I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Say hello, wave Dubai

Just got back from booking a cab to Heathrow for 1830 and now have the time between now and then to kill. Laptop aside, I'm already packed! So I have time to talk about the tail-end of yesterday...

I forgot to mention what happened when I walked back to the airport in Gibraltar: I got asked for directions. I'm used to this, it happens to everyone all the time but living in London (and working in the middle of a touristy bit) it may happen more to me than some, I dunno. Anyway, the point is that being asked for directions in itself is not a rare thing; what was new was that I was asked
Excuse me, is this the way to Spain?

Not been asked the way to an entire country before, heh :-)

After writing all that stuff I read the local rag and yes, it did have a letters page. Can't remember all of them but the one which struck me was a complaint about some previous complaints about some anti-Bush comments recently made by Breed 77. You don't get politics and metal in the Surrey Comet letters page!

I had a second bottle of lager in the lounge, but non-alcoholic. Unlike the first bottle (which I put in the bin) I left the empty in front of me on the table, which ended up being the key to my forthcoming popularity: there was no bottle opener, and people had to ask me how I'd managed to open it. The answer was: with my own bottle opener that's on my keyring. One of the most useful things ever and I ended up opening about 5 or 6 different people's bottles over the course of the stay, heh.

No-one came to get people from the lounge when the flight was finally boarding (late) :-( but I noticed and went to join the queue. Meant to leave at 2030, ended up pushing back at 2109 which struck me as a bit weird. I think there's some 40 minute rule after which there's some degree of compensation BA have to provide, so 39 minutes? HMMM. Took off at 2117 after taxiing all the way to one end of the runway before pulling a u-turn just before I thought we were going in the drink, heh. The runway really is bastard short! The point of take-off is just on, or beyond, the road which crosses it. Unfortunately I'd not managed to see any planes landing or taking off in my time there but it must surely rule.

The BA (well, GB Airways) flights to and from Gibraltar go like this: leave Heathrow in the morning, go back to Gatwick, leave Gatwick in the afternoon, return to Heathrow in the evening. Because of this I thought it'd be the same plane as the morning one but it wasn't. For one thing the evening flight had little screens that came down every 3 rows or so which displayed the SkyMap thing (is that a Virgin Atlantic term?) showing whereabouts we were. Not really useful but I always find it interesting, especially because it meant I knew when we were over Madrid and made sure to look out. It looked ace, like some kind of crazy butterfly shape(!) drawn out of printed circuit boards or summat. It probably doesn't actually look that shape at all but hey.

Service was better onboard this time :-) a (very) hot towel preceded some pretzels and champagne -- which got topped up before the meal service. A choice of lamb casserole or spicy chicken pasta, I had the chicken (and a can of lager -- the flight attendant poured it out into a glass except it was 90% head, she said "sorry, I don't know how to pour lager" to me!). There was also cheese/grapes/crackers and some creme brulee. All very nice! Even got offered yet more champagne when they cleaned up the plates. I declined.

The captain came on the tannoy apologising for how late we were running and saying we were pegging it a bit to make some time up but would still arrive "late" at 2235 (we were due at 2230 on the timetable!). Can't remember exactly what time we did land but I made it to the bus station at Heathrow just after 2300 and got a 285. Tried to spend the journey reading but in the end just pretended to while listening to these 2 pissed-up 17 year old girls attempt to get any English/sense out of the 2 Lithuanian lads they were desperately trying to persuade to act as their boyfriends and get them into The Works in Kingston. Not sure it was going to work, the lads themselves seemed unable to say much more than they were from Lithuania and were going to Kingston.

Also on that bus a Far-Eastern fella got on and said he wanted to go to Kingston. He was in luck, since that's where the 285 goes (and terminates), but decided that wasn't good enough when he buggered off early. As far as I can work out this was because the driver had told the women who asked to be alerted when they reached Feltham that, yes, we're now at Feltham. Bloke says to driver "Kingston?", driver says "No, but I finish in Kingston", bloke grabs his bag and darts out of the door. Poor bastard. Welcome to England, here's Feltham at 2330 on a Friday night!

Got home pretty sharpish all things considered, less than 90 minutes from landing to opening my front door. Sweet. Today I've done little else but pack, upload photos and videos, and buy some factor 50(!) sun cream. Dubai's sun won't harm me!

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