From Parrots to Polar Bears

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Where I stayed
Loughton
Spareleaze Hill

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas
was looming and we decided to go back into the cold to see our friends and
family for the festive occasion. Before we flew though, decided to go to the
opening of a new art gallery on the French side. It was all (whatever all means)
due to start at 2.00pm so off we went. Driving our little roller skate (Huyandi
something or other), and eventually arrived, fashionably late, at 3.30. And
surprise surprise, it wasn’t really late enough, it hadn’t started. So we hung
around in the garden trying out a few different Caribbean foods and eventually
sitting  down in what can only be
described as a half completed gazebo. Someone told us that the Governor of the
Dutch section as well as the French President who we have already met; were due
to arrive, but you never know with these sort of events if it’s true or not!
Sitting on the little chair on the inside edge of the gazebo I started talking
to the chap to my right and he told me he was the government archaeologist. So
it might be true that the actual Guv was going to come.  Dyana started talking to the woman on her
left and she was actually one of the artists that was showing.... Suddenly we
realised we were on the podium with all the posh important people. And we sat
waiting to see what was going to happen. I was 
not going to move. And then all it started. The motorcade (only two cars
really) swept majestically through the slightly dilapidated gates and onto the
grass. Everyone was all aquiver as he (the Guv of the Dutch side) emerged with
and would you believe it, the new neighbour living right above us.... Paul. All
resplendent in his spotless white navel uniform et al. Everyone leapt up to
attention as he was introduced to all and he and his wife sat on the podium
just a few seats away from us. Along came someone serving the canapés and the
home brewed rum. Wow..... strong enough to take the enamel straight off your
teeth. Let nobody light a match close by..... please......   The main artist (who had also brewed the
rum), then made a welcoming speech. They decided not to wait for the French
President who was obviously not going to turn up. Paul the A.D.C. introduced us
to the Dutch Governor who in turn introduced us to some other people. See the picture
of us standing with him. Impressive don’t you think?...  the gallery was finally and officially opened
now that we’d arrived and we were so impressed that we were included in the
opening party.

 

The art from
one particular artist was quite spectacular and I could so easily have bought a
couple of her pieces had it not been for the price.

All too soon
our date of leaving the island was fast approaching. All our friends thought
our leaving the warmth of the sunny 
Caribbean and going to the cold of Europe to be totally mad. And now as
I’m sitting writing this blog in the kitchen of my Mother’s house in Jersey
realise just how right they were. It’s bloody freezing here! Anyway, back to
our travels back to the UK. Anyone who knows us realises that when we travel,
anything that can go wrong..... will, and things that should go right suddenly
don’t. Well, to get back to the UK we have to first get off the island and
travel to Antigua where we pick up the BA flight straight into Gatwick. What
could be easier than that. Fly out of St Maarten at 7.00 PM on a 40 minute
flight and transfer to the BA one taking off at 9.40 PM. Now what could be
simpler than that! 2 hours to change planes in a small airport surely must be
enough?

As we
checked in with an airline called LIAT to take us from St M to Antigua made sure
we arrived to do this with plenty of time in hand, i.e. 5.30 for the 7.00
flight because it has been know that they leave much earlier than scheduled.
Something quite unheard of in England. Anyway, at check in, told the woman
behind the desk that we had an onward journey on the BA flight that night. She
shot a look at us that sent alarm bells ringing. Stared at us, and in a quiet
voice said, “there may be a slight delay.”........ Hmmm.  I smiled back nicely saying nothing, but
keeping her eyes glued to mine. “But please don’t worry,” she continued
quickly, “We’ll radio through ahead.”  Yes,
..... and pigs will fly!  So we watched
the luggage  going through the tunnel to
that dark place were, (and I’m sure we’ve all thought about it...... just like
that enigmatic song title ‘when will I see you again.. tra la la la la la la......)
all the lost stuff goes. And
then reasonably quickly through security. There were a lot of passengers in the
waiting area, not a good sign. And when I asked one of them how long he’d been
waiting, told me that they’d all been there since about 12 noon waiting to go
to another island called Tortola. I wondered why he had such a long beard!  Wow! Another good sign I don’t think!

An
announcement told us that the flight we were supposed to be on would first be
taking the passengers (who’s been waiting since lunch time) to Tortola and
would then be back to pick us up. Well, the good news was that at least
something was happening don’t you think? And in this part of the world that
definitely counts for something. So our plane was on its way to somewhere else,
and with other passengers as well!....... Magically, nobody could tell me how
long the return flight to Tortola would take! We sat..... and sat..... and
waited. 7.30.......................... 8 o’clock...... and still no sign of our
plane. A little light entertainment however, a captain of a Virgin Jumbo was
also waiting, and he pulled out a small model helicopter and started flying it
round the departure hall. Plenty of room to do that as well. The entire room
was captivated by his ability and dexterity to fly such a little machine... as
well. Then... after about 2 minutes of flying, he crashed into the floor and
everyone looked round at each other. Being totally oblivious to his
surroundings, and taking no notice of anybody, gently bent down, picked the
small craft up, and gamely launched it again. And after about 2 minutes guess
what happened. ...... Yes........... you’ve beaten me to it......  it plunged to the ground to crash again.
Well,............. I can tell you that we were so glad that we were not flying
with him in control of the Virgin Jumbo on the way back to the UK.

8.30 and
still no sign of the returning little aircraft. And then..... wonder of
wonders..... it returned, landing at 8.50. All rushed on board, and by 9.00 he’d
taken off.  I turned to Dyana and
wondered where we’d spend the night. The question was, should I phone a friend,
or simply try booking us into the nearest hotel and try re booking in the
morning? Well........... as luck would have it, the pilot put his foot down (or
whatever they do to make the plane go faster) and we miraculously landed at
9.30. ten minutes too late for the BA flight. And the sight as we walked off
the little plane was fantastic. There on the runway was the big BA. I said to
Dyana let’s just walk on! Something quite impossible to do with all the
security around. Having been to Antigua several times before, and knowing it
can take up to two hours to clear customs.

“Who’s
making the connection on BA” a woman called out, and six of us called out. “Come
with me please.” And this you won’t get every day, believe me. “Don’t worry about
passport control, just fill out you addresses on here and join the rest of the
passengers in the departure lounge.  “Your
luggage will have to follow. BA will not allow your luggage to be transferred. They
want to take off.”

So, within
ten minutes of landing, we were sitting on the jumbo waiting to take off. Quite
remarkable that they’d held the plane up for us. In fact they told the rest of
the passengers the plane was delayed on an earlier leg of its journey!!!!
Yea..... believe that if you want to! The luggage was another long story because
it ended up in Belgium on board a Virgin flight, but, after three days it
finally turned up.... Hooray for that.

What a
difference in temperature! From liveable, to................... yes, you
guessed. Just look at the photo! All it now leaves me to do is wish everyone a
sensational and healthy New Year.
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Comments

Arnie & Lill on

Lill & I thoroughly enjoyed your recent blog.

Wishing you and your family a Happy, Healthy New Year

Lesley Bliss on

Happy New Year to you both - xxx

Brian & Cheryl on

Happy New Year. Where are you heading to next? In fact, where are you now?

Rebecca & Gaz on

Hello Mike & Dyana

Are you back in England ?
If so, it would be so good to see you again.
Happy New Year 2011. Lots of love Rebecca & Gaz xxx

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