I have the perfect answer to getting through an eight-hour flight in economy. Watch seven hours of Downton Abbey. I have been desperate to see it ever since all my friends in England first mentioned it and raved about it endlessly and lost the will to live when the first season was over. And where better to do so than while stuck in an uncomfortable seat with the great unwashed coughing and spluttering and snoring all around me.
With my headphones on I was able to immerse myself totally in the world of Downton. And actually feel like I was doing something useful at the same time, because there is nothing worse than that all your friends endlessly telling you what an amazing series you are missing and being utterly horrified to hear you are not already hooked.
To make matters even better, once we arrived in England, Bea and I went to a place that is not unlike Downton Abbey. We were staying with friends at Bramham Park in Yorkshire for my lovely godson Freddie’s confirmation. In fact the creator of Downton Julian Fellowes had visited Bramham with a view to making it the location for the servant’s quarters. Bloody cheek.
Bea and I had a magical time. I have not been to Bramham for many years, but used to go there a lot. During Durham University days and after we had many wonderful weekends there. Julia, my stepdaughter, learned to ride a bike on the lawn in front of the house. It is not just the beauty and elegance of the house that is so special, but the relaxed and happy atmosphere that always makes you feel instantly welcome and ready for fun.
We were very sad to leave after four sunny, fun, happy days. At the check-in queue I remembered that Etihad only has Season One of Downton. Then a miracle. “Half-price upgrades available,” a stewardess walked up and down the check-in line shouting. I quickly texted Rupert. “Go for it,” he replied. “You both deserve it.” “Do you think someone has stolen his phone?” I asked Bea. “Who cares?” she said.
We did go for it, and it was marvellous. So there’s my other top tip for getting through an economy flight: upgrade to business.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2012