It has taken my a long time to get around to writing this. The reason will become obvious I hope.
Hub had already had his go on the train so I requested a taxi ride back to Schipol on the morning of our departure. As befitted the early hour, our taxi driver was not a chatty chap. He knew where departures were however and that was what we needed.
I don’t like lilies.
Well, they don’t like me. Their smell makes me sneeze and on the rare occasions when I’ve got close to them, their pollen brings me out in a rash.
The huge round beds of orange lilies outside Schipol Airport are a sight for sore eyes however (and free publicity for Easyjet).
We hurried past them however and made for the assistance desk.
Another member of staff with impeccable English took my details, thanked us for arriving early and showed us where to sit and wait till our assistant arrive.
I didn’t really appreciate how vast Schipol Airport was when we arrived, but in the daylight now, full of people at 0745.
And what people! Families with multicoloured suitcases ranging in size from the tiny ride-on animals belonging to the children, to the huge Samsonite beasts that almost overwhelmed the luggage trolleys.
Impeccably dressed stewardesses and pilots with their cabin-size suitcases pulled effortlessly behind them.
Couples bringing their elderly mothers to the assistance desk in order to be transported by buggy or wheelchair like me.
Who knows where they were all going; on holiday, business trips, or coming home like us.
Our assistant Bilde, was young, very elegant and extremely competent. She whisked us through security and into the golf buggy with breathtaking efficiency and told us that this was her last week in the airport because she was going off to learn how to be a train driver – her ambition since a child.
We also discovered that her family originated from England, from the same city as Bezzie Mate. In fact her auntie lived in the same area as BM and her nana lived a few miles away.
Whilst we waited to be taken down to the plane, Hub amused himself by spotting the planes out on the tarmac, among them a Malaysian Airlines 777.
We got on our plane at 0915. Hub had to sit behind me this time but like the soppy things we are, we held hands at take off and landing – which also took place at 0915.
It was a beautiful day. Our jolly assistant sped us through Liverpool customs and finally, at passport control I heard the words that I had been longing to hear ever since I’d been horribly depressed by my new passport.
The official looked at my passport, looked at me, looked at my passport again. I took off my glasses. He shook his head and said, “You look much better than your picture.”
A slow hoppy limpy walk down to the car, and driving home in the sunshine.
Loved Amsterdam. Loved the Dutch people and warm, welcoming attitude. We both decided that we’d be going back there soon
An uproarious welcome from the Scoob; a slightly more restrained greeting from the Gap Boy one he had discovered that all we’d brought home was some smelly cheese, chilli liquorice and a windmill fridge magnet.
“I told you not to cover the new fridge with magnets!”
We unpacked slowly, put washing in the machine, made lunch, hugged the dog and life gradually returned to normal.
It was mid afternoon when we heard the news.
Malaysian Airlines MH17.
Shot down over the Ukraine.
298 on board.
The sun went in and with each bulletin the news brought more tragedy. So many families on board, young couples, experts heading for an AIDS conference, two football fans having the trip of a lifetime to watch their team.
193 lovely Dutch people.
Nobody on that plane had anything to do with the issues in Ukraine or Russia.
Neither the Ukrainians or the Russians will accept responsibility for what happened.
Was the plane shot down deliberately or was it some trigger happy moron?
Within hours the orange lilies at Schipol were surrounded by flowers for those who were lost in the crash. People from ten different countries were on that plane but it was those from the Netherlands that suffered the greatest loss.
Did we see any of the passengers on MH17 when we were laughing and joking with Bilde on our way to the plane?
Were some of the elderly parents we sat with at the assistance desk on board?
It’s been nearly a month now and the hostilities between the Ukraine and Russia have made it difficult for the crash scene to be fully investigated and all the human remains repatriated.
So my avatar remains as a tribute to them.
Bring them home.