Sep. 12th, 2014

kekhmet: (kekh)
Ten years ago (ten years and about twenty minutes ago as started I typing this, if my plane arrived on time, though longer by the time I will hit post) I stepped off a plane at London, Heathrow.

Ten years a go yesterday I'd boarded that plane along with the cats, Theo and Kekhmet, who travelled ensconced in a pressure and temperature controlled section of the hold. I had with me 5 maximum sized suitcases of stuff, and a carry on bag (and knowing me might have been wearing a slightly too warm coat or jacket to maximise what I could carry). The most the airline would allow me to bring as a single passenger. In those days, the first two bags were free. The other three I'd paid for, as that was still cheaper than air freighting them, and meant I could have my things sooner than an unknown number of months if I sent them by slow boat.

The cats were met by a specialist animal reception agent I'd had to hire - I wasn't permitted to do that bit myself - and whisked off along with all their paperwork to the Animal Reception Centre somewhere off the ring road interior to Heathrow. I'm told they quite possibily may have disembarked from the plane before I did, as the section they were in is the very first thing to be unloaded as soon as the plane comes to rest at the gate. They most assuredly were done with their version of passport control long before I wended my way through the queues involved in mine!

I collected my 5 max-size bags from the baggage carousel, loaded as many as I could onto a baggage cart, and pushing that and dragging one suitcase behind me, made my way through the 'nothing to declare' line of customs. (Which was the truth: I had nothing to declare, every last bag contained "previously owned household goods". Well other than a few things like USAian food-and-drink treats which were well within the allowable limits). I emerged blinking into the arrivals area of whichever terminal it was. Probably 3, unless American Airlines has changed which terminal they fly from in the intervening years!

I was met by [livejournal.com profile] incy, [livejournal.com profile] d_floorlandmine, and Christa-who-I-think-either-changed-or-deleted-her-LJ-in-the-years-since. I still recall [livejournal.com profile] d_floorlandmine commenting that I'd not been kidding about the size and number of bags I'd be hauling. Nope, not kidding nor exaggerating there. I expected to have to live using mostly what was in those bags for a while - I didn't know when I'd be able to send for more of my stuff, and knew I didn't want to have to buy all new clothes when I got here!

[livejournal.com profile] incy sat me down in the nearest food establishment for a restorative cup of tea and something to eat. I presume we did this whilst the other two went and brought cars round for loading? We loaded the stuff into the cars, and then set of in search of the Animal Reception Centre, to rescue the cats.

Several circuits of the inner Heathrow ring road system later, we *finally* spotted the signpost we needed well hidden in some overgrown bushes in a roundabout. The upside of this delay was that the cats had been entirely checked over and paperwork all processed long before we arrived. In fact, one of them (I'm sure it was Theo, it must have been him, he always got sick when he travelled) had been cleaned up, as had that cat's crate, and both cat and crate were already dry, though smelling of disinfectant / cat shampoo when we arrived. Thank you Animal Reception for taking such good care of my kitties. (Yes, I thanked them then too).
The cats were overjoyed to see me. I sat in the back seat, one cat crate on each side of me, fingers pressed through the wire doors, with a purring cat pressed against my fingers all the way to our new home in Ealing where we met our new flatmates [livejournal.com profile] sam_cp and [livejournal.com profile] nils for the first time, and collasped, I'm quite sure, in an exhausted heap. (Well, OK, I may have had to go out for one quick errand to Argos: Cat box and Morrisons: Cat litter ;-P ) (My current cats actually still use that cat box, and the cat scratching post I also bought, though the scratching post has seen better days by now, and may not last too many more years! I also bought myself a cheap duvet that came with two uselessly flat pillows. Thankfully, I'd packed my favourite pillow, doing double duty as packing material/cushioning around my computer or something else breakable, in one of the big suitcases. I still have the duvet and pillows, but the duvet has been retired to a spare now that I have a lovely lush cushy super-king-size duvet. ) Yes, I did just end this tale by talking of necessities like cat boxes and something to sleep under. These details become very important after a journey of 4000 miles or so! ;-)

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