Tuesday 15 December 2009
Today was the last day of work for us both for this year. It was a struggle as always to get everything done, but very exciting all the same. Today the temperature seemed hotter than usual, and so I noticed more the extremes between the heat of the room we worked and the coldness of the bathroom. I have a tendency to sneeze when I suddenly move from a hot temperature to a cold temperate and vice versa. So when I started to sneeze in the afternoon I did not take much notice. Not until my nose started bleeding and Steve who was standing at the photocopier called out to me if I was alright. It was very kind of him to be so concerned for my welfare, he seemed very worried. So I explained that whenever I sneeze I tend to get blood noses as the veins inside my nose burst. Too many years of taking nose puffs containing steroids as a child has left the insides of my nose very thin and fragile. I had a surprise visit from a friend who popped in and gave me a Christmas card. It was very sweet of her. Unfortunately I was in a meeting at the time and I could not stop to chat with her. Anyhow we met up later that day for a bite to eat and had a good catch up then. I didn’t manage to leave work though until about 6.30pm or so. By the time I got home my dearest Giuseppe had already done all the packing for our trip. What a relief for me, as I cannot stand packing (nor unpacking). He had put in all the essentials, our socks, vests and underwear, his suits, ties, trousers, electric shaver and toothpaste and toothbrush. So all I had to throw in was a couple of my favourite dresses from Zambesi, essential for special occasion wear, and the accompanying Coco Mademoiselle, foundation and so on. I also packed my grade 8 piano music book so I had something to practise over the holidays. I want to memorise all those pieces, Clementi, Scarlatti, and Fats Waller. It was quite a struggle to fit all those in by the time I had added my Icebreaker merino tops. We still had the Christmas presents for Italy to add, the jewellery, toys, and Scottish short bread. So I called for assistance, and Giuseppe came to the rescue. Giuseppe had already cooked dinner and also packed food for our journey. So I had a quick bite and then we were out the door to catch the train to Gatwick. We were very lucky, just as we approached the bus stop, the airport bus came, and we caught it just to the train station. It is such a good feeling to arrive somewhere early. It was a very funny thing at the train station. We had our one suitcase with us, so we decided to take the lift instead of hauling it up all those stairs. Well, this left was very slow coming down to ground floor, but at least it worked. The door opened and it took us up to the next level. However we needed to get to platform 6 on the other side. This meant we needed to walk across to the end of the level and then take the left down to the other side. Well we called the lift, and it did arrive. The lift certificate stated it could carry 8 people. Well, we both got into the lift with our suitcase, and there was no one else in the lift. We pushed the button to go down, but the lift did not move. A recorded message from a female voice then told us to go out of the lift because it was over capacity. Well I couldn’t believe it! I knew I had gained some weight, but surely not enough for 8 people. Well, with my feelings hurt and feeling very much insulted I got out of the lift, and walked down the stairs to the platform. Giuseppe however was adamant the lift should work and so he stayed in the lift with the suitcase. And he stayed, and he stayed. He stayed exactly in the same spot, and the lift did not move. It just stayed up on the same level. So eventually Giuseppe gave up and he walked down the stairs, trailing the suitcase behind him. We were still too early for the train, and so there was nothing much for us to do except for stand on the side of the platform waiting for the train. It entertained us though to observe other people walking past. We saw one gentleman go past us who was heading straight for the lift. I was just about to tell him not to bother because the lift does not work, that was, until I saw something most peculiar. The lift door closed on the young man who had no bags. And the lift duly took the young man up to the next level and let him out there. There I was, standing there in awe, as I had believed the lift actually did not work, and then I discovered the lift will work, but only for passengers without any luggage. Typical isn’t it. Well it made us laugh anyway at the logic (or lack of). When the train arrived we found our allocated seats that had been reserved. However we found some other seats ‘unreserved’ that suited us better, so we moved to the back of the carriage to be closer to the luggage stand so we could keep an eye on our suitcase. During the journey to London I munched on the dinner Giuseppe had cooked, but then started to feel a little travel sick. This train was the fast one and it really was, actually very fast. It stopped only once on the way down to London and that was at Leicester. It did not help matters the fact that there were a number of people nearby who were sniffing during the entire trip. It was obvious they had a cold or flu or something, and I was thinking that I hope they don’t have the swine flu! From time to time the sniffing would turn into loud snorts and that made my stomach churn. This continued throughout the 1.5 hour journey and I just wished like anything that these people would use a tissue or handkerchief of something! I don’t know whether I was just being paranoid or perhaps predicting the future, but I thought to myself that I hope I do not catch their germs. Everytime someone with a cold sneezed or coughed, I would sink further into my chair, turning my face away, and hoping I did not breathe in any of the virus. Fate would dictate that by the time we came to the end of our journey that evening that I had developed a sore throat and suddenly felt really bad. On arriving to St Pancras we ran from our train to catch the connecting one to Gatwick. It seemed to get colder as we went down the levels of escalator to the next platform. Our tickets gave us only 20 minutes to go from one train to the other, and we didn’t want to miss it! It turns out that we needn’t have bothered, because our train to Gatwick was delayed. So we decided to go out of the area and back up to the shops to buy some bottles of water and a Coke. I wanted to stop at a café on the way back to pick up a coffee or hot chocolate to take away. But then we didn’t want to risk losing the train so we headed straight back instead to wait again for the train. Well, we needn’t have bothered. There was another announcement that the train to Gatwick was delayed a further 10 minutes. Can you imagine what the reason was? Well this time they told us the reason the train was delayed was because they had no staff to man the train? I do not quite know what that means but I do not know why they could not have organised themselves better. But then given this is the middle of winter it occurred to me that maybe a lot of their staff were off sick with the flu? Well, we stayed down there in the cold, waiting, and waiting, and waiting. There were not even any seats to sit on so it was quite uncomfortable having to stand all this time. We saw the other people queuing on the other side of the platform get into their train and then their train pulled away. And more people came down the stairs opposite us, and then they got into their train. All this time, we were just standing there, hoping that maybe one day perhaps our train would arrive. Well, we were certainly very grateful when eventually the train did arrive. I was worried the train might be cancelled altogether so it really was a relief when it finally came. When we arrived at Gatwick airport we followed the crowds outside to wait for the coach to the hotel. Unfortunately for us, our coach got stuck in traffic due to police checks and it did not arrive until approximately an hour after we had called it. So standing outside in the freezing cold and wind did not improve my health. I enjoyed a hot cup of tea when we had settled into our room, and then caught a few winks before the next morning.