Category Archives: airport

Catch Up : Nan Chang 2 .. The Eventual Return [2017]

“How are you enjoying it?” – was the question posted on social media as my time in Nan-Chang came it end.

The question came from someone id not seen in the actual world for some time.  As a result i lacked clarity on the level of appreciation that existed.. Perhaps people thought id gone on tour?  My – you’re not in the shire any more – social updates, the ones that had instigated this question, had a back drop which had probably not been overly shared..  Random semi incoherent utterings over recant months, if people had the energy and wrong minded inclination to spend their time sifting it out.

In shorter terms than those above, i responded with something that approximates an answer and historic back fill:

“Its not been a holiday so it in terms of enjoyment… when you’re here for the incompetence of people and in job for a company you’ve so long wanted nothing to do with .. it could have been really shit and it really wasn’t”

“China is probably a 6.5/10 place reduced by at least 1 for the excessive and most unnecessary abundance of heat humidity combinations.. but the Chinese are probably an 8 or maybe more .. an untrue generalisation on any peoples but in a place as vast and people rich as this i imagine quite nonsensical indeed – yet as odd as it can seem .. all people are odd and the odd that they have here seems in so many ways preferable to the odd elsewhere – i will miss the Chinese and the way of things here when its far away i suspect – having been able to appreciate its presence .. enjoyed i don’t know, but appreciated and missed when absent i think so”

How is that you score a country or a whole people, what does that even mean? not only are there so many different parts (people / areas etc) but what are they being scored on and why … nope that all ok .. they are an 8, say no more, job done and thats out of 10 by the way – if you weren’t clear ..

This came 2 months after i’d arrived in China 2 months or slightly more than 7 weeks in Nan Chang that had included a fair bit of ritualised office going, just as it would in the UK with work but in terms of my existence to that point this is where routine ended.  This is not to suggest the trip had been in any way remarkable to this point, it had not but to say it was routine or somehow the norm, well i’d worked up in Liverpool for a while once but this wasn’t that… so no it was definitively different / not ritual or routine.

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The not full flight to Dubai and its generous stretching out opportunity and conundrum – to stretch is too sleep, too sleep is to not watch the movies and have the drinks .. Long Haul Flights are to be savoured, sleeping negates savouring, it is sleep and it doesn’t belong or owe allegiance to whichever surround  that houses it

My previous trip to china had when viewed against its purpose been a success, the project had not been put back on course, that was never likely, but we’d had an honest and considered reflection on where we were, how much remained as well as the time and other things required to achieve it.

It wasnt an answer many would have welcomed and they didnt but it was at its heart an honest and more importantly worked through view, based on a considered though still optimistic deconstruction of what remained.  I had returned to the UK with Cambodia holidays in mind and a faint wiff of disembodied hope wafting accidentally in the wind.

It did not last by the time id returned from the Thailand (the post Cambodia part of that holiday) the feedback and corresponding plan had been thrown out.  The UK team has again come back with some 5 week plan that they’d made up an we (the owner of my employer) had taken that because it sounded a whole lot better than 10-14… and we liked things that sounded a whole lot better, even if they came with no substantiation, from a source that had evidently never yet been correct and had neither the means nor inclination to be so.

One other pre-requiest for the project getting back on track was stated and then stated again on each call i had with China that i needed to go out there.  Again no action was taken.  Instead a return to the threats from us and vast distortions (i dont say lies because it was somehow not this, it was a complete disconnect with the truth to a point far beyond delusion) it was odd but mostly infuriating.

This went on with early morning calls UK time meeting evening call China time.. Their UK affiliate telling our owner there were 4 people dedicated and working on our project as a prioity, while the China team told me they had been told to work on other projects but we’d had 1 person looking at something… or similar such updates.. Either way i was going nowhere and the project, now a further 6 weeks later had not moved an inch.

I resigned – I resigned while on holiday in Spain or Portugal… while using up some more of my stock piled holiday.  Two ego-fantasists arguing but bot arguing in a joint fantasy world was pointless.  I contacted China and asked if they would accept my assistance if i came as me and not an employee.  There were two issues at stake, this was 1.5 years worth of work, my work that was being flushed .. second it was a piece of work on which 4 peoples jobs were dependant.  .. Either it was up by July or the project was to be cancelled and peoples jobs.. it had been strongly intimated to me, they were at risk- it was already early May at that time and many of those 10-12 weeks has already been wasted.  Third – doing this meant a level of cost but would be far easier to explain if it came up in looking at other jobs, which it almost certainly would.

This act of resigning and seeking to make my own way to china had the unforeseen consequence of forcing the issue – rather than resigning and heading to China as a free agent, an agreement was reached that i would go under the companies flag.. Cheaper for me, flights and accommodation .. on the flip side i would not yet escape my shackle to their collective world, a dystopian feeling mash up somewhere between ‘cool world’ and the drunk dumbo dream sequence , id never much cared for.

the fact this version is in a language that is only passingly familiar inadvertently makes it more apt to the time.

With the plan from March suggesting an August delivery and with it now being the beginning of June i set out to China, with no real belief in anything other than my desire to negate the regret of not at least trying.  I may have been at the end of my role but others still wanted their jobs … id hired them, put them in this position..  You can fail, i thought i would probably be okay with failing given how hampered we’d been, but only if there was the knowledge of having properly tried.  If they lost their jobs, having shrugged and walked off, i think i have left future me with some things to think on he’d rather then present me hadn’t.

While this is my Flat –  some small part of this on one of the almost top but not quite floors. Many buttons in the lift, it was pretty tall but not notably so, pretty standard sort of height in China.  I was on the 20 somethingest floor.

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It came with a gate door to protect its actual door.. Most flats didnt have this, mine did – i wouldnt say it would be one of those install this to add value to your property things they tell you about on Channel 4 .. First impressions pass quickly enough but it makes one.

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Life in the flat had one memorable challenge which stand up to memory erosion.  It was sleep and achieving it.  The bed was entirely solid, there as a mattress but someone it was formed of a substances that was harder than the floor itself.  If this seems like an improbable exaggeration, well then …maybe..  seems like one .. but i did end up opting to move myself and my sleeping bad to facilitate an attempt at sleeping on the kitchen floor through the pursuit of greater comfort.  Whats more it worked.   I was not unfamiliar with the concept of the unnaturally solid mattress having been first introduced to it during 3 months in Nepal.  As then, i grew accustomed to it, at least most of me did, my back maintained reservations and expressed them to me at the beginning of each day as i tried to get up.  I found a rolling technique helped overcome this.  Legs drooping over the edge,toes seeking to fish out some floor.

The other issue that stood between me was the air con.. It brought the cold or rather the sort of temperature that didnt torment a person to perpetual consciousness.  It made noise in its efforts, not persistently but in disruptive fits and starts.  It had a night mode  id been introduced to on moving in, a button on the remote id subsequently all but immediately lost track off and rediscovered only by after some mass button pushing.  A mass pushing that id failed to conduct in an orderly fashion and so again lost track of which button id struck upon to achieve this.  Eventually however the secret of the night mode became known to me.  Oddly thought the night mode did nothing about the temperature display, its neon blue light shining so much brighter than ever seemed possible during the day.  At least no ships would inadvertently breach the river banks travel a few miles across land and strike the block of flats in the night time.

I tried sleeping with shades .. it was not an run away success

I tried the hood on my sleeping bag, turning the sleeping bag upside down to covert the hood into a face cover.. it was a little more successful ..

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Shopping presented challenges on any packed items where ambiguity over the contents became a possibility.. My first pensive effort to secure milk for the purposes of tea was testament to that. This was not that effort, the milk that wasn’t came in a carton that very much resembled what used to come around on trolleys at school .. what was in it was white but it was gluepy in a border line yogurt way but it wasn’t yogurt, im pretty confident it wasn’t a for m of off milk as it was sort of sweet. least the very small amount i placed on the tip of my tongue as an effort at hesitant effort at investigating seemed like it probably was. This looked like a garlic and chilli sauce. it even came with English words “No 1 Hot Sauce” – it was not lying .. i dont know what the number 1 was scored on but it was hot – if not mixed and used in district moderation, it was an inedible stomach infuriating concoction.. still I bought it again when it was used up.. it had that key benefit of knowing what it was

The 10 minute walk to work exited in two forms.. the June form which was grey, overcast and occasionally torrentially wet.  It made for some muddy pathways across this short cut.  The july form of the trip existed in burning heat that meant any freshness of person and clothing that had been attempted in the flat was a thing of distant history by the time of arriving at the office.  Walking to work involved a wonder through the flats in the background of the shot below.  The local inhabitants were mostly about, sat around outside, in the morning some among them would look to greet with their preferred turn of English phrase – How are you? – or just hello .. it nice to find yourself so greeted into the day.  In the evenings as the weather grew dryer and warmer, groups of women clustered around what wasn’t really a ghetto blaster, but another form of portable music box, and they danced.

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Work Offices

The Injoy Shopping Centre – NanChang, a very local convenience.


By The Nan Chang River:

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The river bank at Nanchang turns into a giant display at night. Sky scrappers as far as you can see along both banks act as giant screen with animations and other context free things shine out.  Id live amongst this the first time i was here (for the 5 day initial visit in March) and came back once this second time.

One of the developers had taken it upon himself to invite other out for some games of pool.  This is not my game but being terrible at pool in a public arena is something life has taught me to be accustomed to, the invite was very welcome as thing to fill part of a none working weekend.  As evening came we headed toward the river to watch the show in the form of the music and fountains, water display.

There were also funfair rides – they were not Alton Towers – but the sense of readily appreciated fun that imbued my hosts, it was a little infectious.


Back at the flat:

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and a good few weeks in – the discovery by inadvertent button pushing that one of those buttons switched off the air con illuminations …and so it was that sleep gradually became that more readily achieved thing that would be there to greet me at the end of the days.


Wondering About:

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A more premium priced store existed by the river – it had European products..  Cereal and Milk came from here .. Milk meant Tea and the ability to make use of that big old pack of Tetley that had travelled with me.

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Football

Another developer invited me to football..I had no football boots here, they were not among the things id packed, just the plimsolls i wondered about in, no shin pads and no socks… given the position i play shin pads do rather matter.  Not about to decline mind, love football, hadn’t played for over a year and not done much in the way of surrogate exercise.   I was offered some shoes but then i realise they weren’t spares they were actually someone eles game shoes -so generous and not okay – also i realised this while trying to get my foot into them, they didn’t want to, the size was not a UK size.

Still so warm.  It was an 8 o’clock kick off, the night 8 o’clock and it was dark but the temperature didn’t rely on the sun to sustain itself.

The lack of sock was a problem – the astro removing a fair chunk of skin, just an outer layer .. this despite barley moving past a wonder, shuffle to a jog ..  It was as well that time had already seen me move gradually to playing centre back, if id actually had to play in the midfield i might not have made it. .. i was regularly dizzy as it was .. still im not sure id enjoyed myself as much in good long time.  3 weeks of football in China. i even bought socks and astro shoes

The skin wound that would normally have healed in 2 days or so – at least forming a crust and being done.. did not do this in China. Instead it somewhat unpleasantly seeped oozed for weeks.

The local players seemed politely unfamiliar with the European .. actually more UK defending … a lot movement (even more impressive give nature was doing all it surely could to put an end to any idea of mobility) and short passing.  A collection of central midfielders with a reasonably solid sense of team play, certainly  far more that you would see among men in the UK, though less so with womens football which tends to exhibit more of this, in my experience.  The agricultural clearance when under pressure has now been firmly introduced, whether it will become a popular move and spread though out the land, we shall have to wait to see.


Coming To It End:

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Regular Dinner Offering From Local Restaurant

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Bottling The Water – They Need To Do Something About This .. Plastic Problem – It mounts up

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Potentially Related Links:

About Nan Chang

Star of Nanchang, Ferris Wheel

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Catching Up – 2017 Pictures

With a two + months absence in the Schedule – a trip back to Zurich was over due.  A warm spring visit and youth team football tournament greeted as a thing to do.  In the UK this would come with a fee, almost certainly.  Here you just wonder up and look for a spot to watch the games.

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Away from football – the loan of a car and a trip across the border to Germany:18879972_10158816928595010_2444533563466090957_o18815283_10158816929080010_8888163667902207373_o18836735_10158816928015010_1588877515687220811_o

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Back in Switzerland:

Proper warm weather continues

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Catch Up : China A Flying Visit To Nan Chang [2017]

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In early 2017 i was dispatched to China – the owner of the company i worked for having become most displeased with the apparent lack of progress made by our development agency.  To be fair it was a moment of clarity, a accurate view, of an agency that had spent around nine month of our engagement without even mentioning the fact they wouldnt be doing the development themselves.

Their China office was, it would go on to transpire, a closely affiliated agency and they were beyond struggling.   The UK agency we’d been dealing with were not a poor development agency – it wasn’t a development agency at all, , that was  whoever these people were out in China.  They were not selling us on an idea, they were actively deceiving, how had the china agency remained unmentioned for the first fourth month, it seemed an implausible inadvertent oversight ..  After around six month the project had delivery nothing and so here we were, a trip to China.

My role was to speak directly with those charged with delivering the project and ascertain exactly what had gone on and where we really were.

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I flew out via Paris to Beijing and onto Nan Chag.

With a substantial gap between flights in Beijing that needed to be filled by some purposeless meandering about.  It was a sizeable terminal, the largest ive ever seen and quite new

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Breakfast – There Was Also A Perished Egg, That Didn’t Seem Appealing – But This Was Really Nice and Not As Odd As At Home Me Might Have Found This Toast Replacement

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I flew back via Beijing and onto Paris.

There was an even more substantial gap between flights in Beijing and this time it was pretty familiar.  Amazing what a few too many hours in an airport and about 5 days can do.  This time i’d had time to think on my stay in Beijing and though on landing at Beijing had formed no conclusion, there was at least the thoughts.

So i handed over my luggage to a storage desk and headed to the airport connecting train that went somewhere in the direction of some part of central Beijing, i place i imagined was probably quite an expansive city with a potentially elusive or numerous actual centre(s).

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The flight landed at charles de gaulle airport – the flight on to London didn’t leave from there  Id not noticed this during the rushed booking and visa acquiring efforts but had discussed it with the Air France ground staff in China.  The bus they had told me would transfer me from one airport to another it now turned out didnt run in the very wee small hours of the morning that it now was in Paris… Not something that was immediately clear and there was pretty much no one and nothing open in arrivals to ask about the busses whereabouts .. a detour here and there, produced no signs of anyone.. so off to Arrivals  and hope for more luck.  The luck was the people that while scarce, existed up there, the less lucky was the news of there being no such bus at these times.

Taxi – premium, Airport Taxi and a connection to Orly Airport .. it was the only apparent option, it reflected poorly on Air France in so many ways (the lack of a connection, the incorrect information about the connection and the lack of any staff ) but the focus at the time was not really on these shortcomings but on London and the Cambodia Trip that was just days away.

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Stag do – commencement

Work is done, IT support managing to phone just as I was shutting down and headed in a timely fashion toward the exit.

I minor delay as I explained what was wrong, it was very much the same thing that has been wrong for around 2 month, 6/7 support tickets and 5/6 calls. It was a brief explanation, then off to the Piccadilly line, Heathrow Terminal 4, the one that was the new one for quite along time until they went and build another and renuilt 2.

It’s most convenient the office 5 min jushed walk + intervals of jogging away and a direct connection.

There is a freshness issue brought along by a seat neighbour but it’s running and I’m at Osterley .. Not heard of it but it’s only 5 more stations.

The work meeting provided no answers and am effectively none the wiser but that’s not a thing for now – now Amsterdam and all that whatever this will bring looms .. A nice quiet trip to Pizza Hut, maybe some balloons, suddenly has enticing writen all over it.

Hounslow 3 more stations and the man with the staleness cloud has disembarked himself, breathing is a whole new experience.
Must have been a real treat sat near me on the trains on Sunday on the way home after football, stewing in the Regent’s Park adorning kit, sharing.

Wondering what food they have in the departure hall, been a while .. And hoping I did pack the boarding card and passport… I’ve checked, more than once but that was another moment and you never can be too sure especially when one is a true master of loosing stuff. Both of the two things could be considered stuff and therefore must be viewed as at risk. Still not checking it again – not now – no point.. just about there, 1 station .. the problem will be comsiderable either way if we’ve parted ways somehow, somewhen..

Liverpools most useless of managers is inspiring sterling must stay – he has a contract – it’s true.. He does … Not sure how that serves to resolve matters other potentially one more reason being eeked out..
It would certainly preferable if ot were the other way around..

Heathrow Heathrow Terminal 4 underground


There is a pret .. Pret the familiar .. pret the London infester – but pret the actually pretty good.. And while outside of an airport a very mid market sort of sand which option, within such little close of world, with its ever fixed price a veritable bargain of foods.
Terminal 4 Heathrow departures pret

KL1026 Amsterdam – 18:25
KL1024 Amsterdam – 18:35
That’s rather more regular than manier weekend underground service

There are it seems a lot of flights to Amsterdam – most popular if spiradically times route. But for the 18:30 inclined traveler, options be abound.


Fokker 70 – quite big and not the largest.
In way of evidence that we may not be the first to have struck upon the notion of Amsterdam based stag trips, others are unashamedly strutting through the cabin adorned in novelty clothing.. One in particular..
Someone got up and shouted my name randomly as some people entered .. It came directly from behind me so I turned .. I know that one of the other unfamiliar members of the soon to be assembled collective is a fellow traveller on this flight and couldn’t fathom if this were a wholly random event, or if that was the name of the tall but no longer young chap then wondering into the plane .. I presumed it was the latter .. Given the lack of subsequent interaction I can only deduce this was not the case

Actually today – Gatwick

I was going to try to keep notes of this year, only work prohibits and distracts me, while what focus on sic efforts there is falls upon the slow recollections of nine current holidays and books.

My efforts then, have been short lived. Not though entirely forgotten.

Zurich. It’s been a fun journey, where I left work with ample time, arriving still earlier than expected in Victoria, a healthy buffer about me.
The intended train as selected from the handy thetrainline site – cancelled, this ought to have run an alarm bell, it didn’t. Instead I was pleased to find a Gatwick express was due to depart in short order and shuffled of in pursuit of that.

The atwick express did not depart on schedule and as I sat it was rather notably on the full side. It had been de-expressed the announcement told us, assuring that the departure would come any time now. Today it would be stopping on its route.
Leaving Victoria it was soon evident that going was going to be more of an issue than a couple of additional unscheduled stops. Carefully, reticently it edged it’s way through South London, like a snake taking m desperate care to go unnoticed in the urban undergrowth.

Gatwick was not getting noticeably closer. I had my buffer mind and bugger all choice other than to sit their and hope good things would come to pass.
I was quite glad I had not cut things more fine, though I did start to ponder on the gate close time rather than the takeoff time, that couldn’t be any hour away by now.

Gatwick did happen and in slightly healthier time m thanks to a final stint flurry of speed… Followed by a stop … & a wait – that had been missed..

The platform was over full, scarcely enough for the arrived to arrive and get past the deportees who were struggling to make their way through the arrives to depart. Relaxing stuff, still I was satisfied the timings were looking better than those times not so long ago studying the flora and fauna of South London rail accompaniment.

Also the station came directly into the terminal (South) that I was leaving from so that was handy.
Departures were plugged, herds of gated people types all hopeful of bursting the dam and finding their way through to security and onward.

15 minutes to the gate closes and I’ve scanned my boarding card – some system somewhere might actually know I’m here and would find an outcome which saw me boarding the plane as preferable.. That or a night with a liberated piece of inventory from the not duty free, or perhaps two, a giant toblerone might not be the finest chocolate but i could see it making a reasonable accompaniment to one of their middle of the road whiskeys, when holidaying at Gatwick one must, after all, keep a mind to budgetary considerations.

Not everyone was obeying the queuing etiquette, the notion that’s it’s some sort of UK rest of the world divide is not true, from my experience the orderly queuing and polite order have if anything been on the up among our neighbours while they have dissolved, if ever they were, at home.

Predicting when if get through here was not easy and id debated approaching a member of staff on a couple of occasions but had always been on the ‘it could work itself out’ side of chance.

It’s odd somehow, if I missed my flight it would not be funny but as I stood there now it remained an abstract concept, things could yet be left to play out, so I waited, neither relaxed nor perturbed in the way that was possibly due.

It was the time when the gate was due to close and I was finally headed out of the security check, not inconvenienced by any additional inspectional examinations or inquiries.

The TVs had moved the closing time on by 10mins and I pondered upon an sandwich, 5 or so of the 10 were not past and who knew how many fellow Zurich bound people were stuck behind me in all the kaffuffle… Still inherent obedience kicked in and I plodded on though the retail hit where food could have been had toward the gates. I’d made it, it had worked out, good-ho.

Past Trips – California – United and The Trip Out [1] [2014]

Last year, somewhere in the period where summer end and autumn sort of begins i headed for a holiday, road trip week, in California.

It was not planned particularly in advance and sort of came about due to holiday needing to be used and this being the place upon which consensus between myself and the other member of this two party trip (Mitch) was quite swiftly found.
As a result flight options were not at their most abundant and those which were about where not a budget surplus pricing.

Two options kept appearing on skyscanner, one was an unfamiliar American airline whose name was something like US Airways and the other was Unites. I had heard of United, that didn’t mean good things but it did mean familiarity. I’d heard any number of times about the atrocious standards of US airline, from transatlantic commoners and holiday makers with the resounding condensed down message that flying with a US carrier should never be anything close to a first choice.

Lufthansa, British, Virgin (great on the NY trip years ago), KLM … anyone.. Singapore, Qatar, Emirates, Qantas, Swiss, Icelandair …. Hello …
It was not to be a cost effective option, I’d never personally been the beneficiary of US airline experience, perhaps we’d be lucky, perhaps it wasn’t United that were meant, maybe the rumours were just that an ill founded view forged upon a bias – plus the flight was out of the newly opened Terminal Two … so went with that .. United Flight, very early on a Saturday Morning flight out with one change via Chicago on the way to LA.

Friday Night:
I thought I had booked the ‘Heathrow’ easyhotel for the Friday night, I thought having gone through the website that this was a somewhat generous use of the Heathrow idea and was actually located near Paddington station, on the other end of the Heathrow rail service.. it was not.
Somewhere between a lack of attention, a bit of stupidity and an awful website with woeful support levels (don’t try to email them, or at least do but by no stretch of the imagination expected any receipt confirmation let alone a reply.)

I dragged my – well packed for the week – Travel bag through the street of west central London, away from the masses of Oxford Circus, up and over toward Paddington, arriving to be informed by the reception person that I was not expected. It was here that I learned that there was actually a Heathrow specific easy hotel…a few miles more worthy of the name – it was somewhere on the way to Heathrow in the vicinity of Hays and Harlington. This was not welcome news, an evening spent around here seemed somewhat more attractive than a night in Hays, we had tickets for the train tomorrow morning and the simple matter of not having realised which ‘hotel’ I’d booked us into, a genius act and one difficult to deny when heading out in search of this unknown orange refuge to the West.

We were to meet here, Mitch an I, so I texted my error and waited.
Mitch then – The other person on this trip – is my oldest friend from secondary school who now works in Canary Warf and as such had a slightly longer journey over than my own, but basically handy enough exit route for both of us.

After meeting up and some running around at Paddington it became clear that tickets bought online were tickets over which the station people had no control and found themselves unable to transfer to today, yet informally one after the other decided to shrug a little and pass us on to the next until we were through the gates, sat on the train and recanting the whole things once more to the ticket inspector chap. A most hasslesome commencement to proceedings which sort of worked itself out.

The Hays and Harlington – Heathrow, easyHotel – its not that close to the Hays and Harlington train station especially when you have luggage and what with it (the luggage) coming in so broadly handy during other stages trips, luggage there surely was.

The easy hotel once located is not a nice place, the night trip cabins on the Cherbourg ferry are bigger and more opulent than the rooms on offer here. The room was barely bigger than the bed, it was not an unusually large bed. The bathroom such as it was, was a shower and toilet all in one thing, seldom experienced before but again smaller than the shower and toilet all in one chambers on the Cherbourg ferry, the place this unnoticed gap in the universe clearly put me most in mind off. It was though cheap by the standard of Heathrow overnight hotel options but really, the rodent traps, the close proximity walls they most certainly create a certain ambiance. Does give rise to the notion that surely, there must be a more optimal pounds sterling to standards ratio available out there than this.
easyHotel Heathrow Room
A shared taxi in the morning was cheaper than the airport round robin bus, making that an easy enough decision, though I suspect the TFL standard London buses that operate around here would have been the most regular and least costly option of all, they all go the Heathrow central bus station which is at most a couple of miles away.

The Terminal Two of before was totally gone, there seems to be nothing of it left to be found in the seemingly much larger building that seems to have filled its space. The low ceiling and warren like corridors, it had such an organic, accidental way about it, now its all bright, high, a big space abundant box/rectangle divied up into zones for those who are coming, those who are going, both and the neither.

Heathrow Terminal Two

Surprisingly, least to us on that morning, the gates that are obviously about the place are not necessarily the gates you will be using, a fact we realised when our flight was called only for it transpire that it was about 10-15minute walk away.. we did some corridor running to freshen up before the journey.

United Airlines – Flight To Chicago From Heathrow
I like long flights, I wasn’t sure I would but I leared some time ago that I really rather do. The flights to Australia some years ago were brilliant, hours of films, drinks and a general sense of chilled outness that came with zipping around so detached from the world beneath. Those flights were with Emirates, just as the New York flights were with Virgin .. this flight was not with Emirates, it was not with Virgin.

The flight attendants were more friendly than I’d expected but then I think they were just so used to apologising for things that they were worn down to a simple shoulder shrug of, yeah we know, we’re sorry … nothing worked.. first the gameboy sized little TV screen of the entertainment system remained firmly black and unresponsive then the headphones, headphone after headphone…. I like airline food, im aware its not a customary view of the offerings but what came along in the form of breakfast was arguably the most unpleasant thing I have ever to encounter, it was just plane nasty, which is odd, they must have picked this up in London, not brought special nasty shit with them and there are plenty of flights out of Heathrow with perfectly decent food stuff on board and here, here there was this, it was not an enjoyable experience.
If it might appear that there is in here a deliberate effort to offer up a collection of grumbles then no such effort need be made. To be fare to both easyHotel and United they were the cheaper options available.

United Airlines TV Screens

The stewardess apologised, told me that this ancient fleet of 777s were overdue to be retired and were now due to be coming out of use shortly, most honest, most friendly .. then they have that weird strap line about the skies they use .. the something skies .. Something about it reminded me of Hertz, a business gradually eating itself up from the inside out, in the desperate need to report the right number to the market every six month or so that investment and long terms plans to underpin the future are vigorously avoided, it will shine on the outside until its all dried out and hollow within, then it will collapse.. of course the idea is that someone will be lulled into buying it up somewhere along the line… Hertz always bleated on about its quality but there was no evidence of any such thing, they recruited cheap relying heavily on interns, they pursued short term strategies that contradicted medium term interests and relied heavily on corporate contracts, the franchised countries seemed to have more success, all the effort would go into making something look like it worked and it was hard to find any effort to actually make a thing work, like a film set. For all this, I actually quite enjoyed my brief stint there, not was if either for the incompetence of my boss (a level of incompetence that saw a mixture of responses from my colleagues, run and leaving being one, trying to informally report to someone else being another or my personal favourite just sort of not.. do what you want and take it from there) .. but for the niceness of the people, it really was quite the friendly if utterly resigned place. Even my boss was very personable, very easy to like really unless you wanted to do your job a bit .. United had something of the Hertz about it, though the stewardesses were no interns, not unless they were going for some most belated attempt at a career change.

The stewardess suggested I change seats, pointing to a seat on the back row that remained untaken, the girl who was sat on the window seat was stretched out.. I did not anticipate my arrival would be welcome and was hesitant. Normally I might more easily have dismissed such an effort and likely awkwardness but this was not to be a short stint of sitting that I had ahead and my mind had kind of set itself to the idea of watching some of these available films.
I was right, I was not welcome, I explained id been sent, that my entertainment system didn’t work but I was still just some random, showing up, spoiling her stretched out ways and who knows maybe just some general tool looking to sit down with false guises next to her unsuspecting self. I was not, I would be quite happy to not engage even moderately with this new neighbour, so long as I could watch the films and let the time float by.
The screen worked, the sound did not.
They gave me new headphones, they had the wrong type of plug, two prongs where there ought only to be one – that didn’t work despite more tireless efforts to find a way then logic would justify.
I went pocket rummaging and located another set, they didn’t work… no headset that was found could be brought to work.. not that they had more than a couple spare and many of those they did have were clearly meant for quite a different system and didn’t fit at all.

Being onboard a United flight really does great things for ones appreciation of domestic services… tempted to think we don’t know what we’re doing, Fly United the beleaguered skies.. and everything else will seem that bit better..
They were not the worst airline, not anywhere close, that title remains with whomever that Turkish Charter was that took me to Bodrum and back, it turned out they’d been banned from airspace before now due to their standards, had I known that when it was booked on my behalf it would not have been booked… anyway that was something to do with Turkey, this is United Flight to Chicago. Nowhere close to that sort of level.

Think that experience was with these guys – http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onur_Air

In desperation I set to fiddling with the headset socket and by pure fluke struck on a particular level of incursion and angle that if achieved, meant sound found its way up through the cable, through the headphones and into my ears. The trick was not to move, not to flinch, fidget or otherwise give cause for the plug to believe it had just cause to fall silent. I was not successful.
There were the toilet breaks, mine and my neighbours and then there was just the general need for movement that comes from being, still once I knew it was there to be re-found the level of effort and persistence that could be set to rediscovering that so very particular sweat spot was increased.

Disdain for my presence waned as I sat attempting to watch the mini-screen while either furiously ferreting for sound or statuesque in the hope of retaining it and at some point for some reason moments of conversation broke out, probably instigated by that famous social lubricant the toilet break and the obstacle my person posed to such a break.
She was an actress from New York I think, memory isn’t a strength, who’d recently moved out to LA. I’ve ended up speaking to three randoms on my US trips through no fault of my own and of those two were actors or aspiring to be, the line on this is blurred more than in other professions by the ability to find work to pin against it. If this is the ratio that the US operates under no wonder it spins out so many TV shows for grossly divergent quality.. It must be the nations industry of comparative advantage, it trades these shows for Coffee, Pizza, Cars and international recognised branded sports wear from East Asian country sweetshops. They pulled us in with various higher quality TV offerings in the late nineties and two thousands and now we’re trapped, all those TV stations with hours of time to fill and nothing but Castle, a spot of healthy NCIS casual racism (fear the foreign man for he is on balance of probability, possibly a wrongen), “Pitt the younger – Bounty Hunter extraordinaire” (how are they taken by surprise by wrongens with the camera crew already set up in the room into which they are to enter and be taken by surprise .. one can but guess), Two Broke Girls and an assortment of reconstituted, unoriginal, infinitely predictable, stereotype reinforcing hogwash of interchangeable identikit faces, with as much unique texture and flavour as a subway sandwich. That said the BBC is currently set on a most peculiar mission to recreate the assorted singularly humour free comedies of the early 70s.. in which a collection of one dimensional characters are treated to a procession of entirely contrived and improbable scenarios.. Where once we had: Blackadder, Red Dwarf, Only Fools and Horses, The Office (personally not a fan but still), Extras, Coupling … now we have: Miranda, Mr Kahn, Mrs Brown’s Boys-if this was 30 years ago they would still be utter shit, unfit for domestic consumption let alone exporting. Again all of these have something of the familiar about them – take one person of limited intellect, add some sort of social disorder or two, then set them a mundane task and expose them to a similarly contorted lobotomised world and let hilarity ensue.
To think those broadcast waves are gong to head out into the wider universe, unremittingly out on onward … who knows who will see this stuff, it could be enough for hasty conclusions to be drawn about humanity and cleaning squads to be dispatched.
So, as I was saying – If it might appear that there is in here a deliberate effort to offer up a collection of grumbles then .. well yes .. so far we have amassed:

easyHotel – Hmmm
United Airlines – No thankyou kindly
Tv of the 2010s – urgggggg….

So clearly not

But really note to self, try not to fly with United again, if for no other reason than that odd cylinder thing that haunted the sort of breakfast offering .. it was not a sausage, I know not what it was but it was not a meat product nor for that matter was it vegetarian it was a cylinder of something and that something was not fine.

United Airlines Nasty Arse Breakfast
And it looked a whole lot better than it tasted

https://aninaccuratediary.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/past-trips-california-united-and-the-trip-out-2/

https://aninaccuratediary.wordpress.com/tag/california/

Mayrhofen – a holiday: the getting to Gatwick bit [2015 ]

Suitcase rucksack pile at train station
A little pile of luggage at the local station – & with that do holidays commence
St Pancras Eurostar departures
Eurostar – departures from St Pancras – wonder if the snow train to Austia still runs ?
Out of focus Christmas tree bit St Pancras
What makes something art – the care of selection, the steady hand, the use of the light or is it the deeper meaning – and this
Blackfriars tower bridge shard view
Low lying clouds – Thameslink view of tower bridge & the shard – picturesk
Thameslink slow bored baggage
The Thameslink through London – quite possibly the slowest moving rail service in the world – unleash reticent tram speed ..
Reticent tram speed engaged, but I don’t know how long she’ll hold together
Gatwick North terminal
One of the not Heathrow London airports

There is little to add to this sequence of time filling fine uses of phone memory – I was not in Gatwick and now I am .. Sitting in departures while from over head an occasional vocal warning to some fellow occupier of this space that were they to persist with not being on their plane then their luggage will be ejected and they will be remaining not on their flight for quite some time.

It’s basically a shopping center with an exaggerated food court & potential an above average assortment of thing you didn’t know you wanted and almost certainly don’t need.. Apart from that cheese sandwich just now (from a PRET) – way to trump T2 there old North terminal..

No need to spend any more time within it than absolutely required by the departure time – a 60s style shopping center at that… only done up a bit, too include more bright White surfaces but retaining that core design principle of yesteryear – all natural light strictly banned …every means available taken to enforce this .. I could though win a super car, 1 day 10 hours, 36 minutes and an impossible to note accurately ever shifting number of seconds until the next winner ..

While this is very much a tourist airport I’m pretty sure this is the same terminal that I left from when heading to Australia some years ago – bit further than Innsbruck – doesn’t seem like the kind of place a person sets of on such journey’s from… Not sure what that should look like or why – just something not quite like this.

There is a delay 30 mins – that’s good really for Gatwick = delay, charter flight = delay .. So it’s a potentially powerful combo, at 30mins it still seriously punching below its weight – grateful, long may it last – mind-you a person could get quite attached to the White tile floor with its occasional outbreak of brown squares. or carried away while going to inspect the out of date overpriced electrical goods being offered up at Dixons on this day – perhaps I could bring a tent next time, pitch up somewhere behind the garfunkles that I remember being around here somewhere (Remembered courtesy of some unusual stomach cramps that dinning there coincidentally preceded one of the last times I visited) .. go all Tom Hanks native on them.

Skiing 2015 – No full fat work, least not just yet

2.5 + .5 days of work – amply filled with naught in particular ..

It’s a skill I acquired while occupying a none job at the BBC – 1 year 9 months in a job that was rendered unnecessary by budge try and strategic constraints that came in only months after i started..
I found things to do but in between such times skill were developed., trips to the kitchen areas for tea could be stretched out to include a round trip of the whole floor, football articles could be found and read at a certain pace & generally a haze could be summoned down that saw time lost within.
I don’t need to do that in my current role, frenetic sideways motion and all that but an empty office & sense that for any number of reasons this wasn’t any time to be starting something, this meant delving into that particular skill set.

Probably at my most active work wise when at home on an actual day off – because stuff as it had a way of doing went and went wrong.. The jungle drums of email were getting up quite a pace as chickens cast their wings aloft a set to running, running & flapping, some going left and others right until then those going left headed back right while those going right headed back left .. It’s hard to fathom which were doing it of concern for the events & which doing it out of concern that they look concerned about events. Me I was probably moderately in both camps & moderately in neither… The pointlessness of exhausting such energies and a general chaos drunkenness, diminished any genuine urgency on my part, yet I have a duty to intercede, to try & set a course and I can do without my weariness with these chaos junkies becoming to patently obvious… Need to try to keep a modicum of purpose and perseverance about me – there with you people – no idea why we’ve come here but hell, sure, why not, I’m here with you ..

I suppose its a kind of work, I can see that other generations might question that.. Other people are processing orders, other people are picking & packing, still other people are writing code and investigating problems.. All the tangible activities are done by others, I am at best a junction box, trying to keep people’s energies focused on where they’re needed and encouraging them to produce what someone else might need.. In short writing & sending emails, occasionally making calls.

When there’s something wrong in your neighborhood who you gunna call

But now I’m off – it’s holiday time – time to put curmudgitising things aside..

Snow & returning – UK bound (2b) ..

I may have mentioned this – After some days spent enjoying the lengthier than normal commute and the colder than previously stations .. all courtesy of over head lines, they break the trains… the trains get replaced by coaches – but then they don’t because the trains are back … celebration…only they’re not …short lived celebration …

Least they’re back just long enough for us to all about turn and trudge back and do some serious thinking about what we did here today, and what we did here today was some low level comfort, polyester blue, cushion bench sitting, for another 20 minutes … then back to the coaches, for apparently some other train (further up the tracks) having also been caught up all this good stuff, had gone and adopted that tried and tested defence mechanism of all the local trains in times such as this, of peril and surprise – the application of the brakes.. then the wind changed and it went and got stuck that way.

So back to the coaches and with that the days go by ….

Sunday the before all this time, in conclusion then, where’d I get to before I accidentally went and posted this in the wrong place (genius.. If only I could remember my password I could download the app – that might make this easier, o well)

…”So if the threat of gasoline dependants being cut off was enough to put pay to any flawed notion of British lips (they are as stiff as fresh Brie) then what on earth will this do to the Swiss .. People my people stand steadfast, be strong..” ..

I for one will not be buying a new ticket – I resolved while wondering unpurposefully about as at oerlikon station – for they may choose go and time limit their tickets but I had had to run .. Run … I’d bought a ticket to the airport and by Jove this ticket would see me there, yes sir I’m getting on this train (when it comes) with this (by such a time expired) ticket and nothing more – Twas most rousing monologue, that went little like that.. It was cold .. What is more faithfully accurate, was the plan, I was prepared to go with either my finest Hugh grant confounded, bemused, befuddled and generally well meaning abroad fopishness (once having been quite the default) or .. The as yet untested & more outlandish Reese Witherspoon inspired German effort, more in the vein of – what the fuck and do you know who I am ?!!? .. No well quite right, there’re are people who I work with who may well be equally unprivy to such knowledge..

I was prepared – if undecided.. Free from concerns of arrival times, there was little fat left in the schedule but that was ok …

while purposelessly wondering the station a girl in poorly chosen (one can only presume) boots descended a couple of steps on her rear end .. They were wooden due to the reconstruction work and it made quite the noise … Huh, a helpful thought to have at such moments.. I looked down for experience suggests that this is where those taking this approach to stairs decent tend to be .. Plus it’s where the accompanying noises that were thudish in nature had come from

In finest ‘not to be taken to mean anything tangible you understand’ English I asked something – basically along the lines of whether they were ok? – I didn’t catch the response as she scrambled double time to her feat .. Not a proudest of moments, just unexpected, not quite sure when someone descents so dramatically what one does… look and wonder should I do something here ? Yes that’s it …

She took a step and slid bum to floor down a couple more .. The steps were few and by now ideally or not she’d pretty much completed that leg of her journey .. The wooden steps really did something for the acoustics and the fellow travellers in this underpass must now if not the first time, felt themselves duly apprised of her struggles with the surfaces.

On the train – No ticket man came, they seldom do and over here they don’t do barriers . .. Perhaps it’s the greater surplus but there remains a higher level to which you are on your honour, not so in the UK ..( I’m not old enough to remember these other times that may justify such stereotypes of the English Gents – I don’t know whether they once were or weather the time to which such things belong has more in common with the dragons which presumably  kept those fine folks occupied)  .. Perhaps it’s simply that the shit service, high prices – years and years of being shafted in our ever less equal society – perhaps that is one moderately stretched rational for the barrier requirement… Who in their right mind would pay to go on a commuter train in the uk?

Paying at all for the privilege of standing, wedged in place only by your neighbours opportunity located armpit is reasonably enough to convince even the most fair minded that there should be a free’r way, that or a more pleasant one .. Either might work.

Still there’s always the tube when the train journeys over – the hundreds of thousands and their collective morning happiness, it’s a beautiful day don’t let it get way … And the debates about who pushed whom – I’m lucky I get to walk it, but that’s a tomorrow away.. For now I’m still on a Swiss plane .. Window seat & for some bizarre reason Tom & Jerry on the overhead mini screens – their with dinosaurs .. On the way out it was bean – that’s to be expected from the outside at least it seems no one quite loves me bean quite like the Swiss. Broadly I think the Brits rather wonder how they ever came to be part of a collective that gave rise to this … But we can forgive – anything for the man who brought blackadder unto us…

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xz8pyd_blackadder-how-did-the-war-start_shortfilms

It seems I’m speaking for a country – a country I’m only a half genetic part of and an harder to define cultural product of .. Overreaching perhaps..

Zurich airport departures
Zurich Swiss flight departing

Deiceing Plane
De-Iceing – Preflight … Light Big Fish Queuing At A Bluestreak cleaner wrasse station

As the plane made its way to takeoff, looked out the window, happy to have a window seat (the best for propping the head up when grabbing those often quick to arrive flight winks), letting the work iPhone do its optimal things as pocket DJ .. unfamiliar tune shuffled up and out, quite liked it, not so uplifting, surprised id entirely forgotten this one, i must have loaded it at some point..

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xf1wwq_kt-tunstall-lost_music

Snow & returning – UK bound

Snow apparently it can have adverse impacts in Switzerland – bringing dishevelment – boarder line relative chaos – to the very heart of order …

Snow covered tree

!! beware the overuse of stereotypes may prove harmful to acuity !! – & yet

Snow Topped Christmas Tree Switzerland

Snow apparently it can have adverse impacts in Switzerland – bringing disorderlyness to the very heart of order … Heading to the airport we got to the top of the hill in time to see the bus head off, historically I’ve been here quite regularly and it’s always taken me longer to leave than planned for.. Basically put I don’t want to, it’s one of the common themes of my life, some things change this seems one of those that doesn’t, I should be grateful. Can’t live a life on the reactive incoherence and short sighted vision of a child but there’s a truth in it.
So there it was the recently bus departed stop with the snowy ground, relatively clear road and not entirely warm outsideness.
The next one is in 10 mins, would rather walk to next stop, wastes some time and is less cold.
Back turned and wondering another 46 zips past, where’d that come from … Bugger … What ? … Moderate confusion along with a Sense that my propensity to sacrifice waiting for corrective action has done me no favours this time. Patience grasshopper – nope – taint right, time for manoeuvres .. These are more thoughts than were had at time – they were more limited to bugger-wtf-darn-why & what – things of that ilk

The plan remained and arrived in good time for the next bus, procured tickets and sat.
It did not arrive, Swiss busses, Zurich busses arrive – along with being blue, white & cleaner than many houses – they arrive … It begins go occur to me that this may be such a day as when they don’t. A notion I struggle to contend with, flying as it does in the face of an established truth, while also undermining my plan for attending the airport to a quite uncertain extent.

I am not an early to airport person, nor am I at ease with last minute dashing, an hour of airport excess time is about right for a European internal flight-that hour is starting to look decidedly unhealthy. My mother is not of that mind, it’s been a bone of contention since I took it upon myself to take a view of my own on such matters. She is a 2+hour person who would be at the airport by now & she is here, a plan to see me off..
Then there’s that inclination again.. I could sit and wait here but this isn’t the bus I really need I need the 80 and it leaves from down in the village, for me that should be 15mins pessimistically and I need to see how that service is effected. It’s a thought not necessarily shared by the more conservative of approach & as I set off frequent gawping back occurs, no 46 had been seen going up the hill so there shouldn’t be one coming the other way – that’s the premises but it has the potential to be flawed and this time I want to catch it in the act of eluding my bus catching efforts.

No parental marching of any pace – I’ve gotten chubby in that last year, a lack of football and an onset of unrequited years playing their part but still swift enough across the ground even when sliding in marginally impractical (for the current surface terrain) shoes.. Also the person left in my snow dust is not Usain Bolt those few telling years later ..

Sliding and toe pointed skipping over slush.. I’m waved on and that becomes the goodbye, a practical departure from the intentions I guess.. Hit the town centre and with that the brain pulls it’s support, deciding instead to remind me of my unfit state, burning lungs all those good things.. Find another 80 odd meters of semi speed and slow again as the intended way point bus stop comes into sight. Hopefully no blue and white will feel the need to turn into view now, probably near enough to make the back door, probably .. Maybe ..
No bus comes during a more gradual approach.
This stop comes with a service disruption warning – good to know – Taking up a vantage point to see either bus (The one that wouldn’t come, potentially carrying a parental personage and headed to the main station (as a solid alternative) or the intended 80 with it’s more direct approach to airport going efforts…)

After-all subsequently 4 of the 46s had made their way up the hill & what goes up would have to materialise down here …
Eannie meanie Minnie mo …. Tigers & toes – opting now to add that last bit, another thing from 2012 some peace of news came along that revealed to me seo sort of racist origins to this, what is generally just considered questionable judgement nursery rhyme ..

Tigers not being the first animal requiring resolution to that age old question: if one attempts to snare such a beasty by nabbing a firm grip of a poor exposed, innaccesble toe will it respond in a hostile manner expressed outwardly by a bite.  Felt a level of confidence preexisted, sufficiently probable umbrage might well be taken.  Beside any of that, image you got a grip a really firm clamping hold of the afforementioned toe, could you really see yourself clear to seeing that situation as best described as it’s owner having been caught.. In this instance eenie meenie were the 80 to Minnie & Moe’s 46, who would appear? It’s tense page turning stuff for future me to deal with – note to self: always end of a cliff hanger…

Moderate digression.

The 80 arrives (good to get the bus numbers in – most informative useful stuff) so the journey may continue but it will now be solo effort .. The elusive 46 now firmly on London time and operating in full caravan formation mode, one does though appear in the rear window as we pull off.
There’s quite the gap to the next train, the intended next train is delayed – unfathomable depth this.. In the uk during the great phantom petrol shortage of 2003/4 (cant recall but the lorry drivers were threading some sort of strike – heaven forfend) that wasn’t (well not until panic buying disconcertingly promptly set about) the people in their crowd wisdom, set to queuing in their anguished hoards and stockpiling .. Not merely petrol but tins etc .. It’s possible though unproven, SPAM may even have enjoyed its greatest and only resurgence on those proudfull days..

So if the threat of gasoline dependents being cut off was enough to put pay to any flawed notion of British lips (they are as stiff as fresh Brie) then what on earth will this do to the Swiss .. People my people stand stedfast, be strong..
Departure screen delay

Oerlikon station train
A train – not my train arrives on time