It could be said that our trip was doomed from the outset given that the tickets were booked just 48 hours prior to our departure and the suitcases finally loaded the night before (or in my case the morning of!) the big move. This was largely due to the fact that neither of us were particularly fussed about going to live in Manitoba. Mum because she likes Ontario and that’s where the other two are. For my part it is because the only reason I want to be packing substantially is for a flight back to Europe. Anyway, we had anticipated that getting the cats into the cat carrier would be challenging – 2 hours of chasing Silsoe around the bathroom hissing and scratching like a cartoon cat (unfortunately he is a ‘scaredy cat’ and not of the ‘curious’ breed that Amber is). This was followed by a car journey of meowing all the way to Pearson airport but at least we had them in their carriers and the hard part was over… or so we thought!
Navigating our way around Toronto-Pearson Airport with four suitcases, four hand luggage containers and two cats did not appear to be too difficult and despite the notices and the WestJet online warning that animals must be kept inside their carriers at all times inside the terminal building we managed to get some water in and out pretty successfully and get bags and baggage checked in ready to go. Therefore due to the many notices we were shocked to find that we were actually expected to remove both cats from their carriers so they could go through the security scanner. What a load of drama! How could we remove Silsoe and not loose him in the airport? He would not even go into the carrier from inside a tiny enclosed bathroom!! So we tried to discuss this with WestJet who said it was airport policy and the airport staff who said we should talk to WestJet… compulsory security check in an un-enclosed area for animals to easily escape, notices all over the place contradicting letting animals out and a previous experience all combined to really p*** us off before we had even got on the flight.
The flight itself was pretty uneventful. A slow 2½ hours spent staring out the window and watching civilisation becoming replaced by enormous lakes and dense forests from Northern Ontario until our destination in Winnipeg. I found myself considering how expensive domestic flights are in Canada seeing as it was the same sized aircraft that ‘Ryan Air’ use and took us roughly the same time it takes to get from Bristol to Malaga for example. How easy it is in Europe to be in another country full of history and life in a matter of hours. Mum ended up chatting to the guy sat next to her who seemed pleased to be on one of his final trips to Manitoba and told us we should not bother going to Thompson… this all sounded very promising; not!
We had managed to transfer Silsoe into the other carrier in Toronto meaning that our scrawny little cat ended up in the already over-sized carrier and Silsoe in the smaller one but they seemed much calmer upon arrival. I on the other hand was not. My suitcase had got covered in some slimy crap from somebody else’s suitcase and by some coincidence it had also ended up on another of our suitcases – all over it. Then outside, as I was pushing a trolley loaded with the four slightly slimy cases, somebody decided it would be a good idea to park right across the pedestrian crossing in front of the airport exit, forcing everyone to manoeuvre with their suitcases around the vehicle. In my case this was unsuccessful and the cases went flying toward the illegally and ridiculously placed car. Canadians in general are a friendly bunch and around here perhaps even more so than in Ontario so I expect that the woman who tried to help me get them back on the trolley had a bit of a shock to hear me screaming ‘it would never have happened if those idiots knew how to drive’ or something to that effect, probably slightly less eloquently put. She actually turned out to be one of the idiots belonging to the car-party which pretty much made my journey