We finally broke away and the holiday we had been preparing for arrived just in time. It was quite a struggle of persuasion with guile to get my good friend of 30 years to agree that we need to spend some quality time together away.
Something substantial beyond the times snatched on the phone or when we met up for short meals whenever our paths crossed in London.
Reticence and reluctance is what I have to tackle as hurdles and this time I had the full force of the elements as I wanted us to go away for two weeks to one of my haunts that I had spent 100 days at, a place where at the reception, I am welcomed, “Mr Akintayo, welcome to your second home.”
I had not been since December 2010 and I was quite looking forward to it, my friend however, was wishing I had forgotten or some other circumstance would crop up that it would never happen.
At best, he wanted to go away for a week, at worst, a week’s holiday for me was no holiday that in the end, I booked 11 nights, and yet, I almost did not hear the last of it because 10 days was the halfway point, as if you could go away from 10 and a half nights, anyway, this is for the record, because, it would be referenced when next I need to tackle reticence and reluctance towards getting away.
A pedantic inconvenience
He arrived from London, we had a quick meal at my apartment and they made off to the airport. Though he would not believe it, I do suffer a few privations when I go on holiday alone, but when with company, I try to ensure there is nothing, if anything to complain about.
We first encountered the facetiousness of a Thomson Holidays check-in clerk who was particular about my hand baggage weighing 6.8kg when it should according her be just 5kg, we lightened my hand baggage by transferring some things into my friend’s luggage.
I later did a search on the baggage restrictions of Thomson Holidays and found that the weight restriction applies to checked-in baggage, but it is dimensions that applies to hand luggage. If there is a rule, it is unwritten, but enforced under duress at a point where one does not have the means to argue the case with evidence. I was not pleased.
Through not thorough
We fast-tracked through security, though I noticed there was no rigorous border checks either on our way out in Manchester or at our point of entry at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria airport.
Not that our fast-track was anything like it, two families with kids ahead of us were as disorganised as you could have a troop of people that the normal paced security checks seemed to go through briskly.
Then we settled in the airport lounge for the less than two-hour wait for boarding. Though boarding seemed to happen on time, we were held at the gate for another 20 minutes and it was 30 minutes beyond schedule before we took off.
A haul of perfidy
The safety announcement appeared on the screens on the backs of the seats we faced, it was a girl probably lip-syncing the safety instructions with other kids demonstrating all the safety procedures. It was funny, entertaining and well, serious too.
The screens then returned to a repeating cycle of holiday offers besides which we suffered sensory deprivation for almost 4 hours unsure of where we were, how much long our flight was or if there was anything to observe even if it was a night flight.
When I asked the air hostess about getting some entertainment on my screen, she said it was not a service offered on their short-haul flights.
Now, that threw me because a typical film would run for two hours or thereabouts, the flight from Manchester to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was of a 4 hour 10 minute duration.
Checking Wikipedia for the skinny on flight lengths, short-haul flights last less than 3 hours, medium-haul flights up to 6 hours, long-haul up to 12 hours and ultra-long-haul flights are over 12 hours.
Then the definition becomes obfuscated that a short-haul flight can be limited to 500 miles (800 kilometres) or for UK Treasury purposes, it is an absolute flight distance of under 2000 miles (3600 kilometres).
Then, I realise the subtle technicality that Thomson Holidays has liberally adopted for the purpose of passing off the required Air Passenger Duty £138 per passenger as a discount amongst other things. The distance from Manchester to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is just 1,877 miles (3379 mile). The travesty and perfidy of it all.
Yet more time
I had arranged to be picked up from the airport rather than take the Thomson Holidays shuttle service which from past experience has me delivered to my hotel last, after travelling round Maspalomas and Playa del Ingles discovering where all the luxury hotels were.
Yet, it took well over an hour for our luggage to hit the conveyor belt because we arrived when luggage handling shifts changeover, something I thought could be better managed with an overlap so as not to inconvenience passengers at the end of a long flight that kept them at the airport beyond 1:00AM.
We got to our hotel just before the crowds arrived, were booked in and basically, the holiday has begun.
Rest, relax, rejuvenate and recuperate.