The ghastly Romanian left a few days before I went on holiday. Landlady and I had a few chats about the changed situation in the days after. The atmosphere in our little flat improved beyond measure. It is cleaner and quieter. Our moods have been elevated to heights higher than had seemed possible for months. On my final day my students all rose from their desks and shook hands after I gave my last lesson. The day slipped quickly away. A last minute cancellation – no worries, I still get paid; a final work-out before a quick chat with landlady’s son to let him know that I was taking my leave. Never counting on airline service I popped in to my favourite Bolivian coffee shop for a light supper before going to airport.
Spain had to prove that it’s a bloody nuisance one last time. When I went to designated Luxembourg Airlines counter the airport employee was being a bloody bother. There was only one queue and two counters – one for all passengers, one for business passengers. I made my way to the correct location and waited to drop off my luggage. He wouldn’t leave me be and demanded that I show him my boarding pass. This isn’t possible at Barajas. Other than Iberia, one must go to airline desk to pick up boarding passes. After giving him a rather stern lecture in German I stormed off and demanded any explanation from airport information. They made a quick telephone call and instructed me to return to the relevant desks to check in. I could do so without a problem that time! I gave another strongly-worded lecture to a security officer who gave me incorrect instructions which resulted in my having to be searched. He nearly cried. I had a near-success. I’m sure CO will give me at least a silver star for my effort.
My flight to Luxembourg was quiet and pleasant. Luxembourg Airlines is arguably Europe’s best regional carrier. Service is invariably pleasant and efficient, as is Luxembourg Findel Airport. I had a row to myself and could relax in complete peace. We arrived in Luxembourg on the minute with the only annoyance being a bus ride from aeroplane to terminal. Still, my luggage arrived within a minute of my arrival and I could meet older uncle and go to Germany.
The next nearly two weeks were quiet, idyllic even. I nearly went into shock when I could sleep peacefully and uninterrupted through the night. I was able to drink tea in peace and quiet in the evenings. The weather, no warmer than the upper 70s, was gorgeous. The occasional rainy day kept the air fresh and grass green. Well, I quite like listening to the sound of falling rain so that made it even better!
I spent the largest part of that time in Germany hiking in the woods foraging for berries, eating them by the handful until my teeth smarted because of the acid. My grandmother was happy to see me again and is looking forward to seeing me again at the end of the month. I didn’t travel much in Germany, visiting Trier only once. After the brutal heat of Spain, well over 100 for weeks at a time the coolness of Germany was refreshing. After months of exhaustion and routine sleep deprivation – I’m unable to sleep properly due to the horrid racket that those in the neighbourhood make. The ghastly miscreants think that partying until the wee small hours of the morning or cooking supper past midnight is perfectly acceptable. In Germany I could sleep again and have regained much of my former vigour.
On the 10th of this month I departed Luxembourg on a British Airways flight to London. This was the first time I’ve actually flown to the United Kingdom in donkey’s years through Heathrow. Generally, I prefer flying into London City Airport as it is far more civilised and easier to use. Terminal 3 is large enough for me, thank you very much! Still, I managed. In a surprising turn of events we were allowed to depart Luxembourg 15 minutes early and allowed to land without delay at Heathrow. Heathrow’s passport control machines made clearing passport control even quicker. Well, it would have if the daft cow in front of me hadn’t held up the queue with her inability to follow simple instructions despite receiving clarification from an airport employee! After a miles-long trek to the proper baggage carousel I was absolutely gobsmacked to find my luggage already delivered and waiting for me.
There is one thing I prefer about flying into Heathrow – it’s far easier to get to Waterloo Station. City is a bit further out to the east and requires changing from the Docklands Light Rail to the Underground. I’ve had fare complications as a result of this in the past and received a rather stern lecture from a Transport for London employee about the need to buy two tickets for said journey despite having purchased an LCY-Waterloo fare! Once again I found myself with hours to spare and went walkies around the Palace of Westminster. I was chuffed to see that one of the major hotels; I forget the name, removed that ghastly blue dish rag with those hideous, discordant 12 stars marring it and replaced it with a second Union Flag. Long may it fly and may the fragrant harridan Jimmie Krankie pickle in Satan’s chamber pot.
I passed an uneventful train ride to Dorchester South. My somewhat reduced financial situation obliged me to take the journey in the Revolting Peasant section rather than my customary first class. There really wasn’t that much a difference, though. The seat is somewhat smaller and I had to sit next to someone for two hours but that wasn’t too onerous. I found my B&B quickly this time. Being the thicko I am I stowed my mobile in with my computer which I stowed in my luggage as to reduce the number of pieces I had to drag along. When I finally managed to recover my mobile the door swung open and the owner called me by name. I fear I may have scarred the poor man the last time I was here. I was given a comfortably large room with a garden view and a large bathtub. Positively lovely.
Dorchester has been an absolute joy since then. I took the ghost walk, now in its 20th year! Yesterday evening and became the star of the show – and butt of most jokes. I haven’t laughed that much in ages. I’m a great believer that being invited to take part in the joke is a profound symbol of acceptance. I toured the Keep Museum, the regimental museum of the Dorset and Devonshire Regiment. Their star attraction, so to say, is Hitler’s desk from his personal office at the Reich Chancellery. I much preferred their imperial memorabilia which includes a lock of John André’s hair.
Araminta and I spent much of today wreaking havoc on Dorset’s unsuspecting county town. With some luck it might recover in time.