John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Thursday 7 September 2017

[Wednesday 6 September 2017]

Granada–Málaga Airport–Manchester Airport

Corona De Granada Hotel, Granada
12:00 Málaga Airport
14:10 Manchester Airport
Today the coach will take us to Malaga airport at the appropriate time, to take our return flight home after a really memorable tour.

Janet had set the alarm clocks for 5am, so it was perhaps 5.15am when she got up.… We’d only used one suitcase at this final stage of the tour, so Janet packed that and I padlocked it and strapped it up. I packed all my own stuff — computer, camera, shaver, etc. — in the rucksack. We went down ca.6.30am. Despite Manuel’s warning on the notice board about not leaving suitcases unattended, one of our group brought her suitcases down at this stage expecting to be able to leave them in the lobby. Breakfast was scheduled today for 6.45am, and the doors were opened about that time. I had corn flakes, bacon, a sausage and baked beans, and coffee; Janet had her usual fruit. Ca.7am a party of Japanese tourists also entered. We went back up to the room ca.7.15am, and had no problem calling a lift in order to take our luggage down. I handed over the door-card and safe-key at reception, and ca.7.30am took the suitcases outside and handed them to Manuel the driver to put aboard. Janet and I occupied the back row, and I sat in the centre seat with its limitless legroom.
 It was another hot and sunny day. We set out shortly afterwards on the 85-mile journey west-turning-southwest to Málaga Airport, descending through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, crossing a plain, then passing through the Montes de Málaga. There was a stop of ca.½-hour on the way, at Hostelería Lojeña, Loja, some 30-odd miles from Granada, which had a cafeteria, gift shop and toilets. Tour manager Manuel suggested that we might like to show Manuel the driver our appreciation at this stage; so Janet and I in fact gave each of them an envelope containing €20. I had a café americano there, and Janet a Coke Zero (08:28 on the till receipt). Janet and I were considering buying a mosaic-type bull from the gift-shop, as a companion for Frog from Barcelona; but then I noticed that it wasn’t mosaic at all, but a plaster-cast cut to look like mosaic.
 We arrived at the airport ca.9.30am, where our people went to the back of a great, long queue to check their hold-luggage in. Janet and I, though, went to the adjacent, empty “priority check-in” desk.

Boarding pass
We were lucky, because Monarch Airlines ceased operations less than a month later, on 2 October 2017, leaving many would-be passengers stranded.

 Going on from there, we found a very large number of people massed before the security section. Before we joined them, I removed belt, wallet, watch and rings, and put them in a bag in my rucksack, along with my jacket; and removed the computer from the rucksack for separate scanning. Given the large volume of people the security check proceeded reasonably quickly. Airside, Janet bought a couple of bananas from a food counter (11:07 on the till receipt); but although they sold freshly-made bacon baguettes, etc., they refused to sell her a plain baguette that she could eat with the bananas. Time was running short before the boarding time stated on the boarding pass (11:30), so we headed for the boarding gate. There was another fairly large queue of people there at border control and checking of passports. Our gate, B11 I think, was the first one on the other side of that; and a long line of standing passengers waiting to be allowed to board had already formed. Janet joined the line at the Upper Crust stall nearby to buy me a chicken sriracha salad baguette and herself a Coca Cola Zero (11:38 on the till receipt), as I found and joined the short “priority boarding” queue just beyond the long non-priority queue. Once we were checked through, we still had to wait part-way along the transit “tubes” connected to the aircraft. (I guess “priority boarding”, then, is more appropriate a term than the “speedy boarding” that other airlines use, which is rarely if ever true!) I ate my baguette shortly after we got seated.
 Take-off was scheduled for 12:00; but we started to taxi a bit late, then were waiting in a queue for a few minutes, so didn’t take off till 12:30.
[i] En route, I bought a bottle of water, a ca.175ml bottle of red wine, and some salt-and-vinegar crisps from the trolley, and Janet had a Pepsi Max. The flight was of 2hrs 55mins’ duration. Landing was scheduled for 14:10, but actually took place at 14:24;[ii] and even then, we were kept waiting on the apron a few minutes till our bay was available.

[i] Timings, according to Flightradar24.
[ii] Timings, according to Flightradar24.

 It was overcast and coolish. As soon as we were off the aeroplane I turned on my phone. There was a message, sent 14:26: “Hi: Can you ring me when you have your suitcases? Thanks, L.” I replied straight away (14:43): “Will do, thanks.” There was a long “snake” at passport control. The automatic passport-scanning booth, to which I was assigned, seemed to be taking a long time recognising passengers’ images. Janet and I used the toilets in the baggage-reclaim hall. One case arrived on the carousel fairly quickly; the other took some time. I called L. when we were about to go, as had been suggested when we were being dropped off there, up in the lift to the upper level. Strictly speaking, that is “Departures”, and has a “drop-off zone” not a “pick-up zone”. I called him again when we got there, and he suggested going to the left as far as possible, out of the way of any of the “traffic marshals” that were around; and again, when we got to that location (15:17). He called me (15:21) to say he was approaching “in a silver van, behind another silver van” with his hazard lights flashing; I eventually saw them, and he told me to wave. Thus, we met up; he loaded the suitcases; we boarded; and we set off, proceeding along the M56 motorway, then the M60, then the M67. There was some occasional rain en route. At 3.45pm, we encountered a long, slow-moving queue of traffic about ½-mile from the motorway’s abrupt and strategically pointless end at a roundabout. I noticed that this was at “Mottram in Longdendale”, a name familiar from the telling of “The ‘Abortive Camping Expedition’ — Day One” tale. The slow-crawl congestion continued through the village of Hollingworth, but eased before we got to Tintwistle (also familiar from the tale). From here, to our right in the valley below (Longdendale), was a series of reservoirs, and near the last one, we passed a sign: “Woodhead”. I saw no sign of any settlement there. We continued along what was here the A628, crossing the Barnsley boundary, and turning right at a roundabout onto the A616. I noticed a sign saying “Stocksbridge”, though there was little sign of the town itself from the road. I think that’s where the steelworks is, which I visited once [in my final year at Hull University, 1975]. From the A616 and its continuation the A61 we joined the M1 motorway, south- then east-bound, from which we turned onto the M18 heading north-east, and thence along the M180 eastwards and its continuation the A180.
 And so we got home, ca.6pm. I took the cases upstairs and left them on the landing — opening and unpacking would wait till tomorrow


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