Plans and life don’t always go hand in hand.
On Friday late afternoon I was heading to London City Airport on the DLR. I left the office early as planned, was on perfect time, ETA 5 pm for a flight taking off at 6, which is plenty of time for City airport, where you feel you are a member of JetNet and everyone looks like they are running an extremely important business. I had a sleek winter wedding outfit in the bag, alongside a shirt for my husband, which he had left behind.
And then come the bad surprise, delivered by the DLR’ tannoy: the airport is shut, as the DLR station that leads to it. However Twitter was saying that the airport was open, so I trusted the social media, absolutely adamant of not letting any incident to ruin my plans. I got off at the last suitable station and had prearranged an Uber to make up for the time I was going to lose. Jumped in the car – which I offered to two strangers in my same situation – and after 250 metres we were stuck in traffic. The road leading to the airport was closed as well. Got off, got the notification of the most expensive 250 metres ever done (£7) and walked, alongside many others, towards the airport. There I waited patiently and shared my pain with a couple of “stranded” fellows. Luckily I got a spot on a step and felt lucky for that. The scene in front of me was quite surreal. Usually, the scene of people stranded at airports are of a colourful mix of individuals, dressed in clothes suitable for the place where they are heading, hence often wearing flip flops and shorts, while here everyone was suited and booted, with compact wheelie bags, dark coats, two phones and a laptop. It felt as if Canary Wharf has been evacuated and everyone carried their belongings in their bag.
No news from the airport on what was happening, which turned out to be a chemical scare or the airline, which couldn’t tell me if my flight was cancelled or not and what my options were. We just kept on seeing fire-fighters and police cars arriving and not leaving. The longer the wait, the darker and colder it was getting, and thinner my hopes to get on a fast flight to Edinburgh, joining the husband – who headed there the day before – and friends. So I did what many people did: read my book, pulled out a warm scarf and socialised with a couple of other people in my same shoes and weighted my options.
At 7.30 I turned my heels and decided to head home, having scheduled a call with BA and asked my family to help to find another flight. Sadly, despite all the efforts, no empty seats were heading to Scotland that would have allowed me to make it on time for a wedding that I was expecting to be pretty special. Sorry, I missed your special day Theo and Rebecca! So what do you do with 48 hours ahead with nothing planned, where a good portion of your friends and your husband are not around? You do what you would not normally do, which turned up to be quite blissful and fulfilling. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Also, our designated cat si(s)tter turned out to be ill, which would have meant that our new member of the family would have been starving.
So, what did I do? While I was walking along the stretched around Hammersmith Bridge, I visited the William Morris Society, mini museum carved out of William Morris’s house, which is a delight for those, like me, passionate about Pre Raffaellites and stylish prints.
I discovered that a new little Italian deli is about to open this weekend, went to the market to get fresh fruit and vegetables, watched a silly French movie, cooked a lot for the week, so do not have to face for a couple of days the dilemma “what can I cook in 5 minutes” which I often face at 8.30 pm, tired and starved, and started a new brilliant book called ‘Sixty Million Frenchmen can’t be wrong”, which is turning out to be very similar to ‘Watching the English’. I thought I better get prepared, in the light of the latest EU summit. Alongside plenty of warning of a rough road ahead, the French language, and everything around it, is very much in vogue.