John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Monday 21 November 2016


Travel to Cyprus
06:20–09:26 Cleethorpes–Manchester Airport
12:30–19:10 EZY1973 Manchester Airport–Paphos
The Annabelle, Λεωφόρος Ποσειδώνoς, Paphos, Cyprus

… The taxi hadn’t come by the time Janet had arranged: 6am. So she rang, and was received with surprise because there was no booking. “I rang on Friday to arrange it,” she protested, “and the train goes at 6.20am.” So they diverted someone from one job to come to us. As we waited I carried the suitcases to the gate to save time loading them. The taxi arrived a few minutes later…. En route, when the driver was on the radio to his base, it was discovered that the booking had been made for the 28th November! There were three waiting trains, and the one scheduled for departure at 06:20 was on Platform 3. (Usually, we board the train at the nearest platform, №1.) The reserved seats in Coach B (the middle one of a three-carriage set) were a long way from the luggage rack, so we sat opposite the rack, on the ones marked “priority seats”. Indeed, one of the train crew — I assume he was one; he wore an orange high-visibility vest, anyway! — took the reservation cards from the backs of seats 7 and 8 and put them at the backs of the “priority seats”.
 The train called at Grimsby Town, Habrough, Barnetby, Scunthorpe, Doncaster, Meadowhall, Sheffield— Unusually (as far as our experience was concerned), it also called at Dore and Totley, and at Chinley. —Stockport, Manchester Piccadilly— From there to Manchester Airport, First TransPennine trains variably call at no, or at one or more, intermediate station(s); this one called just at East Didsbury.
 I dozed off from time to time. I woke up suddenly after the stop at Meadowhall when a handbag made contact with my arm; it didn’t occur to me at first that Janet was carrying a satchel, nor that the owner of the bag was someone other than Janet! (Janet had gone to the loo, and hadn’t wanted to disturb me.) What’s more, someone took a magazine that Janet had left on the swing-down table in front of the seat. She was most pissed off about that. When the train got to Sheffield, I told the woman next to me that Janet had gone to the loo, and she moved elsewhere. (I guess that whoever took the magazine must have asked the woman in Janet’s seat if it belonged to her.)
 The train became overcrowded, especially from Sheffield, with people standing throughout the aisle.
 We went along the enclosed pier to Terminal 1, then outside the lift there we had the previously-experienced puzzle of trying to determine whether we wanted “A” on level 5 or “B” elsewhere. The boarding passes just said “Terminal 1”. Anyway, a passing airport employee asked us which airline we were flying with — easyJet — and told us “‘A’ on level 5”. Someone was there to help us with the operation of the automated check-in machine for the hold luggage. Passage through the security scans was straightforward, with neither of us having any item pulled aside for manual/visual checking. As on 20 July 2016 I got a large beef Cornish pasty. There I wrote that it was from the Upper Crust stall; but today I saw two counters, Upper Crust, perhaps selling sandwiches, and the Pasty Shop, to which I actually went. I didn’t risk having coffee from there after my previous experience; but when Janet went to Boots for something I asked her to get me a bottle of water. When our boarding gate number came up on the display (“Gate 10”), we made our way there. “Gate 10” was actually through a door down a couple of flights of stairs. People queued up at a desk for passports and boarding passes to be scanned, and “speedy boarding” passengers were let through first, into a waiting room with seats, segregated by tape-and-post barriers into “speedy boarding” area and non-“speedy boarding” area. When the door was opened, “speedy boarding” passengers were allowed access across the tarmac to the aircraft first. When boarding was complete, the entrance door wasn’t shut till ca.12.40pm; then taxiing was a slow start-stop affair till we arrived, in today’s dull, rainy conditions, at the remarkably brightly lit runway, and took off ca.12.55pm.
 The flight immediately after take-off was very rough initially — lurching left and right as well as up and down — till we got above the clouds into bright sunshine. When the trolley came by, Janet had a 330ml can of Sprite Zero (she will no longer drink cola) for £1.80, and I availed myself of a two-for-£8.00 offer and had two 18.7cl bottles of red wine (they’re normally £4.50 each). Ca.2.30pm, I needed a “№2” — my first time on an aeroplane! The captain’s voice came over the public address system from time to time, e.g. when we were passing over Dresden, heading from there for Czech Republic airspace then Hungarian; and at 3.10pm, when (he said) we were “just over halfway there”, shortly to be passing over Romania, then Bulgaria, then into Turkish airspace. Ca.3.15pm, I looked to the right, past the couple with whom I was sharing the three-seat set, and saw that it was starting to be twilight, with a bright orange strip contrasting with the grey cloud below, and “segueing” into indigo as one looked above it. The catering trolley kept passing. Janet had another Sprite Zero. I drank the rest of the water from Boots. I dozed off once or twice. I put my watch forward two hours. At what was now showing as 6.43pm, the captain announced that we were passing over Antalya. Shortly after that I became aware that we were decelerating and descending, though we didn’t land till ca.7.25pm.
 A long queue for passport control was quickly dealt with. Our cases seemed to take long time appearing on the carousel, which kept stopping and starting. There was a little stall in the exit hall of the airport with a number of holiday companies’ logos displayed on it, including “Mercury”. A woman there, who initially was dealing with somebody else, gave us an information pack; and our driver, who in fact was the first person we saw at the stall, led us out and showed us where to wait while he got the car.

Front and rear cover of a 20-page “Visitors’ Holiday Guide” booklet, which was issued to us. Perhaps that’s what I meant when I wrote “information pack”, above. On the rear cover was written our Mercury representative’s name Fiona, and the date and time of our “Welcome Meeting”: Wed. 23 Nov. at 10:15 in the hotel’s “Byzantinos Bar”.

There were some home-like features, e.g. driving on the left, and a pedestrian crossing with Belisha beacons. (Later, at the hotel, I found that the electrical sockets were mostly UK-style ones.) The text below some road signs was in Greek, but “STOP” signs were in Latin letters (unlike in Russia, where it was spelled “СТОП”). It was after 8.30pm when we arrived at the Annabelle, but we were told that the dinner buffet didn’t stop till 9.30pm so we still had time. We let them take our passports at reception for scanning, and were asked for a credit card number, mobile phone number, e-mail address, etc. We had to sign on the screen of the tablet computer the clerk was using. Our room (“251”) was on the same floor as reception. It was opened by a “real”, metal, mechanical key, which was most welcome as compared with the plastic smart-cards one often gets nowadays, which more often than not don’t work properly. Our cases were brought by a maroon-liveried porter shortly after we got in. The “welcome” folder that the Annabelle clerk gave us included a card with Wi-Fi user-name and password on it, but when I enabled Wi-Fi on the Samsung computer I got internet access without such measures. It was a bit after 9.00pm when we went downstairs to the buffet restaurant. I had a beer and Janet a Sprite Zero. We enjoyed the soup, which was labelled as “minestrone”, but was thick and rich like a pomodoro sauce, like the soup I’ve had once or twice at Relish in Cleethorpes. We sampled items from the cold tables, then others from the hot. Notable among them was slices of halloumi grilled together with similar-sized pieces of bacon or ham. We were back in the room ca.10pm. There were tea- and coffee-making facilities in the room, and Janet made us a cup of coffee each. Janet… was in bed a bit before midnight. I continued doing diary update on the computer, shut down ca.12.30am, and went to bed myself.

[Tuesday 22 November 2016]

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