Day 1: Nearly missing a plane to nowhere

Bristol is a beautiful city, made more so by the water that courses through it. However, that does mean that to get anywhere you generally have to get across it.

Most of the time this is fine, but if a boat is coming in to harbour, the bridges go up and everything stops. There’ve been a few lunch time runs where I’ve stood on the other side of the water from my office, impatiently watching my cool down and shower slip by as a boat sails past. No one enjoys it when I have to dash back to my desk still in sweaty running gear to get on a teleconference.

Sometimes there’s bigger appointments to get to though, like a flight to Bilbao for example. And if you thought your flight time was your gate time, well, you haven’t left yourself much wiggle room!

I got to security as my gate flashed up as closing. After pleading with the queue to let me get to the start, I hurriedly unpacked my hand luggage for scanning. Funny shaped battery operated electrical device (breast pump)? Check. Glass vial of suspicious white powder (teething crystals)? Check. New ebook? nope, left that in the bag hidden in a change mat. So my bag got pulled, and the entire contents tipped out.

By this time I was a constant stream of panicked expletives, mainly at the thought of what Simon would say when missing the flight was entirely down to my own poor planning.

Being a woman on her own with a small baby strapped to her does have its advantages though. Security and the general public were fab. The security lady phoned the gate and said I was on my way with a baby and to wait for me if they could. Another lady got E in the sling for me when my fluster meant I couldn’t work the straps. Then I was laden with the spewing contents of (what was, my carefully) over packed bag and ran to the gate. Gate 15, the second furthest gate in the new extension. They advice you give it 20 minutes to walk there from the bar. As I tried to hold the contents of my bag and E’s head, I prayed I wasn’t giving her shaken baby syndrome as I ran/ hobbled down the concourse.

Everyone else was already on the tarmac, but the gate ladies let me on, phew! I couldn’t believe my luck. I dumped my detritus under the seat in front, begged for a glass of water from the air steward, strapped in E and we were off. I’d even managed to boob her to sleep before we hit the runway.

We were just about to take off when the air steward made a call to the pilot and we suddenly diverted and taxied off the runway. Turns out they’d heard a “suspicious noise” under the plane. Engineers came out to look at it, but couldn’t find an immediate cause so we had to go back to the terminal for further inspection. Another 20 minutes of inspection and they need to jack up the plane, so it’s everyone off.

At this point I still had a sleeping baby sprawled across my arms who I was loathed to wake since she’d not slept all day. But I also had the overflowing contents of a ransacked bag strewn around my feet. I asked the stewards for assistance, but they had to stay with the plane. So thanks to the lovely gent who juggled his luggage and mine all the way back to the departure lounge (from gate 15, obviously). He got me set up in a chair… and she woke up. Of course.

At least now I could repack my bag, change her, buy some lunch, pick up the bits I’d meant to get earlier, oh and have a much earned medicinal glass of wine.

An hour or so later we got an announcement to go back to the gate. They hadn’t found the issue with the original plane, but had found us a new one. E was obviously wide awake by this point, so I was terrified of the change in cabin pressure, but she was happy as Larry charming all the surrounding passengers. Until she fell asleep again, 20 minutes before the end of the flight. This time I had to disturb her to get her in her sling for passport control.

I’ve never been more pleased to see Simon than when I walked out of the arrivals hall and saw him pulling up in the car!

Given our delay, I’d messaged to say it could be hours before we arrived, so to go on ahead and pitch up without us. So when we finally did arrive, Simon had already parked the caravan up at the campsite (on his own, kudos!). Still had the bloody awning to put up though…

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