TR LGW Antigua 9 September 2016
This is a Trip Report from the Upper Class cabin
Food & Drink
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
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.