08.03.2014 - 10.03.2014 24 °C
So here's the thing - the first born now lives in London, our flight to Havana, Cuba departs Gatwick on the Monday. I know - let's increase the holiday budget with a 2 night hotel stay in London plus whatever super deluxurious restaurant meal he just happens to suggest this time, and visit our son before we jet off. We book a central London hotel for the Saturday night and a Gatwick airport hotel for the Sunday night. Great plan, all except fort he part that "git face" that's our little pet name, bless him, now informs us, after we have made all the arrangements months ago, he can't possibly miss his mate's birthday party in, wait for it - Lancaster. So he'll be up North where we live and we'll be in "dahn sarf" (down south) where he lives, brilliant! Train ticket is non amendable, well not without losing an arm and half a leg anyway. So that's how it is. Oh by the way Mum & Dad mind if we sleep in your bed seeing as you're not at home?
We have a lovely relaxed rail journey Saturday afternoon and we did manage to see Simon & Chloe for a couple of hours at ours before we left. We arrive in London Euston and take the tube to London Victoria to book into the Park Plaza Hotel where upon we receive the good news we've been upgraded to an executive apartment on the 8th floor. Nice, very nice. Huge bed and flat screen TV, lounge seating area, dining area, lush bathroom (robes and slippers) and a kitchen area complete with hob, microwave, dishwasher, fridge and wait for it, wait for it - a nespresso machine and capsules. Say goodbye to boiling a miniaturised plastic kettle and pouring over instant granules, we've got a nespresso. We take advantage of the facilities and buy in a pizza, a bottle of wine and some cake from Sainsburys and save over 150 quid from what a night out with the lad would have cost had we met up in London as per our original plan. Mick feels better now. We have a great day on Sunday seeing the sights of London on what turns out to be a glorious spring day. Everyone in shirtsleeves enjoying the sunshine.
The gatwick Express isn't running today so we're on ordinary southern trains. The queue at Victoria is horrendous. Not so much a queue more of a flash mob near Platform 6. This could get ugly. Then they announce the train is actually on Platform 2. This could get very ugly. It's at times like these I wish I was French or German instead of the polite, do it proper, wait my turn stand in line, shy quiet reserved, complaint Englishman that I am. Hang on bugger that, they're overtaking me on the outside edge of the platform. I manouvre my 2 pull along cases so now I am taking up the space of 3 people and i have one wheel of the suitcase right on the edge of the platform. They'll have to go on the tracks to get past me now. It's a free for all down Platform 6 and along in front of Plastforms 5, 4 and 3 to get to Platform 2. Jo's holding her own in the melee that ensues as the passengers that have just disembarked the train on Platform 4 try and exit by cutting through the hordes making there way from 6 to 2. I can see all Jo's training in the Primark sale is now paying dividends as she emerges on Platform 2 with a clear view of the train to Gatwick. We sprint along Platform 2. This train is pretty long. We overtake the elderly and the infirm, those with infants and suitcases which are quite clearly over every airlines size and weight restrictions. Suddendly platform officials are blowing whistles and shouting we should board immediately as the train is about to depart. With that we leap into the next carriage surprised to find that it's half empty and we've got seats. So our train, with plenty of available seats in the front carriages, and standing room only in the rear carriages, departs a still crowded Platform 2 dead on time! Good old southern rail.
Its a short covered walk to the Hilton at gatwick airport south terminal where we check in and almost immediately go back into the airport to drop our cases at the Virgin check in for our flight on Monday morning. After checking our bags in we have a pint and a meal at Wetherspoons and return to our hotel for a good nights rest. Breakfast in the Garden Restaurant at the Hilton was good and then a short stroll into the airport and straight through security in plenty of time for some airport retail therapy. Jo must be really relaxed the amount of therapy she got. We board to find someone in our seat, he moves and we feel a little guilty as he had a broken foot. We settle into our seats and we are airborne before we know it.