The one where we finally get on the plane
Now, we catch the little train thingy out to the satellite and make a guess as to which gate we will board through. There were 3 or 4 Virgin planes on stands there but only 1 had a flight assigned at that time and we had no interest in flying to Antigua. I’m sure it’s a very nice place but it’s devoid of Disney related theme parks and attached merchandising so we opted to give it a miss. We got Steven out of his buggy and let him have a crawl around on the carpeted area as it would be the last chance for a very long time. Harry and Ellie ran around a bit and ‘played’ on the racing arcade game next to us.
As luck would have it we chose the right seats to sit in as the plane right outside our window would be the one taking us away from here. As the crowd starts to gather we decide it’s time to gather the kids up and keep them a bit closer.
Steve asks Harry where Ellie is. He replies, “she’s on the game.” I look at Steve in astonishment. “Come on,” I say, “she’s not 6 for another 2 days, if you really needed money that bad you could have come to us.” Harry ran over to the racing game and retrieved his sister. Then he decided he didn’t want to see Mickey Mouse. Strange: all the way to the airport all he had been talking about apparently was meeting Mickey Mouse. Now he doesn’t want to. Why not? “He might be a bit gairy.” Quick reassurance that Mickey wasn’t scary and Harry’s happy again.
One positive aspect of flying with young children is that you get to board the plane before all the sensible people who don’t take babies to Disney World. It was a bit of a struggle getting through the hoards of people crowded around the gate waiting for their row number to be called though. Why do people do that? I mean, they have a seat assigned, it’s not like they won’t get on the plane. Anyway, we make our way through the throng and down the walkway to the plane. We hand over the folded and bagged buggy to the agent at the entrance to the plane. He asks why there’s no luggage tag on it. The check-in agent said it would be tagged at the gate. He takes it off to be tagged and brings it back to put with all the others. The bulkhead seats are pretty good: enough legroom for Adrian to fit comfortably in with space to wiggle around. There’s a big fold-down table in the panel in front of us where I guess the skycot goes. Seated next to us is 3-month-old Michael and his Mummy and Daddy who live in Henley which is just along the Thames from where I grew up.
After cramming all our stuff into the overhead locker, Adrian fed Steven while everyone else boarded the plane. Harry came on and ran straight up to where we were sitting, thinking that he would be sitting there too. Actually he was sitting with Big Steve, Lisa, and Ellie a few rows forward from us, but we assured him he was welcome to visit anytime the seatbelt sign was off. We chatted a bit with Michael’s parents and discovered that they too were a rugby family. Hooray. Oh that reminds me: as we were walking past AllSports in the shopping village that morning we spotted some minature rugby balls just the right size for Steven’s hands. So he now has his first rugby ball. They had to deflate the ball as we were taking it on a flight but they give you a free pump to re-inflate it.
Take off was pretty smooth: Steven slept through the whole thing. Michael’s daddy was very nervous though; I thought he was going to pass out at one point. He was ok once we’d cleared the bit of bad weather over Gatwick though. As soon as the seatbelt light went out, Nanny Lesley decided to investigate the bathrooms and in her haste she slipped and nearly fell over getting out of her seat, much to the amusement of those around her. Well just myself and Adrian laughed, but it was really funny, honest. By the time she came back from the bathroom Steven was happily sitting up in his skycot chewing on one of his blue shoes. The skycot is kind of like a big rectangular box that straps to the pull down table in front of you. Steven was too big to sleep in it; if he laid down his feet and head touched the ends, but he sat in it quite happily and it was great to play in while Mummy and Daddy had a drink. Dawn’s tip for the day is: do not drink the orange juice served in Virgin Atlantic economy cabins. It tasted of cold baked beans.
Food was a different matter however. Bearing in mind that it is airline food and never going to get any Michelin stars, Adrian gave the sausage and mash a B+, and I gave the beef cobbler a solid A. It was nice food. Steven sat in his skycot and ate my bread roll. Actually he crumbled most of it into the cot but I believe a small fraction of it was consumed. He then picked up one of his blue shoes, leaned over the side of the cot, and used the shoe to bash Adrian’s pack of cracker biscuits. It did take ages for them to clear away the trays though, and we asked them to take away the skycot as well because, well let’s face it, he wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon; far too much new stuff going on around him.