We eventually took off and had a fairly uneventful flight (unlike last time). There were some noisy, if not offensive women on the flight. I was guessing they were just speaking so loud as their ears hadn’t popped yet, so I slipped on my noise cancelling headphones to drown them out, then wished I had paid the extra money for those Bose ones as I could still hear them.

We made up a bit of time, arrived, deplaned (yep, that is the actual correct word which they use for disembarking a plane. They use it in the announcements on American Airlines. Presumably then you also decar, detrain and deboat) and headed off to passport control. You may have heard over the Summer about problems at Spanish passport control; we may have found out what the problem was. (Stop press: what I am about to tell you is only half the story. Remember all those Daily Mail headlines about the problem being due to Jonny Foreigner not being happy about Brexit and not putting enough staff on? Actually there was a strike on, that was why there were delays. Shame on you Daily Mail, and shame on you people who buy it (even if it is just for the crossword). But less of the politics, back to my ramblings and whimsey.) 

A lady was saying “European Passports to the right” and began sending us to the automated booths. I have no problem with them, however I did worry about mum and dad. Dad and technology don’t mix. (Except for the Sky remote. He seems to comfortably know his way around all the Sky Sport channels, even some of the red button stuff, but struggles to turn on his computer.) The other problem is that we were all split up. At least in a queue if there are any problems then you can always turn to your fellow passenger for support. In fact, in most UK airports (by “most” I mean Liverpool and Manchester as they are the two which I use the most) you now go through passport control as a couple. But with this system, you are sent into a forest of booths where you stand in front of a screen and are asked to do all manner of things. 

I like to think of myself as reasonably tech savvy, but even these things unnerve me. I stood in front of the screen, placed my passport on the scanner and looked at the camera. I saw a picture of myself which looked liked a really bad 80’s polaroid with red eye. I had to wait for the beep. The beep took a long time coming, but eventually it happened. I then had to put my index finger onto the scanner. The next hurdle was working out which finger was my index finger. There was even a little diagram, and yet, in the heat of the moment, I panicked and stuck my thumb on the scanner. I quickly changed it and stuck any old finger on the scanner. It told me to proceed to the gate which I did, when I then had to place my finger on a scanner to exit. I placed the finger that I thought was the correct finger and waited. The gate stayed shut. I waited a bit longer. No movement. I looked over at the lady that was assisting people. She looked away. Eventually and unexpectedly the gate opened and went through. It was obviously just thinking about recognising my finger print. 

I stoped at the other side of the gate when the aforementioned lady suddenly paid attention to me and shooed me away. “Keep moving!” she bawled at me. I went a little further on and then turned around to see where the rest of family were. Nik, came through next, then Karen. Dad was the next in the queue but was sent back by the shouty lady. What had he done wrong? To be honest, if it isn’t Freecell, dad really has no time for computers, so I dread to think what he scanned. Mum came next and eventually dad (who had forgotten to scan his finger the first time.  We also think that he may have used the finger which he picks his nose with as after the lady wiped the scanner it seemed to recognise his finger print). 

After we had picked up our cases we headed off to the car hire office. The thing I do like about hiring a car is that you get to try out new cars. I was quite disappointed in Madeira when I ended up with a Kia Rio which I already drive anyway. We had ordered a Corsa or equivalent. I joked to Karen the other week “I bet I end up with a Rio”. Guess what. Yep, I got a Rio identical to the one I drive every day. The same black interior, the same controls, the same everything. I had even bought my mobile phone holder and charger out of my own car with me so the interior now looked identical (minus the Uncle Joes Mint Balls). The only difference was that this was red (which I liked) and was a petrol model which only had 5 gears (which I didn’t like). As we pulled onto the motorway I felt exactly like I was driving to work, just driving on the wrong side of the road. Then we hit the traffic jams and idiots getting into the wrong lane and I definitely felt like I was travelling to work. In fact I’m sure that I heard on the radio on the traffic updates news of “La Trafford Centro” and “el log jam a Eccles Interchange”. An hour or so later we arrived at “Villa Rustica”. 

Stop Press: It would appear that the beige twins were actually Khaki and brown. It’s all beige to me. 

Tomorrow: La Villa Rustica