Gardens and Family History are our main aims for this trip to UK. Our British ancestors came from all corners of the British Isles; Cornwall and Devon in the south; Yorkshire and Durham in England’s north; the Borders region of southern Scotland; and both Northern Ireland and Eire.
But every journey from Australia starts with a long plane journey half way across the world before you get anywhere.
Ours began in Canberra on a -3℃ morning as we flew to Melbourne where it was much warmer, but grey as usual. One of the most important things we do to help fill in the time between checking in for a flight and boarding the flight is to purchase our duty-free allowance of grog for collection on our return. This saves time and queues when there is that last-minute rush by most people on arrival back home. When this system was first introduced some years ago, the duty-free outlets offered an extra 10% off your purchase as an encouragement. Gone are those halcyon days! Comfortable in the knowledge that our grog was already in its collection bag, we trotted off to the airline lounge, in our sturdy walking shoes – there’s a lot of walking to be done before we get back to pick up that grog.
It took the usual four hours to clear the Australian continent. Lunch was served and well and truly eaten and the remnants cleared away before we farewelled our home country. Quite a number of zzzz’s were punched out by Jennie, while I filled out the little Spirax diary, day by day, so I don’t get too lost during the journey. I photograph the appropriate page first thing each morning so it marks the difference between the end of one day and the beginning of the next. It certainly divides the sunsets of one day from the sunrises of the next. I know that the camera records the date and time a photo is taken when the capture button is pressed, but when all the thumbnails rattle up on the computer screen on download, my way visually delineates the days!
Our Thai jet for the scheduled 9½ hour flight to Bangkok (BKK) was a 15.7 year old B777. We arrived in BKK at 20h25 where we took a break in the airport hotel until the next leg of the journey.
The Suvanabhumi airport (opened in September 2006) is constructed of a strong metal frame over which glass and fabric form the skin.
The next flight took us to London (LHR), in just over 12 flying hours time, leaving BKK at 12h50 and arriving at LHR at 18h55. Our B747 was quite a spring chicken at only 12 years of age. Did you know that the oldest 747 still capable of flying is 44 years old! It’s first flight took place on 13 July, 1969, was the fifth 747 built by Boeing and was delivered to TWA. Since March 1975 it has been in Iran “working” for the Iranian Air Force (ref: Google).
Co-incedently, my Peter is in Seattle for 10 months overseeing the assembly of Jetstar’s first B787 Dreamliner. This aircraft is the 123rd Dreamliner to be built. Only this week Boeing began building their first stretched Dreamliner, the B787-9. It will carry around forty extra passengers than its little sisters.
The paddy fields near the airport are all flooded to grow the next crop of rice.
It was a gloomy afternoon as heavy cloud still hung around after a sudden thunderstorm.
The paddy fields of Thailand were in sharp contrast with the lush green fields of the English countryside
Windsor Castle in all her glory.
It was a brilliantly clear and sunny afternoon for our arrival. England, and for that matter most of Europe, have experienced a particularly cold and wet spring so it was good to see that things had changed for us! Will it continue?
Those stout shoes were more than ever necessary for the kilometres we seemed to have to walk along corridors and through tunnels to get to the central bus station. From there, we transferred by bus to Gatwick airport (LGW) where we again spent a night in an airport hotel, the Premier Inn London Gatwick. On arrival, the warm British welcome one usually gets was not forthcoming – there were instead a bank of check-in machines – all with as much character and humour as a robot! No warmth, no smiles, no wise-cracks, not even a robotic voice, just screens demanding info. Eventually a human turned up to give the robot and us a hand to complete our check in. All this could have been done by the human in the first place, thereby saving a lot of confusion on our part and sorting out by the human. It also keeps humans in a job and as the “robots” needed a full-time carer, what’s the difference?
Meanwhile, Jennie has come down with a head cold so we haven’t got off to a flying start. Here’s hoping yours truly doesn’t get it too – you know what men are like when they get sick – there’s never enough sympathy! Our flight from here will take us to Newquay in Cornwall where our ‘tombstone kicking’ and garden wanders will begin in earnest. David
All photography Copyright © DY of jtdytravels