Well folks that's it - home to the missus and the cats

 I disembarked from the SH Vega on Tuesday morning having said, in some instances, tearful farewells to my fellow travellers. Bussed to Dublin Airport at 9:30 am I had to wait until 3:15 pm for my flight. 

It's obvious to anyone watching me at the airport that I'm not a frequent flyer. Did I have an e- ticket - no idea so I looked for the BA check in desk, which said Business/First this way. I handed over my luggage and was directed along the  fast track lane - which brought me rapidly to the security check people and a long wait. I had learnt to take my belt off, I put everything I thought they might want to X ray in one of those nasty plastic trays, went through the scanner unmolested and waited confidently for my stuff. Except it was side tracked. "Is this yours, Sir? " a young Irish boy asked and I replied in the affirmative. "Just have to check the contents of your water bottle." and opening up my vanity case   toiletry bag he removed my razor. "Can you open your razor, Sir?" I gleefully dissembled the ancient shaving tool. The security checker removed the razor blade. By this time I had an idea what he was going to do. "I'm afraid I'll have to confiscate this - blades of any type are not allowed." I was not put out and told him so. "I'm going home - be home by this afternoon. I have plenty of spare razors there." He looked at me pitifully as he sent me on my way.

Where was the BA Lounge, I can take advantage of its facilities. Except I had no idea where it was. There were signs pointing this way and that way to Lounges. I popped into the first one I came across. Not the BA one, a very attractive receptionist gave me directions. 

The BA lounge, which I believe it shared with a half a dozen airlines, was nowhere as classy as the one I'd just visited. Everyone there looked like it was the last place they wanted to be in. The staff were slow. A big sign said you were only allowed two alcoholic drinks. Bet if you asked why they'd trot out some Health and Safety EU reg, but in truth they're just penny pinching. I ordered a glass of red wine and had drunk it before I realised it wasn't 11 am yet. I looked for something to eat. Nothing by way of gluten free. I didn't bother testing out the promise that if you have special dietary requirements  our staff will be only too pleased to assist - it's never true. 

Leaving the BA Lounge I headed for the Duty Free/Food/Drinks/noisy children's area. How I hate parents and their young kids! I couldn't hear myself think but did manage to get a gluten free sandwich. I then tried to find the gate my flight was going from. Having found the gate number I proceeded to walk half way around the airport and sat down determined not to miss the flight. When it was called we were to board by numbers. The first being Group 1. I had not idea what group I was in, no one had told me but I asked an intelligent man who looked like a frequent flyer and showed him my boarding card. I was in Group 1 and boarded first. That's what Business Class buys you!

Except Business Class looked exactly like Cattle Class I previously sat in a couple of years before. Instead of three seats there were two with the middle seat closed off. Airline pilots like playing at being Jumbo Jet pilots flying half way across the globe, even if your flight is almost over before it began. We had this monologue about who he was, who was assistant , who was in charge of the cabin crew, what altitude we'd be flying at, the wind speed, the temperature at Heathrow. Next an air hostess, with a plummy voice told us to belt up, not to smoke - not even e- fags, secure you devices and make sure you're not blocking any entrances/exits just in case we should have to make an emergency exit.

The flight was 35- 40 minutes. Twice during that time the pilot informed us where London was, and the angle of our descent. Then we had the plummy hostess back on repeating what she said before take off as we were about to land. Once landed, to give the pilot's assistant sometime to do he thanked us  for flying BA, wished us well on our forward journey and said something about opening doors? 

Oh, I forgot we were served a meal. Mine was gluten free. I asked for a glass of water to go with it. I think the steward was disappointed as he had geared himself up to serving me a dry Martini on crushed ice.

Heathrow to home is gloriously easy. On the Elizbeth Line to Liverpool Street and a train to Walthamstow. I was totally shattered.

I should say something about my fellow "guests". By and large they were a nice bunch. I struck up a special friendship with an Italian women from outside Milan - like me she loves cats so we spent much time exchanging photos of them. There were the usual group of Americans, who as far as I could gather spend most of the year on cruise ships. Quite a few had been  on SH Vega a number of times and greeted the crew and staff as family. We were all pretty decrepit - except two Japanese women who dressed in the height of fashion on all occasions. There was a honeymoon couple, and inevitably the bore. 

My first evening I had the misfortune to be seated with an elderly couple. They were avid cruisers. And the husband proceeded to tell me how they got the best deal on this and that cruise. How they had a special relationship with one of the company's agents and could phone him up at anytime and get 50% off. I steered clear of them for the rest of the adventure. 

Next July I'm going to Australia to cruise the Kimberley Coast - can't wait to fly all that way there and back!!


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