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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bloc Party

It's 0555 on a Tuesday. I'm in an airport lounge. I am yet to taste any alcohol and, in fact, am seriously considering not having any until at least 0720 and maybe not until gone 0900. I know, right? Today is going to be a long ol' day.

Yesterday was my last day at work until September. I had a 4.5hr meeting, which is probably more time than all other meetings I've ever had since joining Zoopla a couple of days after coming back from Australia in March. It felt at times like I was kinda being taken apart, though that's just my Low Self Opinion coming through. In reality it was a productive session with three tooth combs that generated a 20+ point list of actions for my two teammates and fuck all for me. Straight after the meeting I got roundly beaten at table tennis, turned my mac off, and walked to London Bridge, officially on holiday.

Naturally, that's when things started to go wrong.

I used to really like going through London Bridge station. Not sure why - it isn't architecturally nice and the trains don't really go anywhere interesting. I'm definitely over it now anyway. First I bought a single to Gatwick, and the machine didn't present me with an option to buy a ticket valid on every service - I had to pick between Southern and First Capital Connect. But of course the departure boards don't tell you the train operator for the next one or two services. As if I was an inexperienced rider of trains I went ahead and bought the Southern-only ticket, saving myself 80p and adding an extra 40 minutes to my journey. Dick.

Crammed myself into a seat with my bags, about which I had been suffering from anxiety all day because I'm sure I've packed way too much. Accompanied by a soundtrack of Danzig, Hank Rollins and Johnny Cash, I needlessly worried about taking up too much space as the train never got remotely busy as it trundled through South London and Surrey, stopping everyfuckingwhere, until finally arriving at Gatwick. I was moody and flustered and desperately in need of a Guinness.

my entire room at Bloc

First, though, my hotel. Months ago I'd booked to stay in a Travelodge behind the north terminal but last week I cancelled that and changed to the Bloc Hotel inside the south terminal. It was about £15 more but at least half an hour closer in time, and no faffing around with shuttle buses and the like. Plus it looked like much better quality. It's signposted well but I missed the first two and wandered past a giant checkin queue for some holiday charter before finding reception and getting my swipe card. Up to the 7th and into my 12sq.ft room, I was very impressed. Compact, no windows, the whole thing including bathroom was probably smaller than my bedroom at home but obviously way tidier, cleaner, etc. Smart TV and embedded tablet to control lights and aircon, plus free bottled water.

Left immediately to go drop a bag off. This morning I'm flying from Gatwick to Jersey, from where I'm catching a flight to Gatwick, and I didn't fancy checking my bag in for that. £9 for up to 24hrs storage seemed like a better bet (the hotel don't let you leave it at reception). This was over in the north terminal, which meant I got to do a monorail ride. We all know how much I love monorail rides.

Gatwick is open 24hrs. I saw signs talking about checkin time of 0255 for some Easyjet or Monarch flights to various sunny islands and shuddered at the thought. Went to WH Smith to buy a pad as I hate travelling without paper to write on, the failed to have a pen so kept jotting crap on my phone as I sat in Wetherspoons nursing a Guinness.

I say Guinness. I mean Erdinger. For fucks sake, first drink of the holiday and the pub is out of Guinness. Damn it! Still, the fish and chips were nice (even if they were delivered to my table suspiciously quickly - about 2 minutes after I ordered) and while there I found a stream of WWE SummerSlam to watch. I'd caught the first 3 bouts that morning before work and was gutted about the idea I'd have to wait until next bloody week to see the rest. Also I was jealous of Ian, who was texting me about it but trying not to spoil. He needn't have worried since I promptly stumbled across a spoiler online anyway, like a fool. Went back to my room without further booze as I didn't fancy the generic M&S lager buyable only in 4 packs and watched wrestling, while briefly fighting the TV - I managed to turn it on with the remote, which promptly stopped working for 10 minutes so I couldn't turn the fucker off. Eventually it worked by pressing the button REALLY hard while swearing. Not sure which was the more important factor.

I set two alarms. Uncharacteristically, and somewhat depressingly, I'd been fretting and nervous about today for the last week or so. I booked some of the flights I'm about to take back in September of last year and have been looking forward to this trip a lot, but it occurred to me that a single fuck-up - getting up too late, bad weather, a plane going tech - and all my plans plus a lot of money could go up in smoke. So I set my phone to wake me at 0500 and 0530, each labelled GET THE FUCK UP, and dozed off just after midnight.

Planes!The 5am alarm startled me into immediate alertness, which was nice. Within 20 minutes I was up, showered, packed, had checked out, and was on my way back to the monorail. Gatwick is properly busy and I wandered straight to the departure area since I'm no bags and have a boarding pass on my phone. It says "fast track" on it but I couldn't see a fast track area, so joined the throng and was through in 4 minutes anyway. No one was dicking around like last time I went through Heathrow, and I was particularly well prepared even for me. Airside here is a lot nicer than I remember it being - but, I think it was 2007 last I was here (flying to and from Jersey, no less).

I'm still kinda nervous. My flight is a single to Jersey, landing at 0820 so that I can fly back on the 0955. I'll explain why later, but for now I'll say that this was an attempt to be clever and mitigate risk that could, in fact, easily backfire and be my downfall. I'm sure it won't be, but, it nags, it nags...

Now then. 0630 as I finish my breakfast and this post. Gin?

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