Friday July 15th
Home to the Worth hotel - Crawley
To work as normal in the morning. Martin told me a route to Gatwick from
which turned off shortly after Chichister avoiding Arundel and the last
part of the A27 along the South Coast. Bought some cheese on the way home
as I had no idea if Cint would be left with any food in the house. By
the time I arrived home Chris & Jude were already there but David
was still at school so we finished packing whilst waiting for him to arrive.
We had a 20 Kgs weight allowance each plus 5kg carry on allowance, Jude
and I had large bags with straps both of which ended up close to the weight
limit but David and Chris had smaller lighter bags. David had the lightest
one and the only one with both a handle and wheels.
Clint is left minding the cats for 3 weeks.
Following the back road directions we only took one wrong turning but
a quick cut across country sorted that out. We had a typical pub meal
in the to the Worth Hotel bar but quickly left as a wedding reception
was taking place and the whole hotel became fairly full and noisy. Early
night as we would have a long day tomorrow.
Saturday July 16th
Flight to Calgary - Canada
Up early for our flight at 11.30, breakfast in the hotel. Jude had a
light continental but the rest of us pigged out on a full English. Dropped
the car keys off with reception as they may move the car during the holiday.
There were two mini-buses, one to North terminal and one to South, we
climbed in with two other families for the uneventful 20min trip to Gatwick
We were delivered right to the door of the airport, Chris grabbed a trolley
and we loaded all the bags on. There were really too many for one trolley
so it was difficult to control, I pushed it up two huge spiral ramps unable
to determine whether the brake handle was push or pull to operate it;
it seemed to make little difference.
A reasonable queue had built up at the check in desk but the wait was
fairly short, there was a carry on case measurer, our careful packing
paid off and we were well within our weight allowances. Went straight
through to the departure lounge where there was a huge selection of shops,
cafes and seats. It is laid out as a central circular plaze with shops
on two levels and a bar with a view of the runways on a third. We headed
straight for the nearest bookshop to pick up the latest Harry Potter "Harry
Potter and the Half Blood Prince" only out that morning . The last
time we went to America the latest HP came out the day of our departure
so if you want to know the date of the book releases just find out our
holiday plans. We had a hour or so left to kill so we hit a cafe before
it got too busy.
Watching the departure monitors we noticed our plane had a delayed departure
of 1/2 an hour, not good but could have been worse, then it got put back
again with an announcement due at 12.30. 12.30 came and went and no announcement
and we lost another half hour. We managed to find out that a bird had
struck the wing on either take off or landing and they were trying to
get permission from the safety guys to fly with the dent. This however
was not forthcoming so they had to put a patch on the wing. The next announcement
was due at 2.30 so Chris, David & I headed up to the thrid floor bar
where there were tables and broke out the Pirates game, Jude stayed downstairs
out of the smoky atmosphere. At five past two when we'd just finished
making the ships Jude came running up the stairs frantic as the board
had suddenly changed to "gate closing" with no warning, no announcement
and nothing to say it had ever been open. The Pirates ships simply got
shoveled up into our various bags and we ran for it. As we made our way
through the miles of corridors it became apparent that nobody else had
had any warning either, they were all walking as fast as they could. Naturally
our gate was at the very farthest point right at the end of the corridor.
Of course the gate wasn't actualy closing, in fact it hadn't even opened
so we grabbed a seat and prepared for another wait. After 20 minutes or
so they let us on to the plane where we were told that the wing had been
patched up and they were searching for an Airbus engineer to sign off
the repair. Because of the delay they also needed to find a new cabin
crew as the current set would run out of shift time and not be allowed
to fly, this was compounded by the fact that if no crew or engineer was
found within 1/2 hour the flight crew would also run out of time and we'd
be unlikely to get another set that day. Fortunately a new crew was found
and with about 10 minutes to spare and the paperwork signed - we were
ready for take off 4 1/2 hours late. The captain announced that he was
having extra fuel put on so that he could fly at top speed all the way
to try and catch up some time
An uneventful flight, the boys settled down to their gameboys and I sank
into Harry Potter.
We arrived in sunshine having made up over 1/2 hour. Leaving the plane
we had a chance to take a brief look at the wing, right above the starboard
engine was a new panel about 4 feet square where the bird had obviously
struck, fortunately missing the engine or we wouldn't have got away at
all that day.
The hire car is a nice large Dodge Caravan, with two rows of seats in
the back, Chris took the back row putting down the seat in front so he
could stretch his legs, David sat behind the passenger next to the sliding
door. 20 minutes easy drive to the first B&B Sweet Marie set in a
posh housing estate on a hill south of Calgary with a view all the way
to the Rockies.