Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Up, up and away

I am not the greatest traveller. Or perhaps it would be better to say that I'm not an easy traveller.

Tonight, I'm in Belfast for the first time, for work. Right now, I'm very pleasantly relaxed, with a sense of victory at having hot here, in one piece and without any major snafus. I flew from Heathrow early this afternoon - only the second time I've flown on my own. I only really started flying 12 years ago: oh, I'd flown as a very small child, DC Dakotas from Liverpool Speke as it was called then, to the Isle of Man to spend summer holidays with my maternal grandparents. But then there'd been a long time where I had never taken wing.

That first grown-up flight was 13 hours to Durban to see the common law in laws. And after my initial panic, I developed a blasé attitudeto flying that would never let you suspect my really being an airborne ingenue.

But about four years ago - maybe even on that maiden solo flight - I started together nervy. Or rather, fatalistic. I'd be strapped into my seat and suddenly, unbidden, would come a voice asking what I'd most recently eaten - and whether it was fitting for a last meal.

Now the rational part of me lectures on the safety record of air travel. But another voice chips in to comment on the sheer insanity of sitting in a metal tube, high over the Earth.

This morning, some of this underlying worry was reduced by another form of panic, as I found myself leaving home half an hour later than I had planned. Would I make it on time?

My parents were both dreadful timekeepers. According to the old saying, they'll both be late for their own funerals. They'll probably manage to make me late for mind too, if their record is anything to go on.

So, there I was, waiting for a bus, and wouldn't you know it that no 48 or26 was to be seen, but only a 55 - which is never around when I actually want one! Eventually, with panic rising, I hailed a cab to Paddington - and then spent the next period worrying not just about time, but also about whether I gad enough cash in my purse to pay the driver. Only when we got past Baker Street did I start to relax.

Paddington was thus the beginning of my sense of victory.

I bought tickets for the shuttle and had enough time to over-fill my handbag with glossy magazines. After that, the shuttle was easy - I even got off at the right terminal stop. And then - miracle of miracles - I managed to sort out getting my ticket, checking in my bag and getting through security without help and without actually making a prat of myself.

The magazines were a worthwhile investment: I drooled over the handbag porn in an Elle accessories supplement as we taxied and took off. Then treated myself to a G&T as a celebration for managing to behave like a grown up.

I've sorted out my work for tomorrow now and had the chance for a wander and a bit of retail therapy (a blingy new compact mirror and a chunky statement bangle with an animal print, both from Jaeger).

In half an hour, I have a massage booked. And then, after a shower, I'll go for a meal. And I might not just stay in the hotel for that either, as I did in Gateshead. I told you that that new leather jacket really was more than simply an item of clothing.

At this rate, I'll be feeling like an experienced jetsetter very soon!

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