Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Unintended Consequences

This post follows quickly on from the previous although due to the vagaries of time zones is being written what seems like ages after Monday's musings.

We finally boarded the Qantas airbus that had failed to depart that morning after a repair to the hydraulics that operate the landing gear- the smaller size of the replacement 747 being the reason for many of us to be delayed.

The long flight to Singapore was comfortable with a wide range of entertainment on offer and some sleep grabbed after my early start from Bristol. On approach to Singapore much whining and thumping precluded a rather rough landing and as we approached the terminal the captain announced that the fault had re appeared overnight and we would be required to stay 12 hours rather than 2 in Singapore whilst repairs and checks were made.

After much confusion we were bussed to top end hotels where we enjoyed a remarkable feast and I took a walk through the city centre with Margaret a kiwi from Auckland who had been another of the originally delayed group. Tropical conditions combined with the glitzy neons reminded me of Tokyo as we observed teams dismantling signage following the F1 Grand Prix that had filled the city over the weekend.

An early start saw bleary and weary queues forming as we checked in once more, submitted to security and boarded the now repaired jet for a 7 hour hop to Melbourne. Many peoples plans were thrown in to disarray but I was fortunate to have no fixed or urgent agenda. Further problems at Melbourne where the ground crew could not open the doors merely added to the fun but at least we were met by Qantas staff with offers of reimbursement and assistance with onward plans. A final leg to Sydney gave us a chance to compare an older Boeing with the Airbus before I was shuttled to a local hotel where at long last internet was available to plan future progress. Just to end on a final note of amusement the hotel gave me initially the wrong key card for my room followed by one that was broken thus adding to a litany of cock ups that began 3 weeks ago with the multiple deficiencies of our British banking system and the random workings of Royal Mail redirections.

The van is in the hands of customs and the shipping company have made further contact so I expect to make progress later today - breakfast awaits and the sun is rising on a clear morning - we are 9 hours ahead of the UK and of course approaching late Spring.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Short but very sweet.

A month has passed since our last post - unintentional but predictable given the amount of tasks to complete during my short return to the UK.
The long flight passed smoothly enough and the hire car at LHR provided a comfortable mode of transport to see my parents in Coventry and collect a year's mail, divert to Neath on our way home to collect the other van and return to autumnal Pembrokeshire where our friends and neighbours had left cards, ballooons and champagne by way of a welcome home.
The flat was in good order and with limited baggage we were soon unpacked and adjusting to the time difference. All was well and after a few days I headed off to Brecon for a week of visiting other friends and enjoying the Beast mountain bike charity event which was a blast.
Meanwhile Sarah caught up with her crowd enjoying a two day ride in Pembs and a four day walk on the new coast path north of Cardigan before I returned after a visit to family and friends in Shropshire.
En route I addressed (ha ha) the non redirection of our mail which conspired to make resolving a number of outstanding banking issues bizarrely complicated - the potential for reform across that sector of the UK economy is substantial.
For my final week we had the use of the main house next door and were able to welcome a number of friends and family, walk the coast path to admire this seasons seal pups and enjoy a spell of fine settled weather.
Sarah has another 5 weeks at home so our parting was sad but positive and finally I set off for Australia with little info. about the van's shipment from Auckland to Sydney, a rucksack full of service spares and new clothes and another list of friends to catch in the Bristol area. With a new boat examined, holiday pics viewed and jokes exchanged in the pub I finally slept on a sofa for a few hours before checking emails in the small hours to confirm that the van has at least set off.
Having returned the car and waited for check in I was informed that the planned Airbus was out of service and 40 of us were to be put on a later flight with hotel rooms for day use including lunch. As a substantial cash incentive was offered and my now to be unused room in Sydney refunded this was very acceptable leaving me the day to update the blog.
Hopefully the next post will be from the van near Sydney so until then a few pics live here briefly covering our short time in Pembs.