I’ve heard that the way you look back on an experience is heavily influenced by how it ends. And it is true that when I think of our recent trip to London, from the 15th to the 20th of this month, our great escape from the clutches of Heathrow and its icy runways does loom large.
My mother had said that she wanted to visit my auntie Rosie, so we planned this trip. Rosie has been moved to a nursing home from the hospital that she was in when I last went to see her in June, and is doing well. I thought it would be nice for her to see Baki, too. Plus, I thought maybe it would be nice to let Baki have a little Christmas madness.
So we all packed up and headed for London, me with dreams of bacon, Baki looking forward to breakfast with Santa, and my mother not very enthusiastic about the trip at all, except that she was looking forward to seeing Rosie.
It began to snow on our second day there, and Baki was delighted. He waited impatiently for the snow to accumulate and was quickly rewarded with piles of snow on top of cars, and a very memorable jaunt through Hyde Park on our way to the Winter Wonderland fair during which Baki accosted strangers by throwing snowballs at them, and tried his hand at making a snowman.
And Baki did go to the promised breakfast with Santa, where he diligently wrote out his Christmas list and I raced through the toy store doing my Christmas shopping while he was occupied. I haven’t mentioned it on the blog before because I haven’t really known how to bring it up, but if you look at the picture below, that’s not a belly full of bacon; let it suffice to say that if all goes well this will be Baki’s last Christmas as an only child.
Baki charmed Rosie with his habit of giving kisses on both cheeks and his general ability to turn on the charm when needed, and she in return showered him in chocolates. Baki also chatted up plenty of strangers on the Tube, making friends wherever he went and generally misbehaving.
As our trip drew to a close, however, we heard ominous reports of people stranded in Heathrow; people were allowed on their planes then made to wait for hours before being told that the flight had been cancelled and they should file missing luggage reports and go home; 90% or more of flights were being cancelled; call your airline before going to the airport! By the time our date of departure, Monday the 20th, arrived, I didn’t dare to look at the papers.
Our flight, according to the Heathrow website, was scheduled to leave when I checked on Sunday afternoon, and remained so the following three times I checked that day. So I ordered a cab for us to the airport (since I had filled our bags with plants and bacon), only to discover, upon awaking early on Monday, that our flight, although it was still scheduled, had inexplicably been scheduled to leave more than an hour and a half earlier than planned. Luckily, we had ordered the cab for very early indeed, and we got to the aiport about an hour and a half before our new departure time.
When we got into the aiport, it was complete chaos. There were literally people sleeping on the floors. It was jammed, and all the flight information boards were alive with flashing “cancelled” signs. A gentleman in a bright yellow vest found our flight on a long list and declared it still scheduled to depart, so we waded through the currents of people all dragging bags around and made our way to the check-in counter. When we got our boarding passes and were sent up to departures, it seemed as if at any point our luck could change. We found our way to our gate and were soon boarding a plane. Then we waited. In total, we waited on the runway for about 5 hours. Baki fell asleep, after four days running on pure adrenaline (he barely ate) and then I did, too. I woke up and wondered if we had taken off. We hadn’t, but they were serving us lunch. Strangely, no one was particularly agitated. I think we all knew that no matter how long we waited, we were a lot more fortunate than all those people who’d camped at the airport all weekend long. When we finally took off, there were cheers. We finally made it home to our house by about 3 a.m. which left Baki feeling pretty sleepy the following day.