It’s the day before our flight comes, and it’s time to head to the hotel. This is going to be the big give away – we only ever stay in the Gatwick Holiday Inn for one reason.
Still no-one knows. I have this dream that the first time anyone finds out is when we send them a photo stood outside the Statue of Liberty (one last ditched attempt to hide our true location), but I’m also conscious this isn’t going to be achievable.
We jump in the car mid afternoon, set off and I purposely don’t set the sat-nav.
Fortunately we’ve been so many times the car knows the way. I’ve hinted that we might be going on a short cruise – Sue’s not sold on this, as she doesn’t believe I would take her on a short 4 day cruise plus it wouldn’t be that big a deal to go on a cruise, so why the secrecy? Apparently the thought of Vegas had sprung to mind, but she had dismissed this due to the shortness of the holiday and the fact she knows I would hate the idea. But she’s suspicious this is an early morning departure if I’m taking her to a hotel the evening before.
As we travel down the M1, I head off for the A43. Sue knows the route to Southampton well, and now she’s confused again. Especially when we head down the M40 – she’s well aware that we normally come off one junction later onto the A34. But of course we don’t and I continue down the M40, onto the M25 and at that point she’s sussed out our destination, and equally established that we are flying BA – Gatwick and BA reward tickets go hand in hand. Slight smile starts to creep across her face, although she tries not to let it show.
I’ve stopped trying to hide this part of the trip now, but she still doesn’t know where we are heading.
Morning arrives and I go out and get the bags we need for the trip. I’d loaded a couple of extra items that we wouldn’t be taking again just to throw her off the scent.
I had made her promise that she wouldn’t check-in on facebook or text where we were to the kids, so that I could keep up the secret for as long as possible.
A quick taxi ride to the terminal, and the next stumbling block is Check-In. I quickly scan the departure board for the check-in desk location.
“What time do we fly” Sue asks. I don’t answer, and head for the BA desk. A quick word with BA terminal staff and they direct us to the special assistance check in. I convince Sue to wait in the queue while I manoeuvre the trolley to the desk when we are called forward. I’m lucky that BA operate generic desks for all flights, so the destination isn’t on display.
I put on my best smile and chat to the check-in clerk.
“You’re not going to believe this but my wife has NO idea where she is going. Is there anyway we can keep it that way?”
The clerk is very accommodating. She calls Sue forward for the mandatory passport check, and manages to put the luggage tags on the cases without the destination showing.
“I hope you’ve brought your snow boots” she says, unprompted. “Shhhh” I say.
Sue laughs knowing that I would never take her to a cold. snowy, icy destination. But then again…
The clerk points us to security and I keep hold of the boarding cards and I’m expecting someone to spill the beans but no-one does and we manage to get through the checks.
This is too good to believe.
Next job is to collect Sue’s buzzer for the special assistance who will take her to the plane. I try my luck once more and go to the desk on my own. The staff on the desk are even more obliging, grinning and cooing with each other re: what a lovely husband I am, while Sue just keeps saying “I haven’t a clue”. You can hear my brownie points clocking up like the score on a pinball table.
We have breakfast in the terminal and Sue secretly scans the departure screens to guess where we are going. Unfortunately I’ve told her the wrong departure time, so she’s looking in the wrong place.
The buzzer goes off and we head for the special assistance desk, to find the guy with the wheelchair saying to the staff “I’ve got someone for the Vegas flight”. They quickly shut him up and fill him in on the surprise, Sue didn’t catch what he had said and we were still good to go.
As we are exiting the lift and climbing onto his buggy, the special assistance team are stood waving to Sue from the mezzanine above, shouting to her to enjoy her trip. Bless ’em.
The buggy trip is quite a trek, and we pass gate after gate and it dawns on me that the cat is about to be out of the bag, as of course the destinations sit above the gate.
It lasts a moment longer as he drives past our gate a little before pulling up.
Sue reads the sign above the gate. Face, in shock, tells me once again, mission well and truly accomplished. Gate staff and aircrew equally stunned that she has only just found out where she is spending the next few days.
I couldn’t have planned that better if I had tried, except for maybe blindfolding her before heading for the gate.
Additional brownie points when she finds I’ve booked Premium Economy both ways, and of course, she didn’t get to find out about Donny and Marie until half way through the stay. I do like my surprises…
I managed to get Sue to hold off posting anything until we actually arrived in Vegas although we didn’t quite manage the photo as planned, by which time the kids had already figured out we were probably in America given the length of time we had been offline. Their reaction was equally pleasurable to watch as their mum filled them in on the days events.
My original aim had been to get Sue to Vegas without her knowing until the very last minute – I had not imagined that I would get her all the way to the gate, and pulling it off gave me a great deal of satisfaction, and I hope that all of those that I kept in the dark will truly understand why I wanted there to be no possibility of it slipping out.
The rest of the trip is indeed history, yet to be documented, but you can watch the rest of our stay in our video diaries if you like.
I’m hoping to create one final video where we give our verdict on our first trip to Sin City. If it happens I’ll let you know.
So, that’s the story of our best kept secret to date. I thought my sneaky 35th anniversary preparations in Mexico would took some beating, but this one worked so perfectly, I’ve come to the decision that it will be the last secret I spring on Sue, as I could never hope to top this one.
Thanks for following us and we hope to see you back again soon.
Rob and Sue.