Feliz Navidad

I have no problem with flying, as a general principle. I’m not scared of flying. I don’t think it’s an aberration of nature. It’s a terrible pollutant but it’s not going to stop happening. And now it’s the only way I can get to my parents. It’s such a shame the experience is so utterly hideous.

I hate Gatwick. Not as much as I hate Stansted, but I really hate Gatwick. It’s basically a shopping mall with horrible food outlets (McDonalds or Upper Crust anyone? Why can’t there be anything nicer than what I’d find in Charing Cross station?) that happens to have planes taking off and landing as a background activity. However, as I flew out on Sunday and airports struggled to cope with the effects of the fog, I don’t think there was a flight out of Gatwick that wasn’t delayed and it turned into a human holding pen. People were sat on every possible piece of floor, queues for food stretched across the concourse, queues for everything spilled beyond shop boundaries. I ate my lunch sat under a bank of payphones. People were lining the edges of the walkways to the gates, it was like a civilised and rather middle class refugee camp. I managed to find a seat eventually (the one good thing about travelling solo is that you can grab solitary seats) in view of a monitor and whimpered over A Spot of Bother until the flight was called. Airports are pits of misery. Or, London’s airports are. In Murcia you can look out over the sea. Admittedly, that’s all you can do, but still…

I’m fortunate that my parents live just ten minutes from the airport, so I can collapse into the car and be back at the house eating cake and throwing my shoes into a corner very quickly. And thus was my Christmas – five days in surprisingly sunny weather, sitting on the terrace in short-sleeved t-shirt every day and occasionally pondering whether suncream would be in order. Just so you can hate me, here’s a shot of the beach on Christmas Day:

I enjoyed a number of beers in the company of what felt like every other English person in Los Alcazares  as everyone headed to this particular beach bar by prior agreement. I’m not generally a fan of Spain (give me central Europe any day), but it beats the hell out of Leeds.

They have a massive Nativity scene in the town as well – not a pathetic attempt at a manger scene, but the whole story from conception to flight into Egypt. They build other scenes as well, markets and schools (and one tableau of someone slaughtering a pig; not quite kosher) and the detail is quite astonishing.

And while I’m giving you photos… Murcia airport doubles as a military airbase – there are no civilian flights in the mornings to allow the pilots to practice. They fly in really low, and they’ve been seen rehearsing for displays – actual loop-the-loops, flying upside down, trails of coloured smoke. This is the first time I’ve managed to take a picture of them, they’re usually gone so damn fast:

It wasn’t all good weather though – I mean, it was during the day and any point we were outside, but there were some incredible thunderstorms at night. And I’ve this to say for England – our trains may not be able to cope with rain, our sewers may flood and our shoes may leak, but at least we don’t have to light candles at the first sign of a distant storm in case the inevitable series of second-long power cuts turns into one big one. Playing Scrabble by occasional candlelight. It’s interesting.


3 responses to “Feliz Navidad

  1. Nick December 30, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Military jets – Very cool
    Nativity scene – Very cool
    British airports – Not cool
    Problems with our airports is since they became privatised they had to start generating more revenue. Since they can’t charge the airlines more they have to rely on us to spill our pockets, hence retail space is more important than security lines or anything else that might make them more ‘friendly’. Still it can’t go on like this forever. Something will give evntually.
    Anyways on a lighter note just been trying to work out which jets those were and came up with this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrulla_Aguila

  2. Rachel December 30, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    There was an interesting article about BAA the other day, where they’ve scrapped some shops to allow more room at security. Like, duh, did that not occur to them before? Well of course it did, but looks like the criticism finally got the better of profit.
    And on the subject of privatised airports, just WAIT until 18 January. I may have one or two things to say…

  3. Rachel December 30, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Oh, and cheers for looking up the air team! I shall pass that on to my parents – and I’ll carry on looking up into the skies…

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