I always try not to cry when I say goodbye to my precious family in Australia. But it’s hard and it gets harder every time. When a little person puts their hand in yours and says “I’ll miss you Granny” I want to blub like a baby. But I don’t. I have had to say many goodbyes in my life. To my children, to husbands, to my mother (she died seven years ago). And now I face six months without seeing my little grandchildren. Yes I have lots of friends, but it’s not the same. It’s the magical moments you miss when you are away and they are growing up. Those wonderful milestones. First steps. The doggy paddle swims when you wonder whether they will surface again. The fairies visiting with money after the first tooth falls out.
So you will understand I was feeling pretty miserable when I got onto Qantas at Sydney to make my long way home. In all a journey of 42 hours. Why so long? Well I got a very cheap ticket and if you do that you have to suffer somewhere along the line. The rain was piddling down at the airport as I climbed on the 380 – a magnificent plane if you are travelling business, which I was not. We were delayed for two hours on the tarmac. Always annoying. Then nine and a half hours. It was not too bad. I watched three films, had a G&T and wrote a few letters. Part of the problem of going west from east is you are going backwards. So you keep having breakfast and everybody else has only just got up and you have been up for hours. My body clock usually tells me when to sleep but it doesnt kick in until after I’ve done 24 hours. Then I HAVE to sleep. But the problem is this last time I had a ten hour layover in Bangkok. How could I stay awake for that length of time? I was scared I might drop off if I closed my eyes in case I missed my flight. Bangkok airport has a nasty trick of changing gates at the last minute just to keep you on your toes! Worse was to come as I pulled a calf muscle as I got off my Qantas flight. Then my eye started itching. It felt like conjunctivitis.
By the time I got on the next 380, I had one small red weeping eye and one large blue one. It was also incredibly itchy. A very large man with a really chesty wet dying of consumption cough sat next to me. I put my eye mask on and dozed off. When I woke one eye was opened, the other was stuck shut. The cabin lights were off and so I fumbled for my cup of water to try and unglue my eye. My sleeping/coughing neighbour was, by this time, leaning on me. Oh God why didn’t I just pay the money and travel business! I managed to spill water all over myself while prizing my eyelid open. I struggled, soaking wet, to where the air hostesses were having their gossip time. I must have looked like something out of a horror movie – one tiny red eye with yellow mucus cobwebs hanging across it. They gave me some saline water and I stumbled off. What a sight! A soaking top, a sticky eye and a limp!
My next stop was Dubai which was enduring the last last rumblings of Cyclone Debbie. The sad thing is I had started off looking quite tidy just in case the lovely Emirates decided to up grade me. Not a hope in hell! These days it’s all about points and that only happens if the plane is not full.
I am so pleased I said yes to my son who offered to send a taxi to meet me at Gatwick. After 42 hours even BPG had had enough. Am I getting old? Perish the thought. Has travelling become less of a pleasure? I think so. Next time I shall go back to Australia by ship. No jet lag, no delays, the privacy of your own bedroom and … a handsome ship’s doctor if you get the redeye!
Yours disgruntled, BPG x
Where am I going next? Greece … by boat!