Finally made a break from family boot camp to eat some sticky finger buns and sloth about in the apartment; I am exhausted. It is almost a week since I left Syria and time seems to have been swallowed up by the beast-of-early-risings-and-hearty-walks-in-the countryside – a most persistent beast I would like to add – it even has two heads. Right now the beast (aka - mum and dad) are visiting in-laws in Freckleton so I am trying to catch my breath and hunt down the internet which is surprisingly more difficult here than in old town Damascus.
It has been a good week here in the Lake District despite the boot camp although it started rather unappealingly with a festival vomit last Friday morning at 3 am. It must have been my grief at leaving Damascus or alternatively the bread-that-smelt-like-a-butcher’s-shop that Susan had given me to eat the night before. Either way I was throwing up like a seasoned pro by the time I got to Damascus airport. This was compounded nicely by the news that my ticket from Syria to London had been cancelled. No reason was given as to why - just that they (as in ‘Royal Jordanian’) were overbooked and there was no seat for me. Interestingly enough they were able to muster up a seat for me from Damascus to Amman but from there on, I was informed, I would be on my own. I decided to take the seat and tackle the next hurdle once I got to Amman. I sat next to a very nice Englishman on the short flight to Amman. He even gave me his sick bag when I had finished with mine which I thought was very generous of him.
Once in Amman I staggered to the transfer desk ( after leaving another calling card on the tarmac) and explained in a froth of bile and tears that I really needed to get on the flight to London. The gentleman at the front explained ( from a projectile-measured distance) that the flight was overbooked to which I responded with an even more spectacular froth of bile and tears. He eventually said that he would arrange for me to go down to the Sales Desk and I would be able to pay a supplement for my ticket ( which is interesting given I understood that they were overbooked) and get a seat. Another man took me though immigration and down to the Sales Desk where I tried my best to neatly throw up in the corner but got the Sales Desk Counter instead. By this stage any sort of shame had escaped me and I did my best to dab up the mess with a roll of toilet paper I kept in my bag. Fortunately the sales woman at the counter decided to take a proper look at my ticket and it was established that I would not need to pay any additional supplement but I would have to wait until twenty minutes before the flight to confirm my seat. Thankfully place was confirmed and I found myself wedged in a seat at the back of the plane next to another very nice English fellow who was studying climate change in Jordan. I think he might have been quite a lovely man to chat to had I not had my head in a bag or down the toilet for the next five hours. The worst part actually came after the plane had landed in Heathrow and I had to run into the crew galley to do a mighty throw which according to my trusty seat companion was 'I'm afraid rather audible for all but nevermind. Can't be helped.' At Customs, special branch picked me up and before I knew it I was in a wheelchair being wheeled through the airport ( nose in bag) to the waiting ambulance which took me to Hillingdon hospital for rehydration and anti-sick medication. Not quite the reunion I had imagined with mum and dad - me hooked up to an iv drip; them frazzled after a dodgy drive around the London airport roads. Fortunately I soon began to feel better and by the next morning the three of us were on the road to the Lake District - anti-sick pills in one hand and a packet of wine gums in the other.
Since then we have spent the last few days sloshing about in the mud, enjoying the beautiful scenery, trying out local pub cuisine and eating kendal mint cakes. I still don't feel fabulous as I think my insides are still playing host to Syrian buddies of the small, bacterial kind but it's been a lovely week all the same - apart from the early rising of course, and the mandatory ambling, and the fact I can't face alkeehol.