So we flew
… we did … we did it, yes I know you already know that, but a week on I’ve really only now emerged from the fog that envelops your brain at high altitude and am peering out from the other side of jetlag.
I was so worried about the security part of the journey … getting Hope, her new little buggy (thank you dear Annie) and hand luggage, laptop etc through the scanners and on and off conveyor belts, but Heathrow has a new thing called a ‘family lane’ … it was wonderful. Having waved goodbye to Hope’s father who delivered us safely to the airport, we headed through our special lane.
There was also a man in purple (maybe a hangover from the Olympics) with a sticker attached saying, “I’m here to help” … and he did. He helped collapse the buggy, held rucksacks and so on and then allowed us the time to get through the checks it was such a relief … Hope just looked around and beamed at everyone.
We wandered through the main terminal and looked at the zillions of people before heading to our departure gate .. we got to the entrance to it and were told to leave the buggy there, I was gutted as had been expecting to take it right to the plane entrance, as a consequence I was bright red, dripping sweat and a bit flustered by the time we got to our seat – a bulk head which was excellent, but surrounded by scary looking people who glared at Hope and I in a, “you’d better keep that baby quiet” kind of way. A very dashing, and plucked eyebrow’d tanned and perfectly coiffed air steward called Alan was so so helpful and held Hope while I put luggage in the locker and sorted out her plane ‘stuff’ and fumbled around trying to use the seat belt. We got there in the end but by then Hope was a bit fed up and grumbly so I felt the pressure of the “shhhh baby” glares even more but steeled myself to them. Once we took off I managed to undo all the buckles and have a little walk with her which calmed her down, and eventually Alan bought the basinette – which looked a bit like a flat car seat. Hope wasn’t desperately impressed but did have a few small snoozes in it when she forgot her cunning plan to be wide awake for the whole flight.
It was, obviously, very different flying with a small person; eating was hard, film watching was hard (though we did manage, eventually, to see the whole of The Exotic Marigold Hotel which was rather fun), sleeping was impossible but all in all we coped and the hours ticked by, she chatted to all and sundry and played with zebra and elephant who had come aboard as well. She also enjoyed the purple Virgin Atlantic pudding spoons and the taste of the boiled potatoes … she was more thirsty than usual, for water and for her milk… yet again I’m grateful for the fact that I can, and she does, still breast feed, the faff of having bottles would have been even more difficult, it was so easy to let her ‘nurse’ when she was peckish or unsettled and I think this helped her ears and swallowing, and did soothe her to sleep a couple of times … so yes, as ever, hurrah and breast is best say Hope and I.
We pottered around the plane once or twice and walked past the cluster of people availing themselves of the free wine at the back of the plane, we enjoyed a Virgin Atlantic ice cream and grew increasingly weary (and she increasingly cheerful in a hyper kind of way) as first 1am in UK, then 2am and then 3am went past before the plane circled over the sparkling metropolis that is LA and finally bumped along the runway. Hope fed for the whole landing, we turned her round to face me inside her little loop seat belt.
Hope’s onboard hero, the dashing air steward, helped us off the plane only to find that the push chair was miles away the other side of customs … he wasn’t allowed to come with us so carrying the two rucksacks on my back, passports and security forms in my teeth and Hope squirming under my arm we made our way to customs. Queue … hour long queue … aaaggghhhhh by the time we reached the man and had to do hand scans (both hands) and retina scan and so on we were both fairly fractious and then we had to hunt for the push chair which I had to open holding Hope and everything else … nobody helped… then I put the bag on the back of the push chair, a major error as it flipped over, thankfully at that point I was still holding Hope … so put everything on the floor and strapped her into the chair (amidst howls of rage) and manged to get everything else onto my back … literally pouring with sweat I found my huge case but couldn’t find Hope’s … it had been taken off the conveyor belt and was in a different bit of the hall. Sweaty sigh …
In the end a bloke appeared and offered to help, I paid him a very well earnt $10 and he got us through the next round of security checks and out into the clammy hot night and the welcoming arms of wonderful Godmother Clare (the glamorous one). I don’t think I’ve ever been so pleased to see someone… she whisked us off with her customary grace and decisive charm to the waiting SUV which she’d hired to put all our stuff in … and then everything went briefly pear-shaped as neither of us had a clue how to fix the ISOfix baby seat into the car. They wouldn’t show her at the hire place for ‘insurance’ reasons… it took two grow’d up women and a howling small person nearly half an hour to work it out by which time all 3 of us had lost all cool and were drenched…
however, we got there in the end and an hour later I was sitting beside a swimming pool in the warm night listening to the crickets with a glass of wine and Hope was back to her beaming self… and then, as Zebedee would have said, “time for bed” over 30 hours since we’d left our comfy bed at Granby’s house.
We both slept for 6 hours and then the sunshine and the lure of the swimming pool (before 8am on a sunny Orange County Saturday) was too much and jumped in and had a happy skinny dip just because I could and then had a proper little swim with both of my California girls.
Our adventure had well and truly started.