Oh happy days. The taxi didn't turn up. It was 6.40 in the morning. The taxi was meant to arrive at 6.30. Okay, only ten minutes late but I had a flight to catch and they couldn't blame traffic this time. I got up at 4.30. Yes, I was packed but the house looked like a tip and I forgot to run the dishwasher, and... and... and... I was in a panic, does it show?
My lovely daughter, got up at 5.30 to make sure I was up. She was a star, helping me to get ready and pack the previous day. By the time 6.30 arrived I was ready to roll... except no taxi. I phoned them up. There was that pause when you know something was dreadfully wrong.
"You are booked, but for tomorrow."
"I booked and paid, and I checked it last night. Today is the day."
"Someone is just passing your door...." Yeah right!
I took a deep breath and tried not to panic. "I'll be here."
Now, my flight was not until ten, but you have to understand that the trip around the M25 to Heathrow airport in the rush hour generally looks like this.
A 35 minute journey can take an hour and a half - if you're lucky, and the traffic starts from early in the morning.
The taxi arrived eventually (passing the door - hah!) and we got going. He was a great guy, ex-Marine, and very chatty. The traffic was bearable, and by eight o'clock I was checked in, with coffee and breathing for the first time that morning.
My flight with US Airways was uneventful except for the turbulence. I thought I was going to be thrown off the loo - mid-stream - at one point. Wouldn't that have been embarrassing? The staff were lovely, I had no one sitting next to me so I could write, and food was actually okay. Considering most airline food I've had is disgusting that is saying something. One curious thing that made me giggle, post lunch, they made everyone put the shades down "for the screens". Of course everyone went to sleep like good little girls and boys. I don't sleep on plane flights so I watched this with some amusement.
My back is not up to eight hours of those seats. By the time I staggered off the plane I could have done with a hot tub and a nice massage. I did contemplate upgrading but it is out of my price-range.
THEY LET ME IN THE COUNTRY! Woohoo. Immigration was very simple. Yes there were queues (lines) but what the heck, the British are used to that.
Charlotte to Tampa. More bumps. But again, no one sitting next to me so I could carry on with my story. Yes, S.A. Meade, Stormin' Norman is nearly finished!!
I was really pleased to reach Tampa. I'd been travelling for fifteen hours, but there was still one hurdle to overcome. The shuttle to the hotel. After I'd sat on the wall outside the airport for nearly an hour waiting for the shuttle Sue was starting to grit her teeth, or doze; I think I did both.
I met author, Ann Lister, in my shuttle once it had turned up, and we chatted happily for the next hour(ish) as the shuttle meandered around. The older ladies behind us were wide-eyed when they realised what we were here for but to give them credit, their heads didn't explode.
I found my roomie, L.E. Franks in the hotel bar (well, there's a surprise) with Kindle Alexander (both of them) and Sandrine Gasq Dion. Thank you Kindle Alexander for the welcome. You rock. Despite being knackered I was hungry, and they took me and Ann to a steak house. Our waiter, Jeff, was a one-man entertainment act all by himself. He handled the six of us (you can imagine the conversation) extremely well. Now Sue, in a steak house, very tired, faced with a huge choice of meat (!) and no idea what to pick - I let Jeff do the choosing. One steak dinner and a watermelon margarita later I was much happier.
By the way, happy birthday, Sandrine. Sorry you didn't get your ice cream.
|Ann Lister's photo|
So, I'm here at Rainbow Con. Tired and a little travel-happy today. More later.