Saturday 18 March

The run to the airport from my parents’ house this morning had been clear until we hit solid traffic just outside the terminal. I then spent an hour in the check-in queue, and another half an hour getting through security. The departure boards indicate that flight GF004 has an additional stop at that hideous hell-hole of an airport, Abu Dhabi, just before Muscat where I have to change planes. I can only hope that we do not have to disembark there.

I’m probably more irritated because I had been saving a book to read on this trip (Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde) for several months and then managed to leave it on the train from Nottingham yesterday. I do try not to fret about the possibility of having left behind an essential item of kit, but events like this don’t help. I feel that if I can obtain a replacement copy in the airport, then the apparently bad omen for the start of the holiday can be reversed. My hope of finding a replacement are not high, so my spirit is significantly buoyed when I do indeed locate one on the far side of the lounge in Books etc. Things are looking up.

At the gate I spot another KE traveller, whose wide-brimmed leather hat I first noticed in the check-in queue. He turns out to be Terry from Plymouth, and is on the same trek as I. Boarding starts at 10 am, ridiculously early for an eleven o’clock flight. I don’t rush, reluctant as I am to spend any longer on the plane than absolutely necessary.

We touch down at Abu Dhabi 6.30 pm UK time and wait on the plane. We hear that just eighteen people are disembarking here – and ten of them seem to be missing. A check of boarding passes ensues. After much to-ing and fro-ing of worried-looking officials, we finally pull away from the stand. Only to return a minute later. The captain apologies that one of the engines will not start.

We finally reach Muscat one hour late (engine problems apparently solved), but our connecting flight to Kathmandu also is delayed so there are still more than three hours to kill.