Whichever way you look at it, Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 is a wonder of modern day design. It wasn’t always thus : its opening was notoriously hit by technical problems. But today, from the moment you step off any form of public transport, it’s a well organised building, easy to navigate and – as there should be at a major air hub – friendly staff who actually help you.
“Just there, but where are you going?”
“Don’t buy a ticket – go out there. Stand 6. The 423 is completely free to where you’re going.”
And it was. I still couldn’t believe my luck, not least because an almost identical trip last year resulted in a complex online booking system which offered non-existent discounts. But it turns out it all depends how close to the airport perimeter you are. The local buses will charge you at Heathrow, but if your hotel is within a certain distance, it’s free. As ever, local knowledge pays off. As does a friendly service desk at the airport.
And it didn’t end there either. The blandness of just another bar in just another airport was replaced by this beauty.
The village of Longford is a picture postcard place, spoiled only by the hulk of Heathrow behind it. A local couple explain to me that there are half a dozen of these villages around the airport, many of them on the A4, which used to be the old coaching road west to Bath. And because of that, inns like the White Horse still exist, thriving today on thirsty airline passengers and crew.
The White Horse, though, takes pride of place, as it appears to be one of the few decent places within walking distance of my hotel. And even if it wasn’t it doesn’t matter, because the pub runs its own free taxi service for customers. Unsurprisingly, the result is a busy Sunday evening with good food and even better beer.
In a conversation that could have got messy, Keith explains that he likes to rotate his real ales, like any good pub should. But he’s not sure about stocking craft beers, as they come at a premium price. With regular ales coming in at £3.80 this place is keeping its own in the market, yet not going down the route of overcharging a captive audience.
If I wasn’t flying to the States, I might just spend a week here.