First World Problems

Shopping and flying, my least favourite things

It is Friday and I need a couple of fundamental things – a rucksack, small enough for hand luggage but big enough to fit a couple of weeks worth of gear in it and a pair of sailing shoes and ideally a new pair of winter boots as I can no longer stand being followed round by the bad smell emitted by my current boots. There is a slight urgency to the requirements as our plane leaves this afternoon.

The first shop I go to is the only one likely to reward me with the sailing shoes. “Closed on Fridays” it says on the front door. “Typical” thinks I. Now to hope I can find some on the way to my course. It is an Instructor course and having sat through plenty of these courses by now, I absolutely know I need to present a good first impression and turn up with the right kit…. I’m failing already. I shouldn’t have left it to the last minute, I should have ordered something from the internet or bought that pair in the sale on Cowes High Street when I was there three weeks ago. But I didn’t.

Now into town for more items on the list. Bikini and shorts – well I can write those two off immediately, it is October after all. There is only me that could actually attempt to shop for these at 54 degrees north at this time of year. More likely to find said items in the actual hot place we are bound for. The rucksack on the other hand, it the difference between me going and not going. The pile of items on my bedroom floor needs to be transported from A to B in a bag.

I had a couple of errands to run for himself, who needed a SIM carrier for a really specific phone. To my amazement, on this little island, I actually find a shop that sells them “what colour phone is it” the guy asks and hey presto, he produces the exact right thing!!

Working back from the phone shop I trawl the shops in town, on the quest for a bag. First up the camping shops, where I am stunned to find that rucksacks cost more than I have paid for the flights and by now I am cursing myself (again) firstly for spilling milk into the perfect bag I have at home, second for not washing that bag, third for wasting my time coming to town when I could have stayed home and made a flipping bag to the perfect dimensions.

After exhausting every shoe shop for both boots and a bag, and walking out of a super expensive shop that did actually sell travel bags, I find myself in the default well known store with designer labels at knockdown prices. I find a lovely winter jumper and a set of brushed cotton pyjamas. I like these things. I try the jumper on, it feels nice, it looks nice. I put it back on the rail, I’ll come back for these once I have found a bag – I only want to queue to pay once. Upstairs to look for bags. It is back to school time, there are plenty of school sized bags, but none quite big enough for my purpose. By now I am losing all patience and hope for the cause, to the point that “I am not going on the flipping holiday”. I walk out of the store, leaving the jumper and pjs hanging on the rail where I left them, telling myself I don’t have time to queue for these non-essential items that in no way help my present predicament. The clock is ticking and I need an effing bag.

Having marched out leaving the nice items at the shop I have last attempt for a bag. The cheap shoe shop and there, there, there in the cheap shoe shop is a bag, the right size and with a pocket on the front that will fit my laptop and it is just £10!!! So we are going on holiday this afternoon.

But I am by now on the verge of a breakdown. I find it so frustrating traipsing in and out of shops that don’t have what I am looking for. I don’t have the patience to look, I don’t feel any enjoyment of the shopping process, I hate sifting through the rails of stuff, so much bloomin’ stuff, the world can’t possibly need all this. I can feel my blood boiling, my heart rate increasing, clammy hands and just rage. I have morphed into some kind of monster, I am rude to shop staff, rude to people, I am angry and, like a child when the tantrum passes I will need to sit down and have a little cry. Shopping is not for me. By now it is midday and the flight is at 4pm.

I head home, feeling very wound up by the whole affair (this is normal for me a shopping, thus I try to avoid it). I still have to go to a phone shop as my flipping phone stopped working this morning, 2 hours to go and the clock is ticking. It didn’t take the guy long to fix it luckily. With one hour to go I am now finally ready to pack.

Our lift to the airport arrives at 2.30 and by 2.45 were are on the road and heading for the airport. We are checked in already and hand luggage only, but we need boarding cards from the desk, that’s fine, we are here in plenty of time.

We get to the check in desk, to find that we really are early… about three hours early! In all of this morning’s angst I hadn’t checked the tickets properly, our 4pm flight is actually not until 6.05pm. FFS!!! We conclude that it is cheaper to go back home than to sit around in the airport all afternoon. So, feeling responsible for the feck-up, I buy us a taxi home.

He calls his sister who had just dropped us at the airport half an hour ago… “Hi, any chance of a lift to the airport at 5?” We laugh at the predicament, it could have been worse, we could have been three hours late!

So, shortly before 5, our lift arrives for attempt number two. At 4.50 we arrive at the check in desk – again…. Literally just as the voice on the tannoy starts “We regret to announce cancellation of the flight due to high winds at Bristol airport”. We look at each other, shake our heads and laugh. Our lift hasn’t quite left airport yet, she waits for us.

We had been filtered into a queue of all the other unlucky travellers whose plans have been disrupted. With the next scheduled flight to Bristol not being until Monday, there were plenty of irate people around. There was only one other flight leaving the island that night, going to Liverpool. A lot of the irate people were trying to get on this flight. I realised we were not getting off the island tonight, so standing in this queue was not necessary, I could get a refund and revise our plans via the internet from the comfort of my living room and would probably have it sorted before we even got to the front of this queue.

So after two attempts we are right back where we started and not seeing our friends in Bristol tonight. Luckily our connecting flight for the planned holiday is not until Monday, so the weekend with our friends was shortened but not abandoned and the holiday still on. After an hour or so of my internet travel agency (google flights) we are now booked to fly to Birmingham at 10am Saturday, with trains booked and paid for from there to Bristol.

So…. Saturday morning and attempt number three at the airport, we are now well practised at the routine. We arrive in good time, check in and the flight is actually going today!!

For a first in my life, we are in the departure lounge an hour and a quarter before the flight leaves. He likes to be there early, a last minute panic is more my usual style. Why pay for a cuppa at the airport when I could have that one at home? It was a bit bumpy coming in to Birmingham, but otherwise uneventful and we landed on time.

Landing on time was essential, as what he (Mr. be there in plenty of time) didn’t know was that I had booked the cheaper train tickets which were only available for specific train journeys, we had to be on the 1212 train from New Street or we were going to pay again (and double what I had already paid). Phew, I had gotten away with making the exact connection times and we made it to the train. I had also joined the modern world and downloaded a trainline app which meant the tickets were on my phone. A slight error of judgement saw him being nearly castrated by the closing of the ticket gate on him as I waved the phone over the scanner and beckoned him to follow me. A lesson in technology… the correct approach was for one of us to go through the gate then pass the phone with the second ticket on back over the barrier. With this method he got through free from any life changing injuries!

The next lesson in train travel is that if you don’t book yourself a seat on the train, you run the very high risk of not getting a seat on the train. We’d found ourselves a couple of seats, only to be moved out of them by passengers getting on with reserved seat numbers. I spent the journey sat on the floor near a exit door.

Fortunately the final part of our journey was on a rail replacement bus, so the final hour of the journey was jolly civilised by comparison with us having the whole back seat of the bus to ourselves. 22 hours later than planned we arrived in Bristol to our friends (who were slightly broken as they had enjoyed the planned Friday evening dinner and drinks without us). So much for a one hour direct flight!