Surprisingly Sunny London

Made it to London yesterday morning after a long near-24 hour flight. Exhausting! This trip seems to have extracted a particular toll, leaving myself with an unfamiliar weariness that I hadn’t had on past visits to this side of the world. A lack of sleep gets the blame. Whereas I usually take a 4-5 hour nap on the second leg and 2-3 hours on the first, this time it proved difficult. What can I say? Resisting the urge to watch the particularly good selection of films (“good”, in this instance meaning that these were films that I wanted to see) was impossible! All up my tally comprised of: Indiana Jones IV, Kung Fu Panda, Sex and the City, Caramel, Narnia – Prince Caspian; plus de Botton’s The Art of Travel and made a good portion of The Incredible Hulk (the one with Ed Norton in it). My normal count is a conservative 2 to 3 films.

That said, the flight itself was uneventful – by recent Qantas standards, that is – save for the fact that a good portion of seats were empty. Two next to mine remained unoccupied for the whole journey. Lucky me as it meant an occasional lie down, but even luckier still was a woman over in the next row who had the luxury of 4 seats all to herself. It was almost as good as the flat beds in business class!

(As an aside, yet another Qantas flight, QF72, hit the headlines yesterday for apparently having dipped sharply during flight. So far the reason remains unexplained).

I suppose with fewer people to attend to the service staff were as good natured as the rest of us. Even the meals were a little more than bearable! Hec, the pad thai with prawns and tofu served on the Bangkok – London leg was so good that I was tempted to ask for a second serve.

The arrival at Heathrow, however, was a slight disappointment. Yesterday was yet another typical Heathrow day with a number of planes landing in rapid succession. And of course, Customs, seemingly permanently unaware, allocated only about 8 staff to process a few hundred arriving passengers. To make things worse, and this being the UK, officials here are determined to stop every illegal migrant, probably from a list of “high risk” countries, by asking all sorts of questions and searching through every document. We moved very slowly. An Australian passenger, aged somewhere in his 70’s, remarked, “We will be pensioners by the time we’re done!” I turned to him and said, “No, I will be a pensioner.”

We laughed, and under the circumstances it was the right relaxant.

Alas, with the bureacratic matters over and done with, I found myself in no time in central London. And what a day to arrive! Far from the usual cold and grey of past visits to this city, what greeted me was the most hospitable weather. The sun was jovial, not with that characteristic shyness – preferring to show itself from behind the clouds only occasionally – but with a determined measure, enough to let me forget my exhaustion. So I went for a walk in my favourite park, St James Park.

More on that in my next post.

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