I'm home ! And it's cold.......very cold.
First let me take you back to last Wednesday when things were a lot warmer and that evening was the 50's dance in Buttonwood Bay. Deb had done magic with a load of material from WalMart and somehow conjured up a skirt and attachments straight out of the 'Peggy Sue Got Married' movie and others of that genre. She'd even sewed a pink poodle complete with sequined lead onto the skirt. As we entered the hall, heads turned and smiles were everywhere. That might have been the drink though (as we were 40 minutes late as we thought it started at 7:30pm but it was 7:00pm) as it was a BYOB function and plenty was brought. It was like a SAGA trip to a brewery !
Anyway everyone danced and ate and chatted and generally had a fabby time to the music from a different generation and once again I was amazed by the energy and physical output from my fellow residents. Plus it was nice to leave without my ears buzzing for hours afterwards.
I'd spent most of the day packing up my belongings and thankfully was able to leave a few items behind to be stored in our 'soon-to-be' new home in the park for my return later this year. So on Thursday I didn't have much to do before getting in the rental car at noon and heading off to the motel in Tampa.
Bright and early the next morning, Friday, it was only a 20 minute drive to the airport and as I got there 2 hrs early, I was delighted to find they had free wi-fi internet available and so I was able to check and send a few emails and have quick chats with anyone who was up and online at that early hour. Other aiports take note.........FREE wi-fi please.
I just must mention the security at Tampa was first class and ultra modern. No old fashioned, but nevertheless sightly more sexually pleasing, manual searches here ! Oh no. I stepped into a glass sided booth and had air blown up, down and generally in all directions over my body which was like having a dry shower. I exited feeling refreshed, clean and with bits of me tingling from the experience. Never mind every airport having one, I think every home should have one too. I wanted to go round again !
You know the way traffic slows down as it passes an accident ? Rubber necking is one term for it. Well the security line had a similar slowdown as men would pause to watch any skirt wearing lady who happened to be in the booth at the time. All I can say is - imagine that infamous Marilyn Monroe footage with the air not only blasting from below and you'll get the picture.
Onboard my flight to Detroit, I had a row of seats to myself and watched in some comfort as the scene below me changed from one of green and warm to white and cold. Thankfully my delicate body wasn't exposed to it at this point in the trip and after the 3 hr flight, I settled in at Detroit airport to a wait of over 5 hours before my next flight out.
Here is a photo of one of the least glamorous jobs in the world.......de-icing a Jumbo jet. Well I had 5 hrs to pass so had to watch something.
I was glad to not have any more security checks to go through as, despite enjoying the novelty of warm air blasts, they are a necessary inconvenience at best these days and a pain in the ass if I have to open up my carry on luggage.
The transatlantic leg of the trip was as long and mind numbingly boring as ever and once again I yearned for the days of Concorde when my trips were over in a third of the time. Yea right. The closest I got to a Concorde was at some airport when one passed by the window of the plane I was on and made a noise usually only experienced by those who were up front at a Who concert in the 70's.
During the 8 hr flight I watched 3 movies in between the arrival of the drinks trolley, the main meal trolley, the duty free trolley, the drinks trolley again and the pre landing snack trolley. I picked "The Queen", which wasn't too bad but seemed more documentary than movie, "Flyboys" which was from the old school of formulaic war movies as it degenerated into soppy sentimentality as well as having an obvious ending. In a final effort to make the trip more pleasant, I picked "The Incredibles" which always makes me smile, even at 90,000 ft or whatever height we were at.
We landed on time at Amsterdam airport (by now it was Saturday morning) and next stop, albeit after another flight, was glorious sunny Leeds. Yes sunny. Not a cloud in the sky and sadly, not a degree of heat in the air. Eee by gum it were nippy. It was my first exposure to the air since leaving Tampa and it came as quite a shock to my system. Oh it wasn't as cold as in Detroit of course but it's all relative and this time I was out in it !!
A taxi ride later and I was home sweet home. Was glad to see it looked fine on first inspection and as expected, once inside I could see my breath so heat was the priority. I turned on the gas supply and lit the fire. The flames didn't seem as 'strong' as I'm used to but I'd no time to think about that and went to get the central heating boiler going. I couldn't. No amount of trying would get the pilot light to work and that meant no heat. I rang the gas company as I'm covered insurance wise and the best they could do was send someone the next day.....meaning today, Sunday.
I spent the evening wrapped in all the warm clothing I could get on me but it was still uncomfortably cold in here.......it crawled to 42F and in an effort to get warmer, I left to go shopping as I'd nothing other than tinned soup in the old larder. After giving the car battery a zap, it fired up and I slowly set off for Sainsburys, gingerly giving the brakes lots of touches on the way. The car had been on the driveway for exactly 6 months after all.
I'd been looking forward to seeing my new look store as it had had a refurbishment while I was away. Oh what a huge disappointment it was. No, it was much more than that, it was awful. The store I'd left back in August was quite nice and modern so I'd assumed the refurbishment would've only added to that.......as it should. The only way I can describe it now is that it reminds me of a city centre Netto (for my UK readers) or a Save-a-Lot (for my US ones). Sorry international readers, you're on your own !!
I know it was a Saturday evening and so it was busy and with lots of staff along the aisles stacking the shelves but still........it was just a mess. They'd added more non food lines as you'd expect these days with clothing and kitchenware and electronic goodies etc, but my impression was that there was even less choice in the staples of supermarket fare, food ! And the checkouts ! I'm sure they were taken from some store which went into receivership as they were just plain nasty and showed up the poor flooring where the old ones used to be.
But, hey, it was WARM. I basked in the heat and almost slapped on some sun cream. Sadly I had to get my frozen goodies to my frozen home and so had to leave. I'd had my bed's electric blanket turned on since I left and by the time I finally went up to get in, it was toasty warm. I'd been up for 38 hrs and slept like a log till the gas man came knocking at 9:30am. He found the gas jet was blocked, probably by a dead spider or it's cobweb, and in no time the boiler was going and the heat was on.
It's now a very tropical 70F in here and I'm thinking of getting out my flip-flops. Life is good.
I'm watching the Corrie omnibus now and thinking of dunking a ginger biscuit in a mug of tea in a while. I'm slowly morphing into my Brit self again.
It's good to be home. Gives me a warm feeling. Well, eventually that is.