2.48pm - On The Road Again
Trip Start Feb 09, 2009
19Trip End Mar 25, 2009
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I can barely believe I'm actually on this train. Seven days later than I was supposed to be, mind, but finally I am on it. For those of you not playing along at home, the UK was blanketed with snow last weekend, the worst in eighteen years, and trains, planes and automobiles were all trembling in its wake. I was doing a fair bit of trembling myself at the thought of a thirty hour journey feeling like I did last Monday morning, which was death without so much as a cursory warm up. But God was kind to me, and gave me a legitimate excuse to postpone the trip rather than just "I've got a bit of a cough". I can only apologise to the millions who were inconvenienced because God did me a solid.
So I changed my flight, I changed my hotel, I changed my train, and now I am sat in Macclesfield station, waiting to continue our journey towards Euston. From there it's about an hour to Heathrow on the tube, and then I shall doss around in the Virgin lounge for a bit whilst waiting for my almost certain-to-be-delayed flight to be called. It snowed again last night with gusto, and as we rocket through the fields they are all completely white, so I am not overly optimistic. That said, according to Sky News, Heathrow is only suffering "minor delays" (as opposed to the poor sods at Gatwick, where a whole mess of flights have been cancelled and long delays are expected on others), so it shouldn't be too bad.
It's funny, it didn't really seem real last week, and as Louise will happily tell anyone who will listen, I had not packed. (Well, I felt appalling, the last thing I wanted to do was mess about with a load of laundry.) Last night, however, by midnight I was all packed up and ready to go (huge advantage to delaying a week: I got to watch another episode of Lost. It was top. Noj, watch season four ASAP, I want to talk to you about it. Australia is about three weeks behind the US - I am suffering major woe about not getting to see the next ep for a month!), and seem to have managed to pack a little more wisely this time. I can't tell you how pleased I am that I came home for Christmas - my pack is much lighter (and it's going to get lighter still when I shed a few books and things) and I know I will actually use everything this time. I also brought three more pairs of socks - two pairs were definitely not enough last time. Not having a clean, warm pair of socks to put on when you have been wearing wet trainers for hours is horrible, and makes it a lot harder to warm up. Admittedly, that only happened once, but it was one of the worst bits of the trip and is burned into my brain (it was the return journey from Milford Sound, for those of you not paying attention to previous instalments of this blog).
Continuing my complete non-plan of things a la NZ, I haven't really done the research properly yet beyond my first week, which will be spent in Sydney. Sydney is bloody massive from the looks of things. I don't think I'll be short of things to do. My hotel is only a couple of miles from the harbour, and is just round the corner from Chinatown and the Spanish Quarter, so it should be a pretty fun area. All in all, I'm rather excited - the only thing on the wish list now is that they're showing Benjamin Button on the plane, which I bet they're not, but which I am still dying to see. Maybe once I get there? I HAVE to see Australia in, you know, Australia, if it's still showing (which I bet it is - two months seems like nothing for something like that in their native country).
So many miles to go before I sleep, but it's all good. Let me finish this first entry with a list:
What I Did On My Christmas Holidays
1. The Christmas market was just as much fun as it always is. I didn't manage to nom a pancake, but I did get some mulled wine, a sausage and some strawberry punch, not to mention my two favourite market things: white hot chocolate with Baileys, and freshly made macaroons. The best way to consume these is to dip the latter in the former, and then you get bits of coconut floating in your drink, and the macaroon soaks up the hot chocolate and goes all mushy and lovely.
2. What is there to say about the Tyhooggins Christmas Dinner? Tyso outdid herself. It was delicious, although I felt like a total failure because I didn't manage to finish all the food on my plate, and was still too full for dessert (chocolate orange soufflé! It's like one of my favourite things!!) Louise, I promise that when I return I shall eat whatever you put in front of me, just like old times. Although next year, we are not playing bloody Charades, because it's crap, and the boys cheat.
3. Christmas Day was lush - very relaxing, very laid back, yummy food (curry for Christmas is unorthodox, but enjoyable) and a fun twist to the evening by channelling red with Mel, Noj, Vidya and the puppy.
4. Either everyone is very kind and lied their asses off, or they actually really did have a great night, but for me, New Year's Eve was simultaneously shambolic and fantastico. It was shambolic because I did not pull my finger out and organise things properly (without Louise and Ant, the whole party would have fallen spectacularly to pieces), but it was fantastico because the people were lovely, everyone got along with everyone else, and most importantly, Chris and Ant nearly perished in a magnificent display of sparks and Siamese fighting fish. To quote Chris on the night, "It's not a proper firework display if you don't feel there's a genuine threat of death for the people lighting them."
5. What began as a jokey cover story for Louise to go to a job interview has now become an oddly brilliant semi-tradition. We've had two girlie steak and cocktails days now, and Ant was kicking up an increasing fuss about the fact that he didn't get to come on either, so we had a steak and cocktail evening at mine, just to make him happy. The food was lovely, Louby made home-made fat chips, and the puppy proved he's allowed to have proper steak next time. Some of the cocktails were nice, some were not so nice, but everyone was on top form and it was one of those nights that just seemed really special and fun. Plus we finally got a picture of Mel, Louise and Rob doing the triple on-the-shoulders thing, which was awesome.
If I were to list all the fun times I've had the last month of being home, I'd never stop writing - Christmas Eve, Nicola's birthday, and the unforgettable (for many reasons) night out in Bolton all deserve to be in the list above, but this is just the five that came to mind first.
There's still another hour to go before I alight at Euston, so I'm going to watch a couple of episodes of this Flight of the Conchords thing that everyone's talking about (can you believe I know all the songs but have never seen the show? And I actually got out of New Zealand alive!)
More later, you lovely lovely people.