Travels with a Reluctant Holidaymaker: Day 2

With a flight at six thirty, it’s going to be an early start and we are both wide awake from three. We abandon any attempt to sleep and are ready well before the time we need to leave. There is something nice about walking through a sleeping hotel and entering a just-waking airport before all the crowds, or indeed most of the staff, arrive.

There is a self-service bag drop; at supermarkets we always avoid the automated check-outs in favour of “talking to a real person”, no matter how long the queue, but this time we decide to be brave. Then we realise the three mini-stickers removed from the baggage tags and now adorning the back of my passport are actually labelled ‘Do not remove’. What idiot designs a system where the instructions are on the back and can’t seen until way too late? However, the BA lady overseeing the process assures us the RH’s case will arrive safely, and we get it right second time around, leaving all the stickers in place.

Security is the usual cheerless place although the queues are short and it is quite quick. “All laptops, phones and other devices in the tray; nothing on top or underneath; remove coats, jackets, belts, and boots,” intones the bored-looking guy behind the conveyor belt. “No eye contact?” mutters the RH, but we conclude if we were only ten minutes into our shift and had to say the same thing over and over again for the next umpteen hours, we would look bored and avoid eye-contact too. His routine is broken slightly when he points out that the ‘nothing on top or underneath’ rule applies to everyone and tells the RH to use a second tray for his coat. I guess it’s moments like this that break up the monotony of the day.

For once, neither of us sets off the alarms and we reclaim our belongings from the trays (all three of them). In the distance we spy the BA lounge and head for the nearest door. A rather snooty woman stops the RH as he attempts to march through. “This is the Concorde Lounge; for first class travellers only,” she says. “It does say that on the sign,” she continues, pointing to a large board we have sailed past unnoticing. No-one can sneer quite like a custodian of a special place preventing the wrong people from entering. We retire more or less gracefully, wondering how she knows we aren’t travelling first class even before she has looked at our boarding passes. Two staircases and several minutes walking later, we pass the other side of the door we have just been barred from, on our way to the correct lounge. RH speculates on the wisdom of naming a lounge after a plane that once crashed, causing more than 100 fatalities.

It’s still very early and we know there will be food on the plane to help break up the flight, but we have always believed in the hobbits’ ‘first breakfast/second breakfast’ approach; although we steer clear of the free booze! I peruse the newspaper racks and find to my dismay that my newspaper of choice is no longer available. Chosen for its array of crosswords and other puzzles rather than the editorial stance, flying is the only time I ever open a copy of The Daily Mail, but it is nowhere to be seen. I choose The Times instead, only to realise once on board just why Morse was so much better at doing the crossword than I am. It’s really tough! And as the alternative is The Classic, where all the answers are in Latin, I’m really stuck for choice.

We have pre-booked our seats at check-in, deliberately choosing the emergency exit row. Apart from the obvious advantage of being first in the queue in the ‘unlikely event of an emergency landing’, this row offers more leg room and seats in front that do not tilt back. The latter fact delights us, but causes great dismay to the couple sitting in front of us whose complaints grow ever more vociferous as the flight progresses and their alcohol intake increases.

The cloud base below the plane does not break once during the journey until we spy Mount Teide in the distance and know our journey is about to end. Across the bay and over the coast, the sun is shining and we revel in its warmth on our faces as we head for the taxi rank. Joe Cawley’s book More Ketchup Then Salsa talks about the speed of the taxi drivers when he first moved to Tenerife years ago. Believe me, nothing has changed! We arrive at the hotel in double quick time and the RH is able to unclench his hands as we screech to a halt.

Our room is not ready and we head for the pool area for a drink. This is a huge hotel and loungers are placed in rows like seats on a bus. We can only imagine what it must be like in the height of summer. At this time of year, it is relatively quiet, but to me whose preferred holiday accommodation is a villa where I can swim and sunbathe in private; and to the RH, who really prefers the back garden in Devon, this is a bit of a culture shock. Even more so when we try to table in one of the restaurants for dinner, to be told the only one available is the buffet. We find ourselves eating in a crowded 500-seater room, with noise levels reminiscent of a school canteen. But the food is good and the do-it-yourself jelly and ice-cream bar helps a bit.

We retire to our room, tired out from all the travelling and just a little deflated. As we switch out the light for the second early night in a row, I remind myself that the first day of a holiday is a often a bit of a disappointment and that everything will look much better in the morning.

Join me tomorrow to see if everything does indeed look better in the morning.

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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