Thursday, July 12, 2012

Just where did that five and a half weeks go?

Enjoying a coffee with John and friends near the Parramatta River
I've actually been home three weeks now, and am just about back to the grindstone called "retirement". Not back to computer training yet, but committee work yes, website and newsletter editing yes.  Also I am three weeks into a four week online training course called Your Military Ancestors , so that's keeping me busy.

I shouldn't have gone away.  In my absence the Computer Club scheduled me to train Facebook beginners on my birthday!

St Pancras station
But back to my travels.  My last day in London was very pleasant.  I had picked up an all day travel card from the Underground the day before (yes, you can pay ahead), so I caught a bus and train into Kings Cross/ St Pancras to look at the architecture.  I've been there before of course, but usually rushing around to catch a train. It's a fascinating place.

My friend Julie in Sydney wanted me particularly to see the interior of the hotel - a magnificent building, but I couldn't find the public access - I'd approached it from the wrong side.

I saw a sign to the British Library, and since it had been 37 years since I'd been there, I thought I'd take a look.  I was so pleased I did.  It's not only a brand new building (well, since I'd last visited), but there was an exhibition on, called Writing Britain.  This exhibition highlighted the places that authors wrote about - industrial, rural landscapes, the river and the sea.  It included manuscripts of famous books.  I spent almost two hours there.

Then it was time to go back to Clapham to pick up my luggage, which the hotel manager had kindly stored for me.

My Qantas flight was not until 10.30pm, but I wanted to avoid the rush hour, so left Clapham around 3.30pm.  I caught a bus across country to Knightsbridge.  The Piccadilly line was the easiest way to reach Heathrow without paying a premium, but you wouldn't do it when the office workers were travelling home.  Not with a rucksack and two other bags.  (I travelled light to California and England with only two bags, but purchased another because I was taking home at least a dozen books on local history).

With this being the third overseas trip in five years, I've learned how to pack now.  For the first time, I wore every item of clothing I'd taken with me.

I'm pleased that I took both a laptop and my iPad though.  I had thought of just taking the iPad, but whilst great for reading the Sydney Morning Herald and planning my travels with various apps, it was not easy to use for updating my blog or editing photos which I then uploaded to Facebook.

I watched virtually no television whilst away - apart from the Jubilee concert - and didn't miss it.  I decided to keep up with Australian news via the SMH.  The English were immersed in the European Cup and the Leveson Inquiry  so I just let it all wash right over me.

I spent no more than 10 nights in hotels, but when I did, I didn't turn the TV on once.  Instead, I used the time to edit the day's photos, catch up with Facebook friends and write my blog.

And at Southampton, Ange and I would sit contentedly at the dining room table, each with our laptop.  She'd be looking up museum opening times or finding a train timetable for me whilst I'd be editing my photos. Or we'd be swapping family history tips.

The less said about the flight home the better.  It's always a chore, unless of course you go first class.  The flight was slightly delayed reaching Singapore, and we Sydney travellers had to change to a BA flight and there was not even time for a comfort stop. I still like Qantas better than BA though.

We reached Sydney on schedule at 5.05am, and having missed the announcement mentioning my name on the flight, I waited and waited for my second bag to appear on the carousel. I finally found that I was one of four passengers whose luggage had been left behind in transit.  I'd last seen my suitcase in London, but at least it was in Singapore, and flights from there were more frequent.  The luggage arrived home by courier within 10 hours, and at least it was one less bag to carry to the taxi.

With very little traffic heading out to Parramatta at that time of the morning, I was home in a flash - well 45 minutes anyway, and surprised both John and his support worker who was busy vacuuming the lounge room.

I suggested to the support worker that he take an early mark.  It suited everyone!

I tried to stay awake for the day to adjust my body clock to Sydney time, but I found it impossible.  It took me almost a week before I stopped falling asleep at 7pm.

But the downsides of travel are few compared with the wonderful holiday I'd had - almost entirely due to the folk I shall mention in my next and last posting.


1 comment:

  1. thanks Margaret, a beautiful end to your blog story of your family history do interesting, wonderful blogs!