Hi everyone, hope you’ve all had a good few weeks. I can confirm that it’s been a challenging few weeks for me. A busy job ((get the violins out people)) means the old brain matter has had enough by the time I’ve escaped for home. Switching off has always been difficult for me, which is why I never go for a responsible job – I’m not quite sure how I have managed to get this job! Anyway, I have managed to get into a routine as per my last blog. It takes quite a bit of adjustment and commitment to keep focused on writing.
I’m currently speeding across the Norfolk Broads at approx. 5 MPH. As I said in my last blog, I wasn’t sure about the wi-fi etc for my blog so through the power of WordPress, I have scheduled this and included the first chapter of my Travel Journal.
Now a few pointers before you read it ((Here come the excuses people, I know what she is going to say; basically, ignore all grammatical mistakes as it hasn’t been professionally edited)) normally I ignore brackets but that is pretty much spot on. I really wanted you to get the feel of the journal – the final version WILL be professionally edited as soon as I’ve found someone. Any comments/advice/thoughts are welcome, I know a lot of writers’ wouldn’t consider putting work out there unless it was 100%, but I’m happy to take the fall-out from ‘showing’ my work too early. Writing is all about learning, and sometimes you have to make mistakes ((that’s lucky for you!)) and learn from them. So, here goes:
This trip was to Singapore, New Zealand and Sydney;
Setting off – Day 1 – Monday 18th February 2019
After spending the morning panicking when I’ve realised that all our stuff doesn’t fit in the cases… Shit! I took out a few bits and added them to our ever-increasing rucksacks. The idea was not to have heavy rucksacks. My back is playing up after I pulled a muscle doing a skydive in October ’18 and my Other Half has sciatica problems, added to that fact he’s also pushing on the door of being 50, part of the reason for this trip, I won’t go on about the possible mid-life crisis I’m not acknowledging. We’re definitely not going to be the kind of people that you see hitchhiking at the side of the road; figures barely discernible as humans due to the size of the backpacks attached to the front and back of their bodies. We would basically be in the hospital inside of a day – well I would, the other half is made of sterner stuff.
We never travelled or had a gap year like a lot of my friends in their younger years. (I’m obviously going to get into trouble for this comment, as it suggests they are now old!) They embarked on the backpacking, travelling adventures in their teens/early twenties.
For various reasons we never did this, my number one is that I bloody hate camping, or ruffing it. I mean really hate it. I get told off for saying this word, but I’m just very passionate about things, I might hate some stuff, but I LOVE things; like Cappuccinos and Porn Star Martinis, so it all balances out in the end.
On the holiday front, I never went abroad as a kid. We’d go as a big gang with other families to Butlins etc. so holidays abroad were not something I ever aspired too. I’d also never thought about the wide world that much. My first holiday abroad was going to Faliraki in Greece with my housemate, after my big adventure at the impressionable age of 21 and moving from a small village to York. During this holiday I met the Other Half; after a holiday romance. Fast forward twenty years and here we are. So, this goes to prove I shouldn’t be allowed on holiday!
I digress – back to day one…
At 11.30 am we get collected by Chris’s (OH) parents who are kindly taking us to the train station. Sitting on the station it all seems surreal, this adventure we have been planning for two years, talking to our friends and family about. The day is finally here. It’s been a rocky road in some ways, we both applied for unpaid leave, which was granted and then shortly after they offered redundancies at my place of work. At this point in my life, I’d started writing a book in April 2018, and finished it bar all the editing at the end of April, and this, at 43 years of age started my writing career, I won’t bore you with all the details. If you care to check out my blog it will tell you all about it. Anyway, I decided to take redundancy and spent the 7 months before this epic journey writing and networking.
Back to day one… sorry got distracted…
The train arrives on time – which will be a theme for the holiday. We’re fortunate in that way it seems. Even a delay later on in the holiday results in me watching a film whilst drinking wine – I will take that for a delay any day of the week.
On the train, I have to ask a woman to move from our pre-booked seats, but she moves without putting up a fight; with maybe just a hint of irritation at being moved. We settle into our journey to London. I cannot help but earwig on a conversation a woman is having with what I deduce is her soon to be or already ex-partner. I will never know why people have such personal conversations in public places, but hey what can you do but listen. Be careful people, a writer might just be listening…
After a smooth and comfortable journey, we arrive into Kings Cross and drag ourselves, the cases and the heavy rucksacks across to St Pancras where we navigate a lot of pissed off looking people and head to the pub. We find a spot and order drinks and food. The table service does make life easier. During the wait, we reflect that we cannot believe we are here. This is the start of our dream holiday. What will happen? Who will we meet? Will it all go as planned? Lots of questions waiting to be answered.
I, of course, spend the time checking we have our passports, documents and continuously wonder what our first international flight will be like. The feeling is more so that we are in disbelief that the time has come. We are firm believers that you gain as much pleasure from waiting for a holiday as doing it. Spending weeks, months, years knowing you having a holiday to look forward too, really helps those long days at work and the dreary dark nights.
After killing a few hours, we head back to Kings Cross to catch the train to Heathrow. It takes 45 minutes; this is 45 minutes spent trying not to look at anyone on the underground. I’ve visited London many times and feel I have perfected the thousand-yard stare. It can be challenging to master – if you don’t get it just right you either look mad or people will be in your face asking you why you’re staring at them. A group of musicians get on and treat us to 5 minutes of music before offering their caps up for some cash. Good on them, it brightens up a boring journey. I think the advertising companies are missing a trick by not plastering the tube floors, you have a captive audience right there desperate for something to look at.
Arriving into Heathrow, we make our way to check in. We have been lucky enough to fly many times before, but this is our first international flight. We decide to brave the self-service check-in points as we’re grown-ups, sophisticated and tech-savvy; obviously, my passport doesn’t scan (insert rolled eyes) I rant a bit about this later.
We stand in line. Is it just us or do some people take like a gazillion years to do anything??!! Honestly, there is epic faffing going on, bags on, bags off the check-in weigh scales, cases opened and closed. Surely you weighed your bags before you left? Or people take coats out? WTF, why wait until check-in, you idiots!
Wait for it, wait for it, someone then moves one of the sectioned off security barriers for the queue– which by the way no-one seems to acknowledge in the terminal – not quite sure why they have them. Then we have, wait for it; the queue… stand off!! One of the best and most exciting things to behold by a Brit. A man and a woman are at the front of the queue, next in line. The pusher in is hanging about in front, get this – in front of the couple first in the queue. Looking around, all the Brits in the queue are waiting with bated breath at this development. No other nationality seems even to notice. The couple shuffles forward a couple of steps, and turn their bodies – a clear Brit indication that they have your number and no way in hell are you getting past. The Brits anxiety levels are through the roof. We hate (that word again) queue jumpers, it infuriates us, the audacity! The Brit might even have to say something, actually articulate their displeasure in words. The queuing Brits inwardly gasp, eyes wide with excitement. This makes the delay to checking-in completely worth it.
Finally, the two people at the check-in desk move on, and the couple head to the counter at lightning speed, only to be turned away as the official has decided she’s taking someone from another queue. Gutted. They shuffle back, hoping that another Brit will recognise that by the rules of queuing they should be allowed at the front.
In the mean-time, the ‘pusher in’ has made his move further forward. You can almost slice the tension with a boarding card (if we had one) what is going to happen?? The couple by this time are back, and position themselves in front of the pusher in. Finally, the pair faffing with their overweight bags sort themselves out, and the check-in desk is free. The Brits bodies are leaning forward, all thoughts of holiday nerves forgotten. The pusher-in makes his move, but the couple sprint forward faster than my hand reaching out for a free drink on the plane. The checker-in gets three passports waved in her face. She does not look happy, which is pretty much ‘the look’ in all the airports I’ve flown from. It seems their main aim is to be grumpy. Although, we discover that this is only the UK airports I’ve flown from; in every other airport the staff manage to smile, be friendly and still do a professional job. I think our workers need to be sent on some customer service courses. Sorry to any of the nice ones in the UK – might we just haven’t crossed paths.
Anyway, back to the desk…
The pusher-in tries to explain something to the couple, but they have closed their ears and minds. They were first. End of. The checker-in has to explain to the couple that she asked the pusher-in to come back. Oooohhhhhh dear, this has not gone well for the couple, they have been defeated, everything they ever surmised about queues has been dashed, they might as well go home now. Holiday ruined. They stuck to their queue rights, and they lost. Heads down they try to return to the queue, but everyone else has moved forward to the red line, so they have to stand in shame beyond the red line; something utterly alien to a Brit.
The queuer’s sigh, we live for scenes like this. This tale will reach far and wide – well I’ve put it in this travel journal, that’s how important it is. What a great start to our holiday. Predictably we check-in and it goes smoothly, and we are bagless in approximately 5 mins. Again, we comment on why it takes others so long.
We get through security with no problems and hang about in the terminal until it’s time to check in. Again, all goes smoothly, and we’re on the plane, predictably people are faffing taking stuff out of their bags, holding up the whole of the flight. Why do people not do this before? Why? Finally, we are seated, and I bag the window seat – result! Chris had bagged it, but because of people faffing the air stewardess came over to sort them out and she gestured for me to take a seat after she had shifted them– what could I do? Winner.
It’s a novelty having a screen and films available to watch on the flight, you don’t get these on short haul flights. The trip goes smoothly, other than trying to get to sleep, even though these planes have more room I still cannot get comfy. I did contemplate trying to sneak into business class – I’ve got my laptop with me after all. But, decide it’s not worth it.
We enjoy two meals on the plane – well I say enjoy; they are not bad for plane food. We found out we get free alcohol! Again, as a Brit, we love free stuff, especially free alcohol. Plus, I mused on the flight, if we crash landed like in the series Lost – at least I could enjoy a glass of wine while waiting to be rescued. We arrive into Changi airport in Singapore a little earlier than planned, surprisingly the nearly 13-hour flight has been okay. Before this, we’d only logged 4.5hrs as a maximum flight time, this doesn’t seem that much different.
Whilst I have the luxury of editing this at home, I’m able to look up these fascinating areas we have travelled over. I look at the photo’s I’d taken out of the window. Even though phones are not supposed to work in airplane mode, the photos have the location on. During the flight we flew over Ahal; Turkmenistan (which borders the Caspian Sea and Afghanistan on the mainland) amazing that life is happening right below us while we are flying halfway around the world.
Day one of the holiday is over, and we are ready for the sights and sounds of Singapore. I’m not sure we are ready for the humidity though…
Day one total cost: £33.40
I hope you have enjoyed this little snippet from my travels. The plan was to self-publish this in the summer but with all the other things I have planned I’m not sure if I have the time, and I really need to find an editor ((Yes, that’s one thing everyone agrees with you on))
As always, feel free to comment on here, or on twitter – I’m really interested to hear your thoughts. I will try and check in from the boat…
Have a good few weeks 😊 x