Monday, 17 to Thursday, 20 July 2017
17.07.2017 - 20.07.2017
This will need to be an omnibus entry wrapping up the events from Monday morning to Thursday morning. It is a cold morning here in Canberra as I try to record the significant events that brought us here.
Monday - Heathrow
A hearty breakfast and then repacked the luggage to equalise the weights as much as possible. One large case each at about 20 Kg, the small duffel that starts off empty and is pressed into service as required about 12 Kg, one carry-on each at about 10 Kg and a handbag for in-flight essentials. That's a total of six pieces that have to be herded out of the room, into the lift and onto the shuttle bus. Sets of fire-doors work against this being an easy task. Check-out is prompt and by 11:30 we're heading for Heathrow Terminal 2.
Terminal 2 Departures is a new experience for us, in recent times we've arrived here twice but this is our first departure. With all our bits on a trolley we head for the Singapore Airlines section to find out where we can dump the three main items. Customer service suggest the check-in kiosk and then the drop-off. We've never done this before and with Jenny providing an extra set of eyes it all works. We head off to the drop-off point where we're provided with boarding passes for both flights and proceed through to security.
We are now on the "Air Side" and have eight hours to fill in. Spent the last of our GB currency and Jenny registers for assistance to get to the departure gate. At the appropriate time we're assembeled in the waiting area and transported to to another waiting area in an electric cart. We're driven for what seems like miles including multiple rides in a lift to arrive to the care of yet another assistance desk. Closer to the departure time Jenny is assisted to a wheelchair and with me trailing along the attendant wheels her off to the gate. To allay any concerns, Jenny isn't injured or unwell, her feet have made it difficult to walk long distances even with a walkingstick.
Eventually we're all aboard and we take off for the thirteen and a quarter hour flight. With the change of timezone we arrive in Singapore just after 17:45 on Tuesday 18 July to the by-now almost familiar Changi Airport.
Tuesday - Changi
With about five hours to fill in we decide to buy a set of noise-cancelling headphone so that we can hear the in-flight entertainment without the irritation of the in-ear regular ones. It adds a bit to the volume of Jenny's handbag but not significantly to the weight. A quick meal at the 24/7 food street and some soft-drink from the 7/11.
There isn't a Gate Number on our Boarding Pass and the Departure Boards are a bit confusing with all the flights showing all the Code-share numbers as well. Although the helpful staff at the information desk provided the answer the pointed out the kiosks where you scan your Boarding Pass. Neat piece of technology, tells you all the required information and then draws a map with the required path from "You are here" to the gate. Very handy when your flight is showing Wellington and you're headed for Canberra.
We observed again that there is a security check before entering the Gate Lounge and entry to the lounge is opened only 30 minutes before boarding. The one security check-point servicing five Departure Gate numbers. With no fuss we board the flight and depart at 23:00 local time for the seven and a half hour flight into Canberra.
Wednesday - Canberra International
Touched down in Canberra shortly after 08:00 having made up almost 30 minutes on the way across Australia with the assistance of tailwinds. Disembarkation is uneventful but the scarcity of toilet facilities we wasted an appreciable amount of time with the result that we're at the end of a lengthy line to be greeted by Border Force. On precious advice from a Border Force Officer (BFO) we indicated that we were carrying pharmaceutical drugs. Preciously that as brought a smile from the BFO, here it caused some confusion, we explained it a second time to a supervisor who also stamped the Entry Card. On the way to Baggage Collection we were stopped again and had our Entry Card scrutinised. This BFO also stamped the Entry Card !! Memories of India spring to mind.
Although there has been a significant delay getting to this point there is still a crowd of people waiting for their luggage. I find a trolley and snatch the duffel bag from the carousel and park it with Jenny and the trolley. Back on the front line and find the first of our large cases. That too is deposited with Jenny. A long wait ss the same solitary piece of luggage rides aimlessly around the carousel. There's an announcement, the baggage handling system has broken down and technicians are on the way to repair it. Grumbles and mutterings from the dozens of people still waiting.
Amid some sarcastic cheers the machine busts into life and the the luggage start tumbling down. I wait and wait, even the unloved piece has been claimed and I'm still waiting for my last piece. Finally it arrives, missing the luggage tag because the handle to which it had been attached had been torn from the case.
Retrieve my damaged case and join the long queue to exit the area we are almost last. There is yet another BFO to inspect our Entry Cards, she's confused and signals for a more senior person. He's busy so we wait some more. He has a quick glance at the form and waves us through. At last we are out and it has been over 90 minutes and that's with half the plane load destined for Wellington being held in transit. There's a lot of improvement required before Canberra can legitimately claim to be an "International" Airport.
A quick taxi ride to Coral Park where we are warmly greeted by Nancy our neighbour and Maree. We have only one thought in mind and that's to get to bed. Before that happens Nancy calls to provide us with a container of soup "In case you don't have time to cook" it is great to have people like that.
We hit the bed and sleep until late afternoon. I start to unpack and create just a lot of chaos in the living room. Drop that approach and bake a damper to go with the soup, at least that worked. Struggling with some electronics, the door chime decides to play randomly, the PVR won't respond to the remote control, my FitBit fails to synchronise. Watch some TV, eat the soup and damper and into bed again.
Thursday - Day One At Home.
Wake up frequently during the night and finally got up to record these notes.
Thanks for sticking with me thought this journey, this will be my final entry.
Until next time wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony