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Thursday, 4 April 2013

International Travelling..... Long Haul flight to Barbados

Phew....  We made it!!  HELLO BARBADOS!!!!

After a long busy day at my Uncle's funeral and arriving home at 11pm I had contemplated staying up as we were leaving at 4am.  I am so glad my husband convinced me to get at least a couple of hours sleep; it was most needed.  I jumped up at 3am ready to go!

Our flight was scheduled to leave from Gatwick airport at 9am and we had to check in at 6.  As there was so many of us and our local cab station only had a maximum of 7 seats, we had to take two cars.  One for us and another for the luggage!!

The teenager was up on the first call, if only real life was like that!  The other boys steadily arose but we left the baby til last, only when the cars arrived at 4am, he of course cried all the way through getting changed and dressed, I noted a dry nappy; great for toilet training.

The journey from our home to Victoria station is only 20 minutes and from Victoria to Gatwick 30 minutes, but with 12 pieces of luggage including hand pieces, I knew it would take the drivers a little while to pack the cars, hence the 4am pick up.  As we locked up and said our farewells to the cold dark street a short pang of uncertainty shot through me.  What have I forgotten, have we locked up tight enough, I should have bought a new blind for the kitchen!  Oh well, whatever has been left will just have to stay.  We’re off.

I had pre-booked tickets for the Gatwick Express as we arrived the station attendant directed me to a machine to collect.  I put my card in, typed in the reference number and hey presto tickets printed!  The trains run every 15 minutes and as we piled our cases on and sat down, the train started it’s journey.  Great! At this point the smaller children were still quite tired and a little subdued, easier life for me.  We arrived at the check in point at 5.40am and had a quick and quiet check in, we had to queue at the security check point, there was a separate section for families travelling with children under 5, it took a little longer but I found the staff a lot friendlier than usual which always helps the process.
By 7am we were seated and eating breakfast, there is some refurbishment happening at Gatwick South so there really wasn’t much in the way of shops, the children did however love the kiddie soft play area and CBeebies was showing, I didn’t see anywhere for our 10 year old and noticed a few boys around his age milling around looking for something, perhaps some of the refurbishment plans are to add more kids play facilities.  The 10 year old was happy enough with one of the many books he had brought along.

It seemed like no time at all had passed before it was time to board our plane.  The boys were still relatively quiet, it was early and they had also had a busy day before so maybe it was down to that.  I was surprised at how quiet they were to be honest; a good surprised.

We boarded the plane and got seated, the baby hates to sit down but he was moan free at least for the first half an hour.  We were seated.  The older boys and my husband were seated on the side three seats near a window and the two smaller and myself were on the center section by the aisle.  The baby sat on my lap.  Next to us on the right was a lady with a little girl who looked just under 2, she was with a gentleman and a little boy who looked around 6.  We never really spoke to each other during the entire journey, I felt a little uncomfortable with that fact but the longer nothing was said, the harder it became to break the ice.

What is plane etiquette?  What do you say to fellow passengers?  If I were at a party, would I really, not speak to anyone around for 8 hours?! 
I don’t really have much to say about the plane journey, it was a little un-eventful, the most I can say is that Les Miserable is everything that I hoped it would be, beautiful.  The inflight entertainment on the Virgin Atlantic plane we travelled on was excellent.  I loved that it was on demand T.V and movies.

I had been worried about Alexander, my 4 year old and the take off.  I think him not being seated near a window was a great help.  He refused to believe that we were even in the air.

My tip.  I also gave them rice cakes to eat on take off and landing, the chewing motion helps to counteract the ear popping sensation although I didn’t experience any myself.

The seats were comfortable the food….  Well come on, it couldn’t all be great.  The children did enjoy the option they received, cheesy pasta with a bolognaise sauce.  The lady next to me however did not receive a child’s meal and was quite annoyed, angrily eyeing my children’s food chastising the air stewardess.  It didn’t help our passenger relations!

My tip.  Call and order the meals at customer service, there strangely isn’t an option online.  I did this a week before we flew when I was confirming our flight details.  I was told that it is also booked for all return flights but I aim to call and confirm a week before our return.

Most of the flight was spent either, sleeping, eating and watching movies, the few times the baby moaned we let him walk the aisles or shoved food in his mouth!!  He’s an eater!

I am glad we had a 9am flight, also, because it was a flight to Antigua with a Barbados stop off, there were only a few people getting off at Barbados which made our exit a speedy one.  We retrieved our luggage quickly, went through customs and arrived at the house by 2.15pm Barbados time.  Plenty of time to hit the beach before dinner.  It is the first time I’ve been able to do that in all the times I’ve been to Barbados.  Thank you Virgin, the early start was worth it.

So I am arrived, the family and I, we are ready to sample the beauty and delectables (my made up word) that this island atop floating coral has to offer.  I have not yet collapsed but you will see me leisurely reading whilst ignoring the kids flailing around in the sea!

Tomboy -x

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