“That will be 490 dollars sir”
We look at each other in shock. We are 7kg over our weight allowance and apparently they charge 70 dollars per kg of excess luggage!
We have another bag in with Lucas’ car seat, in total weighing another 21kg which also is not within our baggage allowance as we have the buggy with us. We haven’t mentioned that one yet… The prospect of paying $2,000 in excess baggage brings us out in a sweat.
Madeleine pleads that she doesn’t weigh very much and must be at least 10kg less than the average passenger.
The lady behind the check-in counter smiles and says she can give us a $100 discount. We were thinking more of a $490 discount but it is a start.
We start opening our bags and prepare to wear everything we own (not very sensible in close to 30 degrees heat).
I enquire in to upgrading Lucas’ seat from an infant to a child so we can use his baggage allowance – another non-starter.
My best begging face doesn’t work either and it looks like we are either going to have to ditch a lot of luggage or pay the excess.
Lucas starts smiling at the check-in lady next to ours, he then starts giving them “gottas”, a form of greeting like we might give someone “some skin” by touching fists. Before we know it they are all clambering around commenting on his blonde curls and high-fiving him. We are genuinely contemplating wearing our luggage when the check-in lady indicates for me to step closer. “This time we will let you through, for your son”. Had it been appropriate the 3 of us would have jumped over the check-in desk and given her a huge bear hug.
We check our 3 bags in when she notices the remaining 21kg bag next to our buggy. With a quizzical raise of her eyebrow she points and asks, “…and this one?” In a moment of inspiration I nonchalantly explain it is pat of the buggy, you know one of these fancy new travel systems where the car seat clips on the buggy (no mention of the clothes, shoes and presents we’ve slipped in to the car seat carrier, ahem…)
Fed up of us wasting her time and a growing queue behind us she places it on the scales, tags it and sends it through. Our journey back to the UK for a 5 week break begins…
We return to a freezing cold England, outweighed by the warmth of being reunited with family and friends. Within minutes Lucas is dragging Grandad down to his level so they can play tractors together. Seems this travelling business doesn’t bother him in the slightest.
Our “agents”, Chris and Helen (Lucas’ “Gan-dad” and “Gan-mar”) had managed to land an interview with the local newspaper and on BBC Radio Berkshire with Anne Diamond to help us raise sponsorship for the impending Blindfolded 10km Run.
There is a sharp, brisk breeze on my face, I can hear the sounds of hundreds of runners in front of me. Voices cheer from either side as I grip tightly onto Andrew’s gloved hand. We begin slowly pacing up the incline that greets the start of the run we call out to each other in the team. I am unaware where the 9 other Kenya eye team runners are, Andrew begins a running commentary, “Matt and Caroline, just in front to the right”, I hear Matt appreciating the view, Caroline is blindfoled like me for the frst 5 km. “Maz and Dan, just behind, Dan guiding. Your cousins, Matt and Jonathan and uncle Dave are just in front to the left and are flying the Kenyan flag, Kat and Lisa are directly to your right”. My hearing is so alert and everything sounds closer than Andrew tells me it is. An ambulance at the back of the race wants to go in front of us, Andrew hugs me to shield me from the vehicle, it feels like I am in the middle of the road with the ambulance millimetres from hitting me, Andrew assures me we are a safe distance.
We reach 3 km and members of the team start randomly shouting “speed bump”! I run as though I’m dancing the can-can to avoid tripping over them.
I’m not sure if its me not concentrating whilst guiding Andrew, or something more plausible such as he as an inferior spacial awareness? My 5km seemed fairly uneventful… Andrew however tripped up the bank under the railway bridge, slipped off the side of the road twice into the pot holes, stumbled up a bank and nearly dislodged a car wing mirror, in my defense a speedy Dan (our soon to be brother-in-law) joined the line of blind runners at a bottle neck as we approached the finish and I didn’t quite have the time to pull Andrew out of the way of the car.
CLANG! I clatter in to a car wing-mirror, which springs back in to position with a thud almost removing one of my kidneys. It is pitch black and we are coming to the end of a 10km race, which we have decided to do, blind-folded. Madeleine has run the first 5km with the blindfold on and now it is my turn. We are joined by some fellow crazies, 11 of us in total running to raise money to cover the cost of treatment for patients we are finding in the study.
It was a great morning, for Dan and Maz it was their first 10km and they did it blind! Quite an achievement! Our next trip back to the UK will be for their wedding.
Despite almost losing a kidney, we reflected afterwards that we could remove our blindfolds, for others, this is how they live. Hopefully this will change some…
The great news is that following the run and two informal presentations in Goring and Cholsey (where we were living before moving to Kenya) we have almost reached 80% of the £10,000 target. The generosity of our families, friends and many anonymous sponsors has astounded us. Thank you so much everybody! There are many, many good people out there and it is a privilege for us to be surrounded by them.
Highlights of our trip back have included time with our families, fast internet, a constant supply of water and electricity (despite Grandad flicking the fuse box on our first night back to help us feel at home) and a weekend away with our NCT group, the guys we got to know as we prepared for our little ones to enter the world. Amazingly, the eight families have remained so close and despite 3 of the 8 no longer living in England we all got together for a weekend.
One/Two months old (2011)
9/10 months old (2012)
21/22 months old (2013)
Belgian Chocolate Croissants with Toasted Almonds
Same base recipe as Pain au Chocolat
100g flaked almonds
200g dark Belgian chocolate
1. As previous recipe however when cutting the crossiants from the rolled dough cut each initial croissant triangle in to two smaller ones – makes these bite sized!
2. Turn oven on to 180°C and toast the flaked almonds, keep a close eye until just lightly browned to avoid any burning, 5-10mins should be plenty.
3. When each croissant is cooked and cooled, break the chocolate in to small chunks and melt in a bowl or pan over another pan of simmering water, this prevents the chocolate coming in to contact with any water and spoiling. Dip an end of each croissant in to the chocolate, then sprinkle over crushed toasted almonds and leave to cool on baking parchment.
I made these for our presentation in Goring. They are especially yummy freshly made, for obvious reasons like a chocolaty sticky mess, unfortunately they are not the best for re-heating.
Lucas acclimatised to the British spring…