29 Jul 08
It certainly wasn't an easy trip to Finland for World Rally Radio host Bec Williams. But she's in position now and even found time to give us this account of her rally so far...
Airports. Love them or hate them in our job they are ever present. We usually spend hours in them, wandering around buying unnecessary duty free products and drinking endless cups of coffee. Well, that is usually the case unless you are late for your flight, then it's a whole different story.
I was late for my flight to Helsinki, jaw droppingly late. The journey from home in Wales had all started so well, until I hit gridlock on the M4 motorway. Thinking on my feet I turned off the motorway hoping to find another way to get back on past the gridlock. That's when the real problems began. I had no idea where I was. Yes, there were signs but although I recognised the names on the signs I had no idea where they were in relation to Heathrow airport. They could have said Tokyo and Buenos Aires for all the good they did me. And no, I didn't have a satellite navigation doodah and no, I didn't even have a map. I was ambling down small village roads with not a person in sight trying to rely on my inner compass to direct me. At this point I hand an hour and a half to go before my flight. Panicked? Yes thanks, just slightly.
Nothing seemed to be on my side. Traffic lights turned red as I approached, selfish people strode out on zebra crossings taking ages to get from one side of the road to the other and all the while the clock was ticking and my hopes of getting to Finland were fading.
Suddenly, after what seemed like an age of travelling hopelessly on tiny roads through deserted villages wondering whether I was heading north, south, east or west I saw in the distance a shining beacon. A 747 circling above Heathrow. It was a case of 'follow that plane'!
It would have been easy if I hadn't been stuck behind the biggest lorry that man could build which was moving as quickly as the slugs in my garden. I eventually got past him and parked at Heathrow with all the drama of a high-speed getaway in reverse. Glancing at my watch I had 40 minutes till my flight departed, I ran to the terminal and to the British Airways desk - which had been moved!! To section R!! Where is section R?!!!
I found section R breathless and losing the will to live. 30 minutes to go and I thought I had missed it. After everything that had happened, with every possible thing going wrong finally something went right. I was allowed to check in. Yes, I was late and the woman at the desk advised that I 'legged it' for the plane but I made it. I may have shaved a few years off my life expectancy but at least I was heading to Finland.