Tag Archive | travel

Together again at last!


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last Wednesday I went down to Heathrow Airport to pick up Millie. She had travelled 4,500 miles to be with me here in England – all the way from Tennessee no less. It was lovely to see her again!

I was expecting to collect her from Airpets at Terminal 5, but in the event, she was waiting at the Animal Reception Centre, which is much nearer to Terminal 4.  The two terminals are a long way from each other so I caught the coach to the Central Bus Station near Terminals 1,2 and 3 and then got a bus from there.

It was rather exciting.  It felt a bit like Christmas! When I got to The Central Bus Station, it was lunch-time so I stopped there and bought some lunch and a newspaper. The paperwork said it could take up to five hours before Millie was checked and cleared for collection so I was prepared for a long wait.  After I’d eaten my sandwich and drunk my drink, I phoned the Reception Centre and they told me that Millie had arrived safely and that they would ring me when she was ready for collection.  I decided not to wait at the Bus Station.  It was very busy there. I thought I might be better waiting at the Reception Centre itself so I asked the lady on the Information Desk which bus I needed to catch to get to Terminal 4. She told me I needed the number 555 and that they ran every 30 minutes.

I caught the next one, at 12.25 and asked the driver if he would drop me off near the animal place. He said there was a bus-stop right outside so I didn’t have to walk very far. The Reception Centre itself was being filmed when I got there.  Who knows, I might be on T.V. at some point. There were people waiting in the conservatory waiting area, which was very comfortable.  Everyone was excited and nervous and longing to see their pet again.

While I was waiting, I phoned the taxi firm to arrange for transport home. Millie was in a larger than average cage because that’s the way they do it, so I needed a people carrier taxi to accommodate her.

I waited there for 30 minutes or so and then she was brought out to me. She looked a bit scared but I think she recognised me. I know she recognises my voice and all was soon well. A few soothing words goes a long way…

When I got home my son was here, working from home. I left Millie in the cage for half an hour and then let her out to explore the house. She was purring as she looked around. I expect she was glad to be free again although she had been let out 2 or 3 times during the long journey, which started with a 3 1/2 hour car ride from Knoxville to Atlanta.

So far so good, but she still had to meet my English cat, Patch and the neighbourhood terror – The Ghost. More of Millie’s adventures next time.

Millie looking out of my window.  “Where the …..! am I?  Oh well, at least I didn’t have to go into quarantine!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dylan likes his boats.


My little grandson Dylan likes coming to Oma’s house. I have lots of toys for him to play with, most of which I kept from when my own sons were little boys.

He loves the circus train. Here he is playing with the ringmaster, who has a black moustache and a top hat. Dylan likes putting the little people into the suitcase.

Then I noticed that the pattern on my footstool looked like the waves of the sea, so we had lots of fun with his three little boats, making them bob up and down on the waves.

Then I told him that Oma is going on an adventure on a big aeroplane. I suggested that he looked in the sky on Tuesday. If he sees a big aeroplane flying by at about 3 pm, he might see me in the window, waving at him.

I also told him to watch the postman when he comes up the street. He might have a letter from me to him. I showed him what a letter looked like (I had one handy to send to my friend) and that when it came it would have his name on it: MASTER DYLAN S….

I’m going to miss that little boy for a few weeks…

First Encounters in America or ‘How the hell do I get out of this airport?’


My first impressions of America were made in Atlanta, on arriving there from England for the very first time in April 2006. I was going to spend ten days with my Fanstory friend, L and I was very excited about it.

Atlanta airport is massive and I, having been detained in the immigration office for four hours, was unsure of where to go next. I was alone with my carry-on bag as I found my way down the long escalator to the two waiting underground trains.

I had no idea where they went. In my mind, I thought they probably went to downtown Atlanta and that was definitely not where I wanted to be. I needed to meet up with L and as quickly as possible. Would he still be waiting for me, after four long hours with no communication? He would know that the plane had arrived and must be wondering where the hell I was since everybody else had already come through the International Arrivals.

I discovered all too late in the immigration office that my English mobile phone did not work in America, despite the fact that the young man in the telecom office in my local shopping mall in England, assured me that it would work!

I decided to ask the immigration officer if he would be kind enough to phone my friend and let him know that I had been delayed. He did let L know, but not by phone, so at least L knew I was in the airport, but other than that, L would not know why I had taken so long to reach him. Perhaps he would guess what had happened or perhaps not. I had no way of knowing. I began to worry that L would get tired or fed up waiting and return to the hotel he had booked for us to stay in that night.

I looked at the two trains and decided not to get on either of them. I would ask directions first. There was no-one around down there in the train hall so I went back up the escalator to find the Enquiries Desk and asked one of the airport officials if they could tell me how to get to the International Arrivals desk? They looked at me as if I was stupid and indeed I did feel stupid. On the other hand, I had never been to Atlanta before or America even and I was not familiar with the airport or the systems they had in place there. They told me they couldn’t help me, which to this day I find remarkable, so back I went down the escalator again. Since there was nowhere else to go but onto the train, I tentatively got on it and went a couple of stops. Then I got off.

I looked around, but could find no map of the airport to help me and still there was no-one else around to ask. I decided it was pointless to ask a fellow passenger, who would probably be as befuddled as I was. A cleaning lady, pushing a large trolley full of mops and buckets and cleaning equipment came into view. I asked her for directions.

‘I want to go to the International Arrivals,’ I told her.

She was more helpful than anyone else I had so far encountered, telling me to get back on the train and go to the Baggage Hall, which was at the end of the train ride. I was relieved to hear that. At least I wouldn’t find myself in the middle of the metropolis, out of the airport and completely lost.

I got back onto the train.

The stops on the train ride are labelled in letters of the alphabet and a mechanical voice tells you where you are, not necessarily where you want to be.

‘This train is now stopping’, the disembodied voice kept telling me. ‘The next stop is Concourse C’….

At the baggage hall I felt my feet getting sore. I was wearing high-heeled shoes and they had begun to pinch. I looked around for the console containing the luggage from flight BA226. There was none. I concluded that everyone else had already got theirs and mine was who knows where! My heart sank. My new camera was in that bag. Again I would have to find help and ask where the bag was likely to be.

All this took more time than I wanted it to. Eventually, I was told that my bag would have been taken to the B.A. office at the front of the airport and I would be able to claim in the next day after 12 o’clock noon. I did a quick time check. That would mean that L and I would have to stay near the airport in order to pick up my bag from the left luggage after noon, when the Check-In office opened. That meant that we would not be able to leave the airport when we wanted to, but would have to wait at BA’s convenience. ‘Could this get much worse?’ I wondered, scenes from the movie ‘Terminal’ playing in my mind. Perhaps I would be marooned in the airport forever more unable to find a way out or locate my friend. Plan C suggested looking for food in rubbish bins in order to stay alive and sleeping in corners where no-one would see me, but the mind was playing tricks because I was tired.

Fighting off the need to cry, I saw another escalator ahead of me. Surely this one would lead to the Arrivals Hall? If I didn’t see L soon, I would go mad. There is only so much one person can stand and I was reaching that limit.

I walked towards the escalator, clutching my carry-on bag tight. Stepping on, the escalator began to ascend. I could see an enormous mural at the top, welcoming new arrivals. I must be in the right place, but would L be there for me or would I be all alone in this new land?