The trefor.net #orlandoroadtrip Day2 – BA2037 #GBP14

view from room Hyatt Regency Grand Cedar OrlandoEnsconced in seat 10A of BA2037 to Orlando working offline. There are three of us travelling together us on this flight, Matt and Dom from Illume/The Cavell Group being the other two. I say together. I’m in Club, Matt took up the offer for an upgrade to Premium Economy (at a price) which young Dom declined so we are in three different cabins.

Having spent years flying long haul on business I promised myself never to join the sardine community again and happily paid the extra for a business class ticket. I feel a lot better for it. It’s the first time I’ve been in a “modern” business class seat which is effectively its own little space. I haven’t yet familiarised myself with all the buttons that can be pressed but I have found the hidden storage compartment and been able to conveniently stash away my book, wallet and other bits and bobs for retrieval at an appropriate juncture during the flight.

I almost have to make a decision what to do with my time on this flight. It isn’t often I am without an internet connection which is generally all consuming. The seat, in which I am facing the next bloke (name of Paul), turns into a flat bed. My neighbour doesn’t appear to be the talkative type so I really do have 9 hours ahead of me totally to myself. Luxury.

The options are reading, writing or watching/listening interspersed with eating drinking and sleeping. Probably end up doing a bit of everything and it might be interesting to see how the writing changes with time – considering the effects of the champagne and other miscellaneous beverages. Once, on a flight from Istanbul to Heathrow I wrote my thoughts and observations through most of the flight. These can be found here.

boarding passThe pre departure announcement is going on. Looks like we have a lady pilot which I think is a first for me. More on this at the end of the post.

I have a window seat. Historically I’ve gone for an aisle for the ease of getting up and about and access to the loo. However I have my own little corridor here so it’s like being in an aisle and I quite like the idea of following our progress whilst overland. It’s a beautiful bright sunny day and the countryside below is looking spectacularly green. I sense this might not be the case at our destination in Florida but will find out soon enough.

The table in front of me is a reasonable size but a bit on the floppy side. Makes me wonder whether there is something I’ve missed in opening it out. My knee is providing support so it will do the job. At this stage I’m writing, it being early in the flight and before the drinks have been served, not counting the pre flight glass of champagne.

The seat belt signs are off and the hot face towels have been dispensed. V refreshing. Our destination being the sunshine state you do need to know that I am appropriately dressed in shorts and tshirt with deck shoes, no socks. I have my contact lenses in the laptop bag along so that I can wear my Oakleys when I arrive. Gotta be properly equipped on these trips.

green English countryside viewed from planeWe have been flying parallel to the south coast which is quite cool. In the past when I’ve been to America the plane has always headed north. The route to California is over the Artic and Greenland. Looks like it will be taking us over bluer waters. I was hoping to see Land’s End as we flew over. I’ve put the inflight map on the screen in front of me so that I don’t miss it. Unfortunately it’s clouded over down below us which is pretty typical of the UK innit. We are just passing Newquay fwiw.

The drinks trolley has arrived. I’m having a g&t, tanqueray, with mixed nuts. Perfectly acceptable. Paul is on still water. Just noticed someone holding up a toddler with an extremely runny nose. Doesn’t bode well. At least he seems to be quiet at the moment.

Looking down there are patches in the cloud and I do believe I can see Lands End. Yay. Rather than take a photo I’ll probably go a google maps satellite view for you when I publish this, just so you can see what I can see:) (couldn’t be bothered in the end – you can look it up your selves).

Everyone seems to be settling in to the flight and I have passed the 700 word count, less than an hour in the air. This doesn’t mean that in 8 hours to go you’re going to get 6,300 words but it should be a goodly chunk. Chocolate biscuit.

I can feel a bit of a nap coming on later. Just placed my order for lunch. Hebridean peat-smoked salmon pate with baked ciabatta croute, seasonal salad with vinaigrette followed by Thai chicken curry with basmmati rice and sugar snap peas. It’s looking very much like frsh strawberries with cream for dessert followed by Thomas Hoe Red Leicester and Channel ISland brie served with fig relish. May skip the selection of fruit.

It’s minus 57 outside with 4038 miles to go and I can tell you that inside the plane the kid has just started to cry. Also the champagne has arrived. Cheers. Paul isn’t very talkative. I don’t feel able to crack any jokes or make conversation as there doesn’t seem to be much response coming from there. Fortunately looks like he is about to put some headphones on and get in his own zone although having said that he has just got the toothbrush out of his “amenity bag” or whatever they call the freebie giveaways on airplanes. He has also just got his bag down from the overhead compartment. This is very frustrating because I want to look to see what he is doing but sense it would be invading his space so my eyes are firmly glued on the keyboard and I’m relying on peripheral vision to determine what is going on. He has just got some work out.

In all fairness to Paul in my frequent flyer days my recipe to survive long flights was to get in my own zone and sleep the whole way. I became an expert at this.

We are now to the south of Ireland, the sea very much covered in cloud. There may be fishing boats down there and there may not. I can’t see and I don’t have internet access to fire up my extremely useful Marine Traffic app. I say extremely useful but it is really just a novelty and rarely of any use at all, especially as the one occasion that I might really want to use it, is now, I can’t. Never mind.

At some stage on this flight I am going to have to borrow a biro as I need to fill out the customs declaration form. It’s asking me questions such as how much cash I’m bringing in to the country. I can tell you the answer is exactly none. Nowt. No greenbacks. I’d left it until the airport to buy dollars but the currency exchange there, they remain nameless partly because I can’t remember but also because their rates were a ripoff, were only offering 1.5 dollars to the pound as an exchange rate. In consequence I am entering the US of A, a country notorious for cash being king without any. I do of course have cards and Matt has cash to pay for the taxi so she’ll be right.

7 hours 49 minutes to our destination. Ordinarily one might consider that just having the in flight route map on the TV to be the height of boringness. I disagree. There is art in that route map and it seems better to me that the movies on demand on offer of which there are 15. The only decent ones, and don’t base your watching decisions on my tastes because there are some recent oscar winners in that list, are Cool Hand Luke and the Exotic Marigold Hotel, both of which I have seen. We have The Exotic Marigold on DVD although I think I lent it to me mam and dad. Doubt that they have watched it. Probably don’t know how to work the DVD player assuming they have one.

flight map en route to orlandoI am happy. Champagne drunk, starter finished and Nina Simone sings the blues in the headphones. Very different rendition of House of the Rising Sun which has given me some ideas. On saturday August 2nd we are invited to the 25th Wedding Anniversary bash of our friends Helen and Martin around the corner on Curle Avene. A request has been made for Los Trios Paranoias to reform for the occasion.

Los Tiros Paranoias is an ad hoc group put together to provide the entertainment for the Curle Avenue Queen’s diamond Jubilee street party. It was a very rough and ready set beset with wind problems. We hadn’t rehearsed and the wind kept blowing the music all over the place. Moreover we didn’t have proper trombone arrangements. The band comprises Joe on horn, Steve on slide trombone and me on geetar and vocals.

The next time we are going to be prepared. Not only will we have clothes pegs to keep the music from blowing away but Joe, being a bit of a musical genius, is going to provide arrangements for the whole set so the party goers are in for a real treat. We even now have a PA system, purchased this very week coz every bloke should have one. And of course, having now listened to Nina Simone’s version of the House of the Rising Sun, we will be doing our very own special rendition of that classic.

Btw we have now had the main course, accompanied with a fair glass of red – Chateau La Claymore 2009, Lussac Saint-Emilion. The handy thing about this seat set u is that you can slide the table back (forward in reality but back sounds as if conventionally right) and pick up the laptop for in between course creativity. I wish I could listen to Nina Simone whilst simultaneously watching or progress on the map. Never mind.

Paul seems to be watching something. Must either be Cool Hand Luke or Exotic Marigold. Nothing else worth watching. Don’t take my word for it. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to TV and movies. If it’s popular it can’t be any good.  Nina is building up to a crescendo, as she is wont to do. She played Ronnie Scotts when I was a student. Wish I’d gone. Didn’t. Never mind. One of the all time greats. Probably too late now.

Just noticed I’ve spilt a tiny drop of salad dressing on my shirt. Bit annoying. Tried hard not to. Unfortunately I’m very messy like that. Wanted to take a pic of the little bottle of salad dressing. Rapeseed oil and aged balsamic. It was v cool with the dark vinegar at the bottom and the yellow green oil on top. I didn’t have my camera to hand.

Sea still covered in cloud. Wots that all about? We must be way out over the Atlantic now. Weather should be a feature of land not sea. Obviously not. Rains out at sea doesn’t it?

While I remember, when we were waiting at the gate Matt observed that I would probably be recording the whole orlando trip on the blog. A kind of blogging equivalent of a road trip movie. trefor.net goes to Orlando. Consider it done. Great idea. There may well be some voipy technology related posts

Warre’s LBV 2008. nuff said.

You do need to know that I am now onto Neil Young, Harvest. One has to listen to these classics. Not totally sure about Neil Young but I’m giving him a chance. He was a huge star.

6 hours and 22 minutes to go till we get to Orlando. I do find the whole notion of getting on a plane, a tubular object, and stepping out somewhere totally different in the world a bit on the surreal side. If I walked it would probably feel different about the whole thing. Not hugely practical to walk to Orlando though.

The book I’m reading is the third in the Patrick Leigh Fermor trilogy about has walk to Constantinople when he was eighteen years old. Took him a year. That is real adventure. I hitchhiked to Greece after my first year at Bangor University. I’ll tell you the story sometime. These are things you have to do. I’m very tempted to do something similar again, especially now that I have time and am paddling my own canoe.

Priority interrup. A steward with a magnificent Salvador Dali type moustache and beard setup has just come around trying to sell me some “product” from the in flight mag. Wasn’t much of a sales effort. He can’t be on commission.

They have dimmed the lights. Want us to sleep for the rest of the flight. Makes lifeveasier for the staff. Fair enough. I’m still tapping away. I’ll conk out at some point. Neil Young is growing on me. I have a CD of his at home somewhere. Must listen to it.

Coming back to the travel and adventure piece I did plan on doing the Mongol Rally last summer, Had sponsorship lined up for it – mobile and satellite comms. Didn’t go in the end for a variety of reasons I won’t bore you with. The project isn’t dead though. Just on the back burner. The family was quite relieved when it got canned. The route takes you along the Afghan border for some way. The old Silk Road. It wasn’t a road until after WW2 when the Russians bulldozed their way through. Bit dodgy.  Maybe next year. Has to be done. Stay tuned.

Looking at the screen in front of me keep thinking I should be able to move cursor across it and click on something. Can’t. Airline entertainment tech struggles to keep up with fast moving tech. Like there is no internet access although there is a phone. Probably costs a fortune. Makes me thing of the old dial up days. One could stick the phone into an acoustic modem and get a low baud rate out of the tube – the smartie tube, or Pringles, whatever floats your boat.

Still have 3 hours 48 mintutes left on the Chromebook battery. Not bad eh? There is an electrical socket somewhere in this seat but I’ve not needed to find it yet. We shall see. It’ll be somewhere.

I think Paul has nodded off. Water must have that effect on you. I’m on my next glass of champagne Hey… He’s got one of these neck cushions. I wonder if they are BA free issue. WIll take a look in a bit. Don’t think so. The blankets are v comfortable. I’ll probably have a nap meself in a bit. You know it makes sense. Before I have a bit of a kip I’m going to ask if I can visit thee flight deck. Have a photo taken with the pilots. Never done it before. I saw a kid being escorted back and suspect that’s what was happening. Not sure they let you. Security.

I can envisage having a good kip in a bit. Neil Young has moved on to Needle And The Damage Done. Exotic life but a junkie. No life. I’ll stick to the champagne.

Before I hit the hay I just wanted to mention that the cloud below is us dispersing and we can see the shadows of clouds on the sea. I don’t think it is particularly rough. Not many white tops to see. Wonder how close the nearest ship is though.

zzz

That was a lovely kip. Only 2 hours 45 minutes to go. Must have been asleep for three hours or so. Paul is snoring away still. Glad I’ve got a window seat. You are more exposed on the aisle. Still 3 hours 30 minutes of battery left wahey.

Went to the galley for a stretch & had a chat with one of the stewards and the 1st officer. I’m definitely meeting the captain after we have landed. Her name is Wendy. Cool. Filled in my customs declaration form and got the passport country of issue and passport numbers the wrong way round so I had to start again and fill out another. Then I almost made the same mistake again. Nerve racking stuff this US immigration business. Apparently if you do it wrong they can send you to the back of the queue to fill another form out. The queue could be a long un. You don’t want to do that especially as I’ll be towards the back of our plane’s queue in the first place having stayed behind to see Wendy, for that is the Captain’s name.

Still cloudy out there. Weather better in Fl one hopes. I can see Bermuda on the flight map which is cool. Seems to be quite a long way out into the Atlantic. Nassau and Montego Bay are also near Orlando on the map though in reality a fair way off I’d think.

It’s 18.16 back home and Joe’s end of exams BBQ will have started. He’s having mates off the school bus around together with his band The Pylons. Pretty cool that your party features your own live band playing whatever music they fancy. The band plays what they term as pop folk but each member can also play jazz so they will inevitably be churning out a mix of genres. Sorry I couldn’t be there.

Paul has woken up. I can see him through the opaque seat separator, moving about a bit. Now his light is on. I’m not interested in pulling the screen down. Quite happy in my own little space.

Need to brush my teeth. Had a yoghurt and a little mars bar in the galley and now my teeth feel crap. Always do after eating chocolate. Might as well wait until I’ve had my scone with clotted cream and jam. No point in needing to clean my teeth twice.

He’s just sat down heavily. Big lad. It’s quite interesting (ish) being able to hear other things going on in the cabin but not seeing. I say interesting. It’s all relative. It’s only interesting when you are stuck in your seat with bugger all to do.

Cleaned my teeth in the end. Might avoid the jam later when the cream tea comes around. Wonder how the lads are getting on up the back. The kid has started to play up. He’s been good for most of the flight fair play. Having been there, one does have to feel sympathy for the parents. They know that the whole cabin will be holding them responsible for any noise. Comes with the parental territory. Aardvark.

Pretty comfortable, this seat. I have my feet up on the footrest, laptop in lap, little light on. The screen is stowed though so I don’t have the route map on. Can’t be bothered to open it up at the mo. Will do when the afternoon tea comes around. V civilised. Quite fancy a cup of tea now actually but will wait. All in good time, in the right order.

Have you noticed how big the engines are on these planes. Huge. Massive. In my mind I can imagine one dropping off. Don’t worry though. Hasn’t happened. Yet. Expect they have some extra strong bolts holding them on, just to be on the safe side. I’d hope so anyway and I haven’t heard of one dropping off. Should be fine. Don’t worry. I’m not a worrier so you shouldn’t be on my behalf. What is also genuinely amazing is that you can’t see the air rushing through the engine. I clearly must be doing so at a massive rate otherwise we wouldn’t still be up in the air. Imagine blowing on your hand but ten thousand times harder and you probably feel what it must be like to stand behind the engine. You wouldn’t do it but no harm in letting the imagination go a little.

Looks like we have left Bermuda behind on our port side. That’s left to you landlubbers. I’m sat on the right so wouldn’t have seen it anyway unless I’d made the effort to get up and look out of a window on the other side of the plane. Just looked out and actually am on the port side – just facing backwards which is how I got confused. Altitude must do that to you. Confused of 40,000 feet. Shame really. I’d like to have seen Bermuda.

As we get closer to Orlando, less than ninety minutes away now, the clouds are clearing and there is big news. I have seen a ship .We have quickly left it behind but a ship, a solitary ship it was. My marine traffic app would have come in handy after all. Now I’ve seen another boat down there. We must be getting closer to land. In fact it is 20 minutes to landing and the fasten seat belts sign is on. I’m just going to safely stow my book in the locker and my laptop. Shame.

flight deckAfter landing we were held on board the plane at the request of the local immigration folks – too many people in the arrivals area apparently. Doesn’t bode well for how quickly we might make it through. Matt says it once took him three hours to get through immigration in LAX. Arrived just after a plane from Mexico!

The upside here is I got to go and sit in the cockpit and chat to Wendy. Wendy Thornton-Clark was one of the first batch of female pilots taken on by BA. The pic of me sat in her seat didn’t come out very well as I had a window behind my. Still worth publishing anyway.

tref & wendy thornton-clark

cockpit

We have arrived in Orlando. Read other great posts in the trefor.net #orlandoroadtrip :

Day1 – Ronnie Scotts & The Haywood Sisters

pool view by night

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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