Surprisingly, I had the potential for ringing in the New Year at home or with friends, yet I elected to work and spend it with friends in London. I could not have picked a better way to ring in 2014. I contacted my friend, Jen, to see if she’d have time for a drink on NYE, and she turned around and included me in her intimate gathering of friends! I was thrilled to be invited for nibbles and drinkies prior to the cozy, sit-down affair at one of her favorite restaurants.
After a stressful flight over The Pond as the “Galley Gremlin” in the international first class cabin, I showered and collapsed onto the bed as the sun finally started peeking out from behind the gray, London clouds. As much as I wanted to about face and hit the streets of London running, my internal computer got set to knackered and demanded a reprieve. I slapped on my eye mask and fell asleep to the BBC.
Last Sunrise of 2013
Lebanese Lentil Soup for a Midday Warm-up!
I rose around one-thirty in the afternoon, bundled up, and moseyed over to the Sainsbury for some treats to bring over (and breakfast for that impossible 430AM wake-up call on New Year’s Day). My craftacular mom made me some alpaca leg warmers and a matching headband, and they had their inaugural flight on this trip! While the rain spat down, I tucked into Maroush Bakehouse for some Lebanese home cooking and a caffeine jolt. I flicked through the latest issue of RadioTimes, buying it only because of the sneak preview of the new season of Sherlock! Overwhelmed cannot even begin to describe my feelings when I looked at their display cases packed with baked goods. If anything, MB may become a integral part of my layover routine: afternoon tea and baked treats or healthy and hearty meals.
When a layover hotel provides a nice happy hour special, we like to engage in what is known as the “crew debrief.” CD is great for rainy days, first time visitors, those without prior plans in a destination, or those in dire need of blowing off steam. The lounge area of our hotel has great seating with large windows overlooking a garden and plush sofas. Being it was NYE, those were occupied by larger (and drunker) parties, so myself, the purser, and a couple of the pilots took over half of the bar. Knowing that I would have to navigate the Tube on my own (and save space for the night’s events), I opted for the house white 2-for-1 special.
Every time I come to London, I wind up buying another Oyster Card as I have no clue where my other ones are. You’d think with the fancy schmancy (Duty-Free Exclusive) Desigual Travel Wallet I have, I would be smart enough to actually put the card inside it. I hopped the Tube to Fulham Broadway, where the WiFi at Starbucks came to my rescue.
I met up with Jen, who I hadn’t seen since summer time when she was a passenger on my previous London flight! Seeing her again made me wonder where the heck the second half of 2013 gone. Cliche as it is, in my line of work time really does fly, fly away. I met Jen’s fantastic boyfriend, her puppy (Sadie), and her charming colleagues over bubbly and hors d’oeuvres, before the main event: a sophisticated, three course dinner at Boma.
Stepping through the front door, I immediately understood why Boma was one of Jen’s favorite establishments. The atmosphere was warm and inviting, the staff welcomed us like family, and the table awaited patiently. While we awaited our first course, we had a champagne toast to old friends and new. I decided two things at that precise moment: 1) I need to fly to London more often, and 2) I need to focus on having more intimate events with friends. I have learned that small groups are far more manageable for me to engage folks in conversation without being utterly exhausted afterward.
I selected the grilled aubergine and goat cheese as my appetizer, the roasted rump of lamb with vegetables, a glass of Malbec, and the chocolate fondant. I could not have been more pleased with my selections or my full-tilt food coma that ensued quickly after. Everything was cooked to perfection and presented beautifully. I enjoyed some rather nerdy conversation including Doctor Who, creative writing, and Dungeons and Dragons, several topics that I don’t normally discuss outside of certain circles. I was informed that I am “The Holy Grail” of Nerd Girls, a title I shall take very seriously once I’ve obtained a crown to accompany it.
The hardest part about the demands of flight crew life is bowing out while the evening is getting started. Knowing that I had to be coherent, sober, and put together before my 6:15AM crew pick up, meant playing watch dog and calling it a night before 10:30PM. I cannot begin to thank Jen and her friends for including me in their evening, and on the Tube ride back to the hotel, I reflected on 2013 as a whole. I’d like to think that I had a very productive and enjoyable year: visited some new cities, made some new friends, reconnected with some old friends, and I finally came home to Florida.
Though I rang in the new year kicked back in my pajamas in my hotel room, I enjoyed the midnight count down with happy thoughts, warm pajamas, and my party cracker from dinner. At midnight London time, I got a few messages while my friends and family were gearing up to start their partying! While I enjoyed my morning tea and prepared for the flight home, I watched Times Square count down on the BBC (and the scrolling messages on FB of everyone celebrating on the East Coast). I drowsily slept on the van ride back to Heathrow with a toothy grin on my face. Something about 2014 feels great, like something big will certainly happen.
Rang it in with My Favorite Bad Ass & His Donut