The Wanderer’s Return

Before we go any further…..these are calves…agreed? Small, appealing manageable creatures….

My return has not been a resounding success.

It was not a good idea to leave Spain with mother on Sunday, travel all day, settle her in, cook a meal, pack and leave at 2.00 am on Monday for the airport.

London Heathrow Terminal 4 was not a good idea either.
Very few service staff in the forecourse and an insistence that the clients use ‘print it yourself’ check in slips.
By the time I had fathomed where to slide in my passport and which way up and had discovered that to swipe a bank card you need to move it in and out of a slot I was in an ill humour…the situation not improved by the multiplicity of staff within the tape bound snake toward the actual check in who seemed to want to see the already swiped passport, and ask damnfool questions about where exactly I was resident.

Once past security the shopping area was fine if you’re a fool who likes to be parted from your money but otherwise distinctly useless….and again overstaffed with ladies in mauve who were quite capable of telling you where to find expensive rubbish and not so hot on telling you where to find the decidedly scarce destination indicators.

It had not been a good idea not to bring sandwiches.
The Caviar House and Prunier stand was just setting up for the day, their staff wearing those absurb black hats that these days denote catering staff whose management has ideas above the quality of their product.
Dining Street resembled a cross between a dilapidated Wimpy and something left over from the Olympics publicity team.
And as for Costa and the poncily named Apostrophe…forget it. One look at the stuff being loaded onto the shelves and the hungriest would renounce eating something that looked as though it had been flung together by primary school children inadequately trained in finger painting.

Not to speak of the prices.
You could easily slim if you had to live in the post security area of Terminal 4.

The flight was fine…if you like being in the middle seat with no way to turn on your reading light when every last idiot in a window seat has pulled down their window blind in order to watch crap on the laughingly called entertainment system.
No other seat with a working reading light available.

Breaking my glasses and losing the important lens was not too hot either.
I had to spend four hours on the connecting flight staring at the map that shows how slowly the plane is approaching the destination and then crowning disaster, picked up the wrong case at the baggage claim.

It was the same colour, it had the same purple through baggage tag….but it was not mine.
A working pair of glasses might have avoided that…

The airline were on the ‘phone as I hit the front door.

I returned, and discovered how easy it would be to blow up the airport.

The airline office is behind the check in desks. Without a question, without control, I toddled in to hand in the bag and to retrieve my own.
Yes, there are security cameras, but there is nothing whatsoever to stop you from dropping into the loo, depositing a bomb in the waste bin and toddling on your merry way again.
Oddly enough, the other party had not claimed the missing case….mine had been discovered forlornly on the caroussel….so goodness only knows what that was about.

I returned home. I had supper. I went to bed.
As I switched on the light there was a noise as if of a herd of elephants bellowing.
Underneath my window.

What the blazes is that?


That reply, so small in itself but so pregnant with meaning.

You remember I told you I’d bought some calves?

Yes, I did remember the project being mentioned.

Well, that’s them.

After a night of bellowing and banging about below, morning brought enlightenment.
cattle 005

Five seven month old Brahma crosses, weighing some 200 kilos apiece, testicles still very much attached and missing their mothers.

So far one has escaped via the stream, chased the new neighbour’s horse, charged through his corral upsetting the fire over which he was cooking his mid day soup and returned via the drive taking with him a stand of ornamental gingers.

The new neighbour, far from complaining, helped in the recapture.
It brightened up his day apparently as he is currently living in a horsebox having been thrown out by his wife for losing the contents of his lorry while boozing instead of coming straight home from the feria…and lunch at ours was better than lunch at his.

The Men are busy strengthening the pen….and the sheep are adjusting to the new normality.
cattle 004

I’m not sure that I am though perhaps it is as well that I have returned as apparently the neighbour has opened negotiations with a view to moving into our currently unused pig pen as providing better shelter in the rainy season…..

49 thoughts on “The Wanderer’s Return”

  1. So Europe has not improved your mood then?

    You sound ever so cross, is it ok for me to laugh or would that make you even more cross?

    A new neighbour living in the pig pen? I see possibilities, definite possibilities . . . . .

    O, I forgot, welcome home!

    1. The travel arrangements were of my own making…trying to cram in too much to an already crowded trip…but the calves were most definitely not!
      They’re getting quieter…crossing fingers….

  2. And here was I hoping you’d had a quiet uneventful journey and were now relaxing peacefully at home. Like Friko i couldn’t help laughing thoughout, but oh dear, Brahma calves and the possibility of a neighbour in the pigpen? Terminal 4 might start to seem preferable. πŸ˜‰

    1. I think if the neighbour were not so nice I’d send him to Terminal 4….at least his soup would be affordable and edible.
      I can tell you, that trumpeting under the window had me wide awake in instants!

  3. So glad you got home with so little trouble.
    Also glad the animals are making you welcome, how theymust have missed you!
    And on top of that the new neighbour is friendly, although I would be tense about the wife.
    It is nice to be home relaxed after a trying time away, innit?

  4. Ahh…the joys of country life…the sweet bleatings of small animals, the neighbourly cameraderie, the home-style food…
    See how appreciative I am after a 7 hours wait at LAX!

  5. I feel your pain over your glasses and not being able to read. That must have been almost the last straw.

    I remember my Kindle conking out on me as I opened it for a nice read on a flight home. I could have wept.

    1. You are was indeed the last straw….I was too overtired to sleep and had counted on reading on at least the last leg after the transaltantic reading light debacle.
      And then to pick up the wrong bag….!

  6. I may never travel again after reading this…I do hope things calm down on all fronts and your neighbour doesn’t end up a resident in your shed…

    1. He has no chance. I have earmarked it as a shelter, far enough away from the house not to hear cries for cups of tea and near enough to get wifi – if I can sort out the programme to make the PC a wifi source. Either that or install the longest ethernet cable inthe world looping from tree to tree.

      It is my own fault…..I tried to fit in too much at the last minute….but Heathrow’s Terminal 4 was just dreadful.

  7. YOU could have made it up, but no one else could have…
    Oh dear, you poor thing… but I too laughed…quite a lot, I’m afraid. I must have missed the bit about Brahma calves because I wasn’t expecting that bit. Noticed the testicles though.
    As for the neighbour – aw go on, let him have the pig sties. Go on!
    (The potential is too good to miss.) Alan Bennett eat your heart out.

    1. The thought of the new neighbour turning into Alan Bennett’s baglady only strengthens my resolve to hang on to the pig pen… after all, I don’t have a tame publisher to turn it all into money.

      The DIY check in was almost the last straw before anything else went wrong….I just cannot understand these odd icons and pictures they use….and I still wonder why the other passenger did not claim the missing suitcase. Leo reckons I’d brought home a haul of cocaine. If so, it went through Customs all right – luckily for me. that would have been the last straw indeed…though a cell at the Buen Pastor might have been quieter than a pen full of calves…

  8. Hilarious as usual! I guess being efficient in your planning for the return was to lose the comfort of conforming and being pushed around by crowds throughout the trip…. dread the thought, tho. Happy to hear you are back in-country!

  9. I suspect you were glad to be home, despite the calves. I thought you might be going to write about DVT on the flight, and am very glad you didn’t!
    One of the infuriating things about Heathrow is how you can’t get a simple drink of water without paying a fortune for a huge bottle of what tastes like tap water, and which you have to discard before going through security. Flying is simply horrid!

    1. I am extremely glad to be home….calves notwithstanding.
      It was a tiring trip and I’m still getting over it all.
      Given the paranoia about security at airports the least they could do is to provide you with free water airside, but that would be one less thing to rob us on wouldn’t it.
      I much prefer to travel by train…and even by coach if not for too long a trip.

  10. Oh the joys of travelling. I hate Heathrow too. And all those things that make you cross have the same effect on me.
    I just knew you would come home to some kind of chaos. Those men just can’t help themselves can they?

    1. At least it wasn’t the washing machine, like last time.

      I used Terminal 5 last time and it was a dream, plenty of helpful staff to assist….so I wasn’t prepared for Terminal 4!

      At this rate I’ll be looking for a banana boat…if they still exist.

  11. 7 month old uncastrated Brahman calves. Bloody hell, I can’t think of many creatures I would keep at a further distance! You are really asking for trouble, they will get really bolshie.

    1. Thereby hangs a tale.

      These animals were supposed to have been castrated by the atrophy method starting a week before delivery and kept coralled together.
      No way. They had been hauled off their mothers and tied up the day before delivery by the look of things….
      So they’ve had no chance to form a group, sort out the pecking order…

      I would have been over at the farm to make sure my instructions were carried out…The Men…no. They trust people to do what they say they will do…

      They are getting used to being handled before they go out onto the pasture, are quieter…but all I can say is fingers crossed!

      Could be worse. Could be a Jersey bull…

  12. There we all were hoping your homeward journey would be trouble free….but somehow we knew it wouldn’t be. I avoid Heathrow at all costs. I am sure it must be one of the most stressful airports in the world. As for the flight itself, I think I would have been a complete wreck by the end. So, well done for actually surviving. The calves look gorgeous, but also pretty dangerous, and clearly very adventurous and noisy. Perhaps the neighbour could be persuaded to move in with them and placate them if they get frisky.

  13. I can only hope for a more peaceful life in the hereafter! I think I’ve had an elegant sufficiency of the fires and the pitchforks in this one…

    The lack of sleep was my own fault, doing an almost non stop Spain to Heathrow…but Terminal 4 was just dreadful. No staff where you needed them and plenty where you didn’t.
    Breaking my glasses was the last straw….I’d already lost a pair when someone tried to rummage my bag in the loos at Barcelona airport so these were my emergency pair.

    The calves seem to be calming down a little – if that is not tempting fate – but I think the neighbour is far too canny to move in with them!

    I think I’d best hoist the flag of St. Andrew over the pig pen and declare UDI….

  14. Oh dear. I don’t know whether to laugh or feel frightened. I hop on a plane and fly to Heathrow (Terminal 4 nonetheless) this Sunday. The thought of a middle seat without a light sounds just awful. You are a strong person if you managed not to burst into tears when your glasses broke, especially after all the problems that preceded that incident. Very strange about the identical bags, especially the fact nobody had reported the one you took by accident as missing.

    1. Leaving Terminal 4 you will be fine…but if you are obliged to use it when returning then make sure you take sandwiches and collar any staff available to help you with those daft DIY check in machines.
      And it helps if you’ve had a night’s sleep beforehand! I really must realise I’m not made of cast iron.

      The staff did their best about the reading light…but the ‘plane was packed to the last seat and they certainly weren’t going to upgrade me from sardine class! Gracious someone who paid for their own ticket as oppposed to business travellers, airmile junkies and family of airline staff….against airline policy!

      The bag interests me, too. If my bag went missing I’d be at the baggage claim desk…but not this bod. No claim had been registered. Distinctly odd.

      I’m glad to be home, I must say, though the welcome home concert was a bit unexpected!

  15. Classic post Helen. Only you can make a string of disasters so funny. I think you should start writing material for John Cleese because he has surely lost his way in comedy. I look on air travel as my “diet days” . I can easily fast because I’m too miserly to pay through the nose for crap food.

    1. Me too..I will not be exploited to that extent.

      It was not the best of my journeys…nor the best of arrivals…it has to be said, but the milk having been spilt….

      Perhaps I should do commercials for rival airports…

  16. Ouch – it is years since I have had the opportunity to fly anywhere – the idea of doing an international flight is beginning to scare me! 😦

    1. For me it’s not the flight that is the problem – well, not much of one – but the waiting about in airports where everything seems to be a rip off and the totally paranoid security nonsense.
      If they want security, put presidents and prime ministers through all this trouble…they cause more security risks than the rest of us put together.

  17. Oh Lord protect me from Heathrow! As far as I’m concerned it is the worst airport — and I’ve seen a few!!
    Blimey they are sweet “little” beasties aren’t they! ….not! I hope your Brahman crosses get their dangly bits removed before they go totally bolshie.
    I’d set up your shed wifi ASAP if I were you! possession is 9/10 of the law πŸ˜‰

    1. Yes…calves…but not as we know them….
      They’ve settled down, are scoffing sugar cane like there’s no tomorrow and are going out – officially – today.

      Stand by for fence breakages, chases over a wide area of the countryside and general chaos. I think I might go shopping.

      Never mind the shed…I’m having trouble getting possession of the PC long enough to set up the wifi programme! He’s had untrammelled control too long while I’ve been away….

  18. Welcome home, Helen. I had to laugh at your attempts to swipe your passport. I had the exact same issues, plus United Airlines did not want me to leave the US because, they said, I had no round trip ticket. I explained I did have a RT ticket and this was the return leg. My residency was questioned, and then they said I couldn’t leave because the expiration date on my passport was only three months out. I had to get out my computer and show them that the US Embassy in Costa Rica was holding my new passport and if they would just please let me pass all would be well.

    I don’t envy you the husbandry project either. LOL

    1. I’m glad to be here!

      The calves have settled very well. They went out today, following the horse in indian file and returned in indian file when the rain started – looking indignantly in the trough for sugar cane.

      Swiping the passport!
      It has to be said that I would have preferred to have swiped those responsible for setting up those machines…and you should have seen the surprise at the production of my cedula….well, they wanted proof of residence and when it was produced didn’t know what to do with it. I had the impression that one of the old cigarette cards duly plasticised would have done as well…

  19. oh boy! as I am reading this, I am packing my little suitcase for a short break, I will be traveling BY TRAIN !
    when I am back, I will read your earlier European travel entries

    1. I enjoyed the train in Spain….and appreciated the assistance given my elderly mother in mounting and alighting from the carriages and in negotiating the stations…wheelchair and charming helpful gentlemen waiting on the platforms or at the assistance centre.

  20. Oh Helen. This was such a good read and for so many reasons – most connected to the marvel that is your writing skill though some because I really needed the relief of laughter.
    From the sublime to the ridiculous to the sublime again. Brahma calves and Terminal 4 in the same post! Only you. Only you! And I love it. Yx

    1. I remember that standard furnishing of doctors’ waiting rooms..the Readers Digest. It had a section called ‘Laughter, the best medicine’…and in that at least I think it was right.
      I do hope your son is making progress.

      Do you think I should let the calves loose in Terminal 4? Try getting them through security screening!

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