May 30 + 31 – The Big Day arrived – Off to England

A Long Journey

Hi from Gillian and Michael of 1066 Medieval Mosaic

In May 2018 our daughter Rachael suggested that we begin another website to document both the photographs of our three years in the UK and a diary of each day’s events. Mike had already been doing the photographs on his website www.1066.co.nz so I had to backtrack two years doing a diary using our geocaching notes, photographs and notebooks. It is a pity we did not do this from the beginning but between the two of us, we should be able to manage it.

Monday 30 May 2016

The big day has finally arrived. Now I really feel like I have retired. We were all up and ready to go at 8. Barb had the day off work so that she could take up to the airport. We reweighed our suitcases and took out a couple more things including our jackets which are heavy and bulky. At 9 we went to Ballantynes to buy 2 Merino tops for me using 2 Ballanytnes cards which we bought using our Westpac Hotpoint. Then we went to Noel Leeming to get a new laptop case for me as the catch on my other one is broken and some headphones for Michael. We had an early lunch and then headed out to the airport by 1 pm. We are taking a suitcase each, Rachael’s cello and a blue bag with our games. The four pieces of check-in luggage came to 57 kg and we had a travel allowance of 60Kg. The two laptops, a handbag and backpack gave us 4 pieces of hand luggage.

Barb left at 2,30 and we went through customs to the departure lounge. We were on Emirates flight EK419 on a Boeing 777-300. We left at 3.55 pm right on time sitting in window seats 34 J and K all the way to Dubai. The first flight to Sydney took 2 hours. We had a lovely meal of Aubergine dip which was nice. Mike ordered lamb biryani but found it too spicy so I had it and it was very nice while he had chicken with creamy mushroom sauce. There was also a slice of banana cake and chocolate. We talked to the guy next to us quite a bit during the flights.

At Sydney, we had to disembark taking all our hand luggage, go through Australian customs, and back onto the same plane which all seemed a bit pointless. People with water bottles had to empty them to go through the screening process and the customs staff were very aggressive with anyone who forgot. It was a bit of an unnecessary hassle in our opinion.

We were an hour on the ground before we took off for the 9-hour flight to Bangkok. This seemed like a very long way and it was dark the whole time. We were very fidgety and uncomfortable but there was no room to stand up without getting in other peoples way so the only time we got up was when the gentleman next to us got up. Dinner on the Bangkok flight was Crushed Walnuts and pomegranate dip followed by Beef Ragout which we both had and carrot cake and chocolate. Later in the flight, we had Lamb and Rosemary Pie. Mike tried to sleep but I didn’t manage it at all. Luckily each seat had its own TV with huge numbers of movies, series, radio, children’s programmes etc plus a games console which certainly helped with the tedium. We arrived in Bangkok at 1 am local time where we had the choice of getting off the plane with all our hand luggage or we could stay on. We stayed on the flight which turned out to be the wrong decision as the cleaners came on which made things a little difficult.

Next, we flew to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This flight was six and a half hours. We had breakfast of juice, scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, spinach, and croissant with jam and another lovely cup of tea. The food was very good, the stewardesses were amazing and the entertainment was great. We arrived at 6 am local time (2 pmĀ  NZ time). So we had now been travelling for 22 hours. At Dubai, we disembarked and got on buses to take us on the 20 min trip to the main terminal. After going through customs I was taken aside for a customs search. After a few hours in the airport and a 15-minute walk, we boarded at gate 29 EK015, an A380 airbus which was a much bigger plane, being two-storied. The layout was the same as the 777-300 with three seats by each window and four in the middle. The difference was that the seats were wider and there was more knee and leg-room so I decided to make sure we always booked the A380 on subsequent flights. This last flight was much shorter, about 6 hours. We were in seats 59A and B and the flight left at 7.40 Dubai time (3.40 pm NZ). Also this time we had no one next to us in seat C so we didn’t have to disturb someone every time we wanted to get up. The plane was also much quieter and very smooth. There was also quite a space to stand near the doors so I got up to stretch more legs a lot more often. This flight had an even better selection of movies. We had breakfast and lunch on this flight. Always plenty to eat and drink to break the tedium.

Yay, we are in England, 37 years after our last visit! We landed at Gatwick airport on Wednesday 1 June at 12 am NZ time (11 am UK time if I remember rightly) and after collecting our two suitcases, cello and four pieces of hand luggage we went through customs, and Rachael was waiting right at the front of the crowd grinning from ear to ear. It is several years since we had seen Rachael so it was very exciting to see her again. Cuddles all around. We were about to go when I realised that we hadn’t picked up our blue bag with our games and books. I had to go back through customs despite it saying “Do Not Enter”. They let me back in and there was the forgotten bag. The car park is multi-layered and Rachael was a little unsure where she had parked the car. At one point we all stopped while she got her bearings before heading up or down another level. For some reason, I then did a quick count of our luggage and realised we were one short. Can you believe it we had left Mike’s laptop at the previous car park level? I told everyone we wait right where they were while I shot up the stairs and there was the laptop safe and sound. Phew! It could have been pinched or worse yet the bomb squad could have been called for an unaccompanied bag. Great sighs of relief all around. Not the sort of thing you want to do in an airport especially in London but I had a good excuse, we’ve now been up 32 hours. Just as well I was checking 4 pieces of check-in luggage and 4 pieces of hand luggage. Rachael found her car on Level 1 and we headed for Lewes in East Sussex.

Rachael has a studio at Zu Studios in Lewes and she really wanted us to visit this and meet her friends. It was great to see everyone although she will have to move studios soon as the whole warehouse area is due to be demolished and redeveloped into housing. We walked at Rachael’s favourite coffee shop as she hadn’t had any lunch and caught up on all the gossip. We rang David and Joan but will not go there today as Rachael has arranged for us all to go to her friend Claudia’s place in Hastings for the first three days. Rachael put the destination into her cell phone which is very new to us but will become second nature as you cannot get around without good directions. At one stage in Hastings, the phone spoke in a male voice and then a female voice was giving conflicting directions. It was so funny.

Claudia had only just moved three weeks ago into the four-storey house she had purchased in London Rd. It is all double glazed and our room looks out onto London Rd on the third floor. About 6 pm I had a shower and felt a whole lot more human then went instantly to sleep and slept until 6.30 in the morning.