Flying to Santander

It was a long day starting with interrupted sleep when heavy rain fell in the night. Before leaving for the train to London I had to tie up the rather smashed down tomato plants outside on the patio. Hey ho.

Our kind cat sitter, Lena, drove us to the station to begin a straightforward succession of train to Paddington, then a tube to Liverpool Street station to catch the Stansted Express, which handily dropped us underneath the airport arrivals lounge.

The usual extended wait to check in followed as we experienced what has been described as the busiest flying day of the year in Britain, courtesy of the start of school holidays today.

Getting to the plane was another extended walk which my limbs didn't enjoy. Once we arrived at the last gateway the plane outside pulled away and worryingly disappeared across the tarmac. Even the Ryanair staff man in charge of the gate looked perplexed. But it soon resolved that 'our' plane was a bit late and before too long it arrived. Boarding was swift and my first experience of the 'bus like' Ryanair approach to travel began.

The doors eventually closed and we had the usual safety lesson from the cabin crew. The pilot announced that there was a bit of bad news.  There was a problem with air traffic in the south of france and so our take-off would need to be delayed by an hour and a half. The plane was towed out to the middle of the airfield and we prepared to wait. The pilot said he wouldn't start the engines until later!

After a reasonably short interval the pilot then announced that the situation had been remedied and we would be taking off as soon as possible. We seemed to jump the queue of planes on the approaches to the runway, and the pilot seemed to accelerate the plane before we even had straightened up on the runway.

Take-off was swift and I pointed my camera out of the window and saw this shadow of our flight just after we'd left the ground. I love the sight of the land from the air as planes climb, so I carefully watched the landscape beneath quickly receding. I think we headed on a strange course round the north of London before heading south towards France, but the cloud cover increased as we did so and that was the end of the views.

Santander on the north coast of Spain was our destination for a week's holiday. We landed after dark and were only an hour late, but even so the airport was deserted. There was only one passport officer to slowly clear the plane's passengers and after we'd picked up our hire car, the staff locked the door and fled the scene. I then had a rather trying time trying to work out the controls of a strange electronic car before we got on the road to our hotel in Comillas, a small town about thirty miles westwards along the coast.

Our host welcomed us despite the late arrival time and we managed a couple of beers and some delicious tapas before heading for a good sleep in what seems to be a fine small hotel in the centre of town.

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