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#927150 by whiterose
08 Oct 2016, 15:57
Ground Staff
Food & Drink
Cabin Crew
TR LGW Antigua 9 September 2016

I’m quite a private person, but nevertheless I need to give some explanatory detail to inform what follows in this TR of the anniversary tour. Last summer my husband lost a lot of sight (macular degeneration). He already had MD in one eye, so the sight loss was now considerable – clear vision only at the periphery, all else is blurred/out of focus. It turned our lives upside down. He had to give up driving which he loved – no real problem, I’ve always driven a lot, but he’s now dependent on me or friends to take him places. He’s always loved playing sport – two prosthetic knees as a result of far too much cricket – and watching sport on TV, always read the Times, now couldn’t do any of that, couldn’t deal with his own correspondence, just so many aspects presented problems to be overcome. One for instance was airport security. Imagine trying to sort out all that stuff in the trays, follow instructions to enter the scanner – the artificial knees always set it off – when you can’t see clearly. Last autumn we had two stressful times at LHR and EWR particularly when he couldn’t distinguish me once he got through and I wasn’t allowed to return to him. But things have improved, cricket on radio, Times on iPad with large font and a very powerful magnifier, lots of advice and help from Low Vision Clinic and Sensory Deprivation team at our local eye clinic. That included a folding white cane which he flatly refused to use, it stayed folded in a drawer but on the family holiday in Ireland in August, we all pressed him to use it through security for the anniversary tour.

First decision early this year was where we might go – we’ve been to New Zealand for instance. I’d love to do the West Coast of USA but that’s primarily scenic and it didn’t seem right to do that as a celebration when one of us wouldn’t be able to see anything. He said after the stress of the sight loss, subsequent house move, etc., he’d quite like for once a beach holiday where we did absolutely nothing. Caribbean then, and fly from there to New York to stay with youngest son and family. Which Caribbean island? We have some very old friends who for years had a beautiful yacht which on retirement they sailed across the Atlantic and island-hopped down the Caribbean so their advice was sought and Antigua was the choice, and Virgin Holidays rather than Kuoni purely on price because we got the FC discount.

We’d not flown from LGW for many years, always fly from LHR, but we decided that as usual we would drive down a few days beforehand and stay with eldest son and DIL in deepest Buckinghamshire, leave the car on their drive and have their local airport run guy take us to LGW where we stayed at the Hilton to be able to walk to check-in. Am I getting even more picky to feel that LGW Hilton is looking tired? I was particularly surprised at the lack of USB ports or even power points in the room (we upgraded ourselves to Executive in hopes it would be worth it). Marathon walk to check-in but lovely man on the desk there, very friendly. We found the evening snacks/hors d’oeuvres in the Executive Lounge were perfectly OK as a meal instead of using the restaurant or going elsewhere but YMMV.

Next morning off at an unseemly hour, avoiding breakfast in favour of the CH of course, to brave security at LGW. Husband gritted his teeth, opened the white cane right out and we approached security. I was giving him his boarding card and showing him which way up to scan it when a security man raced (and I mean raced) over to us, pressed a button to let us in and said he’d be happy to escort OH, please allow him to help. And he did, every step of the way, helped him put iPad and Kindle (he uses it for talking books) and shoes in trays, took him to the scanner staff, met him at the other side. I went through, collected my stuff, fielded his while he had the hand-held scanners on his knees and then he was guided to me. That experience meant a great deal to OH in terms of confidence.

We loved LGW CH just as everyone else seems to, the staff are so good, friendly and attentive, the shoe-shine man came over to OH and took his shoes to be shined and brought them back, wasn’t that good?

Off to board, taken to our seats by the FSM, absolutely excellent man, very attentive the whole journey, had lots of chat with him. He said there were two FSMs on board, the other being female and she was looking after the other side of UC. Fizz offered immediately. I asked for and received Prosecco from PE and made my dislike of ghastly Gardet known yet again!

Lunch was served well before midday, nice FSM reading the menu to OH.

Tomato, mozzarella and micro basil salad
Chicken satay with cashew nut dipping sauce
Spicy butternut soup

Seafood linguine (which I had and enjoyed)
Lemon & thyme chicken
Keralan curry
Weeping tiger beef salad (which OH had and raved about)

Warm chocolate salted caramel pudding (which OH had)
Apple blackberry crisp

Cheeses (which I had)
Brie, Aged Gouda, Cornish blue

We spent about half an hour at the bar, chatting to other pax and the crew. Very good flight and crew, I emailed feedback to Crawley, as usual commenting adversely on ghastly Gardet and telling them it devalues their brand. Not that they’ll listen, they haven’t to date alas. I’d hoped (rather ambitiously) that the new Swallows and Amazons film might be one of the movies but given it was such a new release, it wasn’t realistic. Didn’t watch anything else.

Super approach to Antigua, wonderful to see the island set in the deep blue of the ocean. Quickly disembarked and made our best speed to arrivals and glad we did – huge long tensa-tape queues, we were not too far from the front but it still took ages and the passport man wasn’t all that welcoming. Luggage took ages to appear, then out into the warm bath of Antigua. Virgin Holidays arranged transfer, rather elderly looking car, pleasant driver but the traffic was horrendous, inching forward in huge long queues from one set of lights to another. But eventually we arrived, offered Caribbean rum punch immediately, checked in, driven on a golf cart to our room and settled in.

We had a wonderful time and on our actual anniversary we found a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket with champagne flutes in our room, the evening meal was in a wooden loggia on the beach, flowers on the table, a banner wishing us a happy anniversary above the entrance and the manager appeared with yet another bottle of champagne, and we were given a scroll tied with ribbon of a print-out of the menu with our names at the top.

And I had three lovely photos to add but despite spending about half an hour and carefully following instructions on here and knowing perfectly well that everyone else manages it, I can't do it. Gnashes teeth. It's Click Place Inline that I can't get.
#927151 by marshy11
08 Oct 2016, 17:17
I know everyone is waiting for these TR's, not least because you seem to have been everywhere and away forever! (I did notice).

How delighted I was to see your anniversary was shared with our beloved Antigua. We shall be there in a few weeks celebrating a similar marital landmark. :cool:

Being a stalwart of the Exec room/lounge at LGW I can only agree it is tired and has long since seen it's heyday. The offerings in the lounge can be good, bad and indifferent.

Horrendous to hear how life can be cruel to some of us in such a short space of time. But it's good to hear you are both finding new ways to move forward. Even better to see the movement is extended to those around you, particularly to those who we are often too quick to criticise. Well done that security man.

The flight sounded perfect as did the menu. Thanks for the detail on that.

Your actual anniversary sounds perfect. How lovely of the hotel to go that extra mile. A special memory for you both.

I would LOVE to see the photos, if you can persevere I would be eternally grateful! (I don't do the click inline). Are you sure you are uploading them after selection (a stage I nearly always forget).
#927159 by hiljil
08 Oct 2016, 21:32
Thank you for the TR. How heart warming it is to read about helpful officials for once. That must have started off your day on a high.

Yes, the LGW CH has a charm all of its own.

So pleased the Anniversary trip went so well and produced lots of happy memories.
#927163 by Sealink
09 Oct 2016, 02:58
Lovely trip report.

I would describe the Gatwick Hilton as appalling. I transferred all my future hotel bookings to Accor, and have had better experiences at Ibis than most UK Hiltons. They are glorified Premier Inns, but at least Premier Inn are up front about what they are.
#927165 by buns
09 Oct 2016, 07:02

Thank you for such a thought provoking TR. You demonstrated how often we can come to take travelling through Airports for granted and be irked by the most minor of things, but when things really matter. how VS and Gatwick Airport can step up to the plate.

Days of reporting on the Hilton are, thankfully, numbered and comments about the Hampton / Premier Inn will take precedence!!

So pleased things worked out for you both and the journey went as well as it could

#927180 by ColOrd
09 Oct 2016, 11:16
Lovely trip report!
#927183 by Bretty
09 Oct 2016, 13:01
Thank you Whiterose for a wonderful TR, I'm really pleased you and OH had a better airport experience this time. I can only imagine how daunting it must be for you both as you adapt, but from what you've said you seem to have taken things in your stride and adapted quickly, and well done the LGW staff for their care and consideration; sadly I've often seen folks with various disabilities struggling through airport security with not an offer of help from staff and their travel companion forbidden from stepping in to help (admittedly mainly at US airports).

Great to read that VS CC were on the ball again and giving that great service we know they can give, to then be topped off by a super holiday and special anniversary. A belated Happy Anniversary to you both from me and thanks again for TR. To echo Marshy's thoughts, do persevere with trying to upload the photos if you can, we'd love to see them.
#927192 by David
09 Oct 2016, 16:22
What a great TR to read on a slow Sunday afternoon. Thanks.

If you took your photos on an iPhone / iPad you need to resize them.

Go to the App Store and download something like SimpleResize.

Open the original in that, save to around 50% and then insert them as per normal into your TR.

(You'll still have the original, so make sure you upload the last one in your photos app)

#927193 by marshy11
09 Oct 2016, 16:23
I use a free app for Mac called Paint, I take a screenshot and upload, but then I am WAY behind the times!
#927195 by whiterose
09 Oct 2016, 16:49
I'm hating being dim, my pride shrinks from it, I first used computers in the early 80s!

Thank you David, I've downloaded the app and resized but when I click on the Upload attachment tab and then Select file, all I seem able to attach is my entire Photos library which is not quite the idea. If I was back on a Windows computer, I could right click any photo and use copy/paste. Eldest son who works for Microsoft would roll his eyes and say "Mother, you would jump ship to Apple"
#927197 by David
09 Oct 2016, 17:14
As long as you changed the percentage to 50% then clicked save (nothing seems to happen but it saves it to the last photo in the list)

Then when you click on upload attachment, select file, photo library, all photos, it should be the last one in the list

Just pick the last one, click add file, the continue with the place inline and should should be able to post stuff like this one


( the apps picture is a black box with 2 lenses on it - there's a few with similar names)
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#927198 by pjh
09 Oct 2016, 18:26
Thanks for the TR. I was moved by your explanation in the first section about your world being flung upside down, and how you've faced up to the challenge. It puts the other problems which often start TRs about late arriving taxis and being held up at the DTCI ramp into perspective. It was heartening to hear of the experience at LGW Security too.

Shame the Hilton seems to be going downhill. That said we tended to use it because it was dirt cheap in terms of Hilton points and with Diamond status we always got upgraded / Exec lounge access. As both points and status disappear next year we'll be looking at the some of the other recommendations for accommodation at LGW the next time we fly from there. Even modern Hilton properties don't necessarily feature USB points - our current favourite and new build Bankside doesn't have them, though that said we didn't get an exec room the other week. I think we saw them at the refurbished exec rooms at Tower Bridge .

The flight and the holiday itself sound wonderful. We really must try harder with our anniversaries. The last significant one was spent at a pub in Sydney...


ps another way to manage the photo problem is to host them on something like Flickr and then put a link into the TR itself. This allows you to get round the limit to the number of photos in any single post.
#927201 by tomthumb
09 Oct 2016, 19:16
Thanks also from me for the TR - like others, I am pleased that security were excellent and that your trip was a pleasant one.
#927204 by whiterose
09 Oct 2016, 19:30
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I've done it!!! Though I think I've duplicated one and missed one. The bit I was not realising is that Place Inline doesn't appear on a Mac. Once I used my phone, all was well.

Thank you Paul for your lovely comments, much appreciated. On the Ireland section of the tour we stayed at the Doubletree Hilton in Dublin overnight. Way better than LGW and in tech terms had a power tower on the desk with multiple power points and several USB ports.

Thanks David for all your help and Marshy for encouragement. Don't miss the next thrilling instalment of the tour and what happened at check in for our onward flight....

#927336 by tomthumb
12 Oct 2016, 19:09
The beech looks like Galley Bay - fantastic resort with great staff and wonderful food - hope you enjoy it and thanks for sharing the pictures
#927338 by marshy11
12 Oct 2016, 19:38
Wow, those photos look super. I'm worried you only had three crackers for that half pound of cheese!
#927403 by whiterose
14 Oct 2016, 15:28
tomthumb wrote:The beech looks like Galley Bay - fantastic resort with great staff and wonderful food - hope you enjoy it and thanks for sharing the pictures

Yes it was Galley Bay and I agree, the staff are incredible. OH had a long chat with the manager Cedric who told him that they have 230 staff with another 36 available if necessary which has to be more than one member of staff per guest.
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