Well today is my last day here. It feels like I have been away for much longer than the six weeks I have been gone. Well I fitted everything in and my bags ended up being lighter than when I arrived, I can’t work that one out! Mind you I have vacuum packed a lot of things which can make them lighter. Kylie and Tom were driving me to Heathrow, which was very nice of them as it would have been awkward going via public transport. The Railway Stations here (Underground and Overground) have lots of stairs you need to tackle, and very few have lifts.
We left early so we can go to a pub for lunch. We stopped at one on our way, called The Crown at Turners Hill. It was a lovely pub, quite old and oozed old world charm, it even smelled of salt damp, which reminded me of home. I did manage to embarrass myself there, but luckily no one was around, I was so busy looking at the gardens I went into the men’s toilets, it took a while to twig! No one was in there .. phew!
The drive to Heathrow was uneventful, no road closures, accidents or delays. I bought a few last minute items, like a cushion and pencil sharpeners of my favourite London things (London double decker, phone box, letter box and London cab). These will sit nicely on my desk. I said my goodbyes to Kylie and Tom, then ventured into the departures area. JAL give you a ticket to go into the British Airways lounge, this was quite swish. I didn’t eat anything as I had a rather large lunch, so I stuck to a few vodka and oranges.
Going to the departure gate, it was a bit of ‘spot the westerner’, I was the only one for quite awhile but eventually a few others came. It is the first time since I have helped at the primary school that I felt so tall. I was at least a foot taller than most J.
I am on the flight now, I have a Japanese lady sitting next to me who knows absolutely no English, so a quiet trip to Tokyo. The air hostess is lovely but also knows not too much English which is surprising we don’t have someone who does as there are a few Aussies in my section. Oh meal time soon. I am going to spend some time transcribing the Foreign Office records we got at Kew, to make easier reading. Mainly transcribing written interviews with my ancestor Richard Bielby and a few others on their time whilst imprisoned in Russia by the Bolsheviks. Nice plane reading!!!!!
Sort of had a sleep on the flight, it was 12 hours long. Jesus (Je-sous) who was the friendly air steward on the flight over to England was on this flight, but this time he was working in another section. He was walking past right at the end of the flight, recognised me and stood and chatted to me for about ½ hour. This was a nice end to the flight, I learnt all about where he lives, his business he has going etc. I am now sitting waiting, waiting, waiting for my next flight. I have nearly 5 hours to kill, so I have plonked myself at an observation window watching planes land. Nice and quiet here!
Wow that was a long 5 hours, I was frightened I’d fall asleep so I eventually moved to the departure gate. I watched the workers go on and off the plane, cleaning, maintaining, delivering food, freight etc. Boy the Japanese work hard and seem to be very thorough and everything has to be ‘just right’.
This leg of my flight back is from Narita to Sydney. I have had the same seat 21H for all my flights (premium economy). This leg of the trip has very few people. Usually in this section it is full and has the capacity of 40, but tonight there are only 12 of us. So instead of sitting in the aisle seat I moved next door to the window for a change. Hopefully I can get a bit more sleep by not being in the aisle. There is quite a bit of turbulence, but only minor, actually just like driving on the Hamley Bridge road!!!!
I managed to get a bit of sleep, actually fell asleep just after tea (fish and veggies, salad & cottage cheese, fruit & panna cotta), just hope I didn’t snore, when I woke up all the lights were dimmed and the whole plane was asleep. I can’t wait to get home and have a shower to freshen up!
Well I bombed out straight after tea, didn’t sleep too long but rested till around 4am. We arrive in Sydney at 6.30ish. Breakfast was a funny Japanese gluten free style .. in one container they gave me 2 slices of cucumber, 2 slices of tomato on a bed of cabbage leaves with a sprig of parsley and vanilla yoghurt … LOL .. plus some fruit salad! Oh well I shall eat up in Sydney airport. My ankles are ballooning out.
Sydney was just on sunrise when we flew in, what a lovely sight it is … the airport was very busy with all the overseas flights arriving, we were circling for about 30 minutes just west of Newcastle as we were early. I got through immigration very quickly as I had the new style passport with the microchip in, it was very quick and easy, I checked myself through without going near the desk of humans! I had nothing to declare in customs so straight out. Boy oh boy did I get a surprise, there was Hugh to greet me, Craig flew him over a few days ago as he missed out on coming to the UK with us. That was a very lovely thing to do. So I had help with my bags, we checked them to go onto Adelaide and then got the Qantas shuttle bus to the domestic terminal. We went up to the Qantas business lounge to have something to eat and drink. After traveling on Japan Airlines where the planes are absolutely spotless, the staff very polite, softly spoken and gracious, it was a shock to go on Qantas. The airplane was dirty, it looked as if the carpet hadn’t been vacuumed for quite a while. The staff were ‘tromping’ around like elephants, talked very loud so half the plane could hear them, it was quite a shock and that was in business class. The seats we much roomier though. JAL airline seats are very narrow (I just fitted in) and they have a big pouch like thing stuck in the seatbelt which is the airbag, which is uncomfortable after a while.
Craig was there to meet us, we dropped Hugh off home. When we got home it was a cup of tea first, unpack bags THEN shower .. so much needed. My ankles are like elephant ankles, but I am sure they will go down when I sleep tonight.