I am not normally one to complain about things that cannot be helped, whinge about the weather or cry over the smallest mishaps, but these past few weeks have been hard. “I just want a hug from my mum” and “I am sorry I ruined Christmas” kind of hard.
Since the beginning of the year I have been dreaming of a white Christmas. Before we checked flight prices, we tinkered with the idea of visiting Santa in Lapland. Then we thought about going to see the Northern lights. Finally we decided on a European adventure. This being our second and (most likely) our last Christmas in the UK, we wanted to make it worthwhile.
We wanted something special, just us two. After all, this is our never ending honeymoon!
Well, as I sit here in London on Christmas Eve, listening to the howling wind and heavy rain rattle the house, I am miserable.
The storms that have been brewing each night this week remind me of the summer storms at home. The kind of storms that John Schluter or Garry Youngberry would warn you to refill your torch battery’s and tie down your deck chairs for. I swear the house has moved a foot tonight. But it is not the windy and rainy weather in London that has got me down.
Most of the city seemed to shut down over the last couple of days. Trains are being cancelled or delayed and flights are being grounded. There is a mad rush to get out and last minute flights are being snapped up in seconds. But it is not the failure of transport that has got me down.
Friends and family back home are planning family feasts and gatherings, already posting Facebook messages wishing a merry Christmas to all. Some presents arrived last week (thank you, wonderful family!) but unfortunately we missed the cut off date to send our gifts back in time. Thanks to presents by post, Skype and social media updates, being so far away from family is not what has got me down.
Friends usually based in London are travelling the world, posting photo after photo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Some are spending time in Morocco or Africa to get away from the cold, while others are wishing for snowfall in Hungary, Austria or Latvia. If only we were so lucky.
After months of careful planning, strategic ticket purchasing and living on a strict budget, we have made it nowhere.
It is not the fault of the weather or the lack of transport. It is in fact due to an awful stomach bug that descended on me while we were celebrating an Aussie thrashing over the Kiwis in Manchester, almost 4 weeks ago. Imagine your worst hangover then double it. After more than two painfully boring weeks off work, I bounced back cautiously, watching what I ate and steering well clear of alcohol and Christmas festivities. What a depressing December!
On the ‘ok’ from my local GP, I returned to work for a few days of catch up so that we could enjoy a stress free Christmas and new year holiday. We even enjoyed a wonderful Christmas lunch with our house-family on Saturday before everyone took off on their own adventures.
It was only just before arriving at Gatwick airport for our flight to Copenhagen that I started to feel a little ill. Within an hour I had descended into hell and spent most of the time waiting for our flight curled up in a ball or in the bathroom.
Finally, like a mad woman on a mission, I boarded the already delayed flight only to be advised by flight staff and a friendly doctor on board, that I was to unwell to fly. At the time I was too exhausted to care about anything but getting off that plane. But on the train to the hospital near our home I thought about all of those hours of careful planning that had been wasted. There were weeks of building excitement for our epic adventure that were now unfulfilled.
I spent half the night curled up in the waiting room and the other half being poked and prodded by the friendly nurses and doctors who had drawn the graveyard shift. I was deemed unfit to fly due to acute pain and severe dehydration as the result of a prolonged stomach bug. They discharged me the following afternoon with nothing more than a warning to “only fly if you are well enough”.
Now starts the waiting game. This is the part where I complain, whinge and cry.
Travel insurance claims and rebooking flights, transfers and accommodation are hard to organise during the peak holiday period. They are also very expensive and time consuming. Whoever said last minute travel was cheaper has obviously not travelled from London at Christmas. On top of it all, I have my fingers crossed that I will be fit to travel at all.
But I won’t let this Grinch spoil our Christmas. So here we are, several hundred quid lighter until our insurance claim is resolved and rebooked on a Boxing Day flight to resume our holiday in Krakow.
It could have been worse – I could have broken my foot and had our passports stolen in a foreign country (the night is still young).
If I could leave you with any Christmas message, it would be to stay safe this holiday season. And always get travel insurance.
At least one Christmas wish did come true… When I wake in a few hours it will be just us two spending Christmas day together. That is something special.
Love to all,