looking for a few good ideas

  amongst the irregular verbiage

Across the English Channel

Our British Midland Airways flight to Amsterdam was due to leave from Heathrow at 4:20pm, so after breakfast, checking out, and leaving our bags downstairs with the nice gentlemen at reception, M, L and I wandered out for a last walk up Warwick Way and, in my case, a last Latte and almond croissant at Cafe Nerd. Sorry, *Nero*.

I had an ulterior motive, which was to use the Cafe's wireless access point to get online and retrieve email, which had presumably been piling up for the last few days. No go. Couldn't get online. Oh well.

Originally we were planning on catching a train or bus to Heathrow, but as M pointed out, he was driving back to Southampton and Heathrow is practically "on the way" so we'd let him win the argument and agreed that he could drop us at the terminal. Such a nice guy.

We had plenty of time so he took the scenic route around the Chelsea Embankment - I think. I had packed the map away by this time so really I've no idea which way he went except that we had a good view of the Thames for a while.

We said our goodbyes to M and wished him a safe drive back to Southampton, and waddled into the terminal with our bags. We're way too early for our flight to be able to check our bags, but what the heck. We sat for a bit, taking turns to wander around the terminal.

Once our bags were checked and we'd gone through security to the other side, we spent some Brit money on presents for J and A, then approached the TravelEx desk to see if we could get some Euros. Well, they took our pounds and pence but wouldn't accept our Travelers Cheques. Grr. We used some more of our supply of $US cash to get Euros.

Our boarding pass said we needed to be at the gate by 3:45pm and it was getting pretty close to that and our departure gate still hadn't come up on the board. We clutched our bags and watched the board, and as soon as the flight came up, we looked at the gate (40) , then at the sign that indicated how long it would take to walk to the various gates - we needed 15 minutes! We did it in 10. I think 15 was the pessimistic estimate. Once at the gate, we ended up sitting around for a bit. The gate was empty. Apparently, 3:45pm didn't mean anything serious. We weren't the only ones who thought we were late... shortly after we settled down, a guy came sprinting up the corridor thinking he was too late to get on to the plane.

More people arrived at a more leisurely pace, including what could have been an entire soccer team but the paunchy physique on some of them, and the sheepish look of one of them convinced us that they were, in fact, a stag party. Going to Amsterdam. Yup, my money's on that.

The flight was short, the airline food quite possibly the worst ever, and if I'd known the drinks and cocktails were free I would have indulged. Free cocktails on a 1 hour cheap flight to Amsterdam? We wouldn't have guessed.

We were met on the other side by our host B. He had already met up with S from Yorkshire who had come in for the conference earlier on a different flight. L managed to identify them despite the fact that we'd never actually met in the flesh before.

The drive to Arnhem took about 1.5 hours. I watched the stars through the window. The Pole star is much higher towards the zenith here. And it is Autumn so perhaps this was exaggerated.

B made sure we are comfortably checked in to the Hotel Haarhuis, then after dropping our bags in our room we went down for a late dinner in the hotel restaurant. I don't know if I was very hungry, very tired, or both, but it was a fantastic meal. We were well looked after by a talkative, cheery hostess who commiserated with us for having to eat British cooking for the last few days. Hey, it wasn't that bad!

...I'm eating too much and we aren't even in Frankfurt yet.