Monday, April 14, 2008

En Route to Toronto - Friday 11th April

The more I fly, the more I dislike it. I try to look on planes as buses, and not worry about them, but if you scratch the surface I’m a very nervous flyer. I shouldn’t be. I’ve flown dozens of times and despite a few rough landings I’ve only had one really scary occurrence, when the plane could not land properly and we took off again virtually vertically. But if you scratch the surface, I’m one very nervous traveller.

So when the plane lost power this morning for the first time whilst still sitting on the sky bridge I was concerned. When it lost power the second time I was very nervous indeed, and by the time they brought the engineers in I was beginning to perspire almost visibly. I find this very embarrassing, because as a seasoned flyer I really do not think I have any excuse to be afraid. But afraid I was.

Finally the captain announced that everything was sorted out and that he, the engineers and crew could confirm it was safe to fly. Now a dear friend of ours is a pilot with the very same airline I’m flying today and know that there is no way they even consider taking off unless everything is absolutely perfect. Also, as the pilots are also on the plane they have a vested interest in ensuring everything is safe. And yet still I was not comforted.

Then, just as it looked like we could go, a hailstorm blew in from the north, and all take-offs to the north were suspended. AARRGGHHH!! This did nothing to ease my mind and caused us yet another hour’s delay for the storm to blow over and planes to be de-iced. Finally it was time to go, but by then I was just about as nervous as I could be.

I prayed and I do feel much safer, although I will be very glad when we arrive in Toronto. I always dread landing in Toronto due to the “lake effect”. As Toronto is on Lake Ontario there are some very interesting wind effects which make almost every landing bumpy – bumpier than almost every other airport I have been to. The flip side is that if you are taking off in the evening, Toronto airport is one of the most beautiful airports to take off from because of the way the city is lit. It is quite stunning, and as the lake effect does not seem to affect take off, it is usually very relaxing. So it is really the best and the worse of experiences flying into and out of Pearson International Airport.

I’m finding the whole idea of this visit a bit daunting as it is the first visit since we scattered Mom and Dad’s ashes in the dell at Sulham. It seems wildly ironic to me that they are there and we are going to Canada. I always loved arriving in Canada when we were visiting Mom and Dad - particularly when they lived at home, before Winston Park. They would always greet us so happily, even when they were not very well, and we would always sit and chat, having a drink and a few nibbles. I never realised how much I would miss that. So now there are no Mom and Dad waiting for our arrival it seems rather sad and flat.

The folks at the Holiday Inn Kitchener are very nice though and we have stayed there so often this last year that they always recognise us and treat us very kindly so I have to be grateful for that. And we are going to visit my cousin Esther and her family tomorrow which I am really looking forward to, as well as other family and friends throughout the week, so I am lucky to have those things to look forward to as well. It is just all the stuff about the estates I find daunting, mostly because if I am performing my duties as Executrix then my parents must be dead – something I still have not come to terms with. Every time I have to handle the death certificates my blood just runs cold and I feel such a sense of loss. They were so ill, particularly this last year, I thought I was prepared for their passing, but I was not and it is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with.

I also dread arriving in Toronto because the immigration folks are often hard to deal with. I know a lot of people want to immigrate to Canada, but I am not one of them. Unfortunately, all the warning flags go up when they see how often we have travelled to Toronto in the last year, and they often cross question us. Usually once I have said about Mom and Dad being ill or them dying it sorts everything out, but it always makes me very nervous. I’m also keen not to upset anyone, but I find it very irritating when Canadian immigration officials seem convinced that we want to live in Canada. Canada is a lovely place to visit but we have a super life in England and I really have absolutely no desire to ever live there again, particularly now my parents have died. It’s always going to seem rather sad for me, although I hope in future to come to terms with it enough to travel some of the parts of Canada I have never been to, and also to show Alex and Guy some of my favourite places like Québec City and Ottawa.

Don’t get me wrong, most immigration officers are very nice, and they are only doing their job. Some even make an effort to ask about things like our local football team, or mention a trip to England they enjoyed. It is just the ones that get a little carried away that are upsetting. Like the one who accused me of running home to Canada and kidnapping Alexander when he was eight months old. Guy did not get much holiday then and he had urged us to go in advance so we could have more time to visit with Mom and Dad. The official would not accept Guy was coming after us, and refused to make phone calls to confirm that. He had me terrified. I stood my ground though and he did let us in, but only after I got very stroppy and told him to either arrest me (which I assured him would be very embarrassing for us both) or let me pass. Thank goodness he saw sense. Then there was the official not long ago who, after determining we did not want to live in Canada, spent what felt like ten minutes listing reasons why he felt we were very stupid for wanting to live in England. He obviously had not enjoyed any of his visits to our green and pleasant land! It’s always okay in the end though, and for that I am very grateful. I just hope we get in without any hassle.

In the meantime I had better sit back, relax and enjoy the flight like Guy and Alex are doing. Guy is watching Apple TV shows on his MAC, and Alex is playing with the games on the entertainment system. I just wish the rather intense turbulence would let up a bit. I know turbulence can’t hurt you, but it’s making me very nervous indeed!

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