Bucket list – One

The sun streams over the horizon as day breaks over the north of England. I am sat watching people with delight, as I finish my early morning breakfast. It’s 6.30am and most people are downing copious amount of lager and other objectionable slop disguised as a decent pint. I’m reminded that I am in an airport lounge waiting to hear my boarding announcement and for the rush to get a seat that’s already reserved.


“What am I doing?” I text hastily to a friend. I don’t do things like this. What has changed? Have I really become that carefree? Well, I wouldn’t go that far, but I know one thing, the bucket list has begun.

My plan initially was to visit Prague. I’ve always wanted to go despite being given the dubious title as being the “Gay capital of Europe”. Not sure about this, my experience of Gran Canaria over ten years ago and the renowned ‘Yumbo Centre’ left a bitter taste. Visiting an outdoor run-down 70s shopping complex, which reminded me of the center of Peterlee, with its brutalist architecture, rather than the idyllic pinnacle of “gay culture” it was supposed to be.

So I am worried. Will I hate Prague? Will it disappoint? I am only there for a long weekend so I’m not going to get bored. Quickly on to the plane. I don’t mind admitting I’m a nervous flyer. I don’t mind the bit when you are up in the air it’s the plummeting to your death at 500mph I’m not so keen on.

Sat glued to my seat, the flight crew start their preparations for takeoff. To my annoyance, no one is taking notice of the safety instructions. I am scared. Others are getting their picnics out and some are playing table tennis, one child is playing hopscotch up and down the aisles. LISTEN TO INSTRUCTIONS!!!! I scream in my head. No one does.

As we take off I am reminded of the time I flew with my friend and I am clinging to the armrest. I thought to myself what difference does it actually make if I am clinging to it, that’s not going to save me.

I know I have my weight to worry about when flying. Will my fat arse fit in the seat? Will my fatness be ridiculed? Bing bong … “Leanne can you bring a fat belt down for 3C?”.

In the air, there are a group of lads that seem really fidgety. Maybe they are just as nervous as I am about flying but when they turn off the seatbelt they immediately jump up to form a queue to the toilet. Drinking six pints before you board a plane certainly has its drawbacks.

I decided it would be a good idea to have wine. Why not? I am a grown up. I am on holiday. I am allowed to enjoy myself. The wine was aptly named “Kissing Tree” or have I read it wrong, due to its subtle acidic tones and a hint of landfill, I thought should be called Pissing Tree. My flight with a budget airline has begun.

The guy next to me is drinking Stella. He was one of the guys who needed to the loo straight away. The second time he gets up and he’s apologetic. I have to apologize even more, to the bald chap in front of me, as each time I try to get up out of my seat I struggle and manage and hit him on his head. Just imagine the old guy that Benny Hill used to slap and you have it. The third time he becomes really annoyed and thinks I was doing it on purpose.


We land and there is a rush to the exit. You think it was a group of five-year-olds on a school trip rather than a plane full of adults. I am transported by a pre-booked taxi to the hotel. There is limited transport from the airport and I read previously that the most reliable way is to take a car.

The hotel is busy and I’m looking forward to going out exploring the city. Rain starts to fall and I take shelter in a cafe. The beer is a comfort for my aching limbs and I eventually make my way back to the hotel.

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the barefoot tree

Still grumpy

Gari Wellingham

UK-based musical theatre geek previously living with a brain tumour!

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