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Of sleep and airports

Getting up in the morning full 40 minutes later that normal for an otherwise regular arrival at the office did nothing for my customary beginning-of-the-day discontent – I still felt denied the pleasure of staying in bed a bit longer… I also ended up staying late at work. Hope there is no correlation, or I should be worried.

It occurs to me that my sleeping philosophy closely resembles that of my pre-teen daughter. Becky, true to her genes, is not a morning person (although, she has been coping admirably well with her intolerably artificially cheerful father waking her up at 7 in the morning, when she would have preferred to sleep until 11). Yet, she refuses to go to sleep earlier than 11 at night, refuting our contention that she’d get more sleep that way with a simple “I will still be grumpy in the morning”. While I make no such sweeping statements, I often find myself staying up later than I should have, knowing full well that I have to get up in the morning much earlier than would have been my choice… My excuse? After 10pm is the only time when I can spend some quality time with my lovely wife. We have tea. We talk about important things. We watch TV. (what do you expect me to do – write blogs instead?) By the time we retire to bed, I have already passed on an hour or more of extra sleep. How can I expect my own daughter to be more sensible?

Like, whatever…

Our last visitors of the season arrived, and as usual, the already tiring cross-atlantic trip was further exacerbated with an ordeal of getting to our house from Heathrow. It is truly unfortunate that of five London-area airports, Heathrow is the least convenient for us to reach.


Luton is 59 miles away, of which roughly fifty are spent on a freeway (albeit with low speed limits on some portions). Internet directions suggest about 1hr 15min to get there from our house, and I think it is fairly reasonable. Not that we ever needed to go there yet.

Stansted is 40 miles away. The first fifteen or so repeat the Luton route (and mainly lie on a limited-speed freeway), but the rest is a fast motorway. Certainly less than an hour.

Gatwick is a tiny bit closer, 38 miles away, but almost all of the distance is via a motorway. 35 minutes with luck. 45 minutes, tops.

London City airport is only 10 miles away, half of it on a reasonably fast freeway. Google Maps tell me 24 minutes to cover that distance, but with luck it could certainly be less than 20.

Now, Heathrow is only 26 miles away. It is located in westernmost part of London, while we live in South East. You literally have to cross the entire city to get there. And with London traffic, 26 miles can easily stretch into two hours of stop-and-go crawl. Add two hours of this on top of ten or so hours of travelling, and you get rather exhausted visitors…

You can get to Heathrow via the city Orbital motorway, which is almost always faster. The problem with this approach is that it is 62 miles long, which makes it the longest, distance-wise, of all airport rides. No problem when you are in a chauffeured limo. Not exactly appealing when you are behind the wheel.

Actually, it is just a tiny bit farther away than Luton. But the fact that it is two and a half times longer distance than the direct route makes it considerably less palatable.

Very few flights from America arrive at Gatwick and Stansted, compared to Heathrow, and none at City. We ourselves will fly to and from Stansted in August, on MaxJet. Another business-class-only airline, Eos, also flies there. Yet another of their brethren, SilverJet, flies to Luton (and from Newark, no less, which could make it especially attractive for some). But the vast majority of US-bound air traffic is at Heathrow.

Oh, well…

Anyhow, the guests spent two nights, took a swing around the city, and departed for Paris on Eurostar. A lot of catching-up was done – and a lot still remains. They will be back next week, once Kimmy is out of school, so that the kids can fully enjoy playing together. We’ll also have a chance of joining them for some of the sightseeing. Should be fun.