Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Schiphol Turkish Airlines crash

Yet another blood-goes-cold moment. This was my husband's previous aircraft type, the 737-800. The Boeing Next Generation, a new design, and apparently a very reliable one at that. Yet, here it is, in a field near Amsterdam, and 9 people have lost their lives. It's a wonder there weren't many more deaths, when you see that the plane actually broke into three pieces, with the tail section being ripped open.

There doesn't seem to be any obvious cause so far, and I hate speculation, anyway. Everyone always has an opinion, usually a wrong one!

It's just the worst nightmare of those who love someone who flies for a living.

Here's a link to the story:

***I've just found out that three of the crew, including both pilots and possibly a third in the jumpseat, are among the dead. My heart goes out to their poor families, particularly since they had to suffer the indignity of the cockpit being filmed from outside before the bodies were removed. Rest in peace.

And by the way, to all journalists reading this - there were TWO pilots (if not three, I can't yet find out) on the flight deck at the time. When you refer to "the pilot" you mean the CAPTAIN.

Sadly, I doubt they'll ever read that, but I feel better anyway!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Her song

Going through all my teenage memorabilia during the move, I came across this poem by Brian Patten. It still speaks to me now as it did then. I think it's beautiful. I thought I'd share it with you.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


I'm feeling very low at the moment. It's now, unbelievably, a month since my husband left for the Gulf, and at this point I still have no idea when I'm going to be joining him. The reasons for this are complicated, and at this point are amassing into a huge dark cloud that I'm having trouble seeing through.

My husband's type-rating is extremely demanding, and he's getting hardly any time off. This means that all the admin that needs doing to sort out our life out there - and believe me, there is a lot of it - has to be squeezed into a very short period of time. For example, he's been trying to get an internet connection for a month now. Whenever he calls the company they insist they are coming round immediately, but never do. In order to buy a car, he needs to change his UK driving licence to a local one, and this involves a trip to an office on the other side of town, a long wait, and a mountain of forms. The positive news on the horizon though is that he has submitted my resident visa application, and this should be ready in two weeks. This means that I should be able to fly out any time after that.

Aside from this, I suspect strongly that I'm suffering from PMT. Whilst in normal circumstances I should be very pleased about this (as it suggests I have a cycle!) at the moment it's just yet another thing dragging me down. I feel hyper-emotional and irrational, and am very short tempered.

This morning we had a family crisis. My husband's sick aunt, who had been staying with me - and had begun to feel an awful lot better - suddenly couldn't get out of bed and started having heart palpitations. On the advice of the doctor, we called an ambulance. This coincided with my parents' return from holiday on an overnight flight - I had been intending to drive them home, two and a half hours away, because they hadn't had any sleep. We were then going to have a long-planned family weekend, as my sister is home with them, too. Instead, we all ended up in A&E, and mum and dad had to drive home alone without me a few hours later. I was so worried about them, as driving on the M25 after a night of no sleep is not a very safe thing to do!

Meanwhile, I'm about to visit my poor aunt in hospital, as she's been admitted to the cardiology ward. The doctors aren't sure how long they are going to keep her in for, and it's not nice being ill so far away from home. If she's kept in a few days, I see no option but to stay here as well, so I'm going to have to cancel my weekend with my parents.

This wouldn't be a big thing for me to deal with normally, but I feel such a cocktail of emotions at the moment: I feel so guilty for not being at home with my parents for the family weekend I'd promised (quite important, given that I'm about to move halfway across the world), so exhausted after the endless rounds of packing, sorting and chucking, and so very alone. My parents took our pet with them this morning, as they're going to be looking after him while we're living abroad, so now I am truly on my own in this house, which is dismantling around me every second. It's a profoundly depressing place to be.

Add that to not knowing when I'm going to be able to see my husband again, and you arrive somewhere near how I feel right at the moment. Just crap, really.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Take me to the clouds above...

While we're on the subject of pilot related songs, this one has always been a favourite of mine. It was released around the time my husband and I first met, and so it always reminds me of those heady, magical times. It's LMC Vs U2 Take Me To The Clouds Above.

On the moving to the Gulf front, I feel currently like God is having a good giggle. Two days ago my internet packed up, and two new routers (both now returned), multiple phone calls,and masses of head scratching later I'm now back online. It turns out it was my phone socket that was faulty, and I've now had to relocate my entire PC to the lounge. Being without internet for 48 hours was a very odd experience. It made me wonder how we ever coped without it!

I also have my husband's aunt staying with me, which was lovely until 3am this morning, when she woke me up to tell me that she was being horribly sick with a tummy bug. I stayed up with her for 3 hours until she managed to get to sleep, cleaned up after her, and then went back to bed myself. So, instead of heading back home this afternoon, she's upstairs recuperating. She asked me this morning if I could grab some Bovril while I was out in town (fine, I thought) - until I discovered the supermarket I'd gone to didn't have any. Cue a diversion to another supermarket for a little jar of Bovril!

And meanwhile, the stuff in the house is still there, and needs sorting... I swear it multiplies when I turn my back.

There's no way I'm going to get all this stuff done in time...I'm knackered.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Things my grandmother taught me

I've just returned from a trip to the north of England to visit my 93 year old grandmother. She and I both knew that this might be the last time we would meet, so it was an emotionally charged visit.

She's a wily old bird. She told me that recently one of her care assistants suggested that she should move into the house with her two teenage daughters to look after her. Gran said nothing, but knew of course that the woman in question was after her money and the comforts of her nice house. It hasn't been spoken about again. Gran tells me the carers often say she's "sweet" - if only they knew! Actually she was a fairly hard-nosed entrepreneur, and has eaten many men for breakfast...

She married my grandad six months before the declaration of World War II. She told me it was "the greatest mistake of her life". She didn't really have time to get to know him - her family moved about a lot - but he was kind to her, and she thought she was in love, so they got married and, having no money to speak of, moved in with her parents. When war was declared he was sent to serve in the desert, and she didn't see him for SIX YEARS. An awful long time to be alone (and here's me complaining about 5 weeks!) It was the making of her, though, really. Her father's business, a commercial bakery, flourished during the war, and she took charge of it.

"I took charge and made money, my own money, and I didn't answer to anybody - put that in your pipe and smoke it!"

(Not something I ever expected to hear her say!)

By 1945 she had enough money to buy a house and a car, and she says my Grandad returned from the war a different man - slightly broken, easily influenced, and in fact her polar opposite. Still, they made a go of it, and were married until my Grandad's death from cancer in 1978. They had two lovely daughters.

Whilst we were looking at some old photos she said "I bet you'll find some of my old boyfriends in there". None were found, actually, but I don't doubt that she had a few affairs, judging by later form. After my grandfather's death she set about finding another mate to share her large house, and marry she did, for a second time. After he died, she moved into her current bungalow and began visiting the local old people's home to cheer up the residents, which is where she met, in her own words, the love of her life. At the age of 80, she became engaged again. They never married, but she says the few years she shared with him until his death were the happiest of her life.

Looking through all her old holiday and family photos, she seemed to surprise herself.

"There I was thinking how I worked all the time, but look at this. I had some wonderful times. I had a wonderful life. It's just this last bit that isn't wonderful".

Her life is very sad now. All her friends have died, she's unable to get out of the house, and her ability to walk lessens every day. But she's still got a wicked sense of humour. As I got ready to leave, she hugged me, and said:

"Be happy, my girl. Remember life's about give and take. But more take than give, that's my motto..."

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Let me go home...

I know I'm late to the party (Partner of a Pilot found this first) but I must say this video rather suits my mood tonight. It's a very slushy cheesy song, but the video is lovely.

I got my Valentine's card from my husband today, all the way from the Gulf. It made me feel warm inside just to see his handwriting. I can't wait until I can fly to our new home - which, to be honest, is wherever he is.

So - let me go home to my husband, please let me go home... because I miss him, you know.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

"Married and looking"

I recently had a comment on one of my posts from someone advertising a website for people who are, I quote, "married and looking". Naturally I rejected it, but still - it got me thinking.

Firstly, it wasn't an automated spam comment, as there was actually a personalised response in the first line, so that meant someone - probably an underpaid homeworker - had gone to the trouble personally to find, read and comment on my blog with their weird ad. What a job!

Secondly, I'm not naive, I know that lots of people have affairs, but I just find it so gobsmacking that some people are so desperate to cheat that they use websites like this. Firstly, I'd have thought that sort of thing would make it easier to be found out (internet history, anyone?), and I suppose I also find it odd that people would be so desperate to seek extra-marital sex that they'd advertise on a sad site like that. If they're that unhappy in their marriage, haven't they heard of divorce?

Ho hum. Just another of mankind's dark corners, I suppose.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Long distance lives

It's been two and a half weeks now since my husband and I said goodbye at Heathrow. It's the longest we've ever been apart, and we're not even half-way yet. My leaving date is still up in the air, as it relies on various paperwork being done by the airline, and things move very slowly in the Gulf!

To make things worse, we don't yet have an internet connection in our new apartment, so we're relying on a local mobile and a friend's internet connection for occasional Skype sessions. It doesn't make for easy chatting, but we're managing to speak twice a day on average, so that's what matters, really. My husband's getting to grips with his new type rating, which is being condensed to half the time the manufacturers think it should take - hence he's got practically no days off, and he's exhausted. It's a tall order. Still, when he's back in the air at the controls of his magnificent new aircraft, I know he'll think it was all worth it! That's what this aviation lark is about, after all.

On a completely different topic - last night I went to a friend's birthday party and encountered two breeds of homo sapiens I rarely meet; the man who has only read two books in his lifetime, who was married to another species, the woman who thinks the study of history is a waste of time. Both of them fascinated me, in a banging head against wall sort of way. Both concepts are so alien to me I just didn't know what to say, really. Well, I mean, I tried to defend history with the usual "learning from our mistakes" gubbins, and I of course pointed to Dickens, Shakespeare, Larkin etc as fine examples of literature, but honestly, there was little point. After all, it takes all sorts to make a world (I suppose).

Golly, I'm getting intolerant in my advanced age. First a spelling nazi, and now an academic bore..

Maybe I just miss my husband.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

What should we do with the drunken pilot?

This made me laugh this morning. Typical Daily Mail reporting. Some poor Captain suffered a stroke on an Aeroflot flight, and the passengers were convinced he was drunk. Quite understandably, they were slightly panicked...

What really made me laugh was this:

Airline officials came on board to calm the situation, with one telling a passenger that even if the pilot was drunk 'it wasn't such a big deal'. He added: 'Really, all he has to do is press a button and the plane flies itself. The worst that could happen is he'll trip over something in the cockpit.'

That is nothing short of hilarious. Bless those little ignorant 'airline officials'!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Modern romance - using Google search!

I'm grinning from ear to ear.

I just logged onto StatCounter, which for those who don't know, is a website which tracks the number of visits a website receives, how they found the site, what posts they read, and for how long, etc. It also has a really cool section where it tells you what search terms have been used recently to find your blog (for example, recently, lots about cheating pilots!)

And there, at the top of the most recent Google searches, was this:

"Wife with Altitude, who I love, and know is reading this".

My lovely husband must have chuckled when he typed that into Google...

P.S And a belated congratulations to one of my best friends, whose pilot boyfriend proposed at the top of the Empire State recently! How incredibly romantic. I'm already planning my outfit...

Monday, 2 February 2009


England is covered in a rather magical blanket of snow today. We haven't had this much of the white stuff since I was a little girl. I adore the snow, but I must say it really hasn't been the same without my husband. As CS Lewis would say, I feel rather like I'm in a country that's always winter, but never Christmas...

If my husband was here we'd be out in the snow madly throwing snowballs and building a snowman (or lady) - but as it is, I've spent the day snowed in, looking at the world beyond my house with some sadness. I couldn't get the car out and therefore couldn't make it to work, and being forced to spend the whole day alone has been pretty rubbish.

I've been diligently keeping busy up until now, which has worked very well. I've busied myself seeing friends and doing jobs, and I've had very little time to take in the magnitude of what's going on. Today, though, I've had nothing but my own thoughts (and, I must admit, Mamma Mia on DVD!) for company. You've got to love Mamma Mia. Terrible singing, but relentlessly upbeat. I've needed it today.

Anyhow, I've managed to pack a few boxes, do a bit of ironing, and throw a few things away, so I've made another few small steps towards the big move. But there are so many more steps left to take....

Still, I'm going to try to enjoy what's left of the snow, because Lord knows when I'll see some next!



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