The joys of airports (not).

May 11, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I’m really behind on the blogging front as I’ve been too busy catching up with pictures. That’s going to change tonight as I’m on my way to Berlin - which seems like a good excuse to blog. I’d loved to have gone by rail but the logistics didn’t stack up because of work. It’s a bit of a nightmare being freelance as very little is planned in advance. People assume that your clients will arrange things weeks/months beforehand but the reality is very different. A few days notice is pretty standard – a month is a luxury.

Anyways, I managed to get a decent priced flight from Manchester with Easyjet after getting over the shock of finding that Air Berlin wanted to charge me £965! I mean, I just want to fly – not buy the damned plane....

Of course, the problem with the ‘cheap’ airlines is they fly at silly hours to get the cheapest slots (07:20 in this case) so I had to factor in a night at Manchester airport – which is where I’m heading now. I arrived at Halifax to catch the 22:44 to Huddersfield. Whilst I was waiting the last Grand Central service from London rolled in, which felt quite odd as that’s normally the one I’m getting off! Instead, my steed was a 2-car Pacer in the shape of 142064. My inner trainspotter kicked in and noticed the First Great Western seat mocquette which betrayed it as one of the returnees from Devon. Despite the low bus seats it was a quiet and comfortable journey to Huddersfield. I had plenty of time to grab food from one of the local Indian takeaways where I was the only customer. As they cooked my veggie samosas the staff were keen to chat. I must’ve entertained them because they presented me with a free can of coke in one of those random acts of generosity that make the world a brighter place. The warm glow generated was quickly extinguished back at the station. I’d plugged my laptop into one of the 6 power points by the seats in the waiting area – only to be threatened by the cleaner ‘don’t let the RO2 catch you using them – you’ll be thrown off the station’. I wonder if TPE know that such a petty attitude exists amongst staff at Huddersfield? I wouldn’t mind, but there are 6 sockets right next to the seats with no notices saying ‘not for public use’ – what are we meant to think when sockets are provided on their trains?

I was glad when the 23:56 rolled in as I knew the welcome would be a bit warmer. In fact it was the quietest TPE service I’ve been on for ages. The mixed bag of 15 punters in the lead car was mercifully quiet, leaving me to type undisturbed. It was a silence that lasted all the way to Manchester where it became stronger as train went into ‘eco-mode’ - shutting down the engine under our car. The only sound left was a gentle ‘tap tap’ as I worked away at the keyboard.

All this silence proved to be good preparation for the airport. Now, I’ve visited far too many across the globe but none prepared me for Manchester. I’d hoped for a comfortable place to sit with at least a coffee shop or something nearby. What I hadn’t anticipated was Terminal 1. Essentially it’s a row of check-in desks smeared along the side of a multi-storey car park – and that’s your lot. No shops, certainly no coffee shops. Bugger-all really, unless you count the cash machine offering you money you can’t spend anywhere. There’s not even anywhere to sit. Frankly, it’s crap. When I compare this to one of the modern railway palaces like St Pancras or Kings Cross it’s easy to see why the railway is in renaissance. As I type this I’m sat on the floor in a deserted building bereft of an amenity that’s about as welcoming as an abattoir. It’s going to be a long night. Now, if you get to read this – at least their offer of 30 mins free wifi was kosher.* 

 

I’ll try and post more from Germany but it’s going to be a busy few days on the British Military Train. So, if I were you I’d look out for the pictures instead. After all, one’s worth a thousand words...

*It wasn’t. The bloody wifi kept throwing me out of my website. You can’t access anything that takes more than the brainpower of an amoeba.

Pt 2 to follow...


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