Calgary Bound [December 2015]

Every week I scold myself for having not written a post on this blog for a very long time and I am glad I’ve finally had a moment to write something. The autumn semester of my final year has flown by and the brakes have long disappeared when I’ve wished it to slow down just a little. 

I don’t understand how three months can end up feeling like just one but, newsflash everyone, it has happened. And the end result: I’m back on crutches. I basically started this year breaking my foot in Ningbo. I have now damaged one of my retinacula(?) tendons that goes across the inside of the main ankle bone thus live a life of a couch potato and hop-along. As only i would do, I am ending this bonkers year on crutches too! Fantastic.

How did it happen you ask? Let’s just say: don’t try to pull your absolutely plastered friend who’s sitting on your other friends on a sofa. It may result in you both ending up on the floor with them having landed like a sack of potatoes on your ankle. My friend is absolutely mortified and has been so lovely and helpful by going to get me food and even treated me with ‘I’m sorry’ flowers. It was amusing watching all the intimidating US and Canadian customs officials crack a smile in disbelief when I told them the story… made my day 😀

Moral of the story folks: guard your feet when within a one-metre radius of all alcohol.

Bar that, 2015 has been one of the best years. The amount of new friends I’ve made this year is just beyond hope or belief. There’s a good mix of international and those back in the homeland (the UK) and they don’t know how much I adore them (and I realise now how creepy I sound!)

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This year I am back in Calgary for Christmas. My Auntie Amanda picked me up on Tuesday ready for me to fly at 12:05 yesterday (Wednesday 16th) and we arrived at London Heathrow Airport without a hitch at 8:15. Despite taking an hour to sort check-in with bags, special assistance and having to get a ESTA waiver visa so I could pass through the United States, the journey was far from awful 😀

I’m a British person who loves meeting people on journeys. I’ve met quite a few in my time (I know that makes me sound old but this is my 20th flight of 2015 so it’s safe to say I get around…) and today I met a lovely couple from London Heathrow heading to Calgary. They were then heading on to Saskatoon from Calgary to eventually arrive home in the early hours of Thursday morning (17th). As I was on crutches, I was assisted throughout the journey wheeled in various wheelchairs to take me to my next point of transfer. I did get the exciting experience of going on the little buggy cars at Heathrow Airport when I was taken to the gate. It’s a thing that I always used to see pass me as I walked through a terminal and note that there’d only be elder people on it. Safe to say, all the people we passed looked at me as if I should’ve been an elder too, so by the end of it I felt like my granny (bless her). The first leg of the journey to Chicago was better than expected as I had a three seater in the middle of the plan to myself! In parts the nine hours dragged but in others (such as when I was asleep) it flew. I had a good set up with my laptop in the middle, drinks to one side and food (when served) to the other. I managed to catch at least two hours of sleep too which was a blessing. The beauty of my degree is being able to count watching tv in the appropriate foreign language as revision. I had downloaded quite a few episodes of a Mexican show I am addicted too and they managed to entertain me most of the way!

Once we landed in Chicago, we had been given an hour and twenty minutes to catch our connecting flight to Calgary. I use “we” because the couple joined me on our adventure through Chicago airport. It was a little friendly trade off where they helped with my bags and in return were able to accompany me through all the check points we had to go through. It was a silver lining that they came with me because the girl who pushed my wheelchair would never have been able to take my luggage and me more than 10metres alone. Nevertheless, man alive, there were far too many checkpoints! I understand that the US prides itself on being secure and safe but seriously… We had to go through customs, pick our luggage up, go through a baggage customs for the connecting flights, put them back on a conveyor belt, and then cross from terminal five to terminal one to have to go through security. 

Sorry… What? 

We managed to do this in the hour and twenty minutes given to us. (I’m going to highlight that it’s ridiculous it took us almost two hours to do all this.) Even though Mr S. ran ahead to try and tell the plane we were coming, we weren’t lucky enough. Although we arrived at the gate bang on 4:40 (the time of departure) the plane had already left the gate and heading towards the runway. I thought planes weren’t allowed to leave until the designated time? Anyway, it was a challenge too impossible. We headed to the United Airlines customer service desk and were put onto the next flight heading to Calgary. It had a weird boarding time of 7:23pm but at least we didn’t have too long to wait. 

Tickets in hand we headed to Terminal 2 and sat down (I think the couple were rather relieved to not have to walk for a second) then decided to eat. There was a restaurant/bar/food place across the corridor so Mr S. found a table and we ordered some food. They were a lovely pair and time passed quickly. Soon enough once we were sat back in the waiting area, we only had twenty minutes for boarding. As soon as we said this to each other, the gentleman at the boarding desk made an announcement: “All passengers on flight **** to Calgary. Due to a fault with the aeroplane we have to have another one replace it as it needs to be repaired. It will be changed shortly, once the security checks are done, the crew are onboard, we will start boarding as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.” I just laughed at our luck. We eventually boarded at 7:30pm but didn’t take off until 8:10pm due to the congestion on the runway! Nevertheless, it was a brand new shiny plane that made it all a little better as the previous plane could’ve been a horrible old mess. I’ve realised I love taking off the ground in an aeroplane – not so much the landing or the turbulence – but a small amount of adrenaline runs through me when the plane stops just before it accelerates and lifts off the ground. 

Once we broke through the clouds the expanse of the sky that awaited us was amazing. It was decorated with flashing specks of lights from other planes circling Chicago airport, and felt as if we were watching a line of fire flies all following each other in a slow dance across the sky before being engulfed by clouds. Calgary city looked particularly pretty as well, I don’t know whether it was the unsmeared plane windows or the fact it’s near Christmas, but it felt special. 


Eventually, we landed. I was greeted by my parents and brother all video-ing and giggling at me rolling through the arrival doors in a wheelchair.

Safe to say… it’s lovely to see their faces again 😉

Eight days until Christmas!!! Time to get dancing (or hobbling) to Christmas songs..!


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