Sunday, 28 December 2008

The long goodbye

So, we have a start date. My husband will fly out to the Gulf in two weeks' time, and I will follow as soon as I can after that, notice period and house rental permitting. There's so much to do, but actually we've both hit the pause button for a bit.

Suddenly it is all very real, and we suddenly realise there's so much that we meant to do around where we live that we haven't done; so much we want to say "farewell" to. Yesterday we headed down to the south coast, to where my husband grew up. We visited his old haunts, went for a walk on the beach and had lunch in a pub. It was a perfect day.

I'm now on my first round of a fertility drug called Clomid. It gives me not only very disconcerting hot flashes, but also the most tremendous mood swings and crying fits. And truly, this is NOT the time for being even more emotional than usual! I am permanently a leaking tap at the moment. I think I've cried every day for the last week.

Maybe I'd just have cried a lot anyway. I just can't bear the idea of saying goodbye to all our friends and family, our pet, and our home. Every time I think about it, I well up. I know it won't be forever - hopefully only about three years - but I'm simply rubbish at change. If I had my way, nothing would change at all. Still, hobson's choice on that one. And I know we're embarking on a real adventure, which has the potential to be a wonderful thing for both of us. Wish us luck...

Monday, 22 December 2008

The Christmas message of hope

We went to our church's carol service last night. The nine lessons and carols service is one of those annual events that's so reassuring, particularly in troubled times like these. Year on year, the familiar and beautiful readings and evocative carols drape a cloak of memory over us, binding us to our past.

I can remember reading several of those lessons at services in our school chapel, and in our Norman country church by candlelight at the age of 10. When I was a teenager my mum and I were part of a scratch-choir which met for a hurried practice the day before the service, and made it through the event with a wing and a prayer and a helpful amount of mulled wine!

For me this year, the baby, the symbol of God's love, has a new significance. Regular readers of this blog will know that my husband and I would love a child of our own, and that it's not going to be very easy for us. Hearing those familiar readings inevitably brought my own concerns to the fore. We would dearly love a child of our own by next Christmas. So, as I sat on that cold and rather uncomfortable pew last night, I said a silent prayer of hope that it might happen for us.

Perhaps it will, perhaps it won't, but we've got hope, and that's worth a lot.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, 15 December 2008

The calm before the storm

I continue to feel mightily weird. I think, in fact, I've become just one huge hormone. I'm starting to get spots, which at my age are extremely unwelcome! The joys of being a woman off the pill. At the moment make-up seems to be covering them, and I think I'm more conscious of them than anyone else is, but it does take me back to my teenage days (not in a good way!) I'm getting reacquainted with the delights of spot gel.

At the weekend my husband and I went to the local DIY place to buy bits and bobs for our bathroom. Amazingly, we managed to fall out over a towel rail. Yes, you've read that right - we argued over that crucial, make or break home accessory, the one bar, chrome effect towel rail. I really do need some help with this damn pituitary gland of mine before my poor husband has to go on antidepressants just to cope with me.

We are still awaiting a start date for the "big move", so that's probably contributing to the weird feeling too. There's not much we can do at the moment, except get moving on getting the house ready for renting out - various workmen need to be chivvied along to get jobs done at a reasonable pace, and we need to sort, pack, sort, pack, sort, pack, ad infinitum. Still, I think we'll wait until after Christmas for all of that.

We're undoubtedly experiencing the calm before the storm. It's odd, to say the least.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Horrendous hormones

I had an appointment with my consultant last week about my rubbish reproductive system. It was quite depressing. I won't bore you with the details, but essentially my hormones just aren't doing what they should, so nothing's working the way it should, either. So I'm going to be getting some delightful pills to try to sort it all out. Not sure if it'll work, but it's worth a try.

I'm not sure how much treatment we'll be able to get under the NHS before we have to head to the land of sand and camels. We'll get health insurance out there, but I don't think this sort of thing is covered, so it could get quite pricey. I'm hoping it won't.

The big news is still sinking in. We haven't got a start date yet, so at the moment it all still feels nebulous and unreal. I haven't told work yet either. Just thinking of packing up our house and trying to find somewhere to store all our stuff makes me want to weep already! Anybody got a large family of brawny men they could lend me for the move?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Life changing news

This morning, my husband was offered an extremely good job on a large heavy jet with an airline in the Gulf. Words can't describe how tremendously proud of him I am. We'd got to the point where we thought he would never be able to get another job. Our financial future looked horribly bleak.

Still, this offer brings mixed feelings for us both. It means moving our entire lives to another continent, leaving my job, our home, and our families behind. Everything that we take for granted in our day-to-day lives will have to change. To say I'm nervous would be an understatement.

Still, we're in this together, and I can't think of a man I'd rather move to another continent with than my loving, caring, funny, clever (not to mention gorgeous) husband. We're going to talk about this, but I expect in the end the answer will be yes. It's just too good an opportunity to turn down. So our journey into the big, wide, exciting unknown begins here....

Friday, 28 November 2008

A320 Perpignan crash

My heart is filled with sadness for the families of the seven people on board the A320 that ditched off France yesterday afternoon. Such a shocking, horrific thing to happen. I understand the aircraft had just finished a lease to XL Germany and was on its way back to Air New Zealand, and it had two German flight crew, and 5 Kiwis on board doing a check flight after maintenance. As I write this in the early hours, there are two confirmed dead, and five missing.

The crash didn't really rate high on the news agenda alongside the Mumbai terror attacks - what a day for horrible, horrible news - but as ever, this remains one of my nightmares, and my thoughts are with anyone involved in this horrible incident.

God bless them, and may they all rest in peace.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Being thankful

In conjunction with the US Thanksgiving holiday, and various posts giving thanks - including ones by Partner of a Pilot and Cpt J's Wife - I thought I'd do the same. Because, despite our financial nightmare, there's still a great deal that I know I should be more thankful for.

1) Meeting my husband was the most amazing bit of luck, and I'm thankful for that every day.
2) Our parents are fantastic: so loving and so helpful, always there for us when we need them.
3) We're both healthy (aside from my infertility of course)
4) We love each other very much
5) We have enough money to pay our mortgage and keep us fed
6) I have a great job
7) My husband has chosen a career he loves, and isn't stuck in some crappy desk job he'd hate
8) We have a lovely home, in a great place with a fantastic community around us.

And this made me smile...It seems I'm spot on with my taste in carols!

"While some of the carols nominated may seem unfamiliar, does any other song
get to the very heart of Christmas as understatedly but effectively as In the
Bleak Midwinter?" said Jeremy Pound, deputy editor of BBC Music

I'm feeling rather smug!

Monday, 24 November 2008

In The Bleak Midwinter

Despite our financial and job worries, I'm getting very excited about Christmas already. Some may say I'm still a child at heart (and perhaps I am!) but I don't think it's just about that, really. I personally believe Christmas is all about love - for our family and our friends and neighbours - and that's something we can all get excited about.

The title of this post is my favourite carol. I have several really, but I love the gorgeous tune and beautiful poem it was composed for, despite the obvious fact of course that Jesus was born in the balmy desert and not in the frosty wind of the wintry British countryside. Still, when I hear it I'm immediately transported back to a small Norman country church stuffed full of well wrapped-up locals each holding a candle, and it being so cold that we could all see our breath.

Perhaps I'm lucky, but when I look back over the years and think of all my Christmases, I have warm memories of all of them, despite the inevitable family tiffs that are part and parcel of what can be quite a stressful time.

I'm lucky too that my husband loves this time of year as much as I do. We have strong Christian beliefs, so it has deep meaning for us, beyond the festival of consumerism that it has become for so many.

One of the only few good things that has come out of him losing his job is that this year at least, he's guaranteed to be around for Christmas - all of it! I can't wait, despite the fact we're going to have to restrain from indulging ourselves on presents this year - we'll still have our good old trusty fake tree (£10.99 from Argos, still going strong!) cards on the walls, a home-made Christmas cake, mince pies and some yummy mulled wine.

And of course that thing that money can't buy - lots and lots of good, old fashioned, unlimited love, wrapped up in our warm house and tied with a decadent (but imaginary and therefore free!) big red bow.

Happy Christmas in advance, everyone.

Monday, 17 November 2008

The girls of Ryanair

I don't think I need to say anything about this really... except that Ryanair claim their annual charity calendar isn't sexist! Bless them, it's all about excellent customer service, isn't it.

Keeping my own counsel

I've had quite a few emails and phone calls of late from concerned friends, asking if I'm ok, and saying that they're worried that I've been so quiet recently. They know, you see, that we're having a crap time, and wonder why I'm not behaving like my normal self, and picking up the phone to call them with daily/weekly updates on our tale of woe.

Let me first say that it's not personal. My friends are still my friends, and you mean a great deal to me - it's just that, at the moment, I'm in a slightly altered state.

The thing is that, to be honest, I just don't feel like talking about everything. I feel like I run over the issues we're dealing with - my husband's redundancy, and my infertility - over and over in my mind as it is, and speaking about it out loud doesn't seem to help. No matter how many times I recount the number of airlines which aren't recruiting, or the results of my latest medical test, none of it is going to get any better. Increasingly, I prefer to ignore it in conversation, and chat about other people's problems, and not my own. That way I can pretend for a few minutes that the problems we're dealing with don't exist.

Which is odd behaviour really for a person who usually has so much to say.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Take That, depression

Despite our current reduced circumstances (how very Jane Austen that sounds!) I did something to treat myself last week.

Take That, a band I have loved since my teenage years, are going on tour again next year. For anyone who doesn't know who they are (i.e anybody in the US!) they're a former boy band who are now a man band! They broke up years and years ago after Robbie Williams left, but got back together a couple of years ago and are now even more popular than they were before - much to everyone's amazement (except mine!) Here's a gratuitous picture....

So, despite the fact the tickets weren't exactly cheap, I spent rather a long time clicking the refresh button on the website and finally managed to bag a pair of tickets to one of the stadium gigs. Bless my lovely husband (he'd rather eat worms than go to hear them play) - he just told me I deserved to go, so I SHOULD go. What a wonderful man he is...

I just felt that, given all the depressing things going on in my life at the moment, a slice of pure escapism (because that's what it is) is just what I need. Of course their music isn't high art (or even anything close), but there's something about their brand of optimism and wholesomeness that is hugely cheering. And added to that, they put on a fantastic live show which has you singing and dancing for days afterwards - which is what I really need at the moment.

Fingers crossed we're still in the county so I can actually make the gig!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Another random pilot skill

Another random pilot skill to add to the list: being able to tell the temperature, to within a degree centigrade.

Recently, our heating broke. Just what we need when we're worried about money, but there you go - someone up there is having a laugh at our expense, I think. Anyhow, it was bloody freezing in our house, and my husband went to check our thermometer - we have a digital weather station (such a pilot gadget, but quite useful too!) Before he went, he said "bet you it's 11 degrees" - and sure enough, it was 11.5 - pretty impressive!

Not sure if that's just random chance, or something common amongst pilots? What do you think?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Losing my temper

Some people are spectacularly thoughtless.

I've just been to the dentist, and whilst there I asked whether my husband would qualify for free dental treatment, as he's on jobseeker's allowance, which I was told he would. This was the conversation that followed.

Receptionist:"So your husband's lost his job then?"
Me: "Yes, he was a pilot for x airline, which went bust".
Other receptionist, overhearing our conversation: "oh, don't talk to her about x airline, she lost flights she'd booked with them"
Me: "Oh dear. Well, my husband lost his job".
Other receptionist: "If it makes you feel any better, it was her 40th birthday".
Me (unable to contain my infuriation): Well, she can always get another holiday. My husband, on the other hand, is having great difficulty finding another job".

Yes, I know, I know, I could just have shut up and said nothing, and I probably should have, but something about that exchange just really got to me. Actually, the receptionist who had lost her flights didn't actually raise it, and looked mildly embarrassed that her colleague had. I do feel a bit bad for being so rude back - after all, she DID lose money - but then again, nothing like the amount of money we've lost.

It's the first time I've lost my temper about this actually. Luckily not too many people have been tactless enough to tell me about their airfare woes! Just as well, eh.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

A metaphor

This morning, I put a coloured wash through. In it, I put a pair of walking sandals that had been languishing in the bottom of the washing basket for far too long, and were rather unpleasant, to say the least.

When I unloaded the machine, I discovered the colour on the shoes (which had been washed before) had bled into the water and turned a number of lightly coloured items a delightful shade of grey/blue, including my favourite light grey shirt, and more importantly, a beautiful patterned dress my husband bought me for my birthday. Not only was it fairly pricey (and God knows, we're short of money now) but it's also, as they say, the sentimental value that matters more.

I think on relection that the dress is salvageable. The pattern had some white bits in it which are now slightly duller, but I don't think people who didn't see the dress before would notice it. But if anyone has any good suggestions for getting rid of bled colour, I'd be happy to hear them!

I feel in general lately that someone has just put our lives in the washing machine with some nasty colour leaking object, and our previously dazzling life has come out a muted and unpleasant grey.

I just hope that some magic whitener will come along soon to return our lives to the brighter than bright it was before. Some sort of grace-filled non-bio, perhaps.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Some breathtaking aerial pictures

I picked this link up from Kathy Mexted's blog - some fantastic aerial photos of London at night. Our capital city is an amazing place - addictive, alluring, exciting and beautiful, but also frustrating, noisy, congested and exhausting. These pictures convey it all, I think. It's a wonderful city. If you haven't been to visit, do!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Tricky path ahead

Sorry I haven't posted in a while - we've just got back from a lovely, and very necessary break. We headed away to the coast and spent a wonderful, relaxing week a long way away from all the obvious stresses, including (mostly) the internet. My husband unfortunately had to check the Net every day to keep up with (the lack of) job opportunities. It does make you long for those halcyon days when recruitment was mostly dealt with via a weekly newspaper and that wonderfully slow medium, snail mail!

I had a very depressing appointment with my consultant before we went away about my fertility problems. It seems it's going to be a tricky path ahead, one I had hoped we'd manage to avoid, but to no avail. It just seems so wrong that something which should be so private and personal should become so clinical and public! I must admit I veer daily between extreme pessimism - it's never going to work, I'm infertile, etc - to being vaguely optimistic. Perhaps it's my hormones. Time will tell, as they say.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Every cloud has a silver lining

Here's a blog entry on an uncharacteristically (for now, at least) happy note.

There's only been one good thing to come out of my husband's airline collapse, but it's a wonderful thing - I finally get to see him properly! Just for this period of our lives (which I'm sure will be short) I'm able to experience the kind of life my colleagues manage to have with their 9-5 partners all the time - but better!

For example: I got home last night after a frazzling day at work. Normally I'd have walked into a messy house to a pile of post on the floor, a dog demanding food and attention and a dinner in front of the TV. Instead, my husband greeted me at the door with a hug, he'd tidied up the entire house, fed the dog and suggested dinner a deux in the conservatory! I love that, for a change, we can say yes to invitations to dinner. We're going off to visit some friends this weekend on the coast, which is something we'd never usually have the chance to do.

I know it's horribly hard on him. He's going slightly crazy being at home all the time, just sending off applications into the ether, but I know we're both trying to just make the most of what we have, and what's most important - being together.

Hopefully he'll find another job soon, and then this brief window of togetherness will be over - so I intend to enjoy this as much as I can, while it lasts!

Friday, 3 October 2008


My best friend has just been to visit with her two little girls - one who's nearly two, and her new baby, who's just a month old.

I really wasn't sure how I was going to feel when I saw the baby. To tell you the truth, I had been putting off going to see her, aware that I might blub the minute I saw her, or worse, be resentful and jealous. That's one of the hardest things to deal with at the moment - I just feel irrationally jealous of pregnant women. I'm not proud of myself in the slightest, but it's quite hard to control. My husband is great and jokes with me about it - if I see a baby in the supermarket he usually says something like "If we took it home I'm sure they wouldn't notice..." which always makes me laugh!

Anyhow, when I actually saw the baby and gave it a cuddle, instead of feeling jealous I just felt in awe. It was so tiny, and so perfect, and it just looked at me with its big blue eyes and well, that was that really.

We hope we'll have one just like that one day. We're not giving up, anyway, not by a long shot.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Market meltdown

What strange times we're living in. I couldn't quite believe my ears when I heard last night that US congress hadn't passed Bush's financial rescue package. That vote has huge implications not only in the US but also world-wide - we're certainly feeling them here in the UK. Yesterday one of our banks, Bradford and Bingley, was part-nationalised, and the FTSE closed down at almost the same level as it did on 9/11.

Despite the bullish attitude of the US congressmen that a free market problem will eventually find a free market solution, I can see the signs of the financial crisis on people around me. Colleagues in particular have been very concerned for me since my husband's redundancy, and I don't think all of that is just affection for me; I think many of them are thinking "that could be us next month".

They suddenly realise that their comfortable middle class lifestyle relies on both partners' salaries, that their mortgage is huge and their outgoings similarly sizeable. It's all a delicate balance between profit and loss, and no mistake.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


Inspired by some posts on other blogs recently, I thought I'd post a few of the search terms people have been using to find my blog of late:

Air hostess and pilots stories
Blogs about women who worry their husband is going to cheat
My gf's an air hostess will she cheat?
Notice a theme here? I think I've written about the whole "pilot cheating on wife" stereotype just a couple of times, but it's one of the primary reasons people find my blog! It's clearly a stereotype that endures.
Should I settle for my best friend
Time on my hands could be time spent with you
Tabatha Calvert Steele
Baby altitude
A very strange hybrid of my blog title and my infertility ramblings... I wonder what they thought they were getting when they arrived at my blog?

Daily life continues here in much the same vein as it has every day since that fateful day when my husband's airline vanished into thin air. I go to work, and try to do my job whilst thinking about what we're going to do next, whilst my husband stays at home, and thinks about what we're going to do next. Neither of us has managed to come up with a solution yet, just lots of questions, and a great number of application forms. We just pray one of them arrives on the desk of someone who, by some miracle, happens to need pilots.

So life is mainly made up of sleep, eat, work, eat, sleep, oh, and apply, apply, apply. I think my husband's brain is pretty much maxed out now. He's so tired and could probably answer "what skills do you have that you can bring to this job?" in his sleep. Surely the answer to that is - "I'm a pilot, that's my skill!"

I just wish I could do something more to help than be a second pair of eyes over application forms. It's horrible feeling like neither of us have any control over this really. Only the bankers and the oil skeikhs can do a thing about it - and I really hope they do, soon.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Losing your identity

Just a little thought in the same vein as this post, from Oh the life of a pilot's wife.

On the day my husband's airline went bust, he went to their crew room to find out any information he could about his rights, what he should do next, etc. But instead of finding any other employees there, he simply found a room stripped bare, a bouncer and somebody from the receivers.

The receiver told him he wouldn't see any of the money the company owed him, but was vaguely sympathetic. The bouncer, however, was another story. He just looked at my husband and said "I'll be needing your airside pass now, sir". He just took it, and pretty much frogmarched my husband off the premises, like he was some sort of security risk, not somebody whose company went bust through no fault of his own.

My husband's very quiet about it, but I'm sure that the loss of his airport ID pass - something he'd worked towards all his training, something that I'm sure he wore with pride - hit him right where it hurts. Add to that the piles of un-ironed work shirts which neither of us know what to do with, his jacket, which we're hidden down the side of the wardrobe, and his old hat which is now gathering dust on the top of the book case, and what do you get? Reminders of something you wanted so badly, and worked so hard for, and had taken away overnight.

Having said that, I truly believe this is just a temporary blip, and it won't be long before he pulls another pass over his head, irons a different-emblemed shirt and bemoans the look of another new hat. I'd just give anything to know when and where this will be, as it's this uncertainty that grates the most. Please, God, just show us the way...

On another topic, dear readers - thanks so much for all the comments you've been leaving. It does make a difference to know people are thinking of us. The online blogging community is really a very lovely thing.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Dark times

If you're wondering why I've been silent for a bit, well, there's a reason for it. Completely out of the blue, my husband's airline went bust - and that was it, nada. No pay for the month, no redundancy - in fact, nothing.

We find ourselves completely at sea. The industry in the UK is really in trouble at the moment (even the big boys are making big losses and redundancies) so my husband's chances of getting a new job over here in the near future are slim.

I heard a quote on the radio this morning that I really related to - "the darkest hour is the hour before the dawn". Well, that's how I feel now, that when you hit rock bottom, there's nowhere further to go. I hope and pray we see a little speck of light soon.

And, in that spirit, I thought I'd compile a list of ten things that make me happy, money or no money.

1) My husband. I still thank God every day that I met him and that we're together. He makes every day magic, even in the darkest of times.
2) Our parents. We're so blessed to have loving, caring parents who we know will be there for us whatever happens in life. They will always be on our side, and we know it.
3) Our dog. Animals are so wonderful, aren't they? When you need them most, they just seem to know.
4) Music. It's free to make and free to listen to, and it brings us both a lot of joy.
5) Food. Well, obviously it costs a little to buy, but it's a huge pleasure to craft and a delight to eat. And who can beat chocolate and crisps?!
6) Snow. I love snow, and frost. Frosty English days when the sun's shining are among my favourites.
7) Sun. In the same vein, of course, there's nothing quite like standing with the sun on your face, feeling all that energy getting inside you. Totally rejuvenating.
8) Christmas. I totally love Christmas. The music, the decorations, the food, and yes, the pressies, although they're no biggie. I wish the atmosphere stayed all year long.
9) Reading - there's nothing like the escapism you get in a book.
10) And last but definitely not least, my friends. Wow, they're an amazing bunch of people, and they've been supporting us so incredibly since the news came through. I can only hope that if they ever need my help, I come through for them like they've come through for us. It certainly is true that you find out who your true friends are in a crisis.

And there's another phrase that keeps running through my head at the moment - "if you're going through hell, keep going".

That's exactly what we're going to do.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Summer holiday

I've left it a little late to blog about it, but we had a fantastic week away. It's wonderful sometimes just to stop thinking about everything else except for what to eat, when to sleep, and of course, each other.

When I'm on holiday I rejoice in not having to wear a watch. It's incredibly liberating. My husband often doesn't bother either. And it was because of this that we noticed what I suspect may be a pilot trait - knowing what time it is anyway!

Every day, I'd find myself asking him whether it was time for lunch/dinner yet, roughly guessing by the position of the sun. And instead of checking his watch, he'd just announce "I think it's 12.24" or "I think it's 5.15" and incredibly, he was rarely more than 10 minutes out. How's that for a weird (and quite useful!) skill? Has anyone else spotted this?

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Night flights

My husband set off this evening for a night flight. He won't be able to go to bed until about 10am tomorrow morning British time.

I often think back to the days before I met my husband, when I arrived at airports late at night or at the crack of dawn, excited but knackered ahead of a week or two of holiday. I never gave a thought then to how tired the crew must be too. I suppose I thought they must be super-human, able to feel completely awake when I just wanted to sleep, or at the very least that they'd had a long sleep during the day, and been able to rest when I'd tried to get to sleep that afternoon, and failed miserably.

I know different now, of course. Technically, my husband had more than enough time to rest before the flight, but who can manage to sleep during the day on a sunny Saturday in August, when the windows have to be open, and kids are out playing outside? I can't, and neither can he. His body clock is so confused as a result of his job that he has basically no sleeping pattern to speak of.

It's not the flying I worry about, really - it's the driving he does to and from the airport. I had an accident a few years ago on my journey to work, so I know the affect tiredness can have on your concentration on what's going on around you on the road.

I can't wait until he's tucked up, safe and sound in bed tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Spanair flight JK 5022

As I heard the news about the Madrid MD82 crash yesterday, I could feel my heartbeat quicken and my mouth go dry. Everyone who loves a person who flies for a living finds these moments particularly hard. Never mind how statistically safe flying is, these events are always a horrible wake-up call about the extremely rare, but terrible accidents that are part and parcel of the nature of aviation.

I just want to send my condolences to the family and friends of the 153 people who died. I can't even begin to imagine how they must be feeling (and I don't particularly want to try, either), but I do want them to know that our prayers are with them.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Searching and not finding

I had a look in a book shop a few days ago, to see if there were any books in there with any pearls of wisdom about my baby-related predicament.

After a game of what felt like hide and seek amongst the shelves, I found the health section, only to be confronted by what seemed like thousands and thousands of books about babies. "How to get Pregnant", "Make me a Baby", "My baby week by week", "10, 000 Baby Names" - you name the book, they had it. Just what I wanted to see, of course.

Anyway, guess how many books there were about infertility. Go on, guess. There were four. I counted them. Are women who have fertility problems so very rare? I don't think so. It just seems that we must be invisible to book publishers.

Never mind, eh. There are whole internet communities full of women like me, so I can't be on my own here. I think I'll just stick to those lovely women I've met from across the world online - getting support from people who've been there and done that is always better anyway, isn't it. God bless the internet.

And God bless my husband, too, who's just been amazing about this. I'd have thought a hormonally challenged, broody wife would be enough for any man, but he's just been so amazingly understanding. We even manage to joke about it, thanks for his enduring sense of humour in all things. Thanks so much, darling, you're the best.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

When did I see you last?

The above question has been pretty prominent in my mind of late. We've been going through one of those spells where we've hardly seen each other. It seems that my husband's schedule couldn't be a worse fit for mine if it had actually been designed that way. We've had many of those "Hi darling, bye darling" moments at all funny times of the day and nights, and I think we've said more to each other in email and text lately than in person. Recently we rejoiced when we managed an hour and a half together before a very early bed! And our tiredness is, as ever, taking its toll, not so much on our moods, but on our feeling of wellbeing and work/life balance. I often think there isn't any in aviation!

Still, this is our holiday month! Hoorah. The joy of 24 hours a day with each other, uninterrupted by rostering, early flights and late night departures. A time to read a book and forget about climbing the slippery career ladder. Just suncream, wine, sand and hopefully sun (and not forgetting chips, crisps and chocolate, of course). Mmmmmm. Can't wait!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Pilot's wife = part-time singleton

The other weekend, I went to a friend's 40th birthday party by myself. My husband was away, and I really wanted to go to wish her many happy returns, as she's been a fantastic friend to me over the years. I was hoping one of our mutual friends would be going along too, but, as it turned out, the only other people I knew at the party were my friend's parents.

The evening that ensued was just the sort of evening you dread when you're single: being randomly introduced to people who clearly have very little interest in talking to you; listening in detail to someone's thrilling job in accountancy in the city; sitting alone in a corner eating your picking from the buffet whilst earwigging in on a conversation between two aunts discussing their husbands' bad habits. That sort of thing, anyway. I left pretty early.

It occurred to me that it's all symptomatic of the life we pilot's wives lead. I sort of have two lives, my married one, and a quasi-single one. When my husband is home we make the most of the time we have together, but when he's away, my life is very very different.

You get quite used to your own company, and in fact really learn to enjoy it. You also learn to plan your time apart so that you see your friends while your husband is away, so you don't waste your time together when he's home. And you also have a list of dull things you tend to do when he's on a trip - like going to the gym, doing the supermarket shopping, hoovering, attacking the ironing... oh, the delights!

And, inevitably, you end up going to significant occasions alone - birthdays, weddings, etc - and that's when I miss my husband most acutely, because parties are never so much fun when you've no partner in crime! Although the significant difference is that luckily, my singleton status is only temporary, as I'm lucky enough to have a husband who will be flying home to me soon. Very lucky indeed, in fact. Good partners in crime are hard to find.

Friday, 1 August 2008

That old pilot-air hostess chestnut

I felt prompted to write this by a post on another pilot's wife blog (which I like very much) - Musings of Cpt J's Wife. In it, she responds to posts on a forum she reads from women who trust their pilot husband/boyfriend completely not to cheat on them. It's clear they've touched a nerve. This is what Cpt J's wife has to say (this is abridged from her post - click through for her full post, which has a lot more detail):

"Don't "assume" that your SO is so head-over-heels for you that he won't cheat.
Regardless of the laws you lay down, if they are going to cheat they will
cheat - REGARDLESS! If you think that you are immune to the ups and downs of
this lifestyle you are living in a bubble. You cannot truly give an opinion
or tell someone what to do unless you have been in this industry for quite
some time. I feel sorry for these women that will come back to the forums in
a few months or year and cry that it has happened to them. "

From her post, it's very clear that Capt J's Wife has been hurt deeply in the past. I was very sorry to hear about it, and I understand completely why she must feel that other women are living in ignorance (as I'm sure some are, by a law of averages).

I do agree that if someone's going to cheat, they will cheat, no matter how many 'laws' are agreed between a couple. I also agree that you can't really give good advice or your opinion to someone in a particular situation unless you've been through it yourself. However, I do disagree with a lot of what she says.

Speaking from my own experience, I do believe that my husband loves me so much that he will never cheat, partly because I apply that same rule to myself, and know that my depth of feeling for him would mean I will never want to stray either. This is coming from a partnership with many years under its belt, and a great deal of experience of the aviation industry, too, so we're not exactly new to this.

We have absolute trust between us. However, this isn't just blind trust; he's never given me reason to worry. He's more of a culture-vulture than a drinker and sunbather, so when he's on a trip he's much more likely to be in bed early so that he can sight-see the next day, rather than staying up late to go to drink with the crew. Having said that, even when he ends up socialising with the crew on a night out - I still trust him, because of who he is, and how well I know him.

I also think it's important to get the amount of cheating that goes on into perspective. Tempting as it might be to think that all these women who are in nauseatingly happy relationships are kidding themselves, I believe that most of them aren't.

What it boils down to, I think, is this. If someone's going to cheat, they will do, whatever their job - policeman, lawyer, postman, milkman... I mean, what about doctors and nurses? That's even more of a cliche than pilot and air stewardess! It's certainly a great industry if you're going to cheat, but I still maintain that that really doesn't mean that everyone (man or woman, let's remember there are women in this industry too) is going to do it! I think, therefore, that Cpt J's Wife's final point - that these same women will come back to the forum, crying that their husbands have cheated on them - is wide of the mark.

I think people get carried away with the stereotyping of pilots. It's like saying that all lawyers are avaricious, that all nurses are naughty, and that all policemen plod! Pilots are individuals, just like everyone else, and some will cheat, and some won't. Only they - and often their partners - know whether they have, or will, or haven't, and won't.

And don't forget that it's perfectly possible for the partner at home to cheat too. In fact I read an article by Edwina Currie (think John Major and his blue pants - yuck) the other week, in which she argued that many women cheat, but they're better at hiding it so they don't get found out. But that's for another post I think!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Sensationalist news

If any of you read PPrune on a regular basis (the link's on this blog if you don't) you'll know how much pilots HATE the media. I think they have a good reason to, often; when you know a little about what really happened in an incident, it's a real eye opener to see some of the rubbish that's reported in the end!

Anyhow - my husband found this link today on Pprune, and sent it to me. It's utterly hilarious, so I thought I'd share it with you all! It's an Australian "Lazy Journalist Plane Story Generator". Fantastic.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Baby blues

A few days ago, we decided we'd get out a DVD and have a nice evening in. We had that predictable 'his n hers' dispute over what sort of film to get. My husband favoured an action flick, but I wanted to see a romantic comedy. You could almost write the script before we got in there!

Anyhow, after some protracted negotiation (and a little reminder from me that the last film we got out was an action film, and it was, in fact, rubbish) we settled on my choice. It was Juno, which I'd heard good things about. It's an oddball American comedy about a teenage girl who gets pregnant by mistake and then picks a couple to adopt her child. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend it.

The problem was, though, that I was so focused on the good things I'd heard about it that I was rather blind to the subject matter. Because I am, you see, rather emotional about all things baby at the moment. I was fine through most of it, in fact pretty much all of it, until, naturally, it came to the birth and the baby being handed over to the delighted new mum, and then, well - I started to cry.

And just then, when I was wallowing, and feeling miserable about whether I'd ever be a mum, my husband leaped up from the other sofa and suddenly was right by my side. He didn't say anything - he didn't need to. He just got hold of me and hugged me tight while I cried.

I love him so much.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The fuel price nightmare continues

I read a few days ago that Ryanair's going to cancel 250 flights from Stansted this winter - about 14% of their total. I'm not an expert on Ryanair by any means, but I think that's a fairly unprecedented move. They're apparently Europe's most profitable airline (which I find hard to believe, when they sell flights for 99p, but there you go) so I'm sure they'll survive, but - it's just not a great sign of things to come, is it?

There are definitely jitters throughout the industry at the moment. There are lots of rumours on Pprune about airlines that might or might not go bust. I hope and pray for all of the families who are affected by this industry that somehow we all get through this, and come out the other side.

It's going to be nasty for a fair while yet before it gets better though, I fear.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Life on the treadmill

Not the gym kind - although I spend quite a lot of time on there too - but that metaphorical kind that I feel I'm permanently on at the moment, and let me tell you, it's exhausting.

My husband told me the other day that he felt his airline was in charge of his life, and I suppose it is, although it's not just his life, but both of our lives, really. We have the same problems as most other families where one member is a pilot; planning social occasions in advance is fraught with ifs and buts, and the jet lag and tiredness associated with the job makes socialising tricky even when he is home. My job is stressful and fairly anti-social too, so the combination of them both can really make us both feel like our time is never our own.

Which I suppose it's actually not! We're wage slaves. We're at that stage in our lives where we need to work to build up savings and pensions and pay off the mortgage, etc, etc, and there's no option to do anything else (except win the lottery, of course, and we're trying that too!) And although we get a lot more annual leave than our American cousins (we get about six weeks a year, give or take) it still never feels like enough.

So, we both feel like we live at work, and it's not nice. I'm often so tired by the end of the day that I simply don't have enough energy to tidy up, let alone go out on the town, or God forbid, have a relaxed and chatty evening with my husband, should we be lucky enough to have a night at home together. I've written elsewhere on this blog about the effects of tiredness, and I've noticed them acutely lately; lots of ridiculous nit picking and stupid disagreements, irrationally taking against a jumper left on the sofa, or a bin that hasn't been emptied yet. What's odd about these incidents is that realise I AM being ridiculous and unfair when I'm like this, and I'm sure my husband knows that too, when he's doing the same. It's just so hard to control when you're tired. One of lifes inevitabilities, perhaps.

Anyhow, our summer holidays are coming up in a month, and I can't wait. Stop the treadmill - I want to get off! If only for a week or two...

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Life's too short

I got a phone call this morning from my friend's husband, completely out of the blue.

"Have you heard?"

What dreadful words those are. All sorts of possibilities run through your mind, and none of them good. Luckily, this time, what came next wasn't the most shattering news imaginable, but still pretty bad. My friend, he went on to tell me, had collapsed on the street and started vomiting, had been taken to A&E and diagnosed with a bleed on the brain. She was in hospital, he said, but able to talk and move. Thank God for that.

I went to see her in hospital this evening. She's completely bed bound for at least a week, and luckily suffering more from boredom than anything else at the moment. The doctors aren't sure what caused it and are doing more tests, but have advised her generally to cut her stress levels and live life a little more slowly from now on.

I think that's great advice for all of us. Last year, one of my husband's friends died, completely out of the blue, and at a young age. It was a huge shock, and a wake up call for everyone who knew him. Both my husband and I began to think a little differently. It suddenly became even clearer than before how important our relationship, and our family, are; and how unimportant our jobs are compared to that. Sure, it's nice to enjoy your work and have money to spend, but when it comes down to it, no-one ever lies on their death bed wishing they'd been at work more, do they?

We know that doing this may have effects for us both career-wise, and financially, but we don't care. Our family (and our health) come first. We've chosen to invest our happiness in relationships, not in our career ladders. Because after all, life's too short already.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Love letters

Well, more specifically, love notes. My husband and I have this little thing where we often leave each other notes around the house. Often when he's going off on a trip he leaves me a little note by the computer saying he's thinking about me, and I do the same for him. It works particularly well as sometimes we're like ships in the night, and it just makes you smile inside when you read one, which is perfect when you haven't seen your husband properly for days!

My husband did his sim check last week, and it's sort of become a tradition that I make him sandwiches for it. So, last night, I sneaked a note into the sandwich box. He found it when he opened it for lunch, and I love the fact it was a complete surprise. It's the little things, I think, that make a difference to how you feel, and it felt lovely doing this little thing for him on what otherwise was a stressful and tiring day.

As an aside - I was sad to read a post the other day by Partner of a Pilot, in which she related the story of a friend of hers whose pilot husband has cheated on her. My heart goes out to her. What a horrible, horrible thing to deal with. If you're reading this, my dear, all the best.

I agree with Partner of a Pilot that, if you're a cheater, aviation is just the industry for you. It's so easy to get away with, and in some quarters practically encouraged. But, as I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I don't believe there's a pilot "type", and that somehow the men and women who do this job all fall into a category all of their own. They're all individuals, and as such can choose whether or not to cheat, just as every other person in every other job can do, too.

I know many happily married men and women who just happen to be pilots. So as I've also said elsewhere on this blog, if you're reading this and you're just embarking on a relationship with a pilot - please, don't have nightmares. Trust your instincts. If you love the person you're with, and you trust them completely, you should be fine. But if you're having doubts, and you don't feel reassured by their actions - have a serious word with them. Because I'm sure that not knowing and being in denial is worse in many ways to actually being in possession of the facts. I know I'd want to know, anyway.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Wedding season

We've got a couple of weddings to go to this summer, as we have had every year for I suppose the last ten. Every year I think we might be getting to the end of the "phase", and every year I'm proved wrong!

Leaving aside how tricky it is to guarantee my husband will get the day off for the event itself, it's an expensive business, going to weddings. You've got to pay to get there (and that's become silly money now, with the price of fuel), pay to stay somewhere nearby, for at least one night, or, if it's close, fork out for a taxi or train. You might also feel you have to go on the hen/stag night, which nowadays is often a weekend or even a week somewhere pricey. You also often end up getting a new outfit (not necessarily, I grant you, but traditional all the same). And then, of course, there's the present.

I know, of course, from my own experience, how expensive weddings can be. It seems that the wedding industry in this country is just getting ridiculous. Official stats put the average cost of a wedding at £30,000. Incredible. Clearly, then, giving the bride and groom a small token of your appreciation for the invite is all well and good. Wedding lists are now the norm, and in fact, we had one. It was great. After years of living with studenty plates and cutlery we were finally able to get some nice things for our home, and people were happy to buy us things that we really wanted.

My rant here though is caused by the contents of a friend's wedding list for this summer. It really made ours look cheap! On it are things like an £100 double duvet cover, and an £80 set of bathroom scales. Each wine glass (just normal glass, mind you, not crystal) is something like £15. I needed a glass of wine after I'd looked at it, let me tell you!

Is it just me, or is there something just ugly about that sort of list? We assumed the average spend would be about £50, and listed accordingly, but their list makes you feel as if only an £100 duvet cover will do. Essentially, it made me uncomfortable. I appreciate it's difficult for couples who've lived together for years, as they have a lot of the basics already, but...

But... surely it's the fact that your friends and family are coming all that way to see you marry each other that counts, not the souvenirs at the end of the day? Surely it's the emotion of the day, not the remuneration, that should matter? Or am I just an insensitive, miserly, inverted snob? Answers on a postcard, please..

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Time on my hands could be time spent with you...

One of the most reliable facts of aviation life is that the best laid plans will usually go awry. This week, my husband's schedule was particularly heavy, and I was facing quite a few nights at home alone with the dog, so I decided to plan to meet a few friends.

I always try to do this, as I think the best way to handle our lifestyle is to pack my meet-ups with friends into the time when my husband's working, so that I'm free and able to spend proper time with him when he's home. Which is great, when it works...

This week, I had a whole day planned; lunch and dinner with two separate groups of friends, and a delicious bit of retail therapy in between. My husband was due to leave early in the morning and wouldn't be back for a couple of days. But, when he got up and checked whether his flight was on time, they had good news for him; the flight had been cancelled due to technical problems. He wouldn't be going after all.

So, you can imagine the quandary I was in. What was it to be - my friends or another precious day with my husband? Not a situation I like to find myself in very often.

In the end, I decided I had to honour the plans I'd made. I was meeting friends I don't often get to see, and I'd promised, and that's important in friendship. And, in the end, I think my husband had a nice day too; he got to go for a long bike ride, eat curry for dinner and watch whatever TV he wanted without needing to have a discussion with me about Top Gear vs Grand Designs! And we managed to squeeze a couple of hours together too before dinner, which felt like a tremendous bonus.

The observant ones amongst you will have noticed the title of this post is from an Elton John song. I'm humming it as we speak. You see that this aviation life does to you? It turns you into an incurable romantic, singing 80s love songs to yourself. Nevermind, eh.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Quality time

My husband and I had a rare day off together this week. It's always such a special time that we try to make the most of it. This time, my husband came up with the plan; a trip down the river near where we live, and lunch out in a fantastic gastro-pub nearby.

It felt like a date, and it was lovely. Despite the fact our summer appears to have disappeared for a while (rain, anyone?) it was so wonderful to watch the world go by from a boat, spotting local wildlife and munching my way through a fabulous plate of mussels at the pub. Delicious. Then, when we got back, we took our bikes out for a ride around our local area. I always feel like a kid on a bike.

Our time together feels rather rationed at the moment. The airline is keeping him busy with trips - I won't see my husband now until Sunday, and even then he's going to have to sleep most of the day. It's not brilliant for family life, but, let's face it, the whole industry isn't, is it? Airlines nowadays don't just want your time on shift, they want to own your whole life. They reserve the right to change rosters at the last moment and to take you to wherever in the world they want you at a moment's notice.

I was reading on Pprune recently that some Middle Eastern airlines are recommending new ex-pat employees keep their families back home for up to six months, because they haven't got enough accommodation. It's a sad state of affairs that they can't even get their act together enough to cater for family life, and according to some people, the airlines just don't seem to care. You'd think they'd be worried that employees would leave with terms and conditions like this, but the sad fact of the current economic climate is that there will always be another pilot to fill a post. Which is very, very sad, and very, very worrying for the pilots' families.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Oh baby

There comes a time I think in every married couple's life when your thoughts start to turn to whether or not you want to have children. We've reached that point. There's no doubt we both want children; I don't think it's ever occurred to us that we wouldn't. The question, really, is when.

Like many people of our generation, we've left child rearing until our 30s. We've enjoyed a wonderful, carefree, joyous life together - in fact, we continue to live that life, and it's hard to give up. We're selfish about our time together, often choosing time spent alone together over larger social occasions, because we feel that, with our jobs being as they are, we don't get enough time by ourselves already. Clearly, if we have children, that time will, by default, be shared. As my mother's refrain goes, you lose the right to be selfish when you have children.

Not that this, of course, is necessarily a bad thing. I know having a baby brings joy, and my friends who have children tell me their child added to their happy family, not detracted from it. I believe and hope this will be the case; so why am I still scared? I'm scared about how having a child will change our relationship; how it will affect my job; how it will affect my body; and how I'll cope when my husband's away. I'm worried I'll be lonely, and the spectre of post-natal depression scares me witless.

So, what to do? I know my husband is in favour of waiting a little longer, and in many ways I agree - I also want a little more time together, enjoying our "carefree years" (another of my mother's favourite phrases!)

But - time marches on, and what if we struggle to conceive? Age isn't really on our side - although of course we're not that long in the tooth yet! That's my main concern, though, and it just won't go away. What if we wait another year or two, then decide we want to have a baby, and never manage it?

Questions, questions. And, unfortunately, the only answer can come from us.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Aviation agony aunt

I came across this question on a message board yesterday.

Does anyone know anyone who is dating or married to an airline pilot?
I have been dating my boyfriend over a year. He is the greatest guy I have ever dated, but he is a pilot and is gone 4 days a week. Even though he calls me a lot and tries to make me feel comfortable with his job, I still find myself sad a lot
when he is gone. I am 25, he is 30, and I don't know if I should stay in the
relationship because I think if we were to get married i would end up working
harder than him, and resenting him. It is also hard because I never know who he
is with or the hotels he is at. I'm worried our relationship is more likely to
fail because of his job. I don't want to stay with him another 2 or 3 years only
to end up in a break-up. I wanted to know if anyone has any advice or personal
experience with this?

I feel like I'm wearing my metaphorical comfy agony aunt jumper today, so I thought I'd try to offer some advice, not just to this lady, but also to other women (and men!) out there who are going through the same thing.

Firstly, being in a relationship with someone who's away a lot is never going to be easy. There are always going to be times when you feel horrible by yourself, when you just wish you could be like "everyone else", and have a husband who works 9-5. Pilots often miss birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, and other important days - and you just have to learn to live with it, and make the best with it. The best way to deal with absence I find is to be busy. I use the time I'm by myself to work, see my friends, play with the dog, go shopping, decorate the house, whatever comes, really. I've come to really appreciate this time and make the most of it. The thing is, you see, unlike other people who can get stuck in a rut and bored with each other, you're never going to be in that situation (which is great! Trust me!) Instead, you get to experience that lovely rush of joy when they come back from a trip, every week! How great is that.

As for never knowing who he's with, and which hotel he's staying in... Well, that's easily fixed with good communication. I always know where my husband is, and we make it a rule that we speak every day, wherever in the world he is. That's not because I want to keep tabs on him (that way lies madness!) but because we just want to be in touch and talk about our days, albeit thousands of miles apart! As for knowing who he's with - well, if he's not telling you the basics (we always talk about who the Captain is, what the crew are like, etc) then I'd wonder why. If you know this, but are just worried about the individual crew he's with - is that because you're worried he'll cheat? If so, why? Often we worry about this sort of thing because in our heart of hearts we know our partners aren't that trustworthy. Just a thought.

When you say you're worried you'll work harder than him, do you mean in the home? It's true of course that you'll sometimes have to carry a lot of responsibility for the home by yourself, because he simply can't be around. I get around this by having a cleaner (as I work a lot too!) and we also have our shopping delivered so neither of us has to trawl around the supermarket. Women who have children often have good childcare arrangements and/or help from family and friends, so that they can have a break.

Luckily, when my husband is home, he's great around the house. If you think this is going to be a flash point, then you need to talk seriously about it and explain why it bothers you. I'm sure your boyfriend will understand your concerns.

So, in conclusion - there are challenges when you have a relationship with a pilot, but to be honest, nothing that you can't overcome. There will definitely be days when you're going to feel pretty crap, but there will also be brilliant days when he comes home and you feel like you're teenagers again. Being alone can be hard (and I imagine even harder when you have a family, although I haven't experienced that yet!) but again, you learn to deal with it.

The other thing to note is - whether your relationship survives or fails is down to who your boyfriend is, and who you are, and NOT whether he's a pilot, in my opinion. I note that a lot of women on message boards and blogs refer to their partners as "my pilot", as if they're all one amorphous mass, and not individuals with their own brains and personalities! This gets on my nerves. Because, let's face it - a strong relationship will survive your other half being a pilot (just as it would if he was in any other stressful job that involved travelling) , just as a weak one will often fail. A sad (but true) fact of life, I'm afraid.

I really hope yours proves to be a strong one. All the best!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Are contaminated aircraft cabins making people ill?

Yesterday, BBC news had a story about how the government is going to fund research into whether bleed air from aircraft engines is making flight crew and passengers ill.

I'd read a bit about this before on pprune, so I was interested (and relieved) to hear that something's actually going to be done. The research is going to focus on the BAE 146 and the Boeing 757, which are apparently the worst culprits (although from what I've read, it's not simply a problem limited to just these two types).

My travels on the net led me to this:, which is linked to a pressure group called the Aerotoxic association. Basically, they are claiming that pilots all around the world have developed "aerotoxic syndrome", which they say involves:

"Chronic fatigue, respiratory, neurological, cognitive problems and a sensitivity to chemicals. Many sufferers have had their health and their lives ruined. While many have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses related to the aircraft exposures, a significant number have been ignored or misdiagnosed with depression, other psychological problems or illnesses such as alzheimers or MS."

As far as I'm aware, my husband hasn't been exposed to the neurotoxins the group claims are blighting all these lives. I pray he never is. But I am certainly glad that scientists are looking into it.

I'd be interested to hear whether any pilots or their other halves have any experience of this. Has it happened to you?

Monday, 26 May 2008

Fuel price nightmare

I think the increase in fuel prices is probably keeping most pilots' wives awake at night at the moment (and naturally, their husbands, too).

Of course, it's been a problem for a while; every airline has been emphasising the importance of flying economically for months if not years, and fuel surcharges have become a constant presence (and annoyance) for passengers - but this is something else entirely. In the last few weeks several airlines have announced they've ceased trading - last week it was Silverjet (the business class only airline) whose shares were suspended, and earlier in the week, Euromanx, an airline serving the Isle of Man, went into receivership. And a few weeks ago Oasis, a low-cost airline flying from London-Hong Kong, folded too - and I'm not even going to attempt to list the US based airlines that are struggling at the moment - there are very many indeed.

So, every pilot (and his family) is worried sick that more job losses and airline failures lie ahead. At best, it's expected that pilots with low seniority in many airlines will find they're out of a job, and at worst, it's feared that airline after airline will find it can't survive. Even Ryanair's rumbumptious boss reckons that hard times are ahead.

Having said that, of course, many of our biggest and most established airlines are still making healthy profits. The immediate fear is that some of the smaller, newer airlines will go first.

But I have to say this doesn't reassure me that much; how long will it be before our biggest airlines start to show signs of pressure? Will people still want to travel abroad so much, given the increased cost combined with the credit crunch, and existing (and increasing) pressures about reducing their carbon footprint?

We just hope that, in the end, despite financial pressures, people will still want to go on holiday. And aviation is vital to worldwide trade, so we have to hope that business travel will continue.

And on a personal note, because I love our world - but I also love my husband, and we rely on aviation for our livelihood - I really hope airlines and the industry in general find a way for flying to become greener. (Although having said that, of course, aviation represents an extremely low percentage of carbon emissions - but that's probably for another post entirely!!)

But, for now, my dear readers, a plea - please book that sunny break this summer. In fact, while we're at it - could you make that two?

Friday, 23 May 2008

That precious ten minutes

My husband got back very late last night (in fact, very early in the morning!) from a three- day trip away. I'd missed him a great deal. I had to get up fairly early for work, but I asked if he would wake me up specially when he got back so I could actually see him.

All we got was 10 minutes of bleary eyed chat, but it was just so fantastic to talk to him face to face and see him there in the flesh. I was reminded again of the great truism of this life; you never get the chance to get bored of each other! Which is in so many ways, a great gift.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Should you settle for second best in order to get married?

This made me rather sad the other other day. It's an article from the Sunday Times style by Laurie Gottlieb, who's 40 and single. She's had a child by artificial insemination, but still feels lonely and unfulfilled in life, and wishes now that she'd "settled" for one of the boyfriends she'd dumped when she was younger.

In a nutshell, she argues that even her friends who are married are often unhappy (but still won't swap their married state for singledom) so, in fact, it's best to just grab whoever comes along, and make the best of it. She says:

"Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t rule out a guy
based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in the cinema. Overlook his
halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. If you want the infrastructure
in place for a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in
fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, because
many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with
each passing year."
Having read this article, I ended up discussing it with three single female colleagues, all over 30 (which she says is when the need to settle starts). Although they classed themselves as "romantics", they all told me they had given up on finding the "perfect man", and were thinking that perhaps they were just being too picky.

Now, I'm sure that in some cases, this might be true. If you're too hooked on external appearances, say, or you're obsessed with finding a man with a particular job or status. But I also believe that there's someone for everyone, in the end, and that the "perfect man" DOES exist. I know this, because I married mine. I met him and my life changed overnight. Everything fell into place.

And although I know that this isn't possible for everyone, I also believe that it's far better to be single and self-sufficient rather than unhappily married to a man who isn't your best friend, your partner in crime, and the person you love most in the world. Being married to a man you've "settled" for (even if it means you can have children) must be very unpleasant indeed - and let's face it, it's not really fair on the kids, either, is it?

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Aviation makes you grow old before your time!

If proof were needed that flying throughout the night, and having a constantly re-setting body clock takes its toll - my husband fell asleep watching television last night - at 8.30pm!! He did that old-man-esque thing of claiming that he was just "resting his eyes", but even he admitted defeat when he realised he had absolutely no idea what was going on in the TV drama we were watching (and not surprising, given that he'd missed half an hour!)

Poor thing, he was so knackered, so I took pity on him and steered him in the direction of bed. And being the dutiful wife, I headed up with him, and lay down beside him as he snored himself into la-la land. It's a nice sound, actually, because I do worry about how tired he gets, and of course a rested husband is a happy husband - and a safer pilot too, there is no doubt.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

"How can I become a pilot?" - my answer to this frequent question

I've lost count of the number of times we've been asked this question, and I know it's something a lot of people are at least curious to know the answer to, so I thought I might try to answer it here. Obviously I'm not a pilot myself, but I've learned a fair amount about it all along the way, so here goes... Please correct me if you disagree!

Truthfully, there are many different ways you can go about it, and I'll start off by suggesting you take a look at If you haven't come across it before, it's a forum for professional pilots (mostly British ones) and it has a great section devoted to training. There, you will find the endless debate about which type of training is best - integrated (where you do the whole load of training in one go, full time, at one school) or modular (where you do bits in different places, at your own pace, often part-time).

The hard truth about both options is that they're going to cost you a HELL of a lot of money. By a lot, I mean over £50,000 in many cases. My husband was lucky enough to get a sponsorship when he trained, but that was some time ago, and unfortunately post 9/11 these options have all but dried up. There are some cadet schemes where you're likely (but not guaranteed) to be offered a job with a particular airline after you finish your training, but you usually have to foot the bill for your training yourself, and are bonded to the airline once you start work. Here are some useful links:

Cabair Airline Sponsorship Schemes:
EasyJet pilot sponsorship:
Oxford Aviation Training (UK):

Amazingly, my husband knows pilots who started their professional training without ever having a flying lesson. I think that's the wrong way around! Have at least a few lessons to see whether you like it first, at least.. Bear in mind that the image of the glamorous lifestyle is just that - an image. It's not reality, and if you don't like flying, you aren't going to like this job! You'll be tired a lot of the time, on long-haul routes you'll often feel more like an operator than an aviator, and you'll be away from home an awful lot, unless you work for Ryanair or Easyjet.

It's also a very tough time for the industry at the moment. Fuel prices are hitting hard, and cut backs are already being made. A lot of airlines aren't recruiting at the moment.

I'm not trying to put you off; it's just really important to take your blinkers off before you launch yourself into pilot training .It's extremely hard, and no mistake, and not to be entered into lightly, but only after serious thought! (And yes, the echo of the wedding service is intended - as a pilot you'll be wedded to your airline, and trust me, they nag more than wives!!)

Monday, 12 May 2008

The bright side

There's no doubt that it's sometimes tricky being married to a pilot. You spend a lot of your time alone, your life is often completely unplannable, your husband is often away just when you need him most, and there's sometimes not much to smile about. But there are a lot of benefits, too. They're not spoken about much. I wish they had been, when we started this life; I think if I'd known that then, I might not have been so frightened about what was in store.

1) You never, ever get bored of each other. Unlike couples who are stuck in a 9-5 rut, our life is never predictable, and we often enjoy completely random (and wonderful) days off together during the week, or have that fantastic moment of glee when he comes home after days away, just like we are teenagers again.

2) You get cheap(er) travel! Sure, the glory days of free flights has more of less gone in a lot of the industry, but we still manage to get great cheap flights around the world, and lots of discounts on hotels and much more besides. I think this is a tremendous privilege. We are much more widely travelled than a lot of our friends, and for a lot less, too!

3) You're married to a man who loves his job. Well, mostly! There are certainly days when my husband is cursing the work pattern he's on, and he's tired and annoyed, but mostly he loves to fly, and it shows. Far better than a husband who comes home and feels downtrodden and frustrated by his job.

4) Duty Free! Our entire house is stocked full of booze that my husband's bought for us when he's away. And, of course, there are the pressies!

What brought this outburst of optimism on? Well, we've just had a blissful, amazing couple of days. We had so much fun together, and at one point my husband just looked at me and said "I just love being married to you."

Which is quite enough to keep me smiling for the rest of the month, at least.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Tiredness, and its effects

I'm knackered. Really, really tired. I often feel like this, as I also have a very demanding job. Granted, I don't have the lives of hundreds of people in my hands every time I go to work, but I certainly hope I make a difference in what I do, and I try to do my best.

The effect of this, though, is that I'm often too tired to enjoy my home life properly, and worse, I start to take it out on the people I love.

Similarly, my husband is often exhausted. The way airlines (even flag carriers, nowadays) operate their schedules leaves very little time for recovery between flights. They chop and change the hours he reports at so he has little chance to establish a sleeping pattern. The result is an often exhausted husband. And when an exhausted husband meets an exhausted wife, it's difficult.

I get very short tempered, and very intolerant. Small things, like whether the lounge is tidy, or the bin emptied, start to assume an importance far greater than they deserve. I get headaches, and my smiles get rarer and my scowls get more and more prevalent. My husband, in turn, starts to get peeved that I'm so cross, and we have lots of awkward silences. Luckily, though, we don't have the type of relationship where we have huge, shouting arguments (you know, the type where you end up saying something hurtful you didn't mean). Instead, these silences are brief and we make up swiftly.

This is because, at our core, we love each other deeply, and we hate being like this. It's not our natural state at all. We both recognise that it's our jobs rather than our natures that lead us to behave like spoilt children.

Ways to cope? Well, clearly not shouting and raving is key. Giving each other space at times like this is best, I think. And being gentle with each other. And, when you're both feeling great and you're having a wonderful time, making the most of it. Life is full of highs and lows, and the key to happiness, I think, is to celebrate the high points.

Or perhaps I should just become a lady of leisure? Hmmmm, not too sure about that.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Horror stories

Yesterday, I had a bit of time on my hands, so I had a search on the net for other pilot's wife blogs and groups. I wish I hadn't really; there are quite a few, and so many seem to have something in common - they are FULL of horror stories.

Now, a large factor in this will of course be that people seek out help when they're in trouble, and don't tend to bother when they're not. It's human nature. And then of course there is the so-called "troll" factor, those people who deliberately post inflammatory stuff to get people going. But these reasons can't account for all the stories, of course.

Once you meet (and start to go out with) a pilot, people never tire of the old jokes about having "a girl in every port". People at parties, work colleagues, and even close friends, start to have joking (but slightly meaningful) conversations with you about what they've seen on TV (ever seen Mile High?!) and ask whether it's like that in real life.

Pilots, it seems, have a reputation! They're all supposed to be ultra-virile, gorgeous and loaded, and lacking in morality. Faced with a beautiful woman, they're supposed to just drop their trousers and open their wallets. And, of course, be adept at leading a double life (ever read The Pilot's Wife?!)

A lot of the horror stories you read are similar. Wives whose husbands turn out to have other families, wives who discover their husband is sleeping with someone else from his airline, husbands who discover the big world out there, and start to find home life tremendously dull.

Of course these stories make me sad. Each one is a personal tragedy. But that's what I think they are: personal. Generalisations are pointless. Each man or woman is different, can make different choices, has a different relationship, different morals, different beliefs. Some pilots will have affairs, just as will men and women from all sorts of walks of life. That's just who they are!

And others won't.

But, I hear you say, flying has an image for cheating, doesn't it? Well, yes, it does. That's because the men and women who do it often get to stay away from home for long periods, and if they wanted to cheat, they could, easily. For some people, I think, that's far too appealing to turn down.

I still maintain, though, that, as an individual, everyone has a choice, and the vast number of pilots and crew I've met through my husband are faithful. I can think of a few notable exceptions, but then, can't we all think of those from our friends, in all sorts of jobs?

Finally, then, it just comes back to good, old fashioned trust. I trust my husband. No matter who he's with, where in the world he is, or how many people flirt with him, I know he'll put me first. And so, no matter how many horror stories I read, I won't be having any sleepless nights.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Over zealous airport security?

Airline crew have to go through very stringent checks to get passes that allow them to work "airside" at the airport. They have to account for all their addresses over five years, and give an abundance of personal details, to make sure (and sensibly so) that there's nothing in their background to cause concern. Consequently, they are about as checked-out as you can get.

Why, then, are they subjected to such degrading and infuriating searches at airports? Let me explain....

My husband and his colleagues have to go through the same security checks as passengers, which is fair enough. But what I don't understand is why in many cases the security staff find it so necessary to go above and beyond this, to such an extent that many pilots believe it could have an effect on safety. This is an extract from Chirp, which is an anonymous safety reporting system which anyone can read - just take a look here.

"During the lower body search the guard touched me on the right testicle, at which point I cautioned him that I objected. He then proceeded to touch my left testicle, so I put my left hand out to touch him on the chest to confirm to him that enough was enough. He then said I'd assaulted him by punching him in the chest. A supervisor said the police should be informed. I was cautioned, charged, and taken to a police station."

And this is another - she/he is an air traffic controller:

"I find myself at the beginning of each and every shift calming down at least one member of my staff who have felt harassed, and, quite frankly, not in the correct frame of mind to control upwards of 55 aircraft movements per hour".

My concern is just this, that one day a pilot is going to be so angry and distracted that he/she makes a fatal error. It's not just this feeling of having their privacy invaded; many pilots I know also say they've been made late for their flight, which is a worrying trend. After all, they have enough to deal with already, with fatigue, the pressure to fly to schedule, and the congestion in Britain's airports (particularly Heathrow, which is a nightmare.) Extra pressures are certainly not needed.

These levels of security just doesn't make sense to me. No amount of airport screening is going to stop a potential suicide bomber pilot crashing an aircraft, if that's what they have decided to do. They don't NEED any weapons to cause mass destruction, do they?

It strikes me that it's all just a power trip (which I've experienced in a small way as a passenger, and that's quite enough for me, thanks!) But the terrible question is, how long before this sad little self-esteem boost causes a tragedy?

Monday, 21 April 2008

A little about this blog

It feels strange to be writing this, as it's really a culmination of years of thinking that I really must get round to chronicling our life in some way, and quite frankly, I'm far too disorganised to manage to keep a paper diary! And, of course, it's also a way of reaching out to other women in my position.

I remember when we started this life (a very long time ago now) I was very scared indeed. Our relationship was pretty new, and all the time apart seemed insurmountable. I've always been an independent woman, and suddently this violent tugging I felt in my heart every time my husband walked out of our front door was deeply unsettling. Added to that, the neurosis I found myself dealing with for the first year or so knocked me for six. Suddenly the secure, ecstatically happy woman I knew myself to be become concerned about young, gorgeous hostesses and their flirtations, and I couldn't quite believe it.

But, as they say, time was a great healer, and I'm glad to say that those days are long gone. Our marriage has more than survived, in fact, it's better, it really is. All those things you go through, all that time apart, actually serve to make you cherish each other, to make you crave for each other, and trust me, that's great for a marriage!

Anyhow, I intend to use this blog to write about our experiences, issues that affect the industry, and also to (hopefully) encourage other women out there who might find themselves in the same situation. I hope you enjoy reading it.



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