Planning has always been part of my psyche whether as a child saving for Christmas or for the annual summer holiday’s spending money. I can remember two off the cuff decisions I made, both of which ended in disaster! Maybe there were more and I just do not remember but once I had made the decision to fly to Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, it needed a plan!
I could have booked all the elements of the trip on the internet I suppose but decided to go to the experts.
I explained at the travel agency that I had never flown before and that I wanted a flight from the nearest airport and a hotel on the island for 3 days in September. Now I should have realised she was less than competent when she found a flight to the island from Birmingham which happens to be 50 miles west of here, I politely asked about departures from East Midlands, a mere 10 miles journey! I mentioned a couple of hotel chains with whom I had stayed in the past but they did not have any vacancies. After several phone calls and references to her colleague she had a flight and a hotel booked. I asked how far it was from Jersey airport to St Helier and following another call I was reassured that it was only a 15 minute taxi ride. After further enquiries I also had travel insurance. I never did understand why she gave me a brochure for coaching holidays in Europe.
About 10 days before the due departure date, in October, I was informed all the paperwork was at the agency, which coincidentally is close by my local supermarket. After shopping I called in for the detailed confirmation. Whilst going through all the details it was mentioned that I had not booked a transfer at the other end. I again mentioned that this was my first experience of air travel and that her colleague had not filled me with any confidence as to her efficiency. Apparently she had left after only a month in post – maybe I was the last straw!!
Four days before my departure I looked at the weather forecast for Jersey and as I think I mentioned in the earlier blog the forecast was for rain. On the Saturday afternoon I packed the suitcase, and umbrella, and in the evening watched Leeds beat St Helens in the Rugby League Grand Final. Sunday morning was cold and the skies were heavy with grey rainclouds. I arrived at the airport where I was informed the departure time had been delayed by an hour, or so. Sitting in the great barn of the airport reception hall for over an hour does not play too well on your nerves – believe me! I began reading a book I had by chance included in my shoulder bag. At 11.30 I queued for my ticket and left the suitcase to the vagaries of the baggage handling staff, dispelling the grim tales relayed to me by more experienced flyers! The security check came next – both I and my belongings passed through the electronic gubbins without any alarm! I continued to read my book – an Inspector Morse story by Colin Dexter, sitting close to Gate 10. At 12.30 we were shepherded though the departure gate, where for about the 3rd time my passport and ticket were checked, and onto a shuttle bus that took us to the 737 ‘ice ice baby’ I found my allocated seat was next to a window. Soon we were trundling along the bumpy runway and were airborne, flying through grey clouds, until at 20,000 feet we emerged into sunlight. The total journey time is only 55 minutes, [OK but remember this was my first time], so we were soon descending to land on Jersey. The booked taxi whisked me away to the hotel, through heavy rain. Room 104 was, shall we say adequate, lone travellers will understand the true meaning of ‘adequate.’ I had booked an evening meal for 7; I was feeling quite peckish by that time and stopped in the bar for a glass of malt. The meal I chose reinforced the fact that no one outside Yorkshire can cook roast beef, Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes!
Monday I walked into St Helier, 15 minutes if you are under 30 and 20 minutes if you are my age!! I did some window shopping until my aged umbrella fell apart! I spent a couple of hours in the museum which was interesting and had a pleasant meal in the museum resteraunt. The hotel cook could learn a thing or two there! Tuesday I finished the book waiting for the rain to stop. The evening meal was a little better than Sunday’s.
Wednesday morning and it was an early breakfast, taxi to the airport and a 50 minute flight back to the midlands. This time I could see the patchwork pattern of the field’s below as we passed over southern England at about 25000 feet. We landed at 13.30 and I was in my kitchen 30 minutes later enjoying a coffee.
Final comment: I will fly again – maybe a little farther – maybe next year? Who knows?