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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Curse of Travel (Part 3 of 3)

Last day in Scotland, and we're all ready to go.
No chance of the Forth Road Bridge fiasco repeating, as this time the planes not due to take of until 12:30, and it's a regular scheduled flight by British Midland, so no gate Nazis like Ryanair.  It also means we won't have to leave until 08:30, getting to the bridge about 10:00, so no rush hour travel.
Everyone is on British time, so no chance of the "wrong time" syndrome affecting us.
Nothing was ;left to chance.  All was carefully planned.  What could go wrong?


We left as planned in the hired car (A Saab.  Never hire a Saab.  They look good and drive well, but there's bugger all room in the back seat, and my son's knees were pressed into the small of my back all of the time) at 08:40.  The weather was cold, but only a little snow was in evidence, and we made good time, coming up to the bridge in good time.  Straight over the bridge at 09:50 (it's so much easier since they removed the toll booths, much less congestion) and followed the signs to the Airport and Ingleston.  Many eons ago, when I lived in Scotland and worked as a sales rep. I would have taken one of the back roads to the airport, but the thought just crossed my mind, I had no notice of taking those wee roads now, I couldn't even remember which turning to take.  Better keep on the main road, it would be faster in this non-rush hour traffic.

Traffic getting slower, still about 3 miles to the M8 roundabout, 5 miles to the Airport.  Traffic getting slower still.  We were down to about 5 mph in our inside (airport) traffic lane, but the vehicles on the outside (Glasgow bound) lane were going much faster.


Stopped for 30 minutes.

Traffic on the outside still shooting past.

Thought of changing lanes and following the Glasgow route, but I couldn't remember how far the next off-ramp was on the M8.  If I took the Glasgow route, it could be as much as 15 miles before I would be able to get off and start travelling back towards Edinburgh and the airport, and even then there was no guarantee that the airport turn off was open.

Stopped for 45 minutes.  Time now 10:35.  Final check-in was supposed to be 11:30, to allow for security etc.  Still plenty of time.
Traffic was now moving.
At about 1 mph.

There wasn't one you stupid bunch of useless twats
A sign up ahead.  Road to airport closed.  Take alternative route.

Stupid bastards.  There wasn't an alternative route, unless I went towards Glasgow, got off the Motorway and then returned to the bridge, found the right exit (it had all changed since the last time I drove these roads) towards Dalmenny, tried to remember the back road route.  But even if I didn't get lost, and all traffic was ideal, it would take at least 1½ hours.  Too long.  We'd be better staying and hoping the road closure would be temporary.  There were a lot of cars in my lane, and most (but not all) were staying.  Was this a sign of hope outweighing fear?, or just grumbling apathy.

Traffic still moved at a snail's pace.  I could now see the line of stalled vehicles stretching down and to the main junction.  I could also see many, many flashing blue lights.  Not good.  But this was the main road to Edinburgh.  The only way to Scotland's capital.  The polis (not a mis-spelling, it's the way we say it in Glasgow) would be trying their best to get the road open.
Wouldn't they?
Time now 11:10.  Sweat dripping down my back.  Trying to keep a cool demeanour for the sakes of my family, trapped in this expensive metal box capable of 150 mph, and crawling along at 0.5 mph.

There were no alternatives which wouldn't cost us many thousands of NZ$This was the connecting flight to the Air NZ 747 which would take us home. 

Take us home to a kindly country basking under a hot sun, with green fields full of non-threatening sheep, with beautiful beaches skirted by glittering blue waters which anyone could use (as long as they didn't pass the new version of the foreshore and beach Act, which would restrict access according to race and financial availability).
A country which didn't have blocked roads.

The traffic began to inch faster.  We were now doing almost 3 mph.  The junction crept closer and closer. 
It was now 11:20.

We were at the junction, moving towards the airport.  The outer lanes were being directed into the inner (airport) lane.  Something up ahead, many flashing blue lights.

Two huge 44 tonnes trucks, locked in some terrible geometric tangle.  The cab of one was smashed to scraps, and I wouldn't think the driver would have survived.
Suddenly we're past the accident scene, and moving towards the terminal.
Great sense of relief, we'd just make it.
Great sense of guilt.  I'd been worried about making my flight in 10 minutes, but perhaps in an ambulance screaming toward Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, a truck driver was worried about actually being alive in 10 minutes.

It's all about perspective.

We made our flight with no extra alarums.  Except that we had to unpack and redistribute some clothes from suitcases to backpacks, because the BMI gate Nazis didn't reckon we were within our limits.
Did the total wight carried by our planes change?
It just satisfied some jumped-up Hitler to make the poor bastards actually paying for his/her salary jump through some arbitrary hoops.

Hope that truck driver survived.


  1. phew, we got there! Too much stress for a Tuesday morning!

  2. That was great. You know you could have a career in the travel writing industry. Perhaps press officer for the Albanian Tourist Board?

  3. I imagine, TSB, that this will have installed in you some airport connection phobia that will have you in future leaving home with twelve hours to spare before departure.

  4. Richard [of RBB]; I'm a teacher. I laugh in the face of stress.Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

    TC; thanks but no. I've never liked Norman Wisdom

    Nicola; you're so right, but it's 24 hours and staying in the hotel attached to the airport.


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