Queuing Theory

A 06:50 flight from Luton to Alicante with a 35-minute taxi ride to the airport means a 04:15 taxi pick up which in turn means a 03:30 alarm. Oh joy. [Note to self: I’m getting too old for this caper.] The access road into Luton Airport, being limited by tunnel restricting traffic to a single lane in either direction, occasionally gets clogged, especially in summer, but in winter it’s usually OK. Nonetheless, it’s best to err on the side of caution, hence our early pick-up.

Motorways being unpredictable beasts which, when they go wrong, offer no alternative route, our taxi company normally avoids the M1 and approaches through the debateable delights of Luton itself. What you really don’t expect at 04:30 in the morning is a stop-start traffic jam through some of the finer suburbs of Houghton Regis and Luton. Nonetheless, that’s what we ran into; a lengthy queue made up mostly of HGVs looking lost plus a coach towing a luggage trailer also looking lost [the coach, not the trailer] This smacked of a section of the M1 being closed and traffic being diverted off through largely residential areas to re-join the motorway further south..I never cease to be amazed at the amount of traffic on our roads at ridiculous hours of the day. One glitch and the lot grinds to a halt.

Knowing we had slack time and a driver that knew some inventive alternative routes mercifully unfamiliar to all the HGVs, or me, come to that, we avoided most of the disruption and arrived at the airport drop-off zone in good time. Even the airport traffic was flowing well.

Easyjet was on the ball this morning; we boarded quickly and pushed back about 5 minutes early. The flight was fine and smacked onto the Alicante runway in a less than subtle fashion at about 10:15. Our next delight was likely to the very slow-moving queue caused by the automatic passport machines at Alicante immigration. We wandered through the air-bridge in anticipation.

What’s this? Instead of being greeted by a melee of travellers about 20 deep and 10 wide, all waiting for the painfully slow e-passport machines, we were greeted by an orderly queue of folks 2 or 3 wide steadily shuffling towards two passport-reading warm bodies. The infernal machines were turned off and cordoned off. The two warm bodies were processing the queue in a fraction of the time taken by 5 or 6 machines. What I don’t know is whether Alicante has realized the error of its ways or whether there was simply a technical glitch. I hope it’s the former. Either way we were through and collecting our rental car in less than 5 minutes.

The rental car was a bit scary, being a brand-spanking new Ford Focus which apparently has only a 1-litre engine. It works, it has power, it’s smooth, it’s far and away the best rental car I’ve had in Spain. Being a brand new unblemished car, I decided to take the full insurance for some peace of mind in this season of peace and goodwill. 😉

Returning to Casa Libelule this time last year, we had been greeted by a damp issue: mould on various surfaces, including many of the walls, and a warped dining table. Since then, we’ve learned to leave some of the windows cracked open about 2cm to allow air exchange, and I’ve repainted with mould-resistant paint. This time Francine began raising our shutters to let light in for an inspection. It all looked good, even after what we believe has been a reasonably wet autumn for the area. No complaints; they need the rain desperately after about three years of drought.

What Francine did spot was a stranger wandering up the steps from the lower level of the development. Having no tools, he didn’t look like a workman. Shortly afterwards, we both saw him wandering downhill along the road. Though we may not recognize every owner/resident by sight, walking up hill to then walk down did not make him look like a resident. Curious! Our development has suffered a couple of burglaries recently and this looked a tad suspicious. Mercifully, Casa has thus far been spared.

We unloaded and popped into town for our traditional welcome to Spain lunch of calamari with pan y alioli.

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Posted in 2016 Xmas

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