It was a cold day in London, but sunny. By lunchtime, the trees and bushes that had begun the day pretty, their branches topped with a festive layer of snow, were bare again and the pavements were clear. But just twenty minutes out of Liverpool Street on the Stansted Express, fields stretched whitely and the snow had a more settled look. Horses, wearing warm blankets, stood grouped together, and watched the passing train. At the edge of one field, just inside the gate, was a wicker shopping basket, empty and incongruous.
At check-in, I explained my foot troubles, and my boarding status was upgraded to priority. That didn’t speed up the passage through security. Slow minutes in a winding queue. I stood on one leg, and hoped I wouldn’t have to take my boots off.
Back in the day, air travel was considered glamorous, but a lot has changed from those select, elegant few walking across the Tarmac at Croydon airport to the hoards standing in their socks and rethreading their belts at Stansted.
Flights to Belfast are from one of the more distant gates. I made my way down there slowly. My plan was to be in the right area long before the gate was announced. It worked. Soon I was comfortably settled in a near deserted seating area. Gradually it filled up. Flights to Belfast and Glasgow were leaving at the same time. Glasgow passengers were called first. Belfast passengers remained seated. Then some silent signal spread through the passengers and they hurried to form a bunched queue. I sat on.
When the flight was called, I joined the parents with toddlers and pushchairs to board slightly ahead of the hoard.
It was a two second advantage. More able passengers raced behind us and surged passed us. Those who had been first were now in the middle.
By some miracle, I got a window seat at the front of the plane. The sun was setting as we took off, and the countryside below looked enchanting; even the snaking lines of headlights on the dark roads. The snow lay bright and undisturbed in fields outlined by black trees and hedges. I sat back and relaxed.



13 thoughts on “Flight

  1. So your journey begins – things certainly HAVE changed with air flight; much more waiting, standing, checking, re-checking, etc. but eventually we get ON the plane and ON our way. Hope the flight and landing were smooth and you are now comfortably ensconced in Belfast resting that foot.

    Pam (and Sam)

  2. It’s usually an indignified scrum to get on any airline, and I hate checking bags to the hold. The selfishness displayed at the baggage carousel annoys me.

    I hope your foot isn’t suffering too much after the travelling. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  3. Glad you liked Cat-atonic Napping on my blog! I thought the (official) photos were hilarious! (Mine, just rather sweet!) HOW CAN YOU LEAVE ME on that cliff-hanger!?!?! What did SP tweet about?? I NEED more of an explanation than that! And what do you mean, my link may liead to something? Isobel – really…!
    It has been the most glorious day here in the Republic, so I hope it has been fab in Antrim as well, and hope you are having a wondrous time with your cousin and the mad dog (if it’s young, it’s bound to be mad!)
    I am feeling rather pleased with myself – sorry, but have to show off here – because we have just wormed all 5 of our cats (including Henri the lodger) in 90 seconds flat, putting Drontal pills down their throats, one after the other…
    (I only do it to annoy, because I know it teases…)
    Hope your foot is standing up (ha ha) to the challenges of travel!

  4. Still, online, miraculously. Do you tweet? I am guessing you can go and look at my tweets ( there aren’t many) and see which of hers I retweeted. Or I’ll see if I can find it and put a link on your page.
    Dampish atmosphere, but dry today in Co Derry. I have stocked up on toys for Not Cat in Magherafelt pet shop today, including a new biscuit ball, as I trod on his the other day…

  5. I love airports, don’t mind delays, queues, any of it as long as I’m flying off somewhere. Hope the rest of your journey is smooth and not a problem with your poorly footsie!

  6. Nice pic, Isobel and lovely image of the darkening countryside beneath as you took off. I’m compleat sucker for air travel.

    Disgraceful that the Type A personality able-bodied people are allowed on before the less mobile and the families with children, though. With your pooly foot, I imagined you having one of those vehicles with a flag on it to cut through and get ahead of the hoi polloi.

    Hope your foot feels a lot better soon.

  7. I used to love airports and flying. I used even to be a pilot. This was back in the old good times… now I avoid as much as possible the cramped space packed with self-loading cargo, surrounded by bad vibes.
    Fortunately whe you HAVE to, there are sometimes breathtaking sun raises, puffing clouds or alike to feed my need to photography. I love your shot 🙂

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