Last week I went to England. I looked at the long list of goods the family had asked me to bring back from England with a sigh. Cheddar cheese, baked beans, gravy. Gravy? Clothes too. My son’s trousers last an hour without holes in the knees. What does he do? Crawl around the floor all day? He’s eight. My daughter is particular about her skinny jeans. In the many shops of Castelo there is no pair that satisfies her teenage pecularities. She fingers the fabric and pronounces it too hard, or finds a softer pair only to discover with dismay that there is a tiny glittering speck of decoration on the pocket. I haven’t found a newsagent in Castelo Branco that stocks English language magazines so NME, Simpsons comics and a Sunday supplement are added to the list. How was I going to get this lot back?
Booking the budget flight I hovered over the ‘add extra bag’ section at a cost of twenty euros and recklessly decided to pack light instead, despite the hefty cost incurred if the hand luggage was overweight on my return. I could float coolly through customs without having to hang around at baggage reclaim. Smart eh?
England was bitterly cold. We chose to wander round Loughborough market, diving in and out of shops. I bought kid’s clothes at favourite stores and hovered around the antique market with dad where I found old books by the cartoonist Giles selling at a bargain four for £2. There would surely be a way to get these into the suitcase along with the extra clothes, comics, and the few treats for myself. O.k. the two carrier bags of treats. Well three, actually. I couldn’t add extra luggage to the flight booking as dad has no internet connection. I had a cunning plan though.
Standing in the queue at the airport gate trickles of sweat were streaming down my back. This probably had something to do with the two skirts, trousers and three t-shirts I was wearing plus a jumper and a fleece with pockets large enough to carry anything heavy including a book or two. A magazine was stuffed into the handle, hoodies were casually slung over my arm. My face was flushed red. A vision flew into my head of being asked to strip off the skirts by suspicious aircrew while everyone looked on.
I approached the gate and handed over my passport and boarding card. The stewardess looked me in the eye and said “hi”. The greeting I felt was weighted with the thought ‘and how many layers are you wearing’? I replied with a “hi” which came out high pitched but had meant to sound deep and confident.
Shuffling in the queue I remembered a well told family story about aunty Adi, dead for 40 years now, who’d gone on holiday to Switzerland and come back through customs, so the story goes, with several gold watches strapped around her garters. There was me, almost hyperventilating with stress having just a couple of extra layers on. I had to get a grip. Opposite the stewardess a lady in a heavy black coat was having her suitcase checked for size, trying to desperately squeeze it into the measuring frame as everyone stared, mainly through lack of anything more interesting to watch after twenty minutes waiting at a bland airport gate, but adding to her embarrassment all the same. Oh come on, please, please just let me through.
Sitting on the plane moments later I sat back with great relief, pulled off my fleece, crushed the jumpers under the seat and sat back to enjoy the flight, the skirts still tight and uncomfortable around my waist. A three hour flight ahead. Next time I’ll just add the extra bag.
- I am trying to learn Portuguese so at the bottom of every blog I will list ten words which have cropped up. Hopefully this will help me to learn some new words and if you are just starting out learning this language too then I hope it will help you.
Trousers = calças
Son = filho
Daughter = filha
Suitcase = mala
Magazine = revista
Queue = fila
To return = voltar
To visit = visitar
Difficult = dificil
To sweat = suar