Chaos is the usual outcome of a flurry of snow in the UK and last Sunday’s wintery blast didn’t disappoint. I was rostered for a trip to Finland, with a short stop in Oslo before continuing to Helsinki. A taxi came for me at 7:00 to catch the 11:35 from Gatwick; under normal circs, bags of time.
At Stansted we found that the M11 had been closed – a lorry fire apparently, so we broke off east to catch the A12 at Chelmsford and then continue south for the M25. 4″ of snow had by now accumulated on the already frozen overnight rain and, at one roundabout, we went off down a slip road we weren’t even pointing at! Well, if we were all over the road, the chances of the rest of our day going smoothly were not good. Sure enough, we were soon watching the snow creep up the side windows as we sat for an hour or two on the A12. Some strangely parked lorries a few miles ahead and through which we eventually had to weave, was the only sign of incident. Once over the Dartford Crossing – clear as a bell; you wouldn’t have known it had been snowing at all. I got to Gatwick at lunchtime and checked in to a hotel to catch the next day’s flight.
Still, I got a ring-side seat at Sofitel and, now acquainted with the management of the 737, was able to get a picture in my mind of the landing attitude (it’s all about attitude) – I didn’t touch-down at Heathrow and Luton because (taking my eye off the Flight Director) I’d started the round-out too early. Too high and too fast, I’d just kept on flying and over-shot.
By the time we got to Oslo – another delay made us 45 minutes late – I’d missed my connecting flight and had a further four hour wait for the last flight of the day to Helsinki. At the appointed time, I sauntered off to Gate E11 and somehow contrived to go through Gate F14, which, I discovered, was a sort of no-man’s land; nobody was about, all the doors were locked and I couldn’t get back as everything had closed behind me. I found a button labelled ‘Poliisi’. That got some attention and I was quickly surrounded. After a kit inspection and a little chat – I was clearly just a simple soul, blundering about in a fog – they escorted me back to Norwegian territory; I’d no idea where I’d been but there was a lot of sucking of teeth and talk about the Schengen Area. Anyway, it turned out that the girl at passport control should have asked me where I was travelling to and re-directed me, but my remarking on the delicious looking contents of her packed lunch had distracted her. I only just got to the aeroplane (Go to Security. Go directly to Security. Do not pass comment on anyone’s lunch) and arrived at the hotel in Pikkala at 1:00am.
Then up again at 5.00am and to work, where the outlook from the tent was bleak to say the least…
…. and in sharp contrast to mesdames adventures in Sri Lanka, I notice.