imagine needing. The extra half-hour I'd felt oh-so-grown-up about leaving us was the difference between us catching and missing the plane, but it was still barely enough. That said, I did manage to down a coffee, buy Louis an egg sandwich and grab an emergency London bus for additional plane amusement purposes from Hamleys, so it wasn't a complete disaster.

And if Sonoko is reading this fearing for her solo trip to Tokyo this summer, then there is a happy ending to this tale. Despite life conspiring against me, Louis couldn't have been more angelic. He did everything right from actually sitting in his buggy when required (a minor miracle, trust me) to making a dash for it at the final security queue at just the right minute, which meant the lady frisking people took pity on me and let me jump the last bit. He was a delight on the "eppa-plane", which thoroughly delighted him; I'm not sure he's ever enjoyed eight hours so much. The "special Louis didi", which is what he still calls the TV, was just the most exciting thing ever, even if he did barely manage ten minutes of Fantastic Mr Fox. I'd be lying if I said the time passed quickly - with the exception of the blissful 60 minutes that Louis napped, during which I ate my meal, drank a G+T and watched half of Julie and Julia - but I'd also be lying if I said it was a nightmare. In fact, I'd happily do it all again, which is just as well seeing as we fly back on Monday.

11 comments:

A Modern Mother said...

That is one of the worst feelings, and I hate to be rushed and panicked. I admit to leaving a ridiculous amount of time, that way I'm more relaxed. If it means an extended session at an airport cafe, then so be it.

Dad said...

At least you made it. Enjoy your hol.

(I was once delayed in a traffic jam in Madrid and got to the desk half an hour after the departure time. Fortunately the flight crew were in the same jam!)

danyulo said...

Hi Susie
When I started to read this blog post, I went so cold. (I have experienced that feeling going on holiday before, but not with Yoppy yet.) I am sorry that you had such a terrible start of the day. But then, (thanks for mentioning me!) I felt so relieved to hear you had a very positive 8hours flight in the end!! Well done you both!! It really cheered me up. I don't know how it will be for us, but I am motivated by your experience. So I will try my best! Have a fantastic holiday and can't wait to hear more when you get back. Let's meet up! Sonoko xxx

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Well done you making it out there ok - fingers crossed for your return trip

CC said...

we were so glad to see you all, despite the bad Londonish weather we had. hope the trip back was a breeze!

Babies who brunch said...

@AMM - guess what? coming back I still moaned about leaving enough time to battle the NYC rush hour!

@Dad - thanks.

@Danyulo - sorry to scare you! but seriously, the flying really isn't bad at all. it's just a bit tiring on you.

@MaM - it's definitely good to know that life isn't over just because you have a little one in tow....

@CC - we were so thrilled that you came to see us. am just still so sorry about the weather. can't stop thinking about how lovely central park in the sun with the boys would have been.....

Alice said...

Being late is simply the worst feeling ever for me, and I get that panicky heart-race even when I'm on time! My husband keeps telling me to calm down and that everyone in London is late all the time anyway, but still I can't stand not being on time.

Leaving an hour and 45 minutes for a half hour tube/train journey was a recent non-triumph of mine, I reeeally enjoyed that extra hour and fifteen minutes hanging round Paddington station....

Victoria said...

So glad the flight went well! He's such a jet setter.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

Thank you, I feel justified in the totally ridiculous amount of extra time I always leave for getting to a flight, train, bus... Everyone laughs at me, or moans when they have to spend three hours sat drinking over-priced coffee and trying not to buy everything in duty free.

How great that Louis was good on the flight, too. I can't imagine Rosemary dealing well with such a long flight at all, though perhaps she would be fine if she got to watch lots of TV!

Babies who brunch said...

@Tori - him and Colette would make a great jetsetting couple!

@CM - I still managed to spend a bomb on overpriced coffee and general duty free rubbish.....! And I can't wait for the day when he'll actually watch more than ten minutes of a film. (Although I'm sure I'll regret saying that....)

geekymummy said...

It can be so stresfull! Glad you made it.

We forgot the lovely blanket last time we traveled, but had left so much time to spare my husband had time to go back home and get it!

I sued to laugh at my dad who always leaves about 3 hrs spare to catch a plane, but I'm becoming just like him!