So, here we are. Mid November and just 40 days until Christmas. Despite my working life revolving around the festive season, I can feel mild panic brewing already.
Only a week ago we departed steamy Singapore in 34 degrees Centigrade and arrived in London with the mercury only just reaching 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Apart from the temperature, the contrast between the two city’s airports could not be greater. Singapore’s Changi is approached along a broad avenue of palms and Bougainvillea and is surrounded by manicured tropical vegetation. The 3 terminals boast a total of 7 public gardens (featuring ferns, sunflowers, orchids, butterflies, cacti, bamboo and heliconias), koi ponds, leafy relaxation areas and countless exuberant orchid displays. It is all part of Singapore’s ambition to become a “City in a Garden” and the reason why Changi is one of the world’s most revered and environmentally friendly airports.
Heathrow, in complete contrast, has all the charm of a sanatorium. Those who know me well are aware, as a result of my frequent rants, that there is very little love lost between me and our “International Hub” airport. Dull, austere and clinical, its dreary terminals offer little more in the way of vegetation than a few dusty peace lilies. Outside the buildings there’s an incomprehensible concrete tangle of roads and multi-storey carparks with the odd stumpy tree here and there. Not the most impressive welcome to the UK, a country known worldwide for its love of gardening, but offering every excuse to get away as quickly as possible.
The new Terminal 2 will apparently “transform passenger experience at Heathrow”. If they follow Changi’s example, perhaps we can look forward to features such as a wildflower meadow, prairie plantings, a rose garden ……. even a herbaceous border. And why not, we achieved great things at the Olympic Park this year? Somehow I think pigs might fly business class first.