Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stranded 3. Update

Granny has just sent this to the BBC: whether they'll publish it is another matter - but she'll just copy it here, so you'll see where we're at.

On the BBC news last night, it was stated that this crisis would sort out the good airlines from the bad. Indeed. Staying with me at my house in Lanzarote have been my nephew - a teacher -and his wife with 3 children under 6 and my son with his daughters of eight and 12. My nephew came over on Monarch, my son on Easyjet. When the crisis broke my nephew decided to opt for rebooking on Monarch rather than a refund. He was told to do nothing; he would receive news of his re-booking by email. He has heard nothing. As 17 Monarch flights were going out to different parts of the UK today, any of which he would opted for, he went down to the airport to see if he could get on to one of them. He was told by the agent on the desk - who also dealt with Thomson and Thomas Cook - that he should have inquired with them earlier. Not that they knew anything much. As far as they could see the earliest Monarch would fly him out would be April 30th -and more likely early May. The passengers being given priority were package travellers. He inquired if he re-booked on another airline would he get his refund from Monarch? They said no. He has now booked on to a Thomson flight on Tuesday for over 900 euros.

Monarch does not come well out of this does it? Not least the total lack of information has left the family - including a 13 month old baby - in a state of anxiety and my nephew's school in considerable difficulties.

My son meanwhile who had opted for a refund tried to book a flight on Easyjet on Saturday but was not allowed to proceed with the booking, at the same time as I, a new passenger, hastening home to aid a friend in crisis, was given my ticket, no problem - I was giving them new money. (They charged me 300 euros, more or less.) He managed to book himself on Ryanair tonight, for a reasonable sum: my nephew having delayed a little while he investigated re-funds from Monarch was too late. Ryanair would now charge him over 1000 euros, minimum, without their extras, to get himself home - and not before Tuesday.

The airlines have lost out of this no doubt. But holding booked passengers to ransom like this? Outrageous.

Meantime: some joys. Lovely afternoons on the beach; the enchanting baby - the cry of 'ca' ' as she pursued, crawling at speed, one animal or another, cat or dog, will be Granny's main memory of this alternatively nightmarish and delightful ten days since the crisis broke. Ash cloud, what's that?

The downside is that, given all this, will any of them want to visit Lanzarote again?
Not for quite a while,' said Granny's son... Quite.

Granny is off to tend her friend on Saturday. Who knows when she'll be back to the island, let alone this blog. What with one thing and another. She might try to write something. Sta luego

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stranded 2

It all goes on. One family has gone to school this morning thanks to Mr Jonah and his wife. The other is currently freaking out down on the land - at least one bit of it is. (A beautiful and interesting child, this bit of the family, she is dramatic at the best of times and this isn't the best of times. Granny has memories of walking her round Kew Gardens as a screaming baby, years ago. What changes.) The poor kids are homesick and want their mother. The British government is bringing in the navy to help but meantime everyone has to wait; first get yourself to Spain. But how? Beloved son and family are on a flight to Madrid on Friday. But getting from Madrid is the problem. Granny and son spent nearly two hours this morning trying to book ferries, buses or trains to ferries: or alternatively to Paris. In vain. Websites where they were working at all would take you so far then throw you off. The Spanish bus site surpassed itself - once finally accessed - by refusing to take an English credit card for 3 passengers at once and when attempts were made to book singly the website promptly went down. So that was that.

It would all be easier if Granny and son weren't still suffering from the ocular bug. Granny's eyes continue to stream, so do Beloved son's, she coughs, aches and changing herself from lenient granny to quasi parental dragon at times is not difficult but painful, just the same. Beloved, meanwhile, continues to do his thing as ever, (turning out nice meals though, even if Granny does have to remind him that plain rice in children's terms means just that: ie no tossing in olive oil, insertion of various vegetables, etc etc, and expecting them to eat it just the same.) Granny is reminded of the satirical poem about the young Werther's suicide, where his fiancee, Charlotte, 'just goes on cutting bread and butter'.

Thia is a mini story in the scheme of things, even in the scheme of this particular crisis....but typical enough probably. Children are probably freaking out all over the world. Sta Luego.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Yes: Granny has been absent quite a while and a lot has happened. It has rained furiously at times - a lightening strike wiped out 2 computers and the router in her and her Beloved's house. The dread winter vomiting - noro - virus has passed through. There have been a procession of guests - none fortunately coincided with the heaviest rain or the virus though one pair of guests were unable to come because of their own infection. One of the two kids didn't survive the cold wet weather, despite four hourly bottle feeding by Granny and Beloved. Granny finished her book - on the one unplugged so not destroyed computer: it has had pretty favourable comments from her selected readers but needs much editing.

And now this: volcanic ash. As luck would have it, Granny's long-dead twin sister's family - beloved nephew, nephew's wife, two great-nephews and infant great-niece - are visiting. So is beloved son and his two daughters. Ten people in the house, in other words, all expecting to go back to England, either last week or early next, including Granny herself who is scheduled to return there to help a friend with a very sick husband clear out her about to be sold house. And all stranded. Lovely as it is having these particular visitors it does feel a bit like having prepared to run 15,00 metres and suddenly finding yourself committed to a half-marathon. The cooking! - and of course none of the five children apart from the omniverous baby will eat the same things... The tidying. The washing. .. etc etc etc. And there are only so many excursions to be found on a not very big island. But at least the families are not stuck in a hotel, let alone an airport, like most of the people in the same predicament - 20,000 of them in Tenerife alone; more than 4000 of them here. If the ash stays put - as it seems to be doing - will the government send ships to rescue them? Granny's nephew is a teacher. A lot of the other stranded people are teachers. The Easter holidays see more people on holiday simultaneously than any other season. It's not just the stranded holiday-makers have problems.

An adventure; kind of. Granny's sense of adventure though is severely curtailed by less welcome import, by the charming one-year-old, of a cold which sets eyes not noses streaming, but otherwise results in sore throats heads and general malaise. She is surveying what she is writing here out of very sore eyes.

WHEN WE ALL GET OUT OF HERE? When will the visitors get back to their homes and families? The children are already saying plaintively: we want to go home. Will Granny ever dare stay away from England while the volcanoes are erupting? But if she does stay there when she does get back at last, when will she get to see her Beloved?

There are lots of worse problems in the world she knows. Once her head clears she'll feel less sorry for herself.

Judging by the state of her blog stats, plunged low as a result of her silence, few people will read this Just as well. Greetings to those friends who do come by. 'Sta luego.

Click Here