Episode 4: Twenty-Twelve - The journey continues... travel blog

On our last day in Brackley we meet some of Cynthea's relatives...

12th March

Monday morning, and the weather was rubbish again, but a check of the internet assures us the flight is leaving on time, so we have to be at the airport by 9am. We get there to find the flight delayed by half an hour– the first of many minor delays for the trip home.

The delay is not a problem as Tony has several hours to wait in Auckland, the flight to Sydney is not until 3.30pm. Tony is in Auckland by 10.30 and heads to International for the Qantas counter to check-in. No slick check-in here, it is all manual and the queue goes for miles. They don’t have many people on the counters either, over half of them are unstaffed. Eventually more counters are opened, but it takes over an hour to get checked in.

A friend, ex-Taranaki from years ago, is at the airport to see her sister and family off, it is great to catch up with Sonja again.

At the security check Tony gets taken aside for the “works”, and then it is a bit longer than expected wait as this flight is also delayed. Not to worry, there is plenty of time to change flights in Sydney, isn’t there??

We finally get away an hour late, but with a flying time of 3½ hours it is going to be tight changing at Sydney. The 737 flight arrives just before 6pm (local), Tony has a moment of horror as he realises that boarding for Heathrow has started. There is another passenger across from him in the same boat, so we just have to hope we will be looked after. And that we are, there are sixteen of us to transfer in all. We are met as we get off the plane, and once everyone is accounted for golf carts take us to the security check at the next gate (so much for a spot of duty free shopping, not that Tony had any planned!). Weeee, it was a fast ride to the gate, haha. We go through security, and once again Tony is picked out for the full going over, sigh.

The flight is delayed a bit more as we missed our slot, but we are told we wont be too late getting to Bangkok. It is stuffy in the aircraft sitting on the tarmac. We have a meal and settle in for the night, but it is hard to sleep despite the late hour (body clock). Tony tries to watch Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but gives up after four attempts – he kept falling asleep! Maybe he should have kept that movie playing, as he still had trouble sleeping, and ended up watching The Inbetweeners movie, a bit silly but at least he didn’t have to concentrate, and it didn’t matter when he fell asleep. The 7700km flight takes us about 8 hours, when we arrive it is around 6am back in NZ, Tony has been travelling for nearly 24 hours, and there is still another leg to go.

At least this time Tony knows what to expect, and leaves most of his gear in the overhead locker. As on the trip over, we are told we are re-boarding in half an hour, but Tony is sure this is all rubbish, on the way over it was nearly an hour before reboarding. They probably tell everyone that so people don’t wander off and get distracted in duty free…

Again we have missed the departure slot, so we have to wait, and it is far stuffier in the cabin that it was on the ground in Sydney (the aircon is not effective until the plane is in flight).

Tony tried to sleep, and managed some, but not a lot of quality snoozing. Another movie – Sherlock Holmes this time. The 10000km flight took around 12 ½ hours, and we got into Heathrow around 7am – back home, the body clock tells Tony, it is 8pm, 35 hours of travel and counting…

Immigration was expected to be a bit of a challenge as Tony is partnered to Cynthea’s visa, and she was not travelling with him. He had a swag of documentation to prove he had been resident in the country, and didn’t need any of it. Murphy’s law again? You can bet your boots that had he not bothered they would have needed it all!

Very soon he was through the other side, and heading to the bus depot. Next bus left around 8.30 for Oxford, where Cynthea was to meet him. Tony got there first, and it was a bit of a struggle to stay awake while he waited. On the way back to Brackley we detoured through Bicester, Cynthea had wanted to visit there, but not had the chance before now.

Tony had a shower and a bite to eat, then had a short sleep before Cynthea’s relief carer arrived. Cynthea had four hours off, and we went into Banbury one last time. Cynthea’s shoes had worn badly, and she was going to bin them. But Tony said she should at least take them back to the store as they were not that old. We searched through the rubbish for the receipt – Cynthea was sure she had binned that the day before. Finally found it, on the bedside table, haha. At the shop they could not refund her money as they were not sure it was a genuine fault, however they did give a £40 store credit, so that is as good as the money back. Cynthea was worried it wouldn’t be accepted in Scotland, it could only be used in the country of issue. Just don't tell the Scots that they are lumped in with England…

It was a struggle for Tony to stay awake until bedtime, he had been travelling (and not getting proper sleep), for some 48 hours, and he felt a bit rough. Was it jetlag? Or lack of sleep? Or is that one and the same thing. He was surprised not to sleep right through the night, waking a few times. Wednesday he was a bit tired, but generally felt good for the last day in Brackley.

Cynthea had been working on the family tree, her goal was to meet a relative. She found someone near Oxford, and wrote to them on Monday night, not for a moment thinking they would reply the next morning… It turned out we could have met yesterday when Cynthea picked Tony up off the airport bus.

Another series of messages and it was arranged to meet half way – in Bicester! Jackie Holding and her Mum June Simpson met us at a café on Wednesday afternoon. We had a bit of trouble finding the place, it had changed its’ name, but June had said it was near Tescos and Little Chef, and we had been past there the day before on the way home from Oxford. June and Aunty Joyce are second cousins. It was a short meeting, but we were thrilled to be able to catch up at such short notice.

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