Epic Scotland Journey

It’s taken over a month, but the tale of my family’s journey to Edinburgh is here. It’s long, and I even got sick of writing it. You’ve been warned. Enjoy.

Final Preparations

This luggage will not fit in the bags, and it didn't.

Jethro is a two-year-old, and his level of excitement about flying on an aeroplane was high. Angie and I had been going on about it for a while—we’d bought a book called “Going on a plane,” so he was pretty psyched about it.

We knew an eleven-hour flight was going to be a bit much for the little guy, so we thought we’d drug him a little. Perhaps it would get him to go to sleep. Perhaps it’s bad parenting too, but we felt special measures were called for.

Stupid idea that.

We gave Jethro some Panado Paediatric Syrup. The one with 10% alcohol in it. I was under the impression that alcohol is a depressant, and should have a sedative effect on my small child. He was certainly relaxed in the taxi we took to the airport. Singing away as he sat between Angie and I, and demanding that we “Dance! Dance!” It was clear then that we were unlikely to have a restful flight.

Things were already not too restful. The taxi service arrived with a fancy Mercedes Benz, but not one with a huge amount of boot space. I was sitting with a suitcase on my lap, the baggage on the front seat was considering whether it might jump across the gear lever and take control of the vehicle, and the boot door had shut only by the intervention of a higher being.

The camper cot didn’t make it. It sat forlorn on the bitumen of the car-park at Angie Mum’s place, and was presumably taken back to the house to meet its fate along with the rest of our stuff that couldn’t make it in the bags but we didn’t want to throw out.

O.R. Tambo

Moments of entertainment -- then exhaustion and crying

Two trolleys packed to overflowing, we made our way to check-in. At Johannesburg’s International Airport there is a business made of wrapping luggage in cellophane. R50 per bag. This is R50 I’m never willing to part with, so when someone came over and offered to wrap our luggage I was about to decline his offer when he insisted that if we were flying Virgin Atlantic, the service was free. Nice touch, Virgin. Jethro was entertained by the luggage-wrapping machine, so that was an extra service they didn’t even think they were giving us.

When we got to the front of the queue (and we were kindly fast-tracked due to our slightly drunken bundle of joy) we encountered our next challenge. Hand-luggage was overweight. Luggage for the hold was tightly wrapped up, making transfer of goods from hand to check-in luggage impossible without having things rewrapped.

The nice touch had gone a little nasty. In the end the solution was to remove the laptop and camera bag from the hand luggage suitcase. Yes, that’s right. Take everything into the cabin, but in three bags not just one. Such broken logic would be encountered once again at Heathrow.

The Flight

Finally sleep

The flight wasn’t as challenging as it could have been, but I can’t describe Jethro as having been completely cooperative. Everything was fun for a while, but the excitement of the flight kept the J-man awake until almost 11pm when his normal bed time is 7:30. Tired children are not quietly content children, but he did eventually pass out in slightly contorted position.

The veggie meals were rather pleasing, but the crazy times that airlines feed passengers has not improved in the least since the last time I flew internationally. Dinner at 10pm, breakfast at 4am. Seriously, give us a take-away breakfast or something.

Landing at Heathrow

This was a super-fun bit. We touched down at Heathrow, collected our two trolleys full of luggage and headed through customs. Nothing to Declare. We got out to the shops and asked an airport employee where we needed to go to catch our British Airways flight to Edinburgh. It’s easy—catch the Heathrow Express to Terminal 5, free for flight transfers! Hooray!

Jethro and a small sample of the Luggage Pile

Now all we needed to do was get all our luggage on and off the Heathrow Express, without using the trolleys. Recall the amount of crap we were transporting, and an extra mini-human who can’t pull his own weight—effectively an extra piece of squirming, jiggly, playful luggage, that won’t stay in one place.

I can’t clearly remember how we did it, but somehow everything made it to Terminal 5, and nothing was left behind on the train. Strangers even helped us taken everything off the train, which was something I really hadn’t expected in the rush-rush places-to-go-people-to-see frenetic madness of London.

Thus, we made it to the connecting flight.

British Airways were less pedantic regarding the hand luggage weight, but infinitely more annoying regarding liquids going on to the flight — although to be fair this was more to do with Heathrow than BA. Insanity prevailed as we had to transfer the liquids in our hand luggage into the sill one litre baggie, with 100ml bits and pieces, although we’d travelled from South Africa without doing this.
I certainly felt a lot safer while standing in the security check queue when we dropped the plastic bag, smashing Jethro’s bottle of gooey paediatric syrup. The stickiness oozed over our toiletries and drip-hang-dripped on to the floor. Jethro, exhausted from the first flight, added to the fun. Eventually we cleaned up with one of Jethro’s nappies.


A picture not featuring my son. Incredible.
The second flight was becoming too much for Jethro

Jenny, Angie’s sister, met us at the airport, helped us organise a taxi to our B&B, and was just generally awesome.

And now I am tired of typing stuff. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have taken too many photos that actually tell the story of our journey. The photos seem to consist mainly of my son, and pretty much nothing else. During moments of calamity, I’d have liked to take photos documenting it, but I suspect Angie would have attacked me with the car-seat as I snapped away while she struggled single-handedly with the luggage and child.

Ah well, such is life.