Travel Blunders & Really Bad Regrowth

I made a SERIOUS travel blunder this Easter. I was convinced we were on the 14:35 Kulula flight to George on Good Friday. I had this in my head because we had originally planned to take that flight but the price had sky-rocketed overnight, so we chose 13:00 1Time flight instead. I just forgot about the latter. And so we arrived at the Kulula desk at 13:05 – 90 minutes before the flight’s departure, like good citizens.

I had a sinking feeling when I heard: “Um, m’am, do you have your booking code because I can’t seem to find your reservation on our system.” I just had a hunch that I had colossally screwed up. A frantic search of my e-mails revealed the truth.

CR*************************P!!!!

One of the busiest travel periods of the year and we were at the airport sans a flight to The Parents-in-Law in George.

Miraculously, there were still seats to be bought on “our” 14:35 Kulula flight – at a very yummy price, of course. I felt nauseous, despite the fact that The Husband was very, very sweet about my monumental screw up.

Then came a potentially positive twist in this nauseating tale. I was scanned the TV screens to figure out whether our flight was boarding yet, when I happened upon an unusual term: “indefinite delay”. It was attached to the 1Time flight we’d actually originally booked and paid for. A quick call to the call centre confirmed that we would almost certainly be granted a refund for “indefinite delays”. (I sent the refund form a few days ago and have yet to see the moola but I’m remaining optimistic).

While we’re on the topic of the airport, there’s a particular bathroom stall door ad that I always see there and it kills me every time. It’s this one:

What really kills me is this: look at the model’s hair. Every single time I see, I can’t help but think: “Honey, with the money you’ll be saving on car insurance, please, for the love of God, go and get your roots done!!!”

I mean, could they not find a model who had been to the hairdresser more recently? Or were they trying to be so authentic that women would relate to the end of month hair roots syndrome so hectically they’d immediately want to save money on car premiums?

On the topic of airports AND travel blunders, we had barely landed in George when it dawned on my that (with a little bit of help from The Husband), I had stuffed up once again. We’d decided to drive to OR Tambo and leave our car there on Good Friday. The only snag was that, in three days time, our flight from George was landing at Lanseria… How long does preggy brain last? I’m sure I never used to be this dumb or scatty…

For now, I’m blaming it all on delerium brought on by lack of sleep. I want my night nurse back. Since Margie left us, I have been wandering around like a zombie, feeling, for the most part, barely alive. I suppose, on the plus side, I could have been feeling like that for ten and a half more months. Now I simply have delayed onset.

Things have very much been looking up, however, over the past four or five days. For ages now, The Princess’ preferred waking time has been around 5am. There were even days when my cell phone read: 04:53 or something similar with a 04 in front. Not pretty. But in the past few days she’s been waking up at 06:00, 06:15, 6:20. What a difference that hour or hour and a bit. At 5am I feel drunk, hungover, half-dead, wanting to cry from fatigue. In short, it feels like night-time. At 6am I feel alive and somehow, just one hour later, it feels like daytime. Dawn, perhaps, but still daytime. Long may it last!

Before I sign off, I wanted to share an amazing deal with all the mommies of babas under two. Since we stopped wrapping The Princess up in a tight, stretchy blanket for the night, she couldn’t keep her blankets on and would wake up cold in the middle of the night. Then The Mother-in-Law gave her a Baby Kaboosh, arms-free sleeping bag. It has been the absolute answer. I wanted to get a second one so I went online to www.babykaboosh.co.za and they’re having a brilliant special for the month of April: buy one spotted or striped “travel bag” (works the same as their sleeping bags) for R300 and get a second one free (worth R300). For Jozi peeps, the 2.5 tog, warmer sleeping bag works from about the beginning of April to around the end of August, else it’s way too hot here. They also have 1 tog sleep sack which is basically the weight of a sheet which I’ve bought to try in summer. Delivery is free door-to-door by courier and only takes around 24 hours, during the week. Here’s a pic from their website to show you what they look like:

Cheers, everyone. The Princess and I are off to Rosebank to shop, eat sushi and drink baby cino’s.

xxx Natalie

Kiddie Class

Note to self: never catch a flight the day before schools re-open. When I boarded my flight in George after visiting the parents in the Southern Cape, I thought I’d climbed onto a charter flight for the under-aged. A few of the rows were literally full of kids: one, two, three, in a row. Adult supervision was an entire aisle away. Isn’t that a breach of aviation laws or something?

There are two grave dangers when it comes to kiddie-infested flights:

1.      1) screaming
2.      2) seat-kicking
 
On tonight’s flight, I got the latter very severely.
 
Within seconds of buckling up, the kid behind me started going for goal. I got a left footer in the small of my back that would’ve made Lionel Messi proud. (A month ago, I would’ve someone if they’d told me that Messi was a famous Mafia boss – gotta love the World Cup!) Anyway, so I slowly turned around in my seat, looked very pointedly at the parental figure sitting next to Junior Messi, and raised my eyebrows, as if to say “You’re a bad parent”. From what I can gather, this is most parents worst nightmare, so I felt a great sense of power when I dispensed my “bad parent” glare.
 
I was really expecting the woman behind me to have turned puce, before grabbing little Johnny’s spasmodic leg and hissing at him to stop. Tonight, however, the parent in question was one of those “don’t-you-dare-say-A-WORD-about-MY-little-Johnny-because-he’s-completely-perfect-you-COW!”
 
Now, I do love a challenge, so I put on my best fake smile, raised my eyebrows extra high and said between clenched teeth, “Your…child…is…kicking…my…chair”.
 
“No, he’s not!” replied Defensive Parent.
“Er, yes. He is.”
“No, he’s not!”
“He totally is and it’s driving me insane.”
“No, he’s not!”
 
The best fun was, this little Johnny was a wiley one. After 15 minutes of kicking my seat, without stopping, he sat there all doe-eyed with his little feet crossed, acting as though kicking a chair were the FURTHEST thing from his cunning little mind. Grrrrrr. Of course, this gave Defensive Parent the opportunity to turn into Smug Parent and to look back at me and raise HER eyebrows. I was then forced to have a bit of a staring contest with Johnny, trying to will the little brat to kick my chair again – to prove to his mother that he was indeed the pest I was accusing him of being. But Johnny was alot smarter than he looked and he just stared back. At this point, I was forced to concede defeat (something I hate as much as I hated losing at Ludo at the age of 5) and I turned around.
 
Naturally, not 5 seconds later, the football match against the small of my back resumed.
 
I could just FEEL little Johnny and his over-protective mother high-fiving behind my back. To give the kid credit, he must have been some kind of genius multi-tasker because the kicking continued all the way through the high-fives.
 
The rest of the flight was spent trying to block out the sound of blood-curdling screams and “you poked my eyeball, man!”
 
The joys of flying kiddie class.

Aerobics is a sport, okay?

Am experiencing a bit of housewife panic on this fine Wednesday morning. I have just returned from my very strenuous tennis lesson and now I have to figure out how I’m going to feed a dinner party full of cyclists tonight. Fiftten people, to be precise – including a few cycling side-kicks like myself, thank God. Because when I say “cyclists” I don’t mean people who like to hop on their bikes for a spin along the Braamfontein Spruit or who sometimes head to Northern Farms for a family outing. No, I mean psychotic people who do things like the Cape Epic (8 days) and the Panorama Tour (4 days) and other crazy events where you're on your little two-wheeler for over 100km per day – i.e. the real butt-numbing stuff. Which is fine if that’s what makes them happy – just don’t torture me.

Which brings me to the reason for my panic. The Husband has this thing that he does when we’re in the company of uber-sporty people. He knows full well that he’s married to the girl who did aerobics as her compulsory school sport. (Seriously, I’m not even kidding about this. York High in George was surprisingly progressive back in the ’90’s). Anyway, I think that The Husband really is okay with the fact that he married Aerobics Girl and not Iron Woman.

Generally.

Except when we're in the company of uber-sporty people. Often, "this thing that he does" happens when we're with The Husband’s super sporty clients. The conversation will be flowing between The Husband and these uber athletes – it’ll be about the Comrades, Iron Man, the Argus, the Two Oceans – any, or all, of those good things. Then the one client will describe their best ever Iron Man time and The Husband will talk about his latest cycle race and another client will bemoan his Comrades injury. And then – even though I’ll be doing a great job of pretending to be fascinated by the topic – The Husband will do something to to try and prove that (contrary to all indications) his wife is not a total couch potato. "The thing" goes like this:

"Natalie's run a half marathon".

There is dead silence and I can see the bankers trying not to spit out their drinks in disbelief. By now everyone is staring at me and I'm wanting to crawl under the table, but I have to be polite so instead I splutter:

"Er, yes. Once. Once upon a time, really. Never again, though! Hahahahahaha."

And then I down my glass of wine in an act of defiance. But at this point, The Husband has only just got going and invariably he starts banging on about my one and only sporting achievement. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that he's telling some of the most hardcore sporting psychos out there – people for whom a half marathon is a weekend training run. What's worse is that he's been dining out on this story for two years now and I get the distinct impression he'll be doing so for the next few decades. That's practically a given, because I doubt I'll ever subject myself to another half marathon (I really feel like I've ticked that box).

I can just picture one of The Husband's client functions in 2025. "Natalie's run a half-marathon!" he'll announce proudly during a sporty discussion. "Really? When was that?" one of the polite clients will ask and I'll have to mumble into my wine glass, "Er, I think it was 2008". And then the client will do the Maths and there'll be an awkward silence amongst everyone except for The Husband who'll be trying to remember my time for this historic event.

I fully expect tonight to be one of these nights. Although The Husband's plan is to plough these Sporty Spices with his signature drink: The Great South African Suitcase. Over the years, The Husband has successfully exported the GSAS to at least 6 countries – from Scandinavia to Singapore. Granted, passion fruit has often had to be replaced with OJ, but the effect is the same – he gets the party started.

I wonder what you get when you cross 10 super fit, uber athletes with 40 suitcases? I guess I'll soon find out…

Pinky & the Brain – Again

It’s official: the more The Husband and I travel together, the dumber we get. First there was the time we missed our international flight out of the Bahamas because we meandered to the check-in desk 61 minutes before take-off. We sort of subconsciously assumed – since the whole of the Bahamas has a population the size of George – that backwater airport rules would apply. I mean you don’t need to rock up at cute little George airport a full hour before your flight, right? Turned out that check-in closed 60 minutes before take-off and so (after being duly cr*pped on) we were hastily checked in. We then got stuck in an almighty US immigration queue (yes, US immigration INSIDE the Bahamian airport – who knew?) and missed our flight to Miami. So instead of flying Nassau-Miam-Vale, we flew Nassau-Miami-Dallas-Vale. Perhaps the greatest punishment of all was not the three back-to-back flights. Rather, it was having access to nothing but Delta’s wholesome selection of on-board potato chips and peanuts for 12 hours straight.

Next, there was Pinky & the Brain Part One. This occurred two months ago, when we (okay, I) miscalculated our arrival date in Buenos Aires by 24 hours, leaving us without a hotel room the day before Christmas Eve.

Thirdly, ladies and gentlemen, may I present the absolute coup de grace on the International Travel Dumbometer. Pinky and the Brain Part Two has a similar beginning to Part One. At 5am on Thursday 4 February The Husband awakes with a start. We are booked to depart for a skiing trip in Austria at 5pm on Friday 5 February.

“Do I need a visa for Austria?” he goes.

We both freeze. Okay, deep breaths. Let’s apply our minds. (Where are our minds?) We locate the passport. We check the Schengen visa expiration date. 31 January 2010. Four freaking days ago! We are screwed. I can’t quite believe it. We planned this trip months ago. We’ve been lining up our gear on the bedroom floor for the last week: ski jacket, snow boots, ski goggles – the works. We even have the little thin, thermal gloves that go under your ski gloves. But the rather huge matter of eine kleine visa for Osterreich just did not cross our minds. Not once. Not until 36 hours prior to departure.

On the bright side, yours truly is A-for-away with my British passport. Screw Stuyvesant cigarettes: an EU passport is the international passport to smoking hot, travel pleasure. Every time my eyes rest on that burgundy beauty I sigh happily and thank my grandmother over and over again, for giving birth to my father in the snow.

I pretty much resign myself to the fact that it’ll be solo skiing for me for at least three or four days until The Husband can sort out his paperwork. I spend the whole of Thursday moping around and wondering who the heck is going to carry my skis from the hotel to the ski lifts? Those bad boys weigh an absolute ton. Life is so unfair. (And we are such morons).

In the meantime, the husband manages to secure an interview at the Austrian embassy first thing on Friday morning – i.e. the day of our supposed departure. Upon arrival, he is greeted by the following sign: `’POOR PLANNING ON YOUR PART DOES NOT NECESSARILY CONSTITUTE AN EMERGENCY FOR US” Er, good point. The only option is to plead complete and utter stupidity (not an act, if you think about it), to apologise profusely and, well, to beg. All of which The Husband duly does. He then endures a justifiable amount of finger wagging and tongue lashing from Klaus von Whats-his-face (deservedly so), before – miracle of miracles – Klaus marches over to a computer terminal, starts punching in data and tells The Husband to report back at 12pm when there may or may not be an answer from the Motherland. “But,” Klaus counsels, “don’t be too hopeful because all civil servants knock off at 12pm sharp on a Friday.” ’Course they do. Das is der government!

Mercifully, Pinky and the Brain Part Two has a happy ending. At 12pm yesterday The Husband was issued with a 7 day, multiple entry Schengen visa. Look out Austrian Alps – Dumb and Dumber have arrived! (Plus we’re Saffers on skis which means we’re armed and dangerous…)