Don't know where to start! Fuckin' brilliant on the whole!
Got back yesterday (Saturday) at 08:30 after having left UK home at 07:30 on Friday. Lots to talk about – but most importantly, Kezia, Jaime and Nanda are well. I'm a bit down down now, especially when last night Nanda told me that Kezia is expecting me to walk through the door at any moment. She doesn't understand I've come back here, and probably won't visit for the next four months.
Took lots of photos, of varying quality – will post some shortly over the next few days.
So where do I begin? As I don't have the writing skills to produce creative literary constructs that wander back and forth through time, I guess I'll start at the beginning ...
My brother-in-law woke me up at 03:45 (on the 23rd) even though I'd said to not pick me up until 04:30. Well, better early than late, and I could take a shower, a cup of coffee and the first cigarette calmly without the rush we had in November taking Jaime over.
Everything ran smoothly on the journey out ...
... except we arrived in Lisbon late. My friend L., from the travel agency, asked me to look after a young woman who then missed her onward flight to London. She managed to get on my later flight as, I guess, the before Christmas Eve flights were not in great demand.
We got to Heathrow. No luggage! Watched the carousel go round and round until they put the next luggage from a Rome flight on the same carousel. I was anxious to catch my bus to Manchester, she, never having travelled abroad before, was anxious about her luggage. I managed to persuade her that we should fill in lost luggage claims which I helped her with. Took her through customs and there were people to meet her.
Caught the bus without my suitcase. And arrived at Manchester Chorlton Street at 05:40 on Sunday 24th. Took a taxi up to Manchester Victoria railway station - it's empty, closed, no-one around, eery! Discover there's no onward train until 09:15! Shit! A distance of 15 miles and I have to wait 3 hours when I've come so far! I walk up to the Shude Hill Bus Station and find out the first bus is at 06:55! Phew! It's fuckin' freezing! I've only got a T-shirt and a fluff on. It's fuckin' freezing!
So I make it home at about 08:00 and they're still in bed.
Luggage - I eventually got it one week later on New Year's Eve. There seem to be varying accounts for the luggage chaos that ensued this Christmas. The version I got from Alitalia (who run baggage-handing services at Heathrow) was that the computerised baggage-handling system crashed and they had to take down every single baggage ticket number by hand and manually enter it into their computers. Thus, although my suitcase probably arrived on the 24th December, it didn't get to me until the 31st.
Better late than never!
To be continued ...