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Getting there...

Day  ‘minus 3’ Friday 15 February - Trumbles B&B, Charlwood.

 

Mum agreed to stay at our house while we were away for 3 weeks. She looked after Bobbin (our one-year-old black and white and very independent tom-cat) for us. I felt quite emotional about leaving Mum because I love her very much and she had taken on quite a commitment to enable us to go away on our ‘holiday of a lifetime’. We said goodbye to her at 2.30 pm and we headed off down the M1 to join the M25 car park(!). Three and a half hours later (that should have been 2 hours), we arrived (late) at Trumbles B&B. It was really lovely; very luxurious; and top scoring! Bags dropped off, we headed off down the very busy road minus pavement, in the dark, with lots of flashing lights and Jeff's head torch, to ‘The Half Moon’ pub where we had dinner. Jeff had some very hot fish and chips; and I had Cajun salmon with a very tasty sauce. We ordered our veggie cooked breakfast; and I drank my bedtime ‘Turmeric tea’. I’m getting more and more niche with age when it comes to food choices. Anyway, off to sleep. We had a long day the next day...

 

Day ‘minus 2’ Saturday 16th of February – Spending time

 

We had a lot of time to kill today; so we left our backpacks at the B&B and drove up to Box Hill about 20 minutes away. We’d been up that hill on our bikes for ‘Ride London’ and being up there without a bike was really strange. Needless to say, there were loads of cyclists out on their Saturday morning jaunt. We went for a short walk and along the way Jeff was accosted by a stubborn buffalo bull. The bull was in the middle of our path and we thought he might be kind enough to let us go by, but he wasn’t. He stomped his foot and butted his head against Jeff's leg; at which point we thought we had better leave swiftly; and we clambered up the steep bank back onto the road above.

 

With more time to kill we went for an amazing guided tour around the Gatwick Aviation Museum and saw a model of the old horse racing site that later became Gatwick Airport. We went on a decommissioned Shackleton reconnaissance plane with an ex-cold war ground engineer who had worked on one of the planes. They had old Harrier jump jets there too. After that very interesting interlude, we went on to Gatwick airport and selflessly researched the Wetherspoons before heading off eventually to board the first flight to Dubai (EK10); an eight-hour flight on a huge Boeing 380. Dubai is a very built-up place, some of which is on very flat sea-level reclaimed land. It seems to be full of rich people; so much wealth; bling everywhere! It was a useful break though and a chance to stretch our legs. The flight to Auckland left Dubai at 10:05 on Sunday the 17th of February.

 

 

Day ‘minus 1’ Sunday 17th of February – Arrival

 

I was really impressed by the gluten-free food on the Emirates plane the cabin crew were very professional and the women with the red side-sashes on their hats and their red lipstick looked beautiful; straight out of the 1950s. The flight was 16 hours and very very long. Luckily the in-flight entertainment was good and we watched films, played games, ate meals, drank and dozed. We went through night into day and landed in Auckland at 10:20 am, New Zealand time. Well the airport wasn't a great experience…

An older man with anxiety or mental issues was a bit clumsy in baggage retrieval and almost hit a drug sniffer dog with his bag. Even Jeff called out 'don't do that!' The customs guard with the sniffer-dog was really aggressive towards the man and the poor old man ended up kneeling on the floor sobbing. I don't think he meant to do any harm to the dog. He was just being a bit silly and was anxious about his bags. It was heart-breaking. I moved myself out of the way. Anyway I did see the man later on looking much calmer walking along with 6 other customs guards. He seemed ok.

 

Then... Jeff decided he needed the little boys’ room and he left me in the customs queue. We had decided to go through 'something to declare' because we weren't sure about the mud on our boots from our walk on Box Hill. Mud is a bio-hazard and New Zealand is very careful about letting bio-hazards (like buffalo poo) in… We had cleaned our boots at home. I guess it wasn't such a good idea to wear them on a muddy walk. So Jeff left me in the queue and went off. I went through customs before him and the customs guard laughed at me when he saw tiny bit of mud on my boots. He said 'they look practically brand new!' I felt a bit silly…


So then Jeff came back and went through customs, but he got told that he had to clean his boots. Ha ha! I felt a lot less silly… 

 

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