Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Humberside Airport to Schiphol, Amsterdam with KLM

We're back from a fabulous weekend in Amsterdam You'll have to wait just a little longer to hear our tales from the city as I wanted to share our experience of flying from Humberside to Schiphol. Does it pay to fly local?

Humberside Airport
  • Its location, just off the M180, makes it very accessible for people in North Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. For us, travelling up from South Lincolnshire, 90 minutes of leisurely driving via the back roads was wonderfully stress-free.
  • The car parks are just at the door so no need for buses to take us to the terminal.
  • Humberside airport is small but beautifully formed. Functional outside but rather pretty inside with the very chic Aviator lounge and bar. 
  • Passport control and security is swift. On our return journey we were back in our car within about 10 minutes of the plane touching down. Even passengers with hold luggage were able to pick up their bags as soon as they had cleared immigration.
  • Unfortunately very few airlines fly from this airport. On the day we travelled there were three flights with KLM to Amsterdam each day plus some internal flights. The rest were helicopters. I may have to start a one-woman campaign for more routes. 

The Aviator Bar, Humberside Airport, at 9am...

KLM flight
  • Cityhopper planes are clean, comfortable and have plenty of leg room.
  • I had no idea the flight would be so quick: just less than an hour to Amsterdam. No sooner had we reached cruising altitude than we began our descent. I hardly had enough time to finish reading the in-flight magazine. I should have snaffled it, as it was a good one. 
  • No-fuss catering. As the flight is less than 90 minutes, complimentary water and a snack is provided. 
  • Staff at check-in and on board were friendly and efficient.
  • Great system for hand baggage. Rather than everyone trying to squeeze their luggage into the overhead lockers, a number of cases (ours included) are given pink tags and told to leave them at the foot of the steps before they are put in the hold. When the plane arrives at Schiphol, passengers are only allowed off once the pink-tagged cases are ready to be picked up at the steps again.

Our Cityhopper plane waiting to take us to Schiphol

Schiphol Airport
  • There's no denying Schiphol is huge so it does take some time for the plane to taxi to the terminal. This, however, is made very enjoyable by the fact that the plane trundles over a motorway bridge once it has landed. That must be quite a sight for motorists. 
  • Passport control is very efficient: no queues when we passed through.
  • The train station is underneath the airport terminal so onward travel is swift and easy. Trains are every 15 minutes to the centre of Amsterdam at a cost of 5 euros. My only complaint is they should have a one-queue system like we do in the UK, rather than passengers having to choose a queue and inevitably choosing the slowest line. Of course we could have bought a ticket from one of the many yellow ticket machines but you know how we have a habit of breaking them...
  • Schiphol Plaza is a tourist attraction in itself. If you have time to spare before your flight you will have plenty of options for eating and shopping. Trish's top tip: on your return journey don't throw away your bottle of water before you go through passport control. The security checks only occur when you reach your departure gate so you have plenty of drinking time before the no-liquids rule applies. 

Can I book this clog to take me to my departure gate?

In short, Humberside airport is a dream and KLM offers an efficient, comfortable service. As for Schiphol, if we were travelling long-haul in the future, I would seriously consider flying from Amsterdam. For us, driving to Humberside for a connection to Schiphol is a possible alternative to driving to Heathrow and would provide us with a lot more options for onward flights.

My husband and I flew as guests of KLM from Humberside to Amsterdam, however, a return flight from Humberside to Amsterdam with KLM starts from just £119 per person. As ever all opinions are my own.


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Flying to Amsterdam with KLM

Sweaty palms, heart thumping, stomach churning, clock-watching, arguing....

The symptoms many of us exhibit if we are catching a flight to go on holiday.

No matter how experienced we may be at flying, the stress of getting to an airport and onto the plane has never dissipated. We worry about timings, car parks, buses, luggage, queues, security regulations...it's a wonder we ever go away. If we're travelling with children, whether toddlers or teens, keeping them from screeching, sulking and dawdling makes it all ten times worse.

I've always believed that travelling to an airport is a lot like giving birth - painful at the time but all forgotten once it's over....until the next time.

The best we can do is make every effort to reduce the aspects of flying which add tension to the trip. One way is to choose a local airport which, as well as offering the convenience of being closer to home, often has the added advantage of being smaller, with easy car parking near to the terminal.

KLM have invited Dougie and I to try out our local airport, Humberside, so we will soon be flying hassle-free from there to spend two nights in Amsterdam,  KLM's original home. Interestingly, where we live in South Lincolnshire, we could also have flown with them from Leeds Bradford, Norwich or Birmingham: all are under two hours drive from our home. In fact KLM fly from 16 regional airports in the UK, more than any other airline. Who knew?

KLM assure me that a shorter drive to the airport will avoid the scenario shown in the video below: it's a funny clip but my heart was beating fast as I felt the stress building up in the poor mother who is about to explode...

I've had a look at Humberside Airport and am delighted to see the car parks are within walking distance of the terminal - that's reduced my tension levels another notch because we won't have to wait for the bus. I'm also hoping that as it's smaller, the queues will be shorter and we won't have as far to walk to the gate. It should be smooth and quick. More time for shopping? Excellent.

I'll be reporting back after our trip to let you know how we get on but, in the meantime, let's have your tips for Amsterdam. We only have 48 hours once we touch down at Schiphol Airport and are looking to see what the city can offer families of all ages, not just a couple of middle-aged empty nesters like us. If you know some quirky attractions, great places to eat or just somewhere for us to stand and stare then let me know.

In the meantime, I have cases to pack...


Saturday, 18 October 2014

More from Trish Takes Five

Thought you might like to have a read of the latest columns I've written for the Lincolnshire Free Press. The final one has content regular readers may remember but the first two are brand spanking new...

Finding out about Exeter University, its alumni and the possible inspiration for some Harry Potter locations.

If it's good enough for J.K. Rowling...

Dougie and I de-cluttering my mum's garage. An illuminated cocktail fountain anyone?

One mother's clutter is another aunt's treasure

X Factor sparks some memories of talent shows for Mum and me.

An emotional rollercoaster


Monday, 13 October 2014

Book Review: Love in Small Letters by Francesc Miralles

Enjoy the little things, 
for one day you may look back
and realize they were the big things.
Robert Brault

Like many readers I think I can gauge whether a book is for me by the front cover, the blurb on the back cover and, occasionally, a quotation at the beginning. The colour of the cover for Love in Small Letters reminded me of One Day by David Nicholls so was instantly appealing and the above quote had me nodding in recognition.

What does the blurb on the back say?

"When Samuel wakes up on 1st January he is convinced that the year ahead will bring nothing exciting or unusual - until a strange visitor bursts into his flat, determined not to leave. The appearance of Mishima, a stray cat, leads Samuel to a strange encounter with the enigmatic Valdemar and his neighbour Titus, with whom he had previously never exchanged a word, and is the catalyst for the incredible transformation that is about to occur in the secluded world he has built around himself. 
As unexpected friendships develop out of these encounters and a childhood love is reignited, Samuel discovers, for the first time, how small everyday acts can have the power to unleash a hurricane of feeling and awaken the heart from its slumber." 

That's all three boxes ticked.

Originally published in Catalan in 2010, this is a new translation, by Julie Wark, of an acclaimed novel by Barcelona born, Francesc Miralles. Conscious that you are not reading the author's exact words, you have to trust the translator to capture the soul of the writer and not just the words. Of course, I have no way of knowing if this is the case but there was certainly a good rhythm to the novel, the words flowed with ease and this very engaging little book was a real pleasure to read.

Samuel, a lecturer in German studies and linguistics, is a self-contained but lonely man and we see him on New Year's Eve, bringing in the New Year on his own, with a bunch of grapes (one to be eaten on each chime). The sudden appearance of a stray cat frustrates him and causes his normal routines to be turned upside-down. Within a few days of the cat entering his life, he has met his neighbour in the upstairs apartment and caught sight of Gabriela, a girl with whom he once shared a brief, tender moment when he was a young boy.

The book examines the idea of cause and effect: what are the consequences of small acts? Did feeding a stray cat inevitably lead to him finding a lost love? Samuel has a keen interest in literature and philosophy so the book is peppered with references to fascinating stories by Kafka, Goethe and Graham Greene plus quirky definitions from Rheingold's dictionary, They Have a Name for It. The music of Mendelssohn also weaves its way magically through the pages. This makes for a beautifully intelligent yet refreshingly simple novel.

I did feel some disappointment, however, as the novel seemed too short. I wanted more - of the characters, the plot, the quotes and definitions. Love in Small Letters was, for me, love in too few letters.

Love in Small Letters was sent to me to review by the publishers, Alma Books. 
Price: £6.39 from Alma Books