As I had 21 of you look at the blog yesterday (21!) I thought I had better update you all on the last week in the UK, the flight, the first day and what I have got up to today as well. So, settle back and prepare for a long one.
My last week started with the Monday off, which was spent with Mum and Dad after they arrived back from France. I had cleaned the kitchen for Mum and through the day I ironed (this is ringing bells, so I think I have blogged about this before, so I’ll skim over it).
At work it was a question of tying up loose ends, asking Abbey and Xennya if they needed me to go through anything else and clearing my desk, drawers and posting off some paperwork (which as an aside arrived today). We went out for Tapas on Wednesday, drinkies on Thursday, I stayed over at Becky’s which meant I didn’t have to go home in the evening / and on Friday I left. It was very sad, I was very sad, and I couldn’t go back after lunch. Not because of anything other than to leave to go to lunch, to go back to the office was physically and mentally impossible. I know that that decision would have surprised or even upset people, but those who were there to see the state of me when I had my presentation would have understood.
I was a mess, still they liked the plaque I had made for the ‘ML Memorial Library’ it made them laugh, which was the idea! I went for lunch with the ladies, and had a few Bloody Marys and a Dirty Martini – I don’t need to have another one. Mum appeared about 4ish she had a couple of G&Ts and as no-one else appeared after JBS went off for dinner, I gathered my things together and went home, feeling very sorry for myself and all excited at the same time. Unfortunately as we disappeared into the underground, Peter arrived at the pub, so he called my upset that he had missed me as he had also had to leave early on Thursday night. I texted Peter back to say where we were going to be on Saturday lunchtime, and Mum and I chatted all the way home.
We went to Sainsbugs to get some stuff for dinner, confused Dad as he hadn’t heard Mum on the phone say we were going to the shop, so he wondered where we had been *sigh*. We then had barney number two of my stay as I was trying to show him what I had been given as my presents, and he just wasn’t interested. He wanted to tell us about what a shitty day he had had driving. Hmmm. I wasn’t impressed and then when Dean phoned me to say goodbye, Dad then put the TV on. Hey ho, it’s over and done with now, but at the time, I could have throttled him.
The Saturday morning, Liz and I met for coffee, we have had a hard month or so, and the pair of us were pleased we had a chance to meet before I left. We had a coffee in Starbucks and talked properly about all that has happened over the summer, alternating between tears and laughter. She gave me a hug like I haven’t had from her before when we said goodbye, then Mum, Dad and I trained it up to London to say goodbye to yet more people.
One of the most annoying things about emigrating, is that you have to say proper goodbyes to people. Now I know that sounds daft, but you just try saying ‘Goodbye’ when you know deep down, you may not see some of them again. You can’t say ‘See you later’ or ‘Speak to you soon’. You just try it, it is heart wrenching, and I have been doing it for about a bloody month!
We went for lunch in All Star Lanes, which is an American Diner with a bowling alley attached, chosen by me for the food (great) people watching (even better) and not for the quiet ambience (ahem). We shouted at each other and when we’d all eaten our fill, went to the pub, when we came out to Bloomsbury Square, it was like walking into a vacuum it was so quiet compared to the diner. In the pub Sonia brought some fizz (of course) and we toasted each other, laughed a lot and best of all – Peter popped up to say goodbye. Now I am not saying that Erika, Ian, Sonia, later on Pete her hubby, Mum and Dad aren’t important because they are, but Peter and I have a great relationship at work and we were both upset he didn’t get a chance to catch up with me on Thursday or Friday. I also got to meet Cassie his wife, who was lovely and someone he talks about all the time, she said to me the same thing that others have said about Gresham, no partners or wives ever get invited to any functions. Which is odd, and makes socialising outside of work with your colleagues quite difficult.
From that pub we went to another pub, then pizza express, then toddled home. My sides were aching from laughing so much but saying bye to Erika and Ian was horrible. When Mark walked out and left me, I was at work, I called the first person I could think of Erika, who normally had her phone off, but today she had it on, and she heard it. Describing this to one of her friends she talks to online, she said she felt grateful that I had said ‘Help’ and that she was able to help me.
On Sunday Mum and I packed and repacked my case. It took three sodding hours and in the end I called Dan on his mobile saying ‘I can’t get it anywhere near 20kg’. In the end at the airport it weighed 29kg, but the stupid bint on the counter told me that when you emigrate, there is no baggage restrictions. I wish this had been pointed out to me before, then I could have packed everything else in another suitcase as she was surprised I only checked one bag. Grrrr.
I made a curry on Sunday, it was one of my better efforts, melt in the mouth chicken, absolutely amazing. I also spoke to Patrick, Caireen, Dorothy and a couple of other people on the phone. Monday morning rolled around after an early night, we were getting up at 4ish to get me to the airport early, so I could try for an upgrade – no chance the plane was full as there had been problems with delayed flights into London the night before, so it was choka with people that had missed flights on Hong Kong and Melbourne on Sunday. We have been watching Ever Decreasing Circles on DVD while I have been living at Mum and Dad’s, and I tried to watch the last of them before I went to sleep, but after watching one, falling asleep in another, then skipping to the last one on the disc, which wasn’t the last episode – the one I had really wanted to watch, I gave up and crashed out. The morning came really quickly, one thing was good about getting up at 5.30 every week day for the past however long, 4am wasn’t that early! Dad appeared by the side of the sofa bed, and scared the living daylights out of me. I have been getting so hot I have been sleeping in the nuddy, putting my jim jams on to get out of bed. He sat down beside me and stroked my arm, so I reminded him that I would frighten the natives. Dad put the kettle on and I got up. I had laid my clothes out the night before, I only had to put my jammies and the clothes I had been wearing on Sunday in the case, then I was done.
Mum had made BLTs for the journey, and we went back to get them when we drove past Gareth’s old house. We made the rest of the trip up to Heathrow without having to go back for anything, although we stopped at Peaspottage Services, apparently they clean their toilets at least once an hour. Not that night they hadn’t.
We parked up, heaved the case out the car and eventually found our way into the departure lounge. We queued for about 10 minutes, checked me in, got rid of my bag, wondered why I hadn’t packed the other one, then brought a coffee. Paul arrived about 8ish and we spent another hour and a half chattering about everything and anything. I need to let him know when I am up and running on t’internet then he has lots of little projects for me to do for Today’s PA. All very exciting.
I had to board at 11.20, so I went through at 9.45ish, to give me time to hit the shops and change into comfortables. I gave Aged Ps a big hug and a kiss, only a few tears this time, and zig zagged my way through the queuing system, waving every time I appeared in Mum and Dad’s view. My bag got searched on the other side, I had a can of deodorant in it, the machine didn’t like it, and 10 minutes later someone bothered their arse to stop talking to look through it. He confiscated it, saying I couldn’t take it on the plane. But I could by another one in Boots 10 metres away.
I brought DG his aftershave, me a Mulberry bag – £421 eeek. But I reckoned I earned it with all the early starts and strife over the years. My flight still hadn’t been called so I got changed into my sexy flight socks, tracky pants and vest top, then changed bags to use my new one.
We went via gate 1a, next to the BA lounge, the people using it look most miffed to see us waiting for the flight to open. We then had to get a bus halfway across the airport to our plane and walk up the stairs – too bad if you were in a wheelchair. When I found my seat, a really sweet Dutch guy asked if I would mind swapping, but I explained that I had pre-ordered my meals so I couldn’t. His flight had been delayed into London so he’d been split from his girlfriend. They were going travelling for 4 months, covering Australia, New Zealand, America and South America. They were so excited, but couldn’t sit next to each other for the first huge flight, but had seats together from Hong Kong.
We were late leaving, by the time we were nearly taking off I was dozing, I woke up to eat (shock) and as I was gluten free, was served before the main cabin. By the time they had been served, I had taken my sleeping tablet, put my mask on, earplugs in, sorted my head rest out so I didn’t loll around and was spark out. I woke up to find a snack on my tray, went back to sleep again, woke up for a drink and something to eat. I watched Leatherheads, And When Was The Last Time You Saw Your Father? Read a bit, tried and failed to find Tetris on the games and was told ‘Girl, you can sleep’ from the Australian lady who was on the aisle seat.
We got off at Hong Kong, I was in the shower (bliss, bliss, bliss) when I realised that although I had tucked my duty free out the way, my snoozepad, eye-mask, best flight socks, earplugs etc had fallen on the floor when we landed. True enough when we got back on the plane, they were missing dammit.
I brought a bottle of water in the airport to have on the flight to Melbourne, but was told I couldn’t take it on the plane, so could I please drink it? Why sell it then? And it was a good job it wasn’t a bottle of vino tinto. The Dutch guy had moved further back in the plane, so we had a spare seat between us. One Aussie family did well, they had the 4 middle seats, and no-one sat in front of them, so their two boys were able to stretch out and sleep into Melbourne. They had had permission to take them out of school for a tour of Europe, on the condition they kept an online diary for the rest of the school to read. They were a lovely family. In front of the boys was a lady with a 4.5 month old little boy, travelling on her own, still breast-feeding him he was as good as gold, until she had to wake him up on our descent into Hong Kong. He was having a lovely sleep, and looked like a grumpy old man when she lifted him out of his cot, he soon settled though and we didn’t hear another peep out of him at all. He charmed everyone who walked past him, including the air stewards and stewardesses. Most of the flight he was babbling away to himself, waving his legs around in the air, bless him.
We landed late into Melbourne, and I whizzed into the disabled loo to get changed from my comfortables into something more presentable to meet DG, queued to get though passport control, waited for my bag, not quite the last one off, but nearly, queued to get through quarantine, was told they didn’t know why I had been sent through there as I had nothing to declare except a flippin heavy bag. Then there he was, waving a stuffed koala at me.
We have spent about 10 weeks apart, but by the time we had finished hugging, kissing, crying and laughing at each other, generally bouncing around on the spot, it was like we had never been apart.