December 2009
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Las Vegas – Gateway to the black country

I’d heard – although not really believed – that the new British Airways route from Heathrow to Las Vegas was not just to get British tourists to Sin City. Apparently it also gave Americans a whole new way to travel to Europe.

People fly to Las Vegas to transfer onto another flight? I thought I’d believe that when I saw it. And then I saw it.

The girl sitting next to us on the transfer from San Francisco clocked our accents and asked for some advice.

“Do you know how I can get from the airport to Birmingham New Street?”

She did indeed pronounce the “h” in the name of the city, which to be fair is the way that it’s written.

My first reaction was what a nightmare it would be having to do that on the train on your first trip to England and particularly when there’s a little bit of snow on the ground which is often enough to grind the whole country to a standstill.

Apparently it’s because of the snow that she was having to do this. Originally her English friends were coming down to meet her at Heathrow but a dusting of snow mean that it would be “easier for everyone” if she got the train instead.

That’s the kind of friends I know I would fly around the world to spend Christmas with.

I tried my best to help including launching Tube Deluxe on my iPhone as a visual aid. Having no idea whether there was a way to avoid central London (maybe you can get to Watford Junction or Milton Keynes) I showed her how the Picadilly Line almost went to Euston station (but not quite) and said that I thought that would probably be easier than having to get underground at Victoria with a lot of luggage if she took the Heathrow express. Then I wished her good luck.

“Are you staying in Birmingham for Christmas?” I asked.

“Actually they’re taking me to Willenhall”. Which she also pronounced with an “h”. I could hardly contain my excitement.

“Is it quite a small town?” she asked.

“It’s got a market”, I offered.

I’m sure there’s a Christmas tree somewhere too.

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