Saturday, 16 May 2015

Back in the UK

It's 4.30am, I have been awake since 12.30am, David since 11pm. He's trying to go back to sleep but I have officially given up that struggle and am at the kitchen table at Tim and Marta's place having made a cup of tea and found the gluten free apple pies I got from Tescos in Ayr yesterday.

In their house at the moment five out of six inhabitants (not counting Jandal, the enormous dog) are jet lagged. Tim, Olek and Karol arrived back from NZ late yesterday morning and Tim is now reading on the couch in the lounge hoping he'll go back to sleep. I am hoping the boys are still asleep - they managed to stay awake till about 7 last night which was a valiant effort. I didn't do so well and had a bit of a sleep on the couch waiting for them to arrive home.

Our trip over was uneventful after we left NZ, but getting to that point was more interesting. I am beginning to think that we have chosen the wrong time to leave NZ as for the third year in a row,  Wellington's weather has conspired against a seamless journey. Last year we hired a car and drove to Auckland - a drive of about 620 kms (about 390 miles) as the weather was diabolical and we were proved correct in our thinking that our WLG - AKL flight would not eventuate.

We had made the plan this time that if the weather looked like being problematic we would once again hire a car and drive. David hates travelling by car so he was reluctant (esp as there had been 10 road deaths over the previous weekend - the worst weekend in many years) so it was a difficult decision - for him, not me - I prefer driving to flying anytime. The weather forecasters had been predicting gale force winds for the Wednesday but, until Wednesday, had not mentioned them in Thursday's forecast. When we saw that, the reluctant decision was made and on Wednesday afternoon I headed into the city on the train to organise a car. There are a couple of places you can hire a car on the Kapiti Coast but they are local outfits and don't do one-way hires. So through the rain I travelled (well, sat on the train, sat on a bus, walked 500 yards to the hire place). With the car safely back in our driveway in Waikanae, we finished the packing, finished clearing the house - most of which had been done by Joe as I spent ages doing the 3D puzzles that are involved in getting all the things that needed to be brought over into the four allowable bags. Of course, the 4th dimension is weight ... So packing complete, dinner consumed, it was early to bed for an early start. It rained solidly all night, I believe - I did hear it at about 3am and wondered that there was no wind with it. And hoped that David wouldn't be grumpy that the gales hadn't eventuated.

Car packed, breakfast consumed, fridge emptied and left propped open, all power points unplugged, gas, power and water switched off, house locked up and picking our way through the puddles on the driveway, we were in the car and ready to go before 8am. Our neighbours, Jenny and John, had offered to take us to the station for our trip to the airport, and I hadn't had time to see them the evening before to let them know the change of plan. So I called them from the car to be greeted by John asking if I'd heard the disastrous news about the slip blocking the road and closing the rail between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay - 40cu/m of rocks and the road would be closed for most of the day and trains wouldn't be running, the detours usually available were also closed because of slips. And there we were, with a rental car on the northern side of the disaster and an alternative travel plan already in implementation! Did I feel smug, or what!?

So off we headed, keeping up with the news about the weather and conditions in Wellington which only got worse during the day - at first the radio reporter spoke about the Kapiti Coast being cut off - as David and I cynically agreed, the KC was only blocked of its access to Wellington - we could go north then east or west as we chose. After about 10am the reporters were talking in more realistic terms of Wellington being cut off - throughout the day the heavy rain continued over the whole of the Wellington region and transport links were progressively closed - no trains out of Wellington at all, State Highway 2 through the Hutt Valley and over the Rimutaka Hill was closed. The slip between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay was partially cleared and the road was opened to one lane of traffic (this is NZ's version of the M1, mind you), but the police were asking the commuters who'd managed to get in that morning, not to try and leave Wellington but to find somewhere to stay in the city. They indicated that 30,000 people who would ordinarily have gone home to points north and east were going to have to stay put. One such casualty was David's sister Ginny who was due to fly home to Brisbane that day. She had got the train from Masterton, but with the conditions on the railway line between Petone and Wellington, her train stopped at Petone and they were told after 3 hours (by which time her flight was boarding only 6 or so miles away as the crow flies, but the crow wasn't taking passengers) that the train would not be moving until at least 7pm, ie after high tide because of the proximity of the railway line to the harbour (separated by a bank of rocks). Ginny somehow got to the airport to be booked on a flight the following morning and with the requirement to find a bed for the night. Once that was accomplished, she was comfortable. I am sure many others were not so fortunate.

The Kapiti Coast did suffer quite severely with the heavy rain, Waikanae River reached 10 year levels and a number of homes were evacuated. Raumati seemed to suffer quite badly. But of course, once the transport links out of Wellington were out of action, that became the main focus of the news. I haven't managed to find out much more, or how our house fared, but then I haven't yet phoned back to NZ...

Our drive to AKL was pleasant but a bit damp in places. We stopped for lunch at John and Adair's in Pukawa, almost exactly halfway, and then continued on. I managed to muck up avoiding the trek through Hamilton because I forgot where Taupiri was when I saw the SH1b sign to there (David was on the phone to Ginny about then and I was left to my own devices in the navigation game). We got to the car rental place by 6pm and got driven to the airport in their shuttle, checked in without delay and having explained that we had not completed the first flight and why. Then through Security (we had learned our Sydney lesson ...) and on up to The Blue Bar and Bistro for dinner and a couple of well-deserved wines (riesling for him, chardonnay for her) and the wait till boarding.

I was a wreck for the first couple of hours of the flight to Singapore - my tolerance for flying has diminished over the last year - now I not only have to worry about the turbulence and the plane's structural ability to withstand it and the pilots' competence to deal with it, but I also have to contend with suicidal pilots who are happy to take down their passengers in their own bid for self-immolation, rogue rebels or others who decide to shoot down a passenger plane because they can, and airlines that send their planes over Afghanistan because it's cheaper than diverting them over safer airspace and paying a bit more for fuel.

So until the phenergan kicked in to calm me down, I was as David described it, hyperactive. I couldn't sit still, I couldn't relax, I struggled in thinking clearly to make sure I had in reach the stuff I needed during the flight, I needed to pee, I needed a drink of water, I needed to pee, I needed to sleep, I needed to stay awake, I needed to pee, I wanted to hold David's hand, it was too hot to hold his hand, I wanted to watch a movie, I couldn't watch a movie, I wanted to listen to music, I couldn't listen, I wanted to read my kindle, I couldn't read my kindle. On it went until I finally succumbed to sleep. About the only redeeming feature of my travelling style is that I NEVER touch the seat of the person in front of me. I may drive David crazy with my up, down, turn around pick a bale of cotton maniacal behaviour, but I don't haul on the seat back of the person in front of me.

So we proceeded to Singapore, stayed in transit for a couple of hours and then boarded the flight to LHR. I was better that trip - the phenergan was still in my system and I was too tired to be too manic. I slept and watched a movie and read a bit and watched the Flight Path screen and kept an eye as we inched at snail's pace across the Afghan skies, and slept again until we were over the Netherlands. We circled London and Surrey a few times and then landed gently and I took probably my first deep breath in over 24 hours. Do you know how hyper you get when hyperventilating?

Immigration was a breeze with a cheery man at the desk with a great sense of humour, the bags arrived in quick time and we were out through Customs. And what do you know? There was Barry waiting to meet us - an absolutely unexpected pleasure! He was all dressed up in his suit and tie so it was a good thing he had a sign welcoming the Waka Huia treasures back to the UK - that's us if you didn't know.

He helped us with our bags on to the tube to Hatton Cross, wheeled one of them over to the hotel and stayed for a coffee before heading back into the city where he and Pauline were going on a dine and dance cruise. They love to dance and are good at it! We showered, went down for a small meal and then back to bed to sleep - woke at not long after midnight and watched a couple of downloaded pre-election episodes of Have I got News for You and went back to sleep till 5.30, got up, showered, packed (how does David manage to spread so many cables across one hotel bedroom floor? where do they all come from? I am sure it's that procreation programme again - when stored together in the heat of a plastic bag in the dark, they fornicate and mulitply ...), breakfasted and caught the bus over to Terminal 5 for our flight to Glasgow.

I decided that I could not cope with another round of feeling terrified so decided I would not think catastrophic flying thoughts for the duration of the wait at the gate or the flight. Hence it was a pleasant trip. I need to practise that and lengthen the duration of such thinking.

A lovely drive in a Renault Megane down from Glasgow to Dalry, and here we are. It's still not 6am - Olek has been in and tells me he's been awake since 4.30am and is now watching TV, Tim has taken Jandal for a walk. I think I'll go and have a lie down and see if sleep overtakes me for a bit. On second thoughts, I think I'll go out for a bit of fresh air and a walk around the village.


Diane and Ray said...

Welcome back to the UK now the trauma of the packing and flights are over. It's always difficult for Ray with the packing as I put out what I want to take and he tries to do the jigsaw of fitting it all in. Diane and Ray

Marilyn McDonald said...

Thanks for the welcome! It is good to be back.
The next thing will be getting things stored in the boat again - changing from the house to the boat takes a whole new mindset, eh? It's good we have the transition of the suitcases ...

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Welcome back to Blighty you two!! Rest, recuperate, and know the serenity and beauty of the cut awaits you.

Marilyn McDonald said...

Tuesday!! Currently drinking our daughter in law's home made limoncello, so feeling no pain. Tired tho, but will be better recovered by Tuesday for the drive down to Barby. Looking forward to seeing you two soonest. Big hugs, Mxox

Jenny said...

What a day you picked to leave New Zealand! We couldn't believe what was happening - the bad news (for travellers and commuters) just went on on on. Then there was the flooding and people being evacuated from their homes. Just as well you had Plan B safely in place!!

Marilyn McDonald said...

It was a doozy, wasn't it? I've just seen a map of the Wellington region of the rainfall that day and it was intense. I was pleased we had Plan B about to be put into action but I did feel for people who were trapped in the city. I think I wouldn't have gone into work that day, but that's not a luxury some people have.
In Scotland now and it's pretty chilly - I went out for a walk before brekkie yesterday and I don't remember being that cold since before we came on the boat last year - the blessing of having two summers each year and avoiding winter and the chills of early spring and autumn.

Derek and Dot said...

What a shame we didn't meet. You passed our home on the way to Jenny and Robins. Yes we are the original owners of Nb Ferndale, then named Gypsy Rover. Maybe when you return again.

Marilyn McDonald said...

That would be lovely, Derek and Dot. I follow Jenny and Robin's blog and have seen you both featured regularly!