Neil and Caro. vs The World

Trip Start Mar 27, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Monday, March 28, 2005

Now it's going to sound stunningly obvious, but making our way through to the airport departure lounge it dawned on us that we were leaving the UK. It also hit us that we had absolutely no idea where we were going or what we were doing, other than that it was a place called Australia (via Malaysia for 3 days). The reality of leaving was reaching a peak but the concept of what lay ahead was still sat in its trough.

Everyone else sat at the boarding gate just looked so casual about the whole thing that it only increased the feeling that we didn't have a clue what we were doing. You can tell the seasoned traveller by their kit: Nintendo GameBoy Super Advance (or something) and a fully loaded iPod, oh, and a casual air about transcontinental flight. We, on the other hand, were feeling a tad ill-prepared, feeling like we were just going on a long holiday. I'd at least changed out of my suit, the suit that had failed to get us a first class upgrade. If I could have mustered a thirst, an ale probably would have done the trick; Mark had been in touch to say that we should be half cut by this stage of an aussie trip but I just couldn't do it. I think I still had the last traces of last night's leaving party hanging over me and a none-too-pleasant airport meal floating around my stomach.

Waiting at the departure gate was starting to feel strange. In fact, the year-to-date had been fairly strange. The leaving party saw the first real nerves, and that's bearing in mind that I'd given the best man's speech at Andrew and Jane's wedding just 6 hours earlier. These were real nerves, now, though. We'd had an agent deal with the Visa application, all we had to do was offer up our chests for x-ray; HR had dealt with all other paperwork, although I had to sign the odd thing now and then, and, throughout all of this, it hadn't felt like we were actually going anywhere. We'd not really got our heads round the fact that we were leaving, aside from upwards of 4 work-hours a day surfing Australia-related web sites. The IT guy in work asked me to return my laptop and some 20-or-so people gathered at my desk, waiting to hear my final words. I just wish that, after 5 1/2 years of work, my finale could have amounted to a little more than the a few half mumbled words and "see you all in the pub"; a disappointing swan-song to say the least.

Anyway, a couple of beers/wine and lemonades sorted out the nerves, and guests started arriving, as if to distract us. Caro and I had decided on a game plan of not-too-p##sed-too-early and thankfully it paid off and we got the chance to have relatively meaningful conversations with most people (and an inflatable kangaroo - thanks Helen & Dave). A second speech was fired off, third, if you count my mutterings on the way out of the office, and this time it was straight off the cuff. JPE, a man accustomed to public speaking, added a few kind words. JMM hit the dance floor and, along with the rest of us, declared himself The Ressurrection. Pleased that we'd both walked the alcoholic tight rope all night, without falling too far to one side or the other, and making sure that we'd spoken to (hopefully) everyone, it was only a matter of time before people started leaving and the teary-eyed stragglers(myself included - thanks, finally, to G. Mucload) were being taxi'd away. Louise and Davy 2 helped us finish off any drink left at our house, and stave off the end-of-the-night blues (sat on the floor, of course, and drinking out of plastic cups; the furniture had left earlier in the month).

So, 4 months after a very early morning video-conference to Austrlia, we were waiting at the departure gate ready for the first leg of the trip... ready in the sense that we were physically at the departure gate, and it was the right gate. Caro and Neil take on the world - kind of loses its thunder when you say that a tax job in an accountancy firm was paying for our tickets. Our plan was to beat the jet-lag with plenty of water and sleep - right now I was hoping a fine Malaysian lager would be first out on the in-flight menu; I was starting to muster that thirst.

Another 3 months on and it finally feels like the world's slowed down just enough to gather a few thoughts. The first thought's usually to remind ourselves that we now live in Manly, Australia; the second is to wonder how we got to this stage without killing each other or giving up on the whole thing. There are now 3 months to catch up on but for now, everyone, we made it to Sydney okay; Neil and Caro 1 - World 0.

Next stop: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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