Considering my doubts about the seating on the A380 I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was, in fact, the perfect spot (other than having to sit next to a complete stranger in the window seat). The seats were roomy and the cabin spacious plus the spot next to the toilet gave us a nice wide aisle. As a bonus there wasn't the anticipated stream of people to use the loo either. The A380 is very quiet so you don't have that constant white noise assault on the ears and it's possible to actually hear the movies through nice, comfortable headphones. So, the A380 is definitely a winner but we weren't so lucky with the next flight on the 777 to Glasgow.
The A380s land at Terminal 3 and our Glasgow flight was to leave from Terminal 1, which meant a train ride and a lengthy walk to get to Gate B1. In a positively weird scenario we were allowed through the gate but then that just took us to an awaiting bus which seemed to drive us the length and breadth of Dubai before we disembarked onto the tarmac where we had to board the plane via old-fashioned steps to the rear of the plane. Later, I learned that the departure gate had been changed to B11 and we had actually been driven all the way back to Terminal 3! My estimation of Emirates efficiency took a bit of a nose-dive after that I have to say. No one was told what was going on and everyone was hot, tired and grumpy by the time we embarked, half an hour or more behind schedule.
The flight was tolerable but the shambolic proceedings to get us in the air seemed to have affected the crew as well and they seemed to be out-of-sorts and disorganised. They didn't even have enough landing cards for everyone so that held proceedings up at the other end when half the plane had to stop at immigarion to complete their cards. Small details but when added together can make the difference at the end of a long and tiring flight.
We did enjoy the food though! For the first time in the history of Alex flying she actually ate the meals. We had opted for Oriental Vegetarian and it proved to be a good choice (except the noodles at breakfast which I just couldn't face). The meals were lighter and full of nice fresh vegetables which didn't leave us feeling bloated and over-full. My chief complaint is that fluids are sparse. If you want to maintain hydration you have to keep asking for a drink as the little pots served with meals and the drinks round after meals barely suffice to keep thirst at bay. One thing KLM did right was that they had crew constantly circulating with water and juice, even through the night when most people were asleep, and it certainly helped.
On arrival at Glasgow airport we had to disembark onto the tarmac again and the whole arrivals process was rather fraught. The lines at immigration were the worst I've ever seen in Glasgow. The queueing system made no sense, even the ground staff were complaining, and the whole sorry mess was made worse by the horde of foreign students which were on the flight who had to be processed separately and which took up two of the Immigration officers. This would not have been so bad but we had 4 Chinese students in front of us who decided they wanted to go through with the rest of the non-EU passenegers so ended up slowing that line as well. Not to mention queue-jumpers that sneaked through. All in all it was not the best experience but we finally navigated Arrivals at a snails pace and made it through to the baggage carousel which was mercifully free of the usual crowd of passengers (they were either still crawling through the immigration procession or had preceded us already).
The next step was to make our way to the Car Rental area and the Thrifty desk where we encountered a very talkative Scotsman who took out first prize for the slowest car rental transaction ever. He was friendly and pleasant but after a 22 hour trip from one side of the world to the other we just wanted to be on our way, so his complaint of being tired because he had to work a late shift followed by an early fell on unsympathetic ears. He joked about only being able to give us a Skoda and then handed us the keys to a brand new Jaguar. Finally, we were almost ready to roll. With a three and a half hour drive still ahead of us we were keen to be on our way but we had to stop first to get a few supplies so we drove to Braehead and made a quick dash into Sainsbury's.
Leaving Glasgow city we headed for the motorway north but the gods of time management were truly against us and we immediately stuck a traffic jam that saw us crawling along at 5mph. With no alternative route we had no choice but to stay put and wait until the jam cleared as we watched our planned arrival time in Drummuir slip further and further into the distance. At long last the traffic started moving and we left Glasgow behind us.
By the time we made the turn for Dufftown and Drummuir it was dusk; but at long last we were looking out for the landmarks that would show us the way to Lower Towie Steading. Past the village, timber yard on the right, houses on the right then, on the left hand side of the road - our goal!
We played an impromptu game of hide and seek looking for the key safe but eventually found it and once in the kitchen were welcomed by a bottle of Italian sparkling wine and some homemade Gooseberry jam sitting on the bench. At around 8.15pm were familiarising ourselves with the house followed by choosing bedrooms and unpacking essentials. By now I was ready to drop and could have slept standing up but it took until just after 10pm before I succumbed and climbed the stairs to my bed.
I was mortified to find that the bedding was made of feathers - pillows and duvet - and I immediately tossed the pillows aside in favour of a synthetic fibre one but I had no choice with the duvet as it was the only bedding to be had. Exhausted I crawled into bed and hoped that I wouldn't wake up wheezing.
It had been just over 29 hours since we left Perth; 18 and a half of those in the air.
More on the steading tomorrow.