Faff Boarding

Never mind Speedy Boarding, I think Faff Boarding should be introduced.

Is your luggage too heavy to put on the scales at the Check In desk? Just open it up in front of all the other passengers and re-pack into smaller bags, displaying underwear and personal belongings to all waiting passengers.

Want to slow down the travel experience? If you are at the back of the queue, wait until your bags are about to be X-rayed, then decide to stand there and drink up the large bottle of water before you can be let through. Make sure all your cosmetics are sculling around loosely in your handbag, so that you have to faff about and put them into a clear plastic bag.

Are you ready to display your passport to airline staff, open at the photo page? Pah, if you have, you are no contender for Faff Boarding. No, you have to wait until you are at the front of the line and hand over the cluster of your family’s passports, all closed, to qualify.

Help to delay yourself a little bit more by leaving later than you should and mooching around the Duty Free shops until the last possible minute. When you hear the announcement that your Gate is about to close, you can then jump on the slow standing escalator thingamajig and head there. Maybe start to panic and run the last bit. When you finally arrive, sweaty and stressed, you can board the plane as the last family, where you will be split up into separate seats from one another, all over the plane.

Really annoy other travellers by waiting until the Air Hostess is checking everyone’s seatbelts are securely fastened, until she realises that your twelve year old daughter is sitting alone by the Emergency Exit and has to ask someone over sixteen to swap places with her. Much sighing and tutting will commence.

Sit back and enjoy the flight. Your faffing here is done.

Other types of boarding…

Extra Cautious Boarding

In extreme to my faffing husband, my older daughter is an extra cautious boarder. She despairs at faff boarding and if the family suitcase is spread eagled on the floor by the check in desk, ready to dismantle into smaller bags in front of everyone, she would blush, shake her head and whisper ‘mortifying’, with her back turned towards us.

So prepared is she, that her cosmetics have been pre-packed in a clear plastic bag, days before we travel. Arriving at the X-ray machine, my daughter will offer to remove shoes, cardigan and belt – ‘just in case’ it sets bleeper off, as she would hate to cause a scene.

Kindly, she takes all electrical items out of her bag and arranges them neatly in the trays provided. She smiles sweetly at the staff and follows instructions precisely. It has been commented on by airport staff that they wish more passengers were like her.

Before sitting down in her assigned seat on the aircraft, my daughter will already have out of her bag; a book to read, her mobile phone and some sweets in case her ears pop during the flight. This behaviour is unheard of by my husband/a faff boarder, who would have to make sure he got his rucksack down from the overhead locker at least every five minutes to get something different down each time.

Dude/Under Cautious Boarding

My younger daughter is a bit of a dude and usually glides along through life chilling out and not worrying about too much.

One time, though, our family were held back while the X-ray machine staff unpacked her little rucksack, to discover a skipping rope inside. The man in authority held it up and said he was going to have to confiscate it. My younger daughter dissolved into tears. My older daughter piped up that is was her sister’s prized possession and please could she have it back. The man explained that it was considered a dangerous weapon as it could be used to strangle or hang someone on board. We all raised an eyebrow at him and he kindly handed it back to my younger daughter, who immediately smiled and skipped off with it. She was only six at the time.

On another occasion, my under cautious daughter packed a pair of scissors in her pocket. She didn’t get off so lightly that time. When the beeper was activated as she walked through the scanner, she had to explain to airport staff that she had done some homework and used the scissors the day before and that they were her only pair.

“You won’t be using them for homework any more, I’m afraid,” declared the security man and put them with the collection of items other people had packed but shouldn’t have.

My younger daughter shrugged and we followed her into Duty Free. Whatever.

Normal (Perfect) Boarding

I, or rather, the perfect boarder, would leave the house in plenty of time for the airport, just in case of traffic or other delays that might occur.

I would have my tickets, money and passports to hand plus my bags would have been weighed and within the correct allowance.

My cosmetics would be easy to grab from my bag and dispensed into clear plastic bags for the X-ray machine. I would be ready to remove my shoes, electrical items, etc if asked by airport staff.

I would check the time and make sure I left with at least ten minutes to spare to get to the Departure Gate.

Holding my handbag on my lap (because I would never be silly enough to lug a heavy overnight bag into an overhead locker, in case I jarred my back), I would settle into my seat, fasten my belt and sit there as smug as a bug in a rug.

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Dog Tired

So tired yesterday…At 2am, my lovely, teddy bear, Airedale Terrier started whining to go to the toilet.  ‘No’, I thought, as I was all cosy, wrapped up in bed.  The thing is, so was she.  My husband turned on the lights, switched off the alarm, which beeped, rousing our sleeping daughters and carried her downstairs.  Yes, you heard right…carried.  Margot is a strong, fit dog but terrified of slipping on our stairs.  So, Alan had to carry five stone of Airedale down the wooden steps, bundled in his arms.  Out into the dark she went to ‘be quick’ and then came back in again.  But, instead of just leaving her down on her bed in the hall, he carried her back up again.  The alarm was re-set, with more bleeping noise and lights went out, but I didn’t.  I tossed and turned and just could not get back to sleep. Hence the next day, rising with red raw eyes and in a zombie-like state.  Managed to glide through the day but cancelled my night out, as getting old now, so opted for jarmies on early, dinner in front of a film with my family.  Margot was quite pleased too, as she barked at the dogs on the screen and skidded about on the floor trying to chase them.

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Hamster Shopping

One Saturday in September, I wrote my shopping list for the day, washing powder, coffee and three hamsters.

I was due to go to a birthday party the next day for my Godson and his two sisters.  They loved our hamsters so I asked my friend, their mum, if I could get them some as presents and after much laughter, she agreed.

I went to the local pet shop and asked the shopkeeper.

“Three hamsters please.”

“We don’t have any hamsters at the moment.”

“But, I need three today,” a panic rose in my voice.

The assistant gave me a sideways ‘cuckoo’ look.

“We have some out the back but they won’t be ready to sell until next week as they are too young.”

“Oh no, where am I going to get them from?”  The dilemma escaped from my lips.

“Please could I just take three hamsters from ‘out the back’ early?”

“No, I’m afraid you can’t.  Sorry about that.”  She wasn’t sorry at all.

I looked at the hamster cages instead and was mesmerised by the jungle one which looked like Disneyland for vermin.  I thought to myself about just buying it and my Godson and his sisters could fill the cage at will with hamsters but it didn’t feel right.  Also, he wanted a male hamster in it’s own cage and they wanted female hamsters who could share a cage.

I drove to a massive store in town and it turned out to be a wonderland for pets.  I got talked into buying a pink plastic castle cage for two girl hamsters then and a space ship style one for another female hamster, who I would have to pretend was a male because they had run out of boys.  What was with this shortage of male hamsters?

At the till I paid for a travel case, straw, bedding, food, bowls, water bottles, cages and hamsters.  Good job I love my Godson and his family very much.

I drove home and my daughters assembled the hamster cages while the animals looked on from their travel case.  Four hours later the mission was complete and they disembarked into their new homes (the hamsters, not my children).

Much hilarity and excitement ensued when the presents were handed over the next day at the party and my friend was shaking her head and cracking up unbelievingly.  My friend’s brother and dad later asked incredulously who bought the hamsters and I sheepishly put my hand up.

A few weeks later I was beside myself with the giggles when my friend told me that after all the faffing about, she had to go out and buy new cages as the hamsters are so tiny, being dwarf ones, that they couldn’t climb up the tube leading from their bedroom over to their dining area, so were starving hungry.

Maybe next year I’ll buy them conventional toys.

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Talking about a renovation…

We moved away to the semi rural countryside almost three years ago now to a delightful, charming property that we fell in love with straight away.  However, things are never that straight forward or easy.  We planned to live in our new house for a year before starting work decorating, etc, so that we could get a feel for what needed doing.

Well, a year later, several visits from friends recommending we get a conservatory attached to the space outside our kitchen lead to meetings with the architect and before we knew it, we’d signed up for an extension.   (We couldn’t fit our double bed in the master bedroom – why we didn’t just go out and buy a smaller one is beyond me now).  The electrician condemned the electrics in the house and the plumber instructed us to have new plumbing.

We moved into rented accommodation to a lovely two-bedroom apartment in a beautiful countryside converted manor house.  To be honest, I would have been happy to stay there.  You can get carried away with plans and thinking you need far more space than you actually do, when a two bedroom flat for two adults and two children would have suited us just fine.  We didn’t have any room to entertain, so I had quite a lazy year and a half there (apart from the children’s parties where the immaculate, cream carpets got trashed with mashed in wet grass from the communal gardens – we had promised the owner that he wouldn’t even notice that we had children – whoops).  Anyway, with us out, the builders, bakers and candlestick makers could move in.  And in they did move.  It took a year and a half of workmen to dig, build, plumb, etc, before we finally moved back in.

My dream of opening the freshly painted front door with Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen welcoming me in and showing me around each perfectly, decorated room were dashed.  The first day back home, I cried all day.  My mum, dad, children and husband could not believe where I was coming from.  The hours of meetings and work already finished escaped me.  I had wanted to move in with it all done and it so wasn’t.  I looked around and instead of seeing what had been done; I could only envisage what was yet to be.  My heart sank daily, as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, builders, tilers, etc, drilled until my nerves were shattered.  I made so much tea I was forming an addiction.  Every time I mopped floors, a second later, muddy boots were walked all over them or a film of dust would settle.  I was in despair.  I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.  How much longer would it go on for?  When would I get my house back?  When would I have privacy to go to the toilet?  When could I sit down and read the paper with a cup of tea without feeling guilty?  When?

Then, I had an epiphany.  The situation was not going to change, so I had to.  Now, I don’t feel sorry for myself or get stressed, with the months of work stretching ahead.   I take it on like the part of my life journey that it is.  Friends, who have been through renovations before, say to welcome it with open arms, as when it is all over, I will quite miss it.  I couldn’t see what they were going on about before.  I had been advising anyone thinking of doing a renovation not to bother but only to consider buying a house already done in exactly the way they wanted, down to the wallpaper on the walls.  Now, I figure that it is all part of life’s rich tapestry.  My husband’s best friend is decorating the last rooms and says that we are all building a house together.  He is right.  Instead of getting uptight about it all, I now treat this house like my office in the daytime and the workmen as my colleagues.  I will quite miss the banter over the endless cups of tea.  Maybe that’s why it’s all taking so long….

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A dog or not a dog? That is the Question.

My husband has been going on about getting a dog ever since I met him but we still haven’t got one.  I’ve always had an excuse up my sleeve why we shouldn’t.  Excuses have varied from the fact we were at work all day (before having kids), I hate that wet dog smell, they moult everywhere, you are trapped, your life will never be your own again, I bet I’d end up puppy training it and that we go away too much.  Post having children, they have included that it would be unsafe for a baby if it got dog’s poo in it’s eye, in case the baby went blind plus most of the above.  As you can probably gather, I’m a tad neurotic and don’t like to get my hands dirty.

Anyway, years have sailed by and so far, so good.    I’m not completely heartless because I cried at ‘Marley and Me’; so don’t make me feel bad for not wanting my own dog.  The thing is, now my daughters have grown to the ages of seven and nine, the seven year old wants a puppy too.  I reason with my youngest daughter and my husband that we don’t need a dog of our own, as we can make the most of next-door’s dog.  It comes into our kitchen every morning and shakes it’s paw with my daughter’s hand and she merrily chases him around and him, her.  He eats all the food from our cat bowls (yes, we did get cats but they are so much easier – cat flap, two meals a day, a quick stroke and you’re done).   The dog next door comes in again while the girls are at school and licks my kitchen floor clean (which I must admit is very helpful) then he steals something exciting looking and runs away with it in his jaw.

To be honest, in with a penny, in with a pound (if that is the proper saying) because my husband and two daughters make such a mess in this house with muddy shoes and boots being walked through the hall and skateboards being bashed against the kitchen cupboards, that a dog messing all over the floor won’t make too much difference.  In fact, by Jove, that’s it.

My family are so out of control that maybe my dog wouldn’t be.  If I trained the dog properly, then it would wipe its paws before it came into the house, foul in an allocated patch in the garden (woofing twice to be let outside to partake in such ablutions).  Our new canine friend would then join me up at the table for a nice cup of tea (mine taken from a china teacup and the dog from a china bowl).  We would look at the rest of our unruly family and raise our eyes…. after using an anti-bacterial hand and paw gel first though, obviously.

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