Honestly- I’m not much of a holiday person; I find the stress of travelling and airports, Lou’s flying fear and the change of environment a little disconcerting. Couple that with the needs of a disabled child and, for me, you have a recipe for stress and disaster!
So we booked a holiday to Portugal…
Charlie’s granddad, Lou’s dad, has a timeshare in a hotel/apartment complex in Praia da Rocha in the Algarve. We’ve been before as a family (although before Charlie) a number of times so we knew where we were going and had a good idea of what to expect. Granddad, Aunty Becky, Pow (Becky’s BF), Charlie and Mummy and Daddy were going on holiday!
H-day quickly arrived and Charlie was amazingly excited- flying on an aeroplane! Despite a 4am set off Charlie was remarkably alert and behaving immaculately (shock…). We arrived nearly 3 hours before our flight- great, I thought- knocking around the busy concourse with Charlie bumping everyone and their suitcases with his frame… Nope- the Jet2.com check in area was open and after a 5 minute queue we had arrived at the desk and proceeded to ‘dump’ our bags. We had booked ‘disabled-assistance’ so we were told to meet at Gate 1 an hour before the flight time.
As it was quite quiet we waited in the security queue and unloaded our pushchair, frame, had luggage, coats, shoes and belts for x-ray and continued on our way. Only Pow, Charlie’s Aunties boyfriend got stopped briefly- it’s normally me, often due to my insistence that the holiday starts at the airport and my hat and sunglasses promptly appear on my head!
Charlie has been given a Trunki before his hols so he loved pulling his gear along behind him oon his frame. We resisted the urge to start our holiday with a Burger King and Beer(!)- settled for coffee and pastries and before long we wandered over to the gates where we were met by ‘disabled-assistance’. We literally did have to drag Charlie away from the panoramic windows, “5-4-3-2-1- blast off!” was roared at every plane!
‘Disabled-assistance’ were great- we didn’t need to stress over flight screens waiting for a gate to be announced or stampede to the gate, we simply waited until a small group had assembled and the staff ushered us to a mini-bus and took us straight to the plane. We left Charlie’s frame and pushchair at the stairs and carried Charlie on to an empty plane. The flight staff meet us and assured us if we needed anything we should just ask- even asserting that if Charlie needed the toilet when the ‘seat-beat light’ was on we should just let them know and carefully make our way.
After an exciting taxi to the runway Charlie’s face was a picture as the plane roared into the air- and that was it, the excitement of the airport and aeroplane coupled with an early start was enough as Charlie fell fast asleep. Even Lou managed a relatively stress-free flight, I guess having to look after Charlie had meant she hadn’t had the time to become anxious about the flight and she had been able to share in his excitement about the take-off.
Charlie (and his mum) woke before landing and we enjoyed an uneventful touchdown- much to Lou’s delight. We departed from the plane without assistance and found ourselves in Faro International Airport- and a huge customs queue (and not many toilets…)!
Fortunately our luggage popped out reasonably quickly (minus a handle on the heavy suitcase- d’oh) and we found the transfer bus that had been booked for us which zoomed us the 1hr or so to Praia da Rocha and the Hotel Villa Rosa….