Posts Tagged ‘Gatwick’

The time I met Danda at the airport

A little while ago, Danda jetted off into the sun for some Portugal-based fun. I was supposed to be away at the same time but due to some nonsense rules in Texas prisons, I had to postpone it. So I was here and Danda went and had beach fun with family.

On the day Danda was due home, his flight was getting in at 23.15. I left the house at about 10pm and, anticipating boredom, took a Narnia book with me, Prince Caspian to be exact. Now Prince Caspian is a pretty good book, not very like the film apart from the basic story. There is no romance between Caspian and Susan and no rivalry between Caspian and Peter.

Anyway, there I was, on one train then the next, head in my book, wondering if Prince Caspian would beat Miraz and would Aslan come back and help by waking up the trees. There was a lot going on, you know?!

I got to Gatwick and took the shuttle from the South Terminal to the North, head in my book. I got to the North Terminal and looked on the arrivals screen. Danda’s plane had landed and the baggage was in the baggage hall. He’d be about fifteen minutes yet. I might as well chill for a few minutes.

There was a Costa coffee next to a doorway and a sign saying ‘UK arrivals’ above it. Well, I thought, he is arriving and we are in the UK. That must be where he’s coming out. I grabbed a bottle of water, sat within view of the doorway and got reading.

Then Danda called.

“Hi, have you landed?”

“Yeh, where are you?” Danda asked.

Now I’m a girl who loves doing surprises. I love them! I think that’s why I love Hide and Seek so much. And that’s why I said, “Just reading on the sofa.”

“Ok, I’ve just come out so I’ll be ages yet.”

O, he’s only just come off the plane so he’ll be a little while yet, I thought, whilst burying my head in my book again. Still, no-one had come out of the gate I was sitting by, which I thought was a bit wierd. I gave it another ten minutes, then thought something was up. I got up and walked to the arrivals screen and suddenly saw it… The international arrivals gate….

Ah, UK arrivals meant arrivals from other flights within the UK… Not just that we are in the UK. Of course we’re in the bloody UK. As if they would have specified where we are!? Hmm… Top dunce points to Laura.

So I needed to be at the international arrivals gate, not the UK arrivals gate… To be fair, they’re not that far apart so it’s not like I was miles away but I was all taken up with Prince Caspian so I was oblivious to it all.

I stood outside the international arrivals gate for a minute but felt something was wrong. There was no-one coming out. I had to give up my surprise fun and just call Danda…

“Danda, where are you?”

“I’m just on the bus to the car park to pick up the taxi. Why?”

“I’m standing at the international arrivals gate….”

“No! At Gatwick? You’re there?”

“Yes, I came to surprise you but I’ve missed you.”

“O no! Let me get the taxi and come back for you. Where exactly are you stand….. beeeeeeeep.

His phone died. I called back. Nothing. Just the answerphone. Again and again. Eventually I just had to go out to the road and hang about, hoping he would be able to find me.

So for ten minutes, I stood there, in front Gatwick airport, stranded and unsure whether I’d be picked up.

That’s right, I came to meet Danda at the airport and I ended up stranded, waiting for Danda to pick me up.

Well done, Laura. Well done.

*He found me quite easily and I invented a cover story about having just been at the toilet when he came out the gate. It made me sound less stupid.

Lemons and ice cream on Capri

Yesterday started well. We rose early, repacked our already stuffed suitcases and jumped in a taxi to Gatwick. As we had already checked in online, we just went to give our bags in and headed through security. The flight was quick and fuss-free (read: I slept through it) and we had landed in Napoli before I could say ‘truffles’.


Danda, ever the efficient man-on-board, said lots of words to me about buses and ports and things while I nodded politely and looked around squinting my eyes and pretending to help when really I didn’t know what I was looking for.

We found our way onto a bus to the port and purchased tickets to Capri. The boat was leaving in half an hour so we were on it before we had time to get bored. After a 40 minute boat ride across the Bay of Naples, we reached Capri, a mountainous island, looming out of the sea and rising up to meet the clouds.


Danda came to life again leading us to the ticket booth for the funicular, the train up to the main town. Tickets purchased, we waited a few minutes for the next train. It’s not really a train as such. It’s a cable car that runs up the side of the (extremely steep) mountain and gives you your first glimpse of Capri life.


Lemons trees are in every direction, the sea is the backdrop to everything and houses are positioned on the edges of the impossibly steep slopes. Despite the plane-bus-boat-train combo, which had taken about six hours, we felt refreshed by Capri, as soon as we arrived.

We found our hotel, the Hotel della Piccola Marina, easily enough, a short walk away from the main square and designer-shop-lined streets but far enough away that it felt quite and relaxed. When we walked into the hotel, we knew we had picked a winner. The receptionist was friendly, chilled out and welcoming, like we were old friends come to visit him at home. He looked comfortable and easy as he walked around, showing us the hotel and our room.


(The decor is refined and relaxed)



That sums up Capri pretty well actually, comfortable and easy. There are very few people about as it is not the tourist season. The shop assistants and restaurant owners do not shout out in the street, trying to attract you in. They sit, working on their ceramics or paintings or jewellery, and you are left to wander in and out of them as you please. On the one hand, this could be seen as unwelcoming or aloof. On the other, it is fabulous because you can potter at your own pace, stopping here, looking there, having an espresso as you wish.

It’s like the islanders know that visitors are here to do nothing so they leave them to move to their own rhythm.

And we loved it immediately. The views from the balcony promised much for our afternoon so we put on walking shoes and got exploring. And we walked and walked and walked! Up this road, down that one, round this corner, down this path.





We found the Roman Emperor Augustus’ garden….


…and had a lemon ice drink from the hugest lemons known to man…


We also found a huge tower of flowers and so photographed me next to them. Look.


We then returned to change before heading out to dinner, which wasn’t that photogenic but tasted great. I had the veal escalope with marsala sauce and potato and parmesan croquettes in a restaurant patronised by the celebrity elite.


Every place worth its salt has a fair few of these pictures. Anne Hathaway, J-Lo, Rod Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, Elton John…. Capri is the land of the rich and the famous, of the moneyed classes, of those who can afford the singular luxury offered in the fashion boutiques and the unique perfume shops, offering fragrances made in small batches on the island to methods used by 13th century monks.

And we like it. We’re thinking of doing a Graham Greene and moving here. Anyone got any money we can borrow?

We finished the evening by finding an icecream vendor near the main square and got a little something to sustain us for the walk back to the hotel.

The annoying airport saga

Once upon a time, a good friend said to me, “Can you meet me from the airport when I get back from my holiday?” He had lots of bags and was unfamiliar with London so I said, sure I’d meet him, and I booked the morning off work.

I had met him from flights a few times before and he had always come into Terminal 2 at Heathrow. “So,” said I, “will you be at the same terminal as last time?”

“Yes,” said my friend.

And so the day arrives. I head to Heathrow airport. I’m early, so as I’m lingering around waiting, there’s a Marks and Spencer’s right next to me, with a massive flower display. I think it will be nice if I buy a bunch. People are always meeting other people off flights with bunches of flowers, aren’t they? So I buy them, squeeze back to my place at the railing and wait. And wait. And wait.

It’s been an hour since his landing time. Maybe he’s still getting baggage and going through passport control etc. I check the Arrivals board but can’t see anything which has arrived from Mexico, where he’s been.

An hour and a half. I try calling. His phone’s off.

Two hours. I’ve got to be at work at 4pm and by this time, it’s about 2pm. It takes an hour to get to work. Time is getting pretty tight. Still nothing from Mexico on the Arrivals board.

Two and a half hours. I call. And call again. And again. And finally it starts to ring. A voice on the end of the line.

“Hi, what’s happened? Are you ok?”

“Yeh, the flight was delayed a bit.”

“Which terminal are you in?”

“I guess two. I usually come into that one.”

“But there’s nothing on the arrivals board. Did you stop anywhere to change flights?”

“No, I came direct.”

“You must be in a different terminal then. Is there anyone else around you? Ask them what terminal you’ve come into.”

I’m already heading to the underground station downstairs, which shuttles you around to the different terminals.

I hear him asking another person what terminal they’re in. Then he reports the answer back to me.

“I’m in the North terminal.”

Has anyone spotted a problem? I’m in terminal TWO. He’s in the NORTH terminal. Something doesn’t quite fit here.

“Check your flight ticket.” I tell him. “What does it say for your destination?”

“Why, what’s up? It says London GTW.”

…….Yes, yes it does. And there is no way in hell that GTW means Heathrow, you nonce. It means Gatwick!

For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of London, Heathrow is out to the West somewhere. And Gatwick is south. Very far south. And London is big. And the journey between those two airports is quite significant. And I had to be in work in an hour and a half.

Eventually, after working out a complicated looking train map, I worked out that we could both get fast trains to Clapham and meet there.

I and my flowers hurried along to the underground, which I had to get to another terminal before I could get onto the fast train. The next fast train was going in about fifteen minutes. Already I’d consumed half an hour just getting on the train to Clapham. I got there quite quickly and his train took another twenty minutes. So now I’m about fifteen minutes away from needing to start work. My flowers look kinda sad now as I’ve been crashing about airports and trains and they have taken the brunt of it.

He arrives finally, as I’m hanging about aimlessly in the long corridor which joins all the platforms, swinging the flowers around and debating whether to chuck them as they’re looking a bit old.

“Boo!” he says, when he finds me, broad grin on his face.

“Hey,” I say, offering the sad looking bunch of flowers.

He loves them anyway and now, he’s staying in South West London with another friend and could I help him get there and I’m welcome to come to dinner.

I smile, offer him brief instructions then hurry off to work, for which I am late. He wanders off, like it’s no big deal, with all his stuff, gets lost and ends up in the wrong area of London, where he has another friend, who he stays with instead. Who knows what happened to the dinner that was being made for him.

Now I’m sometimes unorganised but at least I know the basics. Where and when I’m landing is not that difficult. Just remember it. I’m not asking a lot! If I’m going to meet you at the airport, just bloody tell me the right airport!

That was annoying.