Thursday, 10 November 2011

39,000 feet and Bored

So here I am at 30,000 something feet, about an hour and half into a transatlantic flight and bored already. I think I must have developed a very short attention span, I have already read half of one of the books I brought with me, played games on the iPhone, flicked though the movies and eaten too many sweets. I’m just not very good at sitting still for this long. The most exciting thing to happen so far is that apparently this particular Airbus A340 is very famous, she is called “African Queen” and  had a cameo appearance in the UK TV show “Absolutely Fabulous”. Will have to track down the episode when I land, I have a sneaking suspicion that they weren’t  in economy and probably had Champagne at some point which is so far looking unlikely today. It’s also one of only 4 of this type in the Virgin fleet; does that mean it’s really good or really bad?
"African Queen"
I’ve been watching the map willing the plane along, not sure this makes the time go any quicker. It’s also quite inaccurate, there’s a guy surfing somewhere of the coast heading towards Reykjavik wearing shorts and shades then periodically there are whales and dolphins the size of London jumping out of the sea then Elvis is busy playing live somewhere in Greenland...

"Elvis Lives"

So, back on topic, I am off to Boston for a weekend away. A little indulgent maybe but sometimes these things need to be done. The original plan was for a Thelma and Louise – esque couple of days with a rental car, obviously only the good parts of the film so without the shootings and driving to our deaths into the Grand Canyon etc. I wanted to see the Black Bears who are supposed to live in the “Blue Hills”, partly as I have never seen a wild Bear, and partly because the Blue Hills just sounds a really cool place to go based on name alone. Thinking about it though, maybe they have already started hibernating if it’s been cold, perhaps I should have researched the topic a little better beforehand. Since then however, as is the general pattern of most of my travel where typically there is some form of abnormal weather, natural disaster or Civil Unrest there have been monumentally bad snow storms which have left large areas of Massachusetts and the surrounding States without power, some have even declared a state of emergency. Anyway, I’m sure it will be fun, I like to think these things are what you make of them in the end and it’s a non refundable ticket. I have however bought new Uggs just to be on the safe side.

There often seems to be bad weather when I go to the US. Last time I was there I was in North Carolina staying on a small island off the coast and there was a tornado alert. All the time the TV was on a warning scrolled along the bottom of the screen. I asked the people I was staying with if we should be worried, they assured me it “should” be fine, they often had them. “Should” is not a word I like in that context so I asked if, hypothetically, the Tornado hit what the best course of action would be? There were a number of not very helpful suggestions culminating in the decision by the majority of the group that the best thing to do would be go into the basement. This would have been fine had there been a basement but the house I was staying in was on stilts which presented a problem. I pointed this out and they then suggested sitting in an empty bath with a mattress over the top. I wasn’t sure that was entirely helpful either and probably not how I had pictured ending my days. I had nightmares that night mainly involving characters from the wizard of Oz and houses being sucked into the sky.
Brief intermission in typing for lunch. 38,000 feet, its -56F outside, hope it’s not one of the Airbus’ with the problem with the pitot readers that get frozen, something else to worry about. The surfer guy is definetly outside the realms of possibility now even if he had a dry suit on, he’s just off the coast of Greenland. They must have the same marketing team as the German airline from last week, my dinner was served labeled “Tasty” on the lid. It made me a bit nervous, I always think hotels with the word “Quality” or “Premier” in the name are anything but and I could see this going the same way but it was actually quite nice.
See - it says "Tasty" so it must be?

Looks like about half way now, although based on the other map detail I don’t know if I trust it. On the subject of travel, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Last week I was working in Germany filming a “motivational” video, have to say wasn’t very motivational for me by all accounts but I am sure the viewing public will love it and it does look pretty good in the initial edits. To get to the part of Germany I was going to always seems to be more trouble than you would think, this being the case I ended up flying a new German low cost airline, I say “low cost” but to be honest at just under £300 it doesn’t seem all that low cost in my books. It was an interesting travel experience, I had been given the option of choosing my seat, I didn’t realize at the time that was at a cost of around £18 each way plus all the other usual extras such as bags etc. On boarding I was however amused to see that I had indeed been given one of the “Best Seats”. I know this because it was helpfully written on my seat. The only slight dissapointment was that about 2/3 of the plane were taken up with them which somehow took the edge of the exclusivity, you still had to pay for food and drinks as well.  Still, it got from A to B which is always a distinct bonus.

They helpfully labelled my seat
I think the more I fly the more worried I get about all the things that can go wrong, a while ago I even went to the trouble of looking for the safest place to sit, there seemed to be conflicting reports, some people being adamant that the back was safer, some over the wings as that’s the strongest part. I’ve had a long phase of one row back from the over wing exit but then it takes forever to get off so I’m now favoring the front rows in the hope the pilots have a pretty strong sense of self preservation so sitting near them will help. I have a friend whose father in law is a pilot. He says the safest place to sit is at the back, his reasoning being “you never hear of planes reversing into mountains do you?” Hmm. His other saying is “if you ditch you die”. I think I’ll just sit near the front, at least you will get the drinks trolley before it goes down.....

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