Winter is here and the holiday season is upon us. Last year I had an out of the ordinary experience over the holiday that made an interesting chapter in my new book, A Year at the Lighthouse. The following is from the book.
December 30th - After a disastrous trip I finally arrived back at Eshaness Lighthouse. The trip started out with a bang when British Airways upgraded me to first class for the transatlantic part of the trip. They almost never upgrade a coach ticket to first class, only to business class, but because I had so many frequent flyer miles I lucked out. First class is elegant and the seat converts into a bed so you can get a reasonable amount of sleep. To my great delight across the aisle from me was Anthony Hopkins. When I realized who the passenger was I did not know whether to talk to him but he solved my dilemma by asking me, ‘Do you know how to get this damn bed open?’ I didn’t but we called the steward who did. From then on we chatted some. He looks older in person but he still has those special eyes
Arriving in London early I had to say goodbye to Anthony. My plane to Aberdeen was on time so the trip continued to be a good one. Aberdeen had snow on the ground so it looked like a Christmas card as we landed. After many years of flying I always say flying is not an exact science. I kept waiting for something to go wrong. My plane to Shetland soon changed to being delayed. When I asked the desk people they said it was snowing in Shetland. One of the other passengers had a mobile phone and called a friend at the airport in Shetland who said it was not snowing but a beautiful day. So back to the desk the two of us went. They repeated their story that snow was delaying us. Another passenger called the national reservation number and was told there was mechanical trouble on the inbound plane to Aberdeen that was still in Glasgow. We kept getting all kinds of nonsense answers from the check-in people until we were finally paged and offered a ride on the P & O ferry to Lerwick. Some crazy people took the offer since they were told they would be sure to get to Shetland the next morning. Eleven of us knew the weather forecasters were predicting Force 10 winds by early morning so we opted to wait on the plane, which should get us into Shetland before the winds increased. The ferry people did not get to Lerwick, as the ship had to turn back.
The plane from Glasgow finally arrived and we got on it. We pulled out and went just a few feet before the pilot pulled back in again. It seems we had a generator problem. Not a good omen after the delay with a propeller problem in Glasgow. They asked us to get off and wait in the lounge. I called Tom at the airport in Shetland who said the flight had been cancelled. It was another 30 minutes until the people in Aberdeen told us that piece of news. The next hurdle was finding a place to put 26 people overnight. It took a couple of hours but they finally found a hotel way on the other side of town, which was fine except they could not find anyone to take us there. We had to wait another hour and a half for the bus. Before we left the airport they told us we had to be up the next morning and ready to go by 6:45. It did not come as any surprise that by the time we got to the hotel the morning departure had changed to earlier. It was a classy hotel but all I did was take a shower and go to bed after over 24 hours without much sleep.
This was only the beginning and the situation got a lot worse instead of better. I will share the rest next month.
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This story appeared in the
December 2002 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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