From Axbridge to Australia with the HoJo’s
Sorry it’s taken so long to get this blog up and running but it has all been a bit frantic since we arrived here in Australia, looking for somewhere to live and a business to buy so that we can start working towards our aim of gaining a residence visa is just so time consuming.
Anyway if I keep on waffling on like this we will never get started, so here goes.
Sunday 3rd February 2008
We went out for an early farewell meal with some of Carolyn’s family last night and managed to get the kids to bed nice and early and despite all the excitement they went to sleep straight away (for the first time since we left the pub on 28th November), somebody must be smiling on us. So we get the kids up at some ungodly hour (4.30-5am) and they are all full of energy, happy, excited and raring to go.
So while the kids had a light breakfast we loaded the cars and made ready for the trip to Heathrow, we needed 2 cars to fit us all in and Carolyn’s parents had volunteered to drive us from their home in Essex.
The journey to the airport was pretty uneventful and we arrived at about 8am. we sent the kids off to find 2 baggage trolleys which was quite amusing, after a couple of minutes Fraser (the eldest) is seen in the distance walking towards us pushing one of those great big Skycap trolleys, you know the ones that are supposed to be manned by somebody in a red jacket who is quite happy to charge you about £10 for the pleasure of pushing your luggage 200 yards into the terminal. Well obviously the person in charge of this particular trolley had turned his back on it for a second and Fraser, who recognised that we would need a big trolley to carry all of our things, was in like Flynn and was weaving his way towards us. We don’t know how many people he injured along the way, but he was just getting used to the handling when we had to tell him that he had got the wrong type of trolley and although we praised him for his ingenuity he needed to look for a regular size trolley, which he found a few minutes later. He did look a bit disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to ram raid the terminal with the big trolley, so we let him push one of the smaller ones and by the time he had run over a couple of old ladies, clipped a few ankles and had just perfected the art of crashing into everything, he was starting to enjoy it when we got to the check-in desk and we were able to breathe a sigh of relief, dumping the trolley before anyone could take any DNA samples and charge us with malicious wounding.
Fortunately we had checked-in 48 hours earlier so all we had to do was check our bags in, which was done within about 15 minutes and left Carolyn kicking herself because she had been so diligent about not overloading the cases and the guy checking them in was obviously not particularly bothered about it. Still, it will keep Carolyn’s parents fit when they come over to visit us, bringing over all the stuff we left out.
Anyway, time to find a nice big healthy breakfast. Not a chance, Heathrow is a pit, Terminal 3 used to be the best terminal out of the lot, light and airy, room to move, now it is just as bad as 1, 2 and 4, so many people in there that if you do find a seat that’s vacant you leap into it whether you want it or not just in case you can’t find one later. We were lucky, hidden in a dark corner of an Irish style Pub hidden under a mountain of dirty Plates, Cups, Glasses and cutlery was a table and 4 chairs, shame there was 5 of us but not to be put off we clung to those seats like our lives depended on it and when Ian was sure that the seats were secure he piled up all the rubbish from our table carefully on top another large pile of rubbish that somebody else had already dumped in another corner.
So with table clear it was time to sort out what we wanted for breakfast. We picked ours out straight away, Big Irish Breakfast, but the kids who had already had one breakfast wanted everything that they wouldn’t be able to get at home, there was no chance of an early solution so Ian got the hump and the children got their act together. I would like to say that the food was delicious but I would be lying, it was warm, well most of it was, Kristian had a small box of Cereal served with about a pint of boiling hot milk (he obviously had our allocation of hot), we sent our Big Irish Breakfast Back to be reheated, whereupon the Big Irish Breakfast Chef nuked it for a couple of minutes in the microwave and sent it back out.
So, breakfast done (so were we) and time to make our way to the gate ready to board the plane. Wrong, you have to have a loo stop because you don’t know how long you are going to have to sit on the plane before you will be allowed to go again. Two adults 3 kids and a load of hand luggage, it was going to have to be done in shifts and needless to say there was a queue to get into the Ladies. So Carolyn and the Kids head off to the loos and just as Ian was about to send out a search party when they started to come back, now it was Ian’s turn, the place was obviously being used as an overflow sewage works because it was overflowing everywhere. I think that the guy that normally looks after that block had gone off sick with dysentery some weeks beforehand but because none of his fellow workers spoke English they were unable to let anybody know. I bet some of the planes must have been pretty ripe when they landed after all those passengers had waded through that lot. It got Ian wondering why he ever wanted to leave this wonderful country.
Anyway, safely on our way to the Gate, check the Tickets for the umpteenth time, same with the Passports and the Kids, now where have they gone, while Ian was trying to navigate the rapids in the overflow sewage works Fraser and Marisa had decided that the time was right to practice using their new wheelies and Fraser hadn’t knocked anybody over for at least an hour. Fortunately there were only about one and a half million people in the terminal at the time so we weren’t too worried. Five minutes later they came back, and after we had explained to them what wonderful children they were we realised we were now going to be late reaching the Gate, Carolyn grabbed Marisa and Kristian’s hands and started running through the terminal at a rate of knots whilst Ian and Fraser determined to maintain their cool athletic demeanour ambled along behind before jumping on the back of one of those little Golf Buggy things that fly around the airport and got a lift all the way to the Gate arriving fresh and unperturbed.
The plane had already started loading and needless to say our section had been the first to load, so it was that the 5 of us fought our way through the ranks of other passengers who were trying to put bags in the overhead lockers before finally reaching our seats somewhere near the back.
Singapore Airlines, what can we say, the Check-in was a piece of cake and the staff on board this 747 on the first leg of our trip to OZ were positively delightful, we were only in the economy section but they smiled, they acknowledged the children and generally just made us feel welcome. Hot towels to start, just to get the feeling that we are going to be pampered, that was about as much as it got, but they were efficient, and if you wanted a drink you got one, if you wanted a snack you got one, it was like being in a good restaurant, where you only see the waiter when you want something and yet they are always there at the right time.
Take Off time, no dramas, and the kids can’t wait for the little TV screens to come to life so that the can spend the next 12 hours watching the same film 5 times over (Fraser), shooting aliens and crashing things (Marisa), telling the other two what they are doing wrong (Kristian). Ian did try to point out to them that they were about to fly over Grannies house but they got the hump and told him to get out of the way of the screen.
The rest off the flight was pretty uneventful, we ate a couple of times, we drank a couple of times, we watched a lot of telly but could not get to sleep, and so it was that we landed in Singapore at 7am their time on Monday 4th February 2008.
Talk about contrasts, after Heathrow this was like walking into your poshest friends living room, you almost felt like you should take your shoes off for fear of making a mess of the carpets, the place was light and airy, uncluttered, friendly, welcoming and efficient, just like terminal 3 used to be, you could have 2 seats if you wanted and you didn’t have to endure a twice nuked Big Irish Breakfast.
Less than 2 hours and we were on the move again, only this time the X-ray machine has picked up something in the hand luggage, and we had checked the list so many times to make sure that this wouldn’t happen. Carolyn had picked up a pair of scissors just as we left home, they were the Left Handed scissors for Fraser that had taken weeks to find and Carolyn was adamant that they were not going to be left behind, she would simply put them in a case when we got to the airport. Wrong, with all the stress of trying to get 3 kids 2 trolleys, one of which is being driven by a madman and half a ton of luggage through the airport the were totally forgotten about, fortunately the people operating the security equipment was being operated by the same people who normally stop illegal immigrants from coming into the country so they missed them totally. Anyway, the Singapore authorities had found the offensive weapon and there was no way we were going to be allowed to get on board with them in our possession, Carolyn however had other ideas and having smuggled them out of England and into Singapore without being detected, and not at any time on the way out having the inclination to hijack the plane, she was determined to get them into Australia, fortunately the Singapore authorities had obviously seen this scenario a few times before and before Carolyn could get on her high horse, had asked her to sign a form allowing the staff to take them on board and allowing us to claim them back at Perth Airport. Happy families again!
So onto the final leg of the journey, Singapore Airlines again, same friendly service, staff acknowledged the kids; the kids couldn’t wait for the telly to come on. Not much sleep again but only a 5 hour flight this time, I would say it flew by but that would be stating the obvious.
Landed at Perth on time Monday afternoon and joined the worlds biggest migration queue, I hope there are still some people left in England able to read this otherwise I am wasting my time and we’ll have to tell you about it over a Barbie instead.
Needless to say we are the last people to come through Immigration and we must say they were very nice, helpful people, totally unlike what we are led to believe when you are trying to get permission to come here in the first place. So, we are just putting the last cases through the X ray machine having already done the immigration bit and Carolyn remembers the Scissors, we were supposed to have picked them up airside and declared them as we came through Customs, again someone must have been smiling on us because the very nice lady in Customs said don’t worry I can take you through to pick them up and proceeded to lead Carolyn through to the collection point. Fraser will probably become right handed now.
We have taken so long coming through that Ian’s sister Sharon is starting to wonder whether we have missed the plane, but eventually we’re through and the great adventure is about to begin, the weather is hot and Sharon’s other half Malcolm is on his way to help pick us up as we needed 2 cars to fit us all in. It took us about an hour to get to their house in Clarkson, north of Perth and by the time we had eaten an evening meal, Snags (sausages) cooked by Malcolm on the Barbie and drunk a can of the Amber Nectar (fizzy crap) we were hanging and ready for bed.