Thursday, October 18, 2007

i'm here!

--In England, that is. Among rolling hills, tile roofs, and people with accents. And the accents include the two little blond boys belonging to my daughter. "Mum," they say, "may I have some hot tea?" they say. And mind you, they're 4 1/2 and almost 3.

i flew the friendly skies, given the fact that my hubby works for the (not always) friendly skies of United. Many trips to and from England i've spent in the luxury of First Class. This trip i spent in Cattle Plus. (Otherwise known as Economy Plus.) The differences are monumental. i've always shared with people the food service part of first, it being an entire Event in itself--"Would you care for a starter? We have the smoked salmon, or the goat cheese stuffed mushroom, or the coconut shrimp," the attendant says with a smile. This is followed by the salad cart--your choice of dressings and toppings. An entree follows, again a lovely choice of three, often a filet mignon with roasted potatoes, a pasta and a side of green beans with an almond butter, and the fish option, of course. For dessert? Again the smiling attendant brings a cart laden with grapes, apples, cheeses and port, followed by the ice cream sundae cart with choices of chocolate or caramel topping and whipped cream and nuts. By this time most first class passengers are in a food-coma, sipping their Starbucks coffee or third glass of wine, preparing to stretch out on their fully extending bed--unless they prefer to pop one of the available movies into the individual movie player located at their seat.

Does that set the scene for you? Just hold these thoughts: smiling, pampering flight attendants, meals served in courses on ceramic dishes, drinks in actual glass, the lazy, comfortable feeling of being well fed and well cared for, and the comfort of a lovely easy chair that makes into a bed. Do i want to raise my feet? Massage my lower back? Pause my movie? Have another refill of my soda or freshly brewed coffee? Maybe i'll just rearrange my two pillows and quilted blanket and stretch out for a little nap.

Cattle class, the most familiar of classes. i was blessed with a not-so-full economy class, leaving a five seat row with only one passenger at one end and me at the other. This isn't the case, usually, so being able to spread out was a bonus. The little bitty screen on the back of the seat in front of me was adequate--it was a scary one, "1408" about a haunted hotel room. Scary is better on a small screen. And the food and drink service? Wow. How does one begin to sing the praises of the attendants called on to serve a couple of hundred passengers? i realize it's a huge job, but would a smile kill a person? The quiet man in front of me tried to get the attention of the male attendant in the aisle by touching his arm. "Stop tapping me, I see you there," he barked, then turning to tell the attendant on the other end of the cart they were pushing, "I've got a man tapping me over here."

Maybe that's simply a warning to other passengers, using this meek man as an example. Beware. Ask for my attention and I will Call You Out in front of the other passengers.

When the same attendent asked me which dinner entree i would like, i asked what i supposed was a usual question: what are the choices? "Beef or pasta," he snapped. Um, what sort of pasta? i asked, thinking is it a cheese sauce, a red sauce, a pesto sauce... "It's a tortellini," he spat at me. "Um, pasta is great..." And the boxed dinner hit my tray. That and one soda and two flimsy plastic cups half filled with water did me till breakfast--frankly, i was afraid to ask for anything. i didn't wish to be Made An Example of.

Fortunately with the extra seats between us, we two ladies of the row were able to sleep--i won't call it "stretching out," as that would assume a relaxed repose without pretzel-ed limbs, but we were able to lay down--sort of. And sleep. Sort of. By morning we were ready for the limp sandwiches made of croissants, processed cheese, and some sort of pinkish spread, although i'm not sure anyone is really ever ready for something like that at the end of ten hour flight.

But i'm here! In the land of Sense and Sensibility, where the English Cottage Garden really is a garden outside an English cottage. Where small boys ask for tea, and "boots" are where you carry things in a car, and "wellies" protect your feet from the rain.


equichick8 said...

Oh thank you Julie,
I love being transported to another place like this. You are a wonderful author!

enjoy the Brits!

equichick8 said...

Whoa, I think I meant writer. Sorry, a little out of it right now...

Unknown said...

So glad that you survived the trip there. After such royal treatment on your flight, your daughter is going to have to bend over backwards to top it. Enjoy your visit.

julia said...

Well, i did "author" this, Adina! And unfortunately it won't take much to top the service in cattle class. Even the occasional cup of tea will do. ;-)

Tersie said...

ha! I loved the comparisons between first class and cattle class! If I were to ever be fortunate enough to afford a trip to England, I'm afraid cattle class would be the only way I could go. Hopefully I'll forget all about your description of first class so that I won't be realizing what I'm missing out on! hehe! Thanks for the great visuals!

julia said...

Oh, Tersie, i always feel like a kid playing dress-up when i'm in first class--but it IS fun!