there’s nothing like a trip to a regional airport to take a trip to a regional airport, so instead of parking in a pink elephant for a million pounds a day we shelled out seven pound fifty for a nice black taxi to Norwich International Airport to start our tour of bastides and empty roads. still, as there were five of us and black cabs aren’t the best luggage transporters (aside from people as luggage), we rumbled up the boundary road with 20kg suitcases and child seats flying around our heads, but it’s a small price to pay to pay a small price to fly. being the inconsiderate parents we are, we took our children out of school for 2 days in order to get cheap fares and so deprived them of valuable end-of-year educational experiences like stacking chairs or playing Monopoly, so I guess we’ll burn for that, or at least get in trouble with the school govenors. oh, hang on, I’m a school governor. I guess it’s alright then. anyway, the fares were a nice regional price with flybe.com and we’re looking forward to 2 and a half weeks in whatever you want to call the region of France we’re going to (Perigord, Lot-et-Garonne, Bastide country, Lot Valley, Haut Angenais or something, Aquitaine, South-West France – delete as appropriate to whatever bed and breakfast or rough guide you’re reading).
Norwich International is undergoing extensive redevelopment to make it a 21st century airport, so that means there’s a couple of partitions in the departure hall and some workman round the back smoking tabs. I say departure hall, but that might be overstating it slightly. departure room maybe. departure shed. something like that. anyway, we get everything shuffled through the baggage check, including our hastily wrapped up in a Daisy and Tom plastic bag child seats that went through the ‘special’ baggage check for ‘stupid’ items, make our way to the departure utility room and then, as we’re filtering through the final security check onto the tarmac, Sam proceeds to fiddle with and break a plastic leaflet stand, scattering 1000s of NIA and special offer leaflets over the floor and clattering deliberately (I’m sure) super-noisy plastic leaflet holders over an acre of hard concrete flooring in such a way that I’m sure many hands were hovering over panic alarm buttons throughout the airport just 1 step from total security incident. in the end, the Polish cleaner was very helpful with picking them all up again as I tried to reconstruct the 17 plastic holders into the 1 metal rack while presenting my boarding card and passports for the flight we were now already late for that we could see through the window about 10 yards away.
as I’d pre-booked everything, including seats, it didn’t matter anway, so we took our seats on the plane, which had propellers and wings on the top, which was a novelty for us, until we realized we would actually be sat next to the engines all the way and they’re not like jets which just kind of whine, they’re props, which mean they rattle the whole bloody seat until you’re feeling like your teeth are falling out. whatever. we’re on holiday now so nothing matters. we taxi around a bit and then we’re climbing like a snail might climb into the sky and I’m pressing my face against the plastic windows because I can see my house from here, just like on that Camel album.
if you know what I mean by that, you’re probably Geoff Arnold.