Returning to St Lucia
Life is a bit turbulent at present, with Helen being unwell. She has undergone major surgery and has just about recovered only to be facing the unpleasant reality of a course of chemotherapy for the rest of the summer.
Sunset from our balcony
However, like a tropical storm, a window of calm has emerged and we find ourselves back on the island of St Lucia, this time on the northern tip having been invited to join some of our oldest and dearest friends celebrate their 60th birthdays. It was either St Lucia or Crick - not a tough choice when it came down to it.
The beach at sunset
And so Wednesday evening saw us travelling down to the Hilton at Gatwick with Dave and Pat and the inevitable restless nights sleep following what was supposed to be a quick drink in the hotel bar. Alarms were set to 5.45 and we were on our way to South Terminal by 6.15am. Our hosts have been incredibly generous and decided we should travel Premium Economy rather than cattle class which is our more natural habitat, and this means we have our own baggage drop off and more crucially the use of a departure lounge with comfortable seats, papers and free breakfast.
Ariel views of St Lucia
In the event our plane was a good hour and a half late so in good Hobbit tradition we settled in and enjoyed first and second breakfasts, but stopped short of alcohol which seemed a bit excessive before 9.00am. Premium Economy comes with wide leather seats and extra legroom but its he little details which gave me the most satisfaction, things like being served wine in real glass glasses and eating my meals with metal cutlery.
The obligatory selfie on take off
No matter how you package up the travelling process, eight hours in a plane is still a tedious process but its so much more tolerable with modern technology offering huge choices of entertainment. As with my extensive business travel (which I am not missing one teensy weensy bit) I dive into a little world of my own and grind down the hours. This time I had my eye on three films so set off with the new version of Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The book was written in about 1850 and whilst I have tried to read it a couple of times given the Captain Ahab link, I have never succeeded. The film was therefore something of a godsend and offered a cracking couple of hours of seaborne escapism. A epic tale of the sea and one mans battle against both the elements and the unwanted attentions of a singular Great White Whale.
Travelling companions over St Lucia
Next I moved on the the Revenant, an odd tale of perseverance and survival in Canada probably set in a very similar period as Moby Dick. It was grim watching as a man stripped of all he loves and left for dead by people who should be friends manages to survive against all the odds. He staggers from the wilderness only to hunt down those who betrayed him and gain a measure of vengeance - but I fear the film was devoid of any happiness but taken as a combo they certainly passed the time.
Our first sunset
I did try and make a start on the latest Star Wars film but I guess i was just too weary or not in the mood because I fell asleep twice in the opening 30 minutes so gave up and retreated to Bob Dylan on my I-Pod and a book.
Before and after the helicopter transfer
Our arrival in St Lucia came with another first. My very first helicopter ride which whisked the four of us two thirds of the way to the resort. The time saving was good but to be honest it was the experience and the panoramas of places we saw when we were here two years ago which was wonderful. As luck would have it I found myself in the perfect seat, the one at the front on the side which offered the best photo opportunities as we soared over the reservoir, rain forests and finally into the northern airport, landing on the end of the runway.
And so we arrived in mid afternoon and settled into our sea view room before venturing out to find the other six members of our party, who were lounging on the floating rings in the shallows drinking rum cocktails and Piton beer in a balmy 32C.
Its a long journey and by the time we completed our main course it was 2.00 am UK time and we just hit a wall, staggering to our room and some much needed sleep in air conditioned luxury.