Dirty old town

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
In our own bed for the first time in 12 months

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, February 26, 2011

Well, I woke up with a stonking headache and a temperature to the British Airways staff handing out breakfast to everyone stirring from their sleep. Andrew had managed to personally consume about ten bottles of red wine throughout the night – the tell tale signs poking out of the seat pocket in front and a deep purple staining his mouth. He also had a vague recollection of purchasing a couple bottles of gin but had no idea where they were, if he had consumed them or how he had paid for them.  At least I had managed to get a bit of sleep in the end which I was grateful for considering the long day ahead.  Breakfast was a solemn affair, erm where was the full English that we were looking forward to?  No we got, well guess, a bloody cheese and ham croissant, a yoghurt and a muffin – not a black pudding in sight (what is wrong with this country)?  Even the in flight entertainment system went down in the early hours of the flight so everyone had the choice of either listening to a radio channel or watching Wall Street on loop for the whole duration of the flight.

We arrived at London Heathrow at 11.30am GMT, I'm not sure what time we were still running on but we groggily got off the plane and were firmly back on home soil.  Thankfully our bags had been checked through to Manchester so we were greeted by the oh so charming woman on passport control at the 'connecting flights’ channel.  Either this career choice attracts the disgustingly miserable or it is fundamental to the training program as I think the only smiley border control officer that I have seen is the one in Australia (who we had a sneaking suspicion about being drunk).  Anyway she did a great job of welcoming us back to our beloved country (hmmm) and we convinced her to put the last stamp of the trip in our passports ("It’s not normally procedure to stamp British passports" oh leave it out woman, please).

Terminal Five was everything we remembered it to be, a cold, soulless, exhorbitantly overpriced (a burger for 9 Pounds) mall with not a cheap eatery in sight.  We got some money out at the ATM and were amused by the gigantic size of the twenty pound note – where are you meant to keep this thing?  We got a couple of free papers, a magazine, a bottle of diet cherry coke (things do change) and a couple of sandwiches from W H Smith along with a packet of cold and flu and a roll on deodorant from Boots – this had the makings of a great day.  We had five hours to kill so while Andrew slept, stretched over three seats with his head in my lap making up for sleep lost to the final drinking binge, I read anything I could get my hands on (twice).  It was a long wait and it felt like we were in limbo, we just wanted to get back to Manchester and see our families again (I wondered whether my mum and dad would already be there they were apparently that excited) or scarper to anyone of the exotic destinations listed on the departures board flashing in front of us. 

Eventually we were called to gate and I had the pleasure of hearing a Scouse accent, now we really were homeward bound (Andrew Edit - what!).  The stewardess asked us why we hadn’t had a wash – well we hadn’t – but then went on to clarify and ask why we were so brown (understandable as we were on the London to Manchester shuttle).  We are probably browner than we have ever been for a freckly blonde and a milk bottle white brunette – but that doesn’t say much believe me. We shared the flight home with one of the Italian rugby teams on their way up to Manchester – and I realised that my new skills as an experienced traveller might not be as good as I thought as I thought they were speaking Russian until I saw the flag on their shirts.  Shameful.  Within 40 minutes we were touching down at Manchester and it really was all over – without any serious illnesses, robberies, arguments, or loss of a large proportion of our stuff – well that was until we got to Manchester.  We stood at the baggage belt and my bag appeared which we put on the trolley and we waited and waited and waited until there were only a couple of lonely bags left on the belt and a couple of other bemused looking holiday makers waiting for something that was clearly not going to arrive.  It had to be, we had been around the world for 12 months taking umpteen flights (even the disasterous Cebu Pacific) without a problem and British Airways loses one of our bags, typical.  We filled out the lost baggage form and were told that we should get the bag back the following day.

We walked through the doors in to the airport building and were met by my mum and dad, Andrew mum and dad and Vic and Ellie who were all holding up a huge banner saying ‘Welcome home Lady E and The Wizard’ my dad wearing a jester hat and some comedy glasses.  Well, it was an emotional reunion and a really, really lovely welcome home.  Ellie was only 6 months old when we left and now she is walking and talking so we saw a massive change in her and can’t wait to properly get to know our beautiful niece.  Andrew got in with his mum and dad and Vic and Ellie and I got in the cab with my mum and dad and we all headed back over to Swinton.  To our surprise the house was bedecked in balloons and banners announcing our homecoming and Andrew and I opened the door together back in to our own home 12 months to the day after saying goodbye to it – it felt strange.  The decorations continued inside and my mum had even cleaned the house from top to bottom for us (no mean feat) so everything was lovely and clean.  We spent the evening chatting and Andrew’s mum had cooked a hotpot so we all tucked in to that with red cabbage which couldn’t have been more traditional.  We even had chocolate cake with sparklers! The wine flowed too and our neighbours even popped in to see us and welcome us back.  All in all it was a great night and everyone had gone to so much effort for us that we were really touched.  I think I finally got to bed at about 4am I vaguely remember a long conversation with my dad about animals. 

Well there it is, our last diary account of our travels, we are now home safe and sound and firmly back to Earth with a bump after circumnavigating the globe and visiting 27 wonderful and wildly different countries.  For those who have had the steely determination to stick with us throughout it all thank you and we realise that you have probably been bored to tears on more than a few occasions. Well done you.  We have had the most amazing time, it is hard to put it in to words and the year has far exceeded my expectations being even better than I could have ever imagined. The only problem is that we have both developed an insatiable case of wanderlust as our eyes have been opened to so many incredible things that we have read about and still want to do (lack of funds is the only thing standing in our way).  So we need to pay back the debts, pay back the favours and then maybe, just maybe at some point in the future we will get the chance to embark on another trip (albeit it immeasurably shorter) and bore you with our blog once more because if I can take one thing from this whole experience despite it being a cliché, it is that it really is a beautiful world.

(We've put some pics on of us venturing out for the first time in to the English countryside.  We just had an impulse to climb a hill - so off we went to Rivington Pike and kicked a few leaves around.  Oh and there's one of the night some of our friends came around - I think we remembered the camera when everyone else had gone home - so Rick and Carlene get the glory of being featured on the blog - sorry to the rest of the crowd - ooops!!!)

Andrew Edit - So I suppose that is it, we have really struggled to settle back into everyday life, Erica more so than me finding out the bad news that loved ones have died while we have been away. I suppose we end on a solemn note, be warned long term travellers, after three days at home you will start to feel very, very down. 

Anyway I suppose we finish up by offering a few thanks, so in no particular order we thank the following:

for loans, and our welcome home
our (very generous and understanding) families

for free accommodation, friendly faces and just being yourselves
Stevie T and Family
Cheryl and Siong and Family
Col & Sonia
Our friends in Cuba

Rorie and Emer (the lazy Irish) - Our longest travel buddies for putting up with us every minute of the day for over a month who are already confirmed to come to sunny Salford in the next few weeks, we have 60 bottles of 35p per bottle homebrew waiting for you.

Our top blog commentors for giving us a lift and driving us on to blog everyday
Sharks and Raynor
Carlene and Rick
Stevie T
Mums and Dads
Dil and Jenny
Rorie and Emer

All our other blog readers, followers and commentors.

Well the question everyone wants to know is where have been your favourite places so this is what we think, I suppose the order you go to places and how different they are is quite important in how anyone would pull their list together


Best Countries

1. Mongolia - Just so weird, so cold and so remote and for our second country it really opened our eyes, Ulan Bator didnt hit the spot but driving across the snow with no roads or other cars in sight before sleeping in a tent with a calf, burning cow shit to keep warm when its -47 outside.... yes thats different for us.

2. Myanmar - Lets face facts there are a lot of horrible sights in Burma, I thought Lady E would make us leave as soon as we got there, but my word this country was awesome it was a real challenge, but the beauty of the people and the horrific military regime meant this place was just so different you cant really explain it. A place that mixes your emotions up so much inside its weird.

3. New Zealand - South Island blew us away, and it is sad to see even more trouble from earthquakes. Must be one of the most beautiful places on earth.

4. The Philippines - Maybe because it was so early in our Asian adventure we loved the the Philippines, some beautiful places, beautiful people and not too touristy. I suppose we have to thank Stevie E again for his advice as we probably wouldnt have gone.

5. Argentina - A combination of amazing food, amazing wine a bloody big waterfall, bloody big glacier and a nature trip in Puerto Madryn you couldnt even imagine. Its awesome but it would be nice if it was smaller and we had had more time.

Best Trips

1. Trekking with the Orangutans - Sumatra, Indonesia
2. Galapagos Islands - Ecuador
3. Whales, Sealions, Fur Seals, Elephant Seals, Penguins and so much more - Puerto Madryn Argentina
4. Trekking to Lake Inle and giving some charity - Myanmar, Burma
5. Perito Moreno - Patagonia, Argentina
Other contenders
Iguazu Falls, Inca Trail, Taj Mahal, Kumbh Mela wow there are so many.

What else would we suggest to other travelers - I suppose this goes against a lot of what travelling is about but do have your bank account with HSBC, they are almost everywhere, cash withdrawals are always free and the exchange rates are ok, we have heard horror stories of £4 per withdrawal with other banks. Do a blog but dont for gods sake write it everyday, its a great record but is been a pain in the crack to do. Be brutal with what you take, you need very, very little and our view of material possessions is possibly forever changed.

I think thats it really we have had the best year of our lives, seen things we never imagined, become amazed by the world we live in and the creatures we share the world with. We have lost a lot of weight and a lot of money but its been awesome. I suppose my final thanks goes to Lady E who has been awesome throughout the year a true test of a relationship and we have come through with flying colours. Its been awesome, if travelling around the world for a year is something that you just have to do, dont think twice just get on with it, you wont regret it.

Slideshow Report as Spam


Dad and Mum on

Welcome home after all this time. Congratulations on completing your epic journey, on getting engaged, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

NOW ITS PAY BACK TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

farknash on

Welcome back bruvs. See you next week xxx

cheryl chin on

Happy Homecoming ..... we have enjoyed all your travels - none more than when you were with us - Happy Chinese New Year of the rabbit, have an excellent one XXX We love you guys ( ps QY is still requesting tree flavoured Ice-Cream hehehe)

Carlene on

Welcome Home!!! See you guys soon xxx

Biff & Amy on

Did you really have to come home ?!!!! Yo know you're gonna have to get rid of that ridiculous amount of hair on your head and face if you back in propper land now ! That goes for you too Andy !!!!!!

Anyway well done groovers. Very jealous and also a bit miffed your trip around the world did not pass through the key metropolis of Porto Heli www.poseidon-sports.com

We really loved reading your very funny blog. How did you have time to write it all ?Tell us when you have a date fort the big day ? Stay wild and fun loving xxx

Stevie T on

I'm going to miss reading all this shit. Come back to Hong Kong whenever you want, cheers, Steve

Roy on

Thanks for the amazing blog, what am i going to read now while i pretend to work?

Stevie T on

Now you've updated the last page it almost brings a tear to the eye. I feel inspired to wanderlust myself. So I'm off to the local for a pint

Rorie & Emer on

Oh thank f..k its over and i dont have to force myself to read this damn blog anymore, the amount of time ive wasted when i could be out smashing in a "buy one get one free" in some craphouse somewhere so you owe me big time wizard.

Brilliant to have ye back, ye will be well rested by the time we get over to ye in two weeks to smash up the place but better late than never and we are really looking forward to it.

It took us months to get used to being back into the swing of things but one thing i wll say is not to panic with work or anything and just have a bit of patience cos it will all work itself out in the end...Speak soon...

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