Sunday, 31 August 2014

Week 153- scruffy women, shopping trolleys and shuttle buses...

I caught a glimpse of my reflection at Gatwick airport last weekend and didn’t recognise myself. I literally thought I was walking alongside a bedraggled, scruffy woman who was carrying far too much stuff, until I stopped, and she stopped and I realised I was looking at myself.

How has this happened?
 
Now, I hadn’t expected that I’d be swanning through the airport pulling a full Louis Vuitton luggage set on our first family holiday as a four. But seriously. We are one step removed from pushing our worldly belongings along in a Morrisons shopping trolley.

It’s just impossible to travel light with children, I get it. But this is made all the more apparent when you have to weigh your bags.

We had gone over to Ireland for a few days to visit some old friends and had, initially, just paid for the flights with carry on cases.

But whilst packing prior to the trip, I realised I was living circa 2010 when, pre-children, all I would need to go abroad for a mini break was a pair of heels, a couple of pairs of pants, some dry shampoo, a toothbrush and a tube of industrial strength concealer.

I think I need an inbuilt alarm that goes off whenever I try and plan something that shouts, ‘DON’T FORGET YOU HAVE TWO CHILDREN NOW. EVERYTHING TAKES YONKS AND INVOLVES VAST AMOUNTS OF PARAPHERNALIA.’

As I tried, in vain, to squeeze a week’s worth of clothes for four people into three titchy cases, I realised I needed to pay for another bag. Fifteen kilograms is a huge amount of weight if you think of it in terms of body fat, but it’s nothing if made up entirely of pants, socks and nappies.

And having filled one extra bag with alarming ease, I paid for another bag. By the time I’d confirmed my card details with Ryanair for the third time, the bags were costing pretty much as much as the flights.

As we boarded the plane we pushed our way down the aisle, Ben with three suitcases and a toddler under his arm, me with a rucksack strapped to my back and a baby strapped to my front, and wedged ourselves into our seats.

But getting onto the plane was a cinch compared to getting off it.

We’d liberally distributed our stuff in the overhead compartments and had to wait until literally everyone was off the plane to retrieve it.

Which would have been fine if we’d got a move on.

But doing anything quickly is virtually impossible with a baby and a two-year-old, so by the time we reached the door of the plane, the staff were about to take the steps away.

We’d taken so long that we’d missed the shuttle bus. The passport control officer closed his booth and had to be brought back to let us through.

The airport was completely empty. At the baggage reclaim our belongings were going round and round on the conveyor belt.

It felt like it had taken us as long to disembark the plane and retrieve our luggage as the length of the time we were in the air.

But we can tick that one off the list now. Our first flight as a family. Done.

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