This meerkat has been fortunate enough to be quite well-travelled. I have had a fair bit of experience travelling by train, by ferry, and by plane. Trains are by far my favourite form of transport, though I don’t mind plane travel (despite a degree of anxiety shortly before every flight). Ferries leave me feeling sea-sick, unless I am on deck, and it’s not always practical to stay above deck for the entirety of a five-hour Channel crossing!
Despite my sea-sickness, I’ve been quite interested in the idea of doing a cruise. Cruise liners, in theory at least, won’t feel the motion of the waves as much as a ferry. In theory.
One ferry-based tale comes from when I was but a mere cub. I ended up being sick down a small flight of carpeted stairs, then muttering ‘for goodness sake!’, in what I thought was a fairly grown-up manner. This also came near the end of the journey, so I almost made it… but not quite.
With train travel, I’ve generally be lucky to avoid major hiccups, though I recall having to travel by train to London, on what I believe was the day after the tragic Hatfield rail crash. Normally, any train trips for me at that time would have taken my train along the same line, but in the wake of the crash, services were understandably highly disrupted, and the trains were incredibly busy.
There was another moment, heading out of London after spending the day there with a friend, where we ended stuck on a train in King’s Cross for around an hour and a half, with a lot of rather drunken Geordies. In fairness, they were harmless enough. The annoying factor was that the first stop was our stop, perhaps no more than half an hour away, and yet we not only went nowhere for ages, we also had a 20-minute pause during the journey.
In terms of plane travel, the lengthy flights to the USA have been quite the experience, depending upon who you fly with. On a British Airways flight home, all the electronic entertainment systems died at one point, so if you didn’t have a book, or something else to occupy you, things swiftly got very boring. This meerkat cannot sleep on planes, even on long-haul flights, so it’s not like I could even do that to pass the time. This left me feeling absolutely zonked after the flight to Australia, a journey I would both love to do again, and would completely dread at the same time.
The most memorable plane trip was… well, I was either 19 or 20, I think, and this meerkat was flying out to Majorca, with my brother, one of his friends, and my folks. We got to the airport quite early, for an early fight. In theory, we’d be pool-side by 12pm, possibly earlier. In theory.
We were on the plane. The plane taxied to the runway. The plane accelerated. We were getting ready for take-off. The plane came slamming to a halt very abruptly. There was a moment of panic, and when that moment passed, the plane trundled back to the terminal. What happened, you ask? One of the plane’s tyres, to put it in the terms used by the crew, ‘explosively decompressed’. I guess saying it burst sounded more worrying! We were all off-loaded from the aircraft, and had to wait at the terminal at Luton airport (which, back then, was particularly dingy). We spent hours there, received vouchers for a breakfast buffet that had already been picked bare, and had to wait for a spare tyre to be delivered from Manchester (for some reason, the airline didn’t keep spares at Luton, or so I recall). It had to be fitted and tested before we could fly. There was a particularly loud cheer when the plane finally took off!
The flight home was uneventful!