2003 Discovering Britain & Ireland – Day 30

LONDON TO SYDNEY – Goodbye Britain, it’s been a pleasure

Monday – today I fly back home to the Land of Oz.

These past weeks have gone so fast and I have seen so much not to mention single-handedly boosting Kodak film sales not to mention the British economy.

I am carrying back practically an entire library of books from everywhere I have been and because of the extra weight of the books, I plan to wear as many clothes as I can to try and avoid the excess baggage charges. That is going to be very interesting because it is Summer and HOT!  Not to be put off I have on my heavy Colorado walking shoes, thick socks, jeans, shirt, jumper tied around my waist. Another cardigan type jacket over my shoulder and my coat draped over my bag. The weather is going to be cold when I arrive home so maybe it’s not a bad idea after all – anyway that’s what I tell myself as I slowly melt!

In my main suitcase are all the books and the rest of my clothes. The cabin bag contains my cameras and films and things I need on the plane. The Insight shoulder bag is stuffed with things that I have bought over the tour – the Wedgwood plates, the Waterford Crystal, passport and tickets etc. I also have an extremely large paper carry bag that is holding about six teddy bears including the one from Harrods who has his head popped out the top. I look like the Michelin Man on a shopping spree! I hope I don’t have to get out my cameras in a hurry or it could turn nasty!

Downstairs at 11.00am to check out – they look rather strangely at all the ‘winter’ clothing I have draped over my body or it could be the sweat – sorry ladies,  perspiration – that is running down my face – mainly because it is about 30 degrees outside. I decide to wait for shuttle bus to take me to the airport. I do not want to do anymore sightseeing. I sit around in the foyer for about 4 hours. The bus arrives about 4pm and I am on my way to Heathrow. It is no mean feat trying to juggle, carry and cart all that I have.

I immediately grab a trolley and proceed to unload everything onto it. Arriving so early (about 6 hours early), I cannot check in for a few hours yet so I just amble around pushing this monstrous trolley and look in the shops. Enough is enough and I find a seat and sit and read. At least it is cool in here. The flight is due to leave at 10.30pm and check in time finally arrives. I head up to the counter. The airline person looks at me – looks at my bags on the trolley and I lift the suitcase onto the scales trying to smile and hoping that she will think that it really isn’t heavy at all.

Being allowed 22kg, the bag weighs 29kg. I am sure that she feels sorry for me and does not charge me excess allowance and proceeds to put a big red ‘HEAVY’ sticker on it – what a charming lady. As I look like the Michelin Man she’s most probably thinking to herself ‘ Darling when you get home try and shed a few pounds.’  Little does she know and I breathe a sigh of relief.  On a positive note my cabin bag is under weight and I get away with all the other stuff to carry on the plane. Mainly because she doesn’t see it.

The Harrod’s teddy is smiling – – he can come back to Oz with me.  She gives me a British Airways boarding ticket and I go into panic mode. ‘I am flying QANTAS’ says I – ‘that’s right’ says she– ‘but I want a Qantas plane’ says I. ‘All the boarding tickets are printed on British Airways paperwork love, you will have a Qantas plane’ – says she. Sigh of relief and everything is OK once more.  With no big case to worry about I decide to have a little wander.

When I am out of eyeshot of her I proceed to shed the layers and stash them into the bags.  I have some British money left – so I decide to spend it on little souvenirs for everyone. I also buy some chocolates for me so that I can console myself and I won’t feel so bad in leaving.  We get on board and I am dead. Spare seat beside me again so spread out.

Find some music – Glen A. Baker is on – but a different year – and put on the flight path screen. All I want to do is sleep but yep you guessed it – here comes the food. Supper consists of: Chicken Breast with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Vegetables / Raspberry and Lemon Mousse and Coffee.  Feeling rather stuffed to the gills I settle down again – but wait – here comes Snack on Q – the overnight bag with all the goodies. Thank you – just what I needed.

Sleep – sleep. The flight home is definitely worse than going over. And just when you thought it was safe to keep on sleeping – – the noise of the trolleys start again and wake up it’s breakfast time!  I decide on the hot breakfast::

Orange Juice, Fruit Salad and Blueberry Muffin / Bacon and Sausages with Slow Roasted Tomato / Coffee

Sounds wonderful until it arrives and there is an egg laying on top of it. Yuk!! Discreetly wrap the egg in the serviette – trying not to throw up – and enjoy the rest. I am not in the writing mood on the way home so do not have any flight details. You’ll just have to take my word for it that we are extremely high in the air and heading home.

Arrive Bangkok – decide to go ashore again to stretch this tired body. No DVT for me – – so I commence the airport shuffle – around and around and around. But not to be side-tracked I take a photo.

This is my plane – at Bangkok airport. Isn’t she a beauty?  Surprisingly I have a bit of money left – not much mind you – but enough to buy some orchids. Back on the plane – and back to sleep.

Woken up by the sound of the trolley and it is time for Dinner – Oriental Vegetable Salad / Fish Fillet with Lemon Caper Butter and Ratatouille / Cheese and Crackers / Coffee and Magnum Ice Cream

More sleep – wake up about 4am – breakfast anyone? – are they kidding? I have already had breakfast – but now we are in a different time zone and of course I want breakfast.  Just the mere mention of the word food and I start to salivate!  Breakfast consists of : Orange Juice Danish Pastry / Toasted Muesli Fresh Fruit Platter.  I am nearly home. We are due to land in Sydney at 6.00am and are right on target.

Sights of Sydney – it’s just the best place – and yes, I used this photo in the previous journal.  I cannot move to get my camera and anyway – it can take another look.  Maybe it’s because I am tired but seeing home makes me get all teary.

The Harbour – the Bridge – the Opera House.  So glad to be home – and touch down. Get together all my gear – check the seat pocket, check the floor, check overhead – make sure I have everything and head off to retrieve my suitcase. Getting a trolley is the first priority.  Can hardly lift my suitcase off the roundabout and onto the trolley – head for customs.

Anything to declare – yes the orchids – it is listed on the declaration.  The quarantine dog is sniffing my bag and they ask me if I have anything else. No I say. The dog is still sniffing. Mongrel thing. They ask me to lift that beast of a bag onto the counter – and that is no mean feat. I could swear that the dog is smiling! If I didn’t have so much stuff I would have kicked it! I’ve broken out into a sweat at this stage.

Open the suitcase – take everything out – and I do mean everything – and what is there hidden away in the corner but the bit of wedding cake I got about 5 weeks ago in Greta Green still wrapped in the cellophane bag. The dog has a smirk on his face as if to say ‘I knew you had something in there you crook!’ I imagine myself being carted off to who knows where and I tell her I completely forgot about it and ask can I eat it now instead of turning it in but she smiles and says no that is OK you can take it with you. Just goes to show how sensitive those dog’s noses are.  After packing everything back in my bag (much to the delight of the queue that has now backed up for 5 miles) – I am off to quarantine with my orchids.  They come back from examination minus the greenery and I am off.

Stuart is there to meet me and I am glad to be home. I am so tired – the trip home is so long and after all the time spent touring and walking I am looking forward to some serious extended sleep in my own bed with my own pillow.

Just can’t wait to start planning the next one – – – – so many places to see and so much to do.

Highlight of the day: my beautiful harbour!

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