Can you believe it? Our trip to Canada, which has been over two years in the planning has finally arrived and today we’re off to Kelowna, British Colombia via the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel at Heathrow’s T2. Maice is going home to visit her mum and family, and I’m tagging along for the holiday, naturally!
To be fair, the run up to the holiday hasn’t all been plain sailing and has certainly had it’s ‘ups and downs’. The ‘ups’ are that we’ve got a shiny new spreadsheet to use, which, being the very out there, on the ball people that we are we’re very excited about. Ok, well let’s say I am! Maice can take it or leave it but for me, I love it. Everything’s on there in dollars and pounds with conversions made so as to keep track of our spend. There are things to do, places to go, people to see and of course, it all links together. Ah yes, very proud of it I am. The ‘downs’ of this holiday are to do with our flights. We’d booked our flights via Hays Travel with Deutsche Lufthansa who are members of Star Alliance meaning our flights are operated by Air Canada. They, Air Canada that is , took it upon themselves to completely change our return flight plan to one that necessitated us catching three different flights with the flight landing in Montreal two hours after our flight to Heathrow was due to take off! Even the travel agent hadn’t picked up on this glaringly obvious anomaly. Honestly, what a malaver! Fortunately we managed to secure the last few seats on the last flight out to Heathrow that day. Whether our luggage will follow us is another matter, particularly as we only have a one hour layover at Montreal!
The day before we were due to depart to the airport it was all systems go. Suitcase packed….tick. Suitcase unpacked….tick. Suitcase repacked…..tick. Milly to cattery…..tick. Suitcase repacked….tick! I have to say that Maice wasn’t faring any better than I was in the packing department. We’d heard so many horror stories about a) luggage going missing b) luggage being damaged and c) luggage disappearing into the ether, never to be seen again, and as we didn’t want to end up with no clothes on holiday, we had to think tactically. After a regroup and some intense deliberations over a few cappuccinos we decided to take two cases….each! One for the hold, one for the cabin which is most unlike us as we always like to travel light. The theory was to pack some clothes in our hand luggage in the event that should our luggage decide not to join us in Canada at least we’d have some clothes to wear! What we didn’t reckon on was the dilemma we would find ourselves in in trying to decide what to put in which case? So it was back to the hokey-cokey of packing, with clothes going in one case, then out into the other, then back to the first case and so it went on. Of course these suitcase shenanigans totally spooked both Milly and Sir Winston who sensing something was afoot went into hiding beneath the most inaccessible areas in their respective homes…..the bed!
Finally, Day 1 of our holiday had arrived. After a sleepless night I was up at 4am, fed Milly, did my ‘7 minute, 7 day’ flat stomach exercises and went in search of Milly who had gone into hiding under the bed. After 20 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to entice her out with her favourite treats a different approach was needed. I packed up the car with all her holiday stuff, put the telly on and pretended to relax on the sofa. Ha, worked a treat and before she knew what had happened she was making herself at home with Alison at Purrfect Cattery. Back home all I had to do was wait for Maice to arrive with Sir Winston. Not being an early riser, Sir Winston remained in bed, Maice’s bed that is until she had to literally drag him out for his morning ablutions. Sensing something was happening he clung to her side like a limpet until it was time to drive over and collect me. We dropped Winston off at Wool where he’s spending his holidays with his ‘BFF’ Geordie, the very tolerant Labrador and our friends Jane and Mike. He’s stayed before, for a week and made himself totally at home. No sooner had we dropped him off today he was racing up and down the stairs, running amok in the lounge, pinching Geordies toys and trying to get Geordie to play with him. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to send Jane and Mike the very best of luck….🤣
Saying our goodbyes to Sir Winston et al we eventually set off at 12.40pm with Maice deciding upon a five minute tour of Wool due to the train barriers being down. Most people would just wait in the queue but not Maice who proceeded to take us on a village tour looking for a suitable turning place so we could go back and join the queue. Honestly, I do wonder what’s going on in that brain of hers! The journey between Wool and Heathrow was certainly an interesting one. Smelling smoke in the air before Corfe Mullen we pulled over to let a fire truck pass by on it’s way to a field fire which we passed shortly after. Fortunately the road wasn’t closed off as the other four fire trucks in attendance seemed to have the fire under control. Of course it was bank holiday Monday so it took us an hour and twenty minutes to finally get to the M27 where we encountered the majority of the ‘weavers’. You know, those cars that weave in-and-out of the traffic but don’t really get very far. Honestly, there were so many of them on the roads Maice had to have eyes in the back of her head to pre-empt their every move. The worst weave we encountered was between a car and lorry. There was obviously a bit of road-rage going on between them but when the lorry started weaving from lane to lane we hung back a fair bit, not wanting to get caught up in the melee!
By now we were starting to get a bit ‘jet-lagged’ so pulled into Winchester Services where Maice took us on a tour of the carpark trying to find the perfect parking space. She didn’t fare too well and eventually pulled into quite a narrow space where she spent the next five minutes trying to straighten up! We always find that Motorway Service Stations are always great places to people watch and we did just that whilst we waited in the long queue for a Costa Coffee…..of course other Baristas are available! We purchased eight mini Krispy-Crème donuts, found a bench outside and sat in the sun with our purchases. It was actually quite delightful and just what we needed.
SatNav told us we were an hour from the Short Stay car park at T2 so we set off hoping that SatNav would direct us effortlessly to the parking area. If only! We were told we had to call the Blue Circle Parking when we were twenty minutes away to advise them we were on our way, which I did, but not sure why as I wasn’t asked who I was! Anyway, as it transpired, we were twenty minutes away at the time of the telephone call but we didn’t arrive until forty minutes later due to a) taking a wrong turning along the perimeter road and being told to do a U-turn on the dual carriageway b) missing the turning to the T2 Short stay car park and having to drive back along the dual carriageway to the very large roundabout with its four exits (very confusing) c) driving very slowly the second time along the perimeter road due to a car driving straight over a flat roundabout whilst another car was going round it and d) getting very confused when we arrived at the car park as to which barrier to go through thereby creating a bit of a queue! At long last we pulled into a parking space at our destination …T2 Short Stay car park, level 4, section B where we were met by our ‘friendly chauffeurs waiting to take our car’ It had taken us just over four hours to get here!!!
The Hilton Garden Inn Hotel was literally just two seconds from where we’d dropped the car off so we checked in and looked forward to seeing our room. It took a while to locate it such was the layout of this hotel which we think must be in a triangle. We did get slightly lost looking for our room which we eventually found, without the help of SatNav I must add! We were hoping for a high floor room with fantastic views of the runways so we could sit and watch the planes coming and going but alas, it was not to be! In reality our room was on the third floor opposite the car park and our view was of the cars going up, down and round and round. Ah well, can’t have everything, and with that we made our way in the lift up to the Runway Bar on the 14th floor, ordered a glass of champagne and relaxed. It had been a long and weary day but we’ve belly-laughed all the way to the airport to the point we’ve laughed till we cried. What amuses us? All sorts of things; anything and everything can set us off but the main thing was the use of Siri and its translation. Using the Notes App on IPhone to record our to-do-list and the events of the day this is just how one translation actually translated……..‘Chicken to the Air Canada flight tonight chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken Manchurian’ ………which translates as don’t forget to check-in online for our Canada flight!!!!!
We returned to our ‘room with a view’ where we proceeded to unpack our bags….again! Is there no end to this packing and unpacking malarkey. At precisely 6.50pm we changed into our sleepwear and took ourselves to our queen size beds where we enjoyed our buffet supper of croissants, baby belle ‘light’ cheeses, pizza slices and crisps, mini-cheddars and two Gin & Tonics provided by the lovely Jane. Jane, you’re a star! I caught up with some paper work and then I tried to sort out an overseas package for my Virgin phone. After almost an hour of getting nowhere via my online account I called them. The upshot is that they don’t have a package for Canada and it will be far too expensive to use my phone like I do at home so the advice was to ‘remove the Sim Card’ and don’t put it back in until I return to the UK! So that’s it. I shall be uncontactable by phone but will pick up my emails/WhatsApp on my iPad.
We switched the lights off at 10pm, hoping for a good nights sleep but we have our doubts due to a)the room was baking hot and b) try as she might,Maice couldn’t activate the Air-Con to release the cool air. We have a feeling its going to be a long night………. !
On that note, its goodnight from M&A, both looking forward to our travel day tomorrow