31.01.21 — Journal

Nipping to England

As you’ll know if you read my last blog post, where I let slip my current location towards the end, I’ve just been on a rather quick trip to England. The premise of this trip wasn’t really a happy one, as it was mainly in order to be at my Grandma’s funeral, but I was glad to be able to attend and the extra few days spent with my family were a bonus!

My trip began with a 5am start and some concern whether the flight would be going ahead, as Madrid was still plagued with piles of snow and plenty of sheet ice leftover from Storm Filomena. It was like last time I headed back, that time for Christmas, when there was some doubt over whether the new strain of the coronavirus was going to interrupt flights to and from the UK. The taxi showed up, however, and I found myself stumbling around tiredly in the cold outside Terminal 4 after checking that my flight would indeed be going ahead.

I was cold, tired, nervous, and quite lost as I looked for an open entrance.

After making a friend in the form of a bird that’d snuck into the airport and joined me at my gate, I boarded my first flight. I say first because this journey represented the first time that I’ve ever had to make a flight transfer, which would take the form of a five-hour layover in London Heathrow. This made my entire travel time some eight hours, which is quite the jump from the usual 2-and-a-bit hour direct flight from Madrid to Manchester.

I filled this time in Heathrow by searching for all of the shops that could offer me that greatest of British inventions, the meal deal. It turned out that I was stuck with only two options, WHSmith and Boots, and so killed some time choosing which sandwich-crisp-drink combo would be best. Lunch in hand, I then found a quiet corner of the departure lounge to sit out the wait, before heading on to the half-hour trip up to Manchester.

My trip started with the funeral celebrating the life of my Grandma, which was as sad as you can imagine but which I thought was a lovely, intimate, and fitting sendoff for a great woman.

We kept the service bright and colourful, just as she’d have wanted.

The following weekend we were treated to a decent snowfall, and so the day after, my parents and I ventured out to stroll over the countryside. I took plenty of photos during this two-hour walk, during which we ran into a flock of very inquisitive sheep, who seemed convinced that we’d come to give them something to eat.

I felt quite bad that I didn’t have anything to give my bunch of new friends.

As you can see, I took almost all my photos from the trip during this little snowy wander. This wasn’t just because it was the prettiest moment of the little visit to England, but because I spent the next week connected to work for a lot of busy and rather long days. It was an absolute luxury, however, to then have my mum’s fresh home-made meals for tea every night once I’d finished!

After signing off from work on the Friday, I had to pack my bags as quickly as possible for my early start on the Saturday. The journey back was once again split into two flights, but with just an hour to make the transfer in London. This turned into a mere half hour with a delay taking off from Manchester, and I wound up having to run full-tilt through Heathrow Terminal 5 in order to make it to my gate – as I was disembarking the first flight, the screens were already showing that my second was closing!

I arrived just yesterday back in Madrid, after some very stringent immigration and COVID-19-related checks at the border. Although this little trip home had a rather sad purpose initially, I did appreciate the time spent with my family, and I’m counting my lucky stars that I was able to get over during all the travel chaos that the new waves of the virus are causing. It’s looking like I won’t be able to head back over for quite a while now! Until then…