We sorted out our flight check in for Kuala Lumpur and Heathrow the night before. The facade of continuing our journey still going strong to surprise people when we got back to London. We chilled out with magazines and social media for a few hours before getting ready to head out.
Walking to the train station, we reminisced about our trip to Myanmar, with locals queuing up at the embassy for photos and visas. We thought about the dodgey, fishy food along the northwest of the country and agreed that Green Curry and Pad Thai would always be well up there with our favourite cuisine dishes. But, a bucket of popcorn is also a big thumbs up and we treated ourselves to the overpriced white snack at the cinema.
The first film we saw (yep! the first one) was Ms. Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. The film continues past the end point of the first book and while I thought the film was ok, at best, Katherine didn’t like it at all. I think that somehow they wrapped up the last book in about 2mins of dialogue in the silver screen, but that is pure speculation. Having no desire to read said books, I shall never prove myself right or wrong – a proverbial Schrodinger’s Cat, so to speak.
The second film, albeit without the popcorn, was Doctor Strange. A marvel universe inspired film, it brought another chapter together with the appearance of another infinity stone – spoiler alert! The critics (aka, Katherine and I) enjoyed it in so much as it was something to watch, better than Captain America Civil War, and passed away an afternoon in comfy chairs and out of the hostel. The franchise is doing well hooking people in to the continuity of the comics and we are caught up in it just like everyone else. Roll on the Harry Potter inspired spin off coming out in November.
Wandering through the shopping centre and marvelling at various stores, artwork and queues for t-shirts, we eventually got back to Mile Map Hostel and our favourite restaurant… we were emotional. Less than 24 hrs and we would be on a flight back home. For myself, I was back in the UK in June/July; Katherine being away for almost 13 months. We chatted about highs, lows and everything in between. A surreal dinner and evening and the penultimate packing of bags (there’s always a last reshuffle in reception).Wednesday 26th October 2016
An easy start to the day, having previously decided that to rent a car and drive up to Cape Tribulation might prove a bit too stressful what with all the other bits and pieces we needed to get done. So, we got up and enjoyed more free pancakes and maple syrup while still in pyjamas. We didn’t have phones on us to take a photo, just the room key swipe card.
Finally bracing the real world, our first stop was the camera shop in the mall. Basically, the magnificent Canon SX40, which was a present from my father-in-law, capturing so many memories over our travels- iconic landmarks (Taj Mahal, Sigiriya, Sydney Opera House) impressive scenery (Mount Everest, Bagan) cultures, wildlife (tiger, whales, rhinos, elephants, koalas, birds) and foods – only to find out that the salt water, however minuscule, has been the kiss of death to my LBD. Not wanting to rush into an expensive (and unexpected) purchase, we got the specifications printed off about the bridge cameras they had in stock so we could look over them to make a decision later on.
We browsed the bookshop, again not realising how much we both love spending time perusing new titles and flicking through titles on a shelf to find something new and exciting. Down to KMart for a painful bit of shopping, replacing a few clothes and toiletries. A weird little discount store selling loads of Japanese items was my limit and I left Katherine to walk the narrow aisles while I sat outside and ‘people-watched’. We spent far too long in Gloria Jeans abusing their amazing free wifi that when we returned to the hostel the kitchen was closed for afternoon clean up. The state that people leave the kitchen in is appalling. I don’t think they even realise what they are doing or how much mess they’re making. After a late lunch I purchased some premium wifi in the hope of getting some more work done on the beauty clinic website and I sent Katherine off to treat herself to a pedicure. She returned with pretty blue nails and I had almost thrown the netbook across the hostel for not coping with the demands of the website I needed to use. Having now spent an extraordinary amount of time rebooting the computer, cursing the air and having mini fits we couldn’t believe the time. We Skype’d my Mam in Ireland and tried FaceTime’ing Kat’s Dad and Step-Mum in France. All this before Katherine was all set to kick back and do blog work while I enjoyed the Movie Night. Except, it was Harry Potter and I relinquished Katherine from her tasks and I spent even more time with iPads and laptops trying to get blogs back in order.
The occasional bit of free popcorn we managed to get (greedy girl at our table) was washed down nicely with the fruity dry white wine goon. There was an elderly gentleman who clearly had never seen any HP before, asking others around for explanations and laughing really loudly at parts. There was also a mum and daughter reciting the lines to the film as it played. All in all it was an enjoyable setting to get some work done and proved a bit de-stressing. Plus, the taco dinner Katherine did afterwards was amazing and I didn’t have to lift a finger. The new guy in the dorm room was a bit miffed that we came back so late, but I was after drinking over two glasses of wine so only Katherine heard him tutting… I just passed out.
Thursday 11th August 2016
SO EXCITED!! Finally, after far too many years, I awake and am able to download the new Harry Potter book – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Still gutted that I can’t see the play in the West End as we are traveling, I am absolutely delighted that at least I can download and read the book when it is released. Managed to download it before we even left the hostel this morning to catch our coach to Hervey Bay and was then even more excited (nine and three-quarters more excited!!) to see a whole stand of HP books at a shop along the way.Quite a lazy morning as we know we’ve got a seriously hectic week ahead of us with our Fraser Island and Whitsundays tours coming up so decided to abandon any previous ideas of going on an early ferry ride up the river in Brisbane and had a lie in instead. Got up, showered and had breakfast before checking out of our room. As soon as it was 9am Australia time, I was able to download the new HP book so I started reading that whilst Jayne did some Internet website work for Azra and the beauty clinic. Only had about an hour before we had to make our way to the transit centre to catch our greyhound coach. The sun was shining and, even with a slight chill in the air, it was a beautiful day.A pretty boring coach journey with nothing much to look at out the windows. We caught up on odd jobs that required internet (thanks for the free onboard wifi!) and I, obviously, kept reading the new book. Slightly strange reading a story as a play script but it’s still enjoyable none the less – really makes me want to go back and read the other books in the series (again!). Stopped at a service station for the necessary driver rest stop. Turns out that it is home to ‘Matilda’ the kangaroo who made her debut on 30th September 1982 at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. The 13 metre high mascot was then homed at a water theme park before being moved in 2009, and having 2 years of substantial refurbishment, to her current spot at the petrol station. We sat on the banks of the lake having the juiciest oranges ever – thanks Tracey for the tip – it was like eating solid lumps of orange juice!!Back on the bus for the remainder of the journey, arriving in Hervey Bay just after 5pm. As the transfer bus had to wait for another Greyhound to arrive, we took the opportunity to head to the supermarket to get some food for dinner and a goon bag of white wine to take with us to Fraser Island. The second coach never turned up so we waited all that time for no reason, although we did get to enjoy the noisy rainbow lorikeets that were flying around the car park.At the hostel, which is more of a caravan park which happens to have a dorm room than a hostel, Jayne got back onto her task of sorting out the beauty salon website whilst I reorganised our bags for tomorrow and cooked dinner (I know – it’s a shock to everyone that I cooked!!!). Made spaghetti bolognaise and let Jayne carry on with her work after dinner whilst I kept reading my new book!!
Sunday 31st July 2016
I woke up naturally at 06:00 and my brain went in to overdrive while my body was saying go back to sleep. The deciding factor in what to do was hearing little Benjamin start to stir and cry upstairs. So, up, showered and ready to go, I left the house at 07:20 and headed to the train station for the starting point of the 151 bus route. Knocking on a door at 08:30, as a surprise, seemed a bit excessive, but I was greeted enthusiastically by Clare and Martin, and thankfully both of them were dressed. Loads of hugs ensued while the kettle boiled and finally managed to sit down for a wicked catch up (with loads of coffee). We Skype’d Katherine and Tracey in Oz and I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. Let’s just say there was talk of the map of Tasmania, merkins, Julie Andrews, temple monsters and pixies. This won’t make sense to 99% of the readers, but as a reminder to ourselves, we shall probably crack up just thinking about it. I went down to Lidl and got some croissants while they cleaned the house (expecting Martin’s parents for Father’s Day lunch at 13:00) and we smothered them with butter… Coz that’s just what you do. Train to Victoria, tube up to King’s Cross and one was reminded of the stations tie with Harry Potter, watching Gryffindor students wander about. They kicked us all off the train as there was no driver, then rushed us all back on as a driver had been found. The train journey was so nice I couldn’t concentrate on reading my book and it was worth it when I saw a field ablaze with crimson red, covered in thousands of poppies.
Nicola picked me up at the station, and the plan was we’d have dinner at Morrisons across the road, but they stopped serving at 15:00. So, she got a salad and we waited for Helen and Carol who were somewhere en route, the minibus service having brought them full circle around the town before getting back to the car. We zoomed down to Garden ‘T’ of the Letchworth Garden City open garden day and Nic kindly paid for me (proceeds going to Red Cross and other worthy charities). I managed to visit 9 gardens with them before 17:00 closing time. The gardens were lovely: long narrow gardens with big lawns and borders, small gardens with livestock, an old post office with sculptures, water features and fruit/ veg patches and orchards. They were all a bit different and it was wonderful to see such vibrant colours and flowers, and made me start dreaming of having a massive garden of my own to have space to create different aspects and themes.
Nicola and I watched a bit of tv after catching up – The Last Leg. The lads usual antics, as always, keep you up to date with current affairs and put a jovial spin on the otherwise mundane or incredulous. I was really impressed with myself to notice that the first ad in the commercials was a slow boat in Laos that she, I and Katherine had visited almost three years ago. Clearly we need to start recording more video on our trips and making money through creating short commercials rather than writing blogs. A lovely home cooked meal, with Nigel visiting and entertaining us with tales from work. The only damper to his celebration evening was the lack of a cup of tea. Back on a train heading home, my poor ears are suffering going through all the tunnels at high speed. Plus, being almost finished writing today’s blog, I’ll have nothing more to do to keep me awake. Here’s hoping I make it back and not waking up in some random part of the country.
Sunday 19th June 2016