From home to Canada

Day 0
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.

Day 1
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 airport.

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.

Sweet Marie's

We had the whole of the downstairs of Sweet Marie's to ourselves, two bedrooms, one double with a view to the mountains and a twin, a private bathroom and a large lounge with tv and a 3/4 size snooker table. Altogether an excellent place.

This turned out to be our favourite B&B of the whole holiday


Breakfast was above the porch

View from the back porch over South Calgary to the Rockies


©2005 Rob Hayward