This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
Here’s another one of our short stories to read online that we think you’ll enjoy. Several years ago, hardworking sheep farmers, Sue Andrews and her husband Aubrey, finally managed to get abroad for a holiday to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary. It was also Sue’s first ever flight abroad and she was a little nervous…
Farmers find it difficult to take holidays, but several Octobers ago, all the ewes were in lamb and someone was able to check them daily. We were embarking on our first real holiday since our honeymoon, twenty-five years ago. When I announced I’d booked it instead of having a small party, it was frowned upon by my husband, but our children applauded my choice saying Dad would come round once he arrived.
“A coach tour? I don’t want to go on a coach tour,” he said.
“You’re only on the coach from the airport to Chianciana, where we’re staying. I’ve booked a visit to Florence and to Assisi. And Chianciana has an historic old town, plenty of walks round there, into the mountains. We can do what we want. You’ll enjoy it.”
Strangely enough, as soon as we caught the National Express coach to Heathrow, he visibly relaxed. Everything was organised for him, either by me or the tour operator and he didn’t have to drive.
We would arrive at Heathrow well ahead of our flight as the later bus would have cut things too fine, a relief when an accident caused a major traffic jam. Our driver was extremely good, explaining he would bypass the problem, but we would be late arriving. Others on the bus with earlier flights began to worry. Frantic phone calls were made to holiday reps and plane operators.
“Have you got a number to ring ours’?” my husband asked.
“The driver says we’ll be at Heathrow by 11.30, our flight isn’t until 2 o’clock.”
“OK. You know what we’re doing.” This indicated he didn’t and was pleased the responsibility lay with me. I did feel I should be panicking, but the driver’s calculations were accurate and we arrived at our terminal just one hour later than anticipated.
Following signs, we made our way to check-in at the correct desk, where a very distressed flight attendant appeared to be scouring the airport for someone. As we checked in, she turned to us, beaming from ear to ear.
“Oh, you’ve made it, wonderful.”
“Did you pack your bags yourself?” asked the lady at the desk. “Yes, you did, didn’t you? That’s fine. Come with me. We’ve managed to book your holiday group on an earlier flight. We were just waiting – if you hadn’t turned up within five minutes we’d have had to get them all off the plane.” We ran after her along several corridors until we reached a packed aircraft.
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to sit separately but that’s OK, isn’t it? One here,” she indicated where my husband should sit. I followed her about three rows back. Seat belts on and we were taxiing along the runway almost as soon as I sat down.
“That was close,” the gentleman in the next seat smiled at me. “At least you can just sit back and enjoy the flight.” Smiling back at him, I explained what had happened. He asked where I was going, wishing me a most enjoyable holiday when I explained.
He was wearing a long black gown and collar of some religious order, with a bible and rosary in his hands. I questioned his visit to Rome. Was it to visit the Vatican? A new chapel to St David was being consecrated and he was one of six members of the Catholic church to be invited to meet the Pope and be part of the ceremony. A priest in one of the poorest areas in London, his bishop had put his name forward, his good works obviously recognised. His name was also David.
As our flight continued, seat belt signs flashed on and the huge plane buffeted in turbulent air. I was aware my new friend was nervously fingering his rosary and saying a prayer.
“I picked the right seat, next to you,” I said, smiling. Now was not the time to say it was my first flight too. Once the turbulence ceased and signs turned off, the hostess appeared with a selection of drinks. My companion turned down the offer of wine and I did the same, but he turned to me and grinned.
“You’re already on holiday, why not? I’m on a business trip and a little too close to headquarters,” he tilted his head towards the sky. We laughed and I had a red wine.
Read more from Sue Andrews and her life farming sheep here
Did you know that Sue has written three successful books? More info