John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Monday 15 September 2014

[Sunday 14 September 2014]

Region Hotel, Amman
11:50–15:25 Amman–London Heathrow (RJ111)
19:33–19:49 Heathrow Term123–London Paddington (Heathrow Express)
20:04–20:19 London Paddington–London Kings Cross (London Underground)
20:35–22:22 London Kings Cross–Doncaster (East Coast)
22:45–00:09 Doncaster–Cleethorpes (TransPennine Express)
DAY 7: Amman to the UK B
Transfer to Amman International Airport for your flight back to the UK.

Day 258 Hosea 3-6; Romans 10
The arrangement was to meet the TravCo rep at 8.00am — yesterday Ashraf had been told “8.30am”, but later in the day he was told “8.00am” — so Janet and I got up a little after 6am. Janet did the small amount of repacking and I packed my own hand luggage. We were ready for just after 7.30am so I decided to go down for some breakfast, and Janet joined me. We went back to the room for the cases, and were down again for me to hand back the key-card to reception a couple of minutes before 8am. The TravCo guy, the same as on our arrival, Raed Abu Shagra, according to “All you need to know”, was some minutes late arriving, and the small coach was even later, so it was almost 8.30am when we set out. This rendered meaningless the change of plans from “8.30am” to “8.00am”! It was cool outside, with a grey sky. It was sunny and hot every day but today. The small coach wasn’t as comfortable as the “dolmuş” we’d been in all week, and it smelt of tobacco smoke. “It was about… 8.30am before we got on the coach, which was big and old, tatty and bloody cold inside,” Janet wrote. “My feet were frozen when we arrived at Amman Airport (the remaining seven of us: Christine, Robert and Peter had booked the Dead Sea extension). It was much warmer off that tatty old coach.” In all the travelling this week, never once did we feel unsafe; but this last short journey to the airport was a bit alarming: as we speeded along, we were right up the arse of the car in front. There was some hanging about in the airport concourse — the rep didn’t explain things — before we entered for baggage check-in, etc. When we entered Jordan, I thought that having the “Jordan” visa and entry stamps on the same opening of the passport as the “Israel” stamps kind of augured peace in the Middle East; but this was “unaugured” on leaving, because the exit stamp was stamped on a different page.



Monday 15 September 2014 — 09:25:54
Waiting to check in hold-luggage at Amman airport


Monday 15 September 2014 — 09:26:34
Waiting to check in hold-luggage at Amman airport

In the “duty-free”, which we normally pass through as quickly as possible, I noticed a book with an embroidered cross on the cover — “Bible in Arabic,” the label said, and, “Your purchase will help empower women’s cooperatives and conserve Jordan’s heritage” — which I decided to buy. When I looked at it more closely, it was the New Testament only. We went to Popeye’s for a drink. After a while we went off to the boarding gate. As we waited there, I logged on to the Wi-Fi using the Asus tablet and searched for Ashraf on Facebook. There were a few with his name, but one of them had photos definitely of him. Hit “Add as friend” and sent him a message, for which I had to pay £0.09 to direct it to his inbox. (The time below is local.)

John Edward Cooper
10:53
Hi Ashram,
We're at Amman Airport, waiting to board the flight home. Many thanks for making our holiday such an enjoyable one. Hope you accept my "friend" request, then I can tag you in photos that I plan to upload to Facebook.
With every good wish,
John

I didn’t receive his reply till I logged on at The Parcel Yard at London Kings Cross. The 11:50 (08:50 UTC) flight was delayed to an estimated “12:20”, according to the information display at the boarding gate.


Monday 15 September 2014 — 11:45:20
Still waiting to board the Royal Jordanian Airways Boeing 787 at Amman airport

After we boarded the aircraft it filled up — to capacity seemingly; there were no empty seats (or even sets of seats) as on the outward flight. My scribbled note says, “4hr 45min”, which was presumably the estimated flight time given by the captain over the loudspeakers. We started taxiing at 12:32; then we were waiting, then taxiing again; and we finally lifted off at 12:49 (09:49 UTC). (The website Flightradar24 gives it as 09:46 UTC, but that might be the time of the start of the takeoff run.) I availed myself of drinks but not the food that was handed out, apart from the packet of peanuts — “packets”: Janet’s and mine. I didn’t watch a movie, but listened to some music: Katherine Jenkins Believe; Josh Groban Closer + two tracks Weeping and Machine from a live album; Yes Close to the Edge. Broke off to show Janet photos that I’d transferred to the Asus. We landed at 15:34 (14:34 UTC), so despite take-off being nearly an hour late, landing was almost on time, a mere 9 minutes late. There was the expected long, long walk to the baggage-claim carousels. Delivery and our picking up of luggage were straightforward. There were others from our party, but not immediately nearby, so there were no awkward goodbyes. The automatic passport control couldn’t recognise me, and I had to leave the glass booth and find an attendant to let me through. “It was sunny and warm in London,” Janet wrote: “a nice surprise!” There was an instruction on a sign at the Paddington tube station to board the first train that came along and to change at Edgware Road station for Kings Cross. According to the plan that was the next station. We did board the first train, but as it approached the next station the automated announcement said that the next stop would be “Goldhawk Road”. This wasn’t marked on the Underground plan, and I assumed it was a new station that had opened before Edgware Road and hadn’t found its way onto the plan. (Actually, it was marked on the plan, away off near the start of the route, and the announcement was in error.) It was only after the train had stopped that another announcement said that the station was “Edgware Road”. We immediately leapt up and headed for the door — just as it closed. A helpful man next to me told me that the train we were on was itself going via Kings Cross because it terminated at — perhaps he said “Moorgate”. When we got to Kings Cross Station we headed for The Parcel Yard. I had a pint and a half of a bitter by Butcombe, and Janet had a Diet Pepsi. She went off to Boots to buy something to eat more suited to her diet after I ordered a beef burger with added cheese and bacon, which included chips. As I mentioned above, there was a reply from Ashraf on Facebook. (I’ve retained the time in Jordan below.)

Ashraf Al-hanini
12:00
Hi John,
I received your request and I am happy to accept.
Many thanks to you and Janet and hope you reach back home safely and happy.
Take care and God bless

I replied (now I switch to the time in London):

John Edward Cooper
18:21
Seen 18:22
Oops! I meant to write "Ashraf" not "Asram"! Hope "Ashram" doesn't mean anything rude in Arabic! Janet and I are at London Kings Cross railway station, waiting for the train home, so insha'Allah your hope for us will come true. God bless you and yours also.

I also wrote to Andrew:

From: Джон Эдвард Купер
To: Andrew Kent
Date: 15 September 2014 18:52
Subject: Meeting
Hi Andrew,
I'm at a Wi-Fi hotspot at Kings Cross station. Wondered whether you were free to meet tomorrow.
John

I wrote the calling points and timings listed in a printed timetable for the East Coast train from Kings Cross to Doncaster and copied the same from a downloaded timetable for the First TransPennine Express one from Doncaster to Cleethorpes. The intention was to check actual arrival or departure times at these points. Events rendered this exercise pointless.

20:35 Kings Cross B44[i]
20:55 Stevenage (21:21)
[ii]※
21:26 Peterborough (22:15–22:18)
21:46 Grantham (22:37–22:39)
21:59 Newark North Gate (22:49)
22:23 Doncaster (23:13)
22:45 Doncaster C15
[iii]
23:19 Scunthorpe
23:32 Barnetby
23:42 Habrough
23:55 Grimsby Town
00:09 Cleethorpes
 
[i] This was the seat reservation: Coach B (“Coach B” on these trains is the “Quiet Coach”), seat 44.
[ii] These bracketed times are the actual times of arrival and departure. I didn’t record the actual time of departure from Kings Cross, but we were 26 minutes late arriving at Stevenage, so probably left Kings Cross ca.21:00. At Stevenage there was a further delay, detailed at ※, below, making us some 50 minutes late for the rest of the journey.
[iii] This was the seat reservation on the train: Coach C, seat 15. But the train was long gone when we arrived at Doncaster.

I made a mistake in my perception of what time it was, for thinking the train was due to depart in ca.½-hour we left The Parcel Yard just after 7pm. We found a seat and waited. Janet consumed what she’d bought at Boots. On the large “Departures” board, the platform number is never shown till mere minutes before the scheduled departure. That is a major source of annoyance at Kings Cross station. I guess it’s partly because they don’t know far in advance which platform the arriving train is going to be admitted to, but mainly because they want to stop people trying to board while the arrived train is being tidied up before departure. So at 20:35 there was a bunch of people standing there gazing up at the “Departures” board. Then the details were changed to “20:45”, then a little later “on time”, then later still “20:50”. Then there was an announcement about their having to wait for the incoming train crew who themselves had been delayed. Finally the platform number came up, and we boarded.
 ※ There was a further delay at  Stevenage because the crew had to inspect part of the train. There was a bad smell in Coach C coming from somewhere. Some circuit had to be isolated in that coach. Passengers who objected to the smell were offered other seats elsewhere. We finally moved off at 21:43, 48 minutes late, which made us 50 minutes late arriving at Doncaster. I caught up with the guard in Coach C (yes, it was a bit smelly) en route and sought his advice. He said that the station staff at Doncaster had been made aware of the problem and that we should report to them. So that’s what we did. The female manager was brusque, but that inspired confidence because she was efficient and effective with it. She had taxis organised, and Janet and I boarded one. So we journeyed home in sometimes quite foggy conditions. En route I asked the driver to drop us off at home rather than take us to Cleethorpes railway station. We arrived home only about ten minutes later than we would have if the train had been on time. I gave the driver what I perceived it would have cost us if we’d arrived as planned. Because of the ease of getting taxis there we usually get off the train at Grimsby Town. The driver wasn’t expecting anything, as he would be paid by First TransPennine Express. “Are you sure?” he said.
 There was a pile of mail on the floor inside the front door, including a letter from Mum and the Micro SD card.… “We fell into bed about 1am,” Janet wrote: “very tired and weary.”


[2014]



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