A Travellerspoint blog


Final Chapter

Monday, 17 to Thursday, 20 July 2017

View 2017 UK & Artic Cruise on greynomadm's travel map.

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

Posted by greynomadm 14:12 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Just a Week to Go

Friday, 26 May 2017


Time has passed slowly but I know the next seven days will most likely pass in a rush. There are still a few things to be finalised but there is no reason we won't be ready on Saturday 3 Jun when we start the journey to the UK.

Things we are aware of but can't influence in any way are the weather and the aftermath of the atrocity in Manchester.

The weather in the form of heavy fog here in Canberra could disrupt our departure. A check of the Departures board for today indicates that flights have been departing on time. Fogs have been a feature of late and many don't lift until the afternoon. With temperatures barely above freezing and moisture at close to 100% it is no surprise.

The horrific event in Manchester has heightened the tensions throughout the country. I expect that there will be an increased awareness aboard the Caribbean Princess and there may be a need to change the itinerary. We have had our destinations altered only once due to security risks. I feel comfortable that any threat to our safety will be taken very seriously.

On the domestic front we have managed to almost completely empty the refrigerator and freezer allowing us to switch it off while we are away. There are two benefits as I see it. One we save an amount of electricity and the other is that some of the almost forgotten packets have been consumed or used.

We have one or two health related appointments next week but hey are not likely to raise any issues that will impact on the trip.

On the technology front, I have stopped using my email client - 'Thunderbird' after many years. I'm just about comfortable with 'Outlook' but the transition has not been flawless. Of particular concern is the loss of the various mailing lists which grouped my Contacts. I'm hoping to sort the out over the next few days, otherwise it will have to wait until we return.

We continue in good health and trust you are all similarly blessed.

Until next time.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.

Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 17:19 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

All Booked and Ticketed

Monday, 1 May 2017

Today I went into the city to pick up our travel tickets from the travel agent. It is all a bit complicated with some arrangements made by me and some by them.

I haven't counted the complete set but would guess there are over 20 separate documents. The list includes E-tickets for the flights, bus tickets for the coaches between cities in the UK. Then there's the ship's boarding passes and luggage tags and hotel confirmations.

Will need to set these up in a folder and double-check I've got them all covered. With just four weeks or so before we take off there are still lots of other bits to take care of. Taking a look at the diary there are a few blank days ahead so it should all come together with time to spare.

Days are getting colder here in Canberra and providing us with an opportunity to test various mixtures of clothing to prepare for the late-spring weather of the UK and Norway. I hope we've got it right.

Until next time.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 00:10 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Caught Out By Technology

Thursday, 16 February 2017

sunny 34 °C

A bit of time on my hands and want to take the opportunity to record some recent frustrations with the march of technology. I recall the early days of Web Page design when we needed to be cognisant of the variations in how different versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer could mangle your carefully designed page.

Well the world has moved on and there is now a bewildering array of platforms, browsers and operating systems. In addition to web page behaviour when opened with different browsers there is the variation of the platform. What got me was when I tried to renew our National Express Coach Cards. Working from the lap-top I followed the simple links to the page that presented the form to be filled in. All went well until it asked for the address to which the cards should be sent. The form defaulted to addresses in the UK and there was no field to select 'Australia' and consequently my post code was not accepted.

Contacted National Express Customer Care people by email explaining that I couldn't fill out the form to complete the purchase. Some time later they respond and provide me with a link to the same Web form. Opened it from the lap-top and same result.

Decided to try their 'Twitter' contact option. First I had to sign up for a Twitter account, not difficult to do but a lot harder to use and understand. In relatively quick order I received a reply containing another link to their Web form. I happened to access the Tweet on my Samsung Android and amazingly this Web form included the Country selection field and it was all rosy from there on. SUCCESS !! Different hardware platform and different versions of the browser.

I then spent some hours selecting and purchasing seven separate Coach tickets for the local transport in the UK. The booking service is a little tedious as each trip has to be totally finalised through to payment. Next trip, start from scratch and enter all those common fields again. There is also the need to have some knowledge of the geography, something I'm a bit short on. It marked the completion a significant step in the preparation.

To round out this saga, I was contacted by phone to offer additional advice or assistance at 03:15 in the morning. The lovely lady kept on apologising and I struggled to catch up with events and actions that had taken place.

The other Technology related event occurred with an application on the Samsung Android. I have had the Singapore Airline app installed and when I tried to open it, I was told that I had to upgrade my version to the latest. Applied the update and received a message that "Your device is not compatible with this release. ". Bit of a surprise, perhaps they could check before they download. Contacted their help desk and was asked to send them some screen captures showing these messages.

That's also easier said than done. Find instruction on how to take a screen capture, find various answers and work through them. Finally take the scree shots and send them off. Another day or so and there's a response, my phone is too old and this issue can only be solved by me buying a replacement phone. Will work it on Jenny's phone for now.

Will continue to add entries as various preparations are finalised or we encounter issues along the way

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 18:23 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Start Point & Itinerary

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

We will be away for 47 days from 3 June 2017 to 19 July 2017. This outing is in multiple parts
Getting there. We fly from Canberra to Sydney then to Singapore and on to Heathrow in England where we overnight before the Coach trip to Southampton for another overnight stay.

  • SAT 03-Jun-17 Fly from CBR to SIN
  • SUN 04-Jun-17 Fly from SIN to LHR
  • MON 05-Jun-17 Transfer to Southampton

The First Cruise On Tuesday 6 June we board the Caribbean Princess for the 12 night cruise visiting Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and France returning to Southampton where we travel by coach to Canterbury.

  • TUE 06-Jun-17 Southampton board Caribbean Princess
  • WED 07-Jun-17 Guernsey (St Peter P
  • THU 08-Jun-17 Cork (Cobh)
  • FRI 09-Jun-17 Dublin
  • SAT 10-Jun-17 Liverpool
  • SUN 11-Jun-17 Belfast
  • MON 12-Jun-17 Glasgow (Greenock)
  • TUE 13-Jun-17 At Sea
  • WED 14-Jun-17 Invergordon
  • THU 15-Jun-17 Edinburgh (South Que
  • FRI 16-Jun-17 At Sea
  • SAT 17-Jun-17 Paris/Normandy (Le H
  • SUN 18-Jun-17 Southampton Coach to Canterbury

Stay in Canterbury. We have just over a week in Canterbury. We're staying there because it was difficult finding accommodation in Dover and we'll find plenty of things to look at. Having completed a port-intensive cruise we'll need a break.

  • MON 19-Jun-17 Canterbury
  • TUE 20-Jun-17 Canterbury
  • WED 21-Jun-17 Canterbury
  • THU 22-Jun-17 Canterbury
  • FRI 23-Jun-17 Canterbury
  • SAT 24-Jun-17 Canterbury
  • SUN 25-Jun-17 Canterbury
  • MON 26-Jun-17 Canterbury

The Second Cruise. On Tuesday 27 June a coach will transport us to Dover where we will join the Pacific Princess for an 18 day cruise along the coast of Norway. Being a small vessel we will be visiting the smaller ports not normally on a cruise-ship's itinerary. We hope to sail North into the Arctic Circle and witness the midnight sun.

  • TUE 27-Jun-17 Dover board Pacific Princess
  • WED 28-Jun-17 At Sea
  • THU 29-Jun-17 Bergen
  • FRI 30-Jun-17 Trondheim
  • SAT 01-Jul-17 At Sea
  • SUN 02-Jul-17 At Sea
  • MON 03-Jul-17 Longyearbyen (Spits
  • TUE 04-Jul-17 At Sea
  • WED 05-Jul-17 Tromso
  • THU 06-Jul-17 At Sea
  • FRI 07-Jul-17 Murmansk
  • SAT 08-Jul-17 Honningsvag
  • SUN 09-Jul-17 At Sea
  • MON 10-Jul-17 Lofoten Islands (Gra
  • TUE 11-Jul-17 At Sea
  • WED 12-Jul-17 Hellesylt & Geiranger
  • THU 13-Jul-17 Haugesund
  • FRI 14-Jul-17 At Sea

Return Home.
Arriving back in Dover on Saturday 15 July we board a coach to the hotel in Heathrow for a two night stay. We decided to stay an extra night to fit in with the Singapore Air direct flight from Singapore to Canberra thereby avoiding congested Sydney.

  • SAT 15-Jul-17 Dover to London)
  • SUN 16-Jul-17 London Heathrow
  • MON 17-Jul-17 Fly LHR to SIN
  • TUE 18-Jul-17 SIN to CBR
  • WED 19-Jul-17 Canberra

I'll get into the swing of this as the departure date approaches.
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 18:59 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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