Friday, 22 February 2008

High anxiety

Listening to: Country (Paul Weller)
It's still: blowing hard outside
Hail stones: can really sting, can't they?
Birds: half-a-dozen lapwing trying to fly into the wind and giving up, mute swans floating with heads tucked in on Pierowall Bay.

Sally came home this morning. I'd been worried. Very worried. She was coming by plane.

Gusts of up to 70mph were hammering away at the front of the house last night and, even though it seemed quieter when I clambered out of bed at seven this morning, by the time I set out for the "airport" at 8.30 it was working itself up into a frenzy again.

The winds that threatened to shove even a lump like Lennox off the road and the sideways hail were bad enough, but a mile down the road there was a huge bolt of lightning, then a second just as I approached Pierowall village.

I'd all but convinced myself the flight hadn't even left Kirkwall, but there was activity at the airfield (the post van was waiting). So I sat back and waited.

Wobbling over the horizon from Papa Westray came this. . .

. . . landing into the wind on the runway (when the wind is blowing from the north it often lands on the grass).

Once it had taxied to a halt, two teachers, the bank clerk (RBS open on Wednesday and Thursday) and a very shaky Mrs TPF emerged.

Sal's face was an interesting pale grey-green colour and she had that 'I'm not going to puke in public, or cry for that matter' look on her face.

I hurried her and her luggage into the Land Rover, she slammed the door and said: "Oh my ******* ****** ******* ******."

"Nice to see you too darling," I replied. "How was your trip?"

You know the way a gust of wind can sometimes knock your car to one side and it's a bit frightening? Well, it seems the flight was a bit like that - only up in the air.

Sal had got in and the pilot, knowing that everyone else was a regular, made a point of asking her if she knew the emergency procedure. Not a good start for the nervous flyer. After landing at Stronsay, the first stop, the pilot had been forced to admit that he might have to turn back to Kirkwall.

Nevertheless, the plane bumped, dipped and swerved its way out north, over open sea, before returning - one passenger's nerves in tatters - into the wind to Westray.

Still, could've been worse. The ferry was struck by lightning on the way back to Kirkwall and the afternoon sailing was cancelled.


fiwa said...

I'm feeling a little bit green around the gills just reading about it! She is a brave woman!

Welcome home Sal, have a good weekend.

elizabethm said...

I am not in anyway afraid of flying but am stupidly travel sick (no, mum, I never grew out of it, not even when I turned 50). However love small aircraft, what a great picture. Glad Sal got home safe.

Dave said...

A. I'm traveling by ferry.

B. It will be summer by May, when I'm there, so the weather will be lovely. Won't it?

Anonymous said...

When I took the fattest jumbo jet across the atlantic I was terrified. When I took an easyjet tin can across Europe I was shitting myself. If I ever step foot onto a plane like that I shall spontaneously expire.

Z said...

Blimey. Welcome home, Sally.

mig bardsley said...

I've never understood why people say fear of flying is irrational.

I hope the weather is much much better for every single one of the rest of all her flights!

Ginni Dee said...

I'm not the bravest of fliers, either. Sal is a trooper if she flew home in that kind of weather on that kind of plane! Scary!!

BTW, I love the new photos you have up on your blog. The view from your front door is amazing. And can you tell us what that building on the header is? It's very interesting!

lettuce said...


Malc said...


Of course she's brave, she's from Wolverhampton. No cry-babies in the Black Country.


Sal admitted she had a job not throwing up. Sadly the pic is of the plane at Kirkwall on a much nicer day. I tried to get a shot of the plane coming in the other day, but had to concentrate on standing up.


Yes, it will be lovely.


No career in the air force then?


Nail neatly hit on head.


Next one is tomorrow morning. She's going to have to get used to it.


That's our house! It's what you Americans would call a fixer-upper (I think).



Puffincentral said...

Tell Mrs TPF to get some ear-protectors. The flying teachers tend to reminisce about still worse flights when it's appalling - it doesn't make pleasant listening. Westray's big, intit? Did we drive past yr place on the way to the ferry? No work for me Friday - ferries to Hoy cancelled (shame)- if it's rough in Scapa Flow, it must be terrible elsewhere. I liked the bacon butties comment - really made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

as we all know, malc, you don't have to be a pilot to fly in the RAF.

I just realised, "Afternoon sailing was cancelled" sounds like a Jane Austen tragedy, doesn't it.


I, still, like the views said...

hopefully the weekend in your care left her rested and ready for this week

Malc said...


The woman who runs Westray's bank has been flying out twice a week for years and she reckoned it was the worst flight she'd known.
Yes, you would have gone past our place. It's about three miles from the ferry, two-thirds of the way down the island on the left as you travel south.


Don't worry, I'm sure the darkly handsome, but soooooo serious hero will get the boat going again.


Hello! How was the holiday? She was fine, if a little nervous when I bundled her on board the plane this morning.

Anonymous said...

Lets hope so...just imagine sailing...for an ENTIRE afternoon...

I find the thought quite unpalatable...

Richard said...

Herself has several times regaled me with the story of how she flew in to Heathrow from Norway at the hight of Michael Fish's non-hurricane in 1987. It was a touch dodgy apparently.