Last minute hang-ups

August 1, 2015 - Sydney, Australia

Some adventures begin auspiciously, some just begin and a few start as an adventure at the very beginning. No don't get too concerned! We are sitting safe and well in our hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Margaret seems to have enjoyed her visit to the Hunter Valley and her talk was acclaimed by all, but I hope she will have more to say about that as soon as I let her near the Fuzzy Travel. Her trip from the Valley to Sydney and meeting up with Sarah and David, along with Lucie, Zack and Olly? More from Margaret on that as well.

......

Margaret says:

Graham and Dawn gave me a lift to Sydney; it was lovely to catch up with them, and with so many others from Newcastle at the conference.

After lunch, David took Lucie around to her ballet class and  David, Sarah the boys and I had a lovely walk around Cremorne Point before Zack and Olly made their way home to get ready for a party tonight.

......

So that all went according to plan. My side was a touch more frantic and panic inducing. It began too early in the morning when I woke at about 4am and couldn't shut down my brain. What else should I take, if anything? How can I ensure that things we have set up will work for us? What happens if ... ? Just the usual sort of concerns that are a necessary part of planning but are sometimes impossible to push to the back of ones mind and let sleep overtake you once more. By 5am I decided it was useless lying there and I would be better to get up and at least do some of the general housework that would make the place ship-shape for our return and OK to leave to the rats and insects. No, no, and no. We don't have a problem on that score, but if everything is wiped down or vacuumed up for the third time there will be less to entice the vermin and more  to keep me occupied, or such was my thinking.

So all was going well, the bed linen washed, dried and back on the bed, the kitchen wiped down, the carpets vacuumed, and it was still early. What else could I do? Well the bathrooms was my plan. Oh, and I could do a final clothes wash. Soon I was scrubbing shower screens and tiles and dashed out for a moment to throw the clothes into the washing machine. Back at the shower screen scrub I thought that it was probably about the time Margaret was likely to ring.

Several thoughts flashed through my mind.

"Can I hear the phone from here?"

"Where did I leave it?"

And then "Oh sh*t! Oh NO! Panic now".

You guessed it. The phone is in the pocket of my jeans, and they are now locked inside a front-loading washing machine. Luckily the door opened as soon as I pressed the button. Normally you would have to stop the cycle which can take a little while but there is a certain unfeeling mechanical malevolence in opening immediately to reveal a load only partly wet but my jeans only partly visible. The whole lot got dragged onto the floor and from the pocket of my jeans I extracted a phone that was damp but whose screen lit up on command. I grabbed Margaret's hairdryer and headed to the kitchen. Even as I went the screen began to show a darker perimeter band and as I fumbled to plug in the hairdryer with one hand I tore the back off the phone with the other. Even before I got the battery out the screen faded to white. "Still powered then", I thought but the hope of resurrection was only faint really. I pulled out the two SIM cards; my local one as well as the Global Roaming card which was to be our means of communication overseas. I left the phone's innards exposed to the hairdryer's blast at what I hoped was a safe enough distance but the worry of cooking it was the lesser problem in my mind. I calmly returned to the chores. Perhaps not all that calmly. I was now trying to work out how to let Margaret know I could be out of contact and how to communicate with our friend who had offered a ride to the station in the afternoon.

After finishing the bathrooms I returned to the very warm phone and put it back together with just my local SIM card and, with some trepidation powered it up. At least the screen appeared again and I tried calling Margaret. Well at that worked, also. I talked to Margaret and told her I may be difficult to reach as I had a few dramas with my phone, without telling her the full extent. She said she was having some minor problems with her phone as well and I resolved that while I had some time in hand I would try to buy a phone, maybe two. After I hung up I thought I should give the phone a bit more of the hairdryer treatment and put the SIM card into one of my old phones that I hadn't got around to sending for recycling. Why not just take them overseas you ask. Well they are quite old and the battery life is not that good but more to the point, they do not work with the Global Roaming cards. A problem we discovered before our last trip and the reason we bought the pair of El Cheapo phones that we have used since. Anyway while the phone was charging I received a text from Paul suggesting a time to meet for my lift to the station so answering that solved one minor problem.

I dashed up the street to Dick Smith and purchased two new phones for very little and brought them home to charge the batteries and try them out. That answered one area of concern. Both the SIM cards still worked. It also revealed that all my recently added contacts were stored on the old phone and not on the SIM card.

Note to self, I must get better at maintaining my contacts list or get into the modern age and synchronise them all on my phones, computers, tablets and webmail sites. I managed to power up the old phone again and extract numbers for one and part of another contact before the screen went white again. After a few iterations I had the information written in my diary, the new phones were charged and I began learning to drive my new phone (Android "powered" and for $84, very swish) 

and I rang Margaret again to let her know I was now in touch with the world again.

 

I was now able to relax a little. My bags were packed, I had the means to contact the world and one of the tasks I had done earlier in the day was to make a sandwich for my lunch before I cleaned out the perishables from the fridge. So now I had lunch and relaxed, and even had a little snooze before I did a final check around the unit and went to meet Paul who delivered me to the station.

From there on the day fell back into the planned schedule. I arrived at the airport about 5:30pm and found my way to the check-in area for our flight and waited for Margaret to arrive. Check-in had not been open long before Margaret arrived and after a quick change into more comfortable travelling clothes (for Margaret anyway) we checked our cases and headed for immigration and the departure security screening. From Business Class Check-in we had Express Path cards to take us through immigration which just led us around a longer, but empty, path to the passport control that seemed to have all the hopeless people fumbling with the presentation of their passport to the machines so it was probably less than Express. Of course, as the least likely looking suspects we also managed to have issues at security. My fault for having paper and things in my pockets and not being familiar with the new personal x-ray checks. So after a rummage through my pocket contents, some of which were taken back to the luggage x-ray, and a pat down to make sure I wasn't carrying anything else suspicious I joined Margaret collecting our stuff from the trays and turned to head for the gates. Not so fast you likely looking bombers. We would like you to be two of our random checks for explosive residues as well.

At last we were released into the path to the departure lounges with a small stop in the Duty Free maze, conveniently located at the junction of the other three wings of the terminal. I guess it has to be there so everybody has a chance to be coerced but it makes it difficult to find the signs for the gates among all the advertising competition. A little bit Gruen perhaps!

At last we made it to the Etihad lounge where everything seemed much calmer. A glass or two of shiraz, some Golden Mussel Chowder and bread and we were feeling much less put upon and more waited upon. Very relaxing it was to sit with a wine and to nibble on cheese and crackers while waiting for our boarding call. Oh, while we took our ease the staff at the lounge took our boarding passes that had us in seats across the aisle from each other and delivered us new seating allocations so we would be beside each other. Last trip that meant we couldn't actually converse and I shifted to a seat across the aisle so we could talk but we were assured that the A380 configuration was different, and better.

The time finally came to head for the plane and we took what turned out to be a long walk to one of the last gates to board the aircraft but the new setup meant there is a separate jetway that delivers the 'above stairs' passengers to the upper deck without having to mix with those 'downstairs'. The cynical and Mr Gruen would also suggest you are given a glimpse of the First Class facilities to tempt you further. Our new seats were 'as advertised' (by the staff in the lounge at least) and we were sat within earshot and with only a privacy barrier that could be raised if one was watching a movie while the other slept.

A delayed arrival flight meant our aircraft was late getting permission to push back from the terminal but we settled in with a glass of juice - finally deciding that yet another red wine may be a bad move - and waited. Our flight finally trundled off almost half an hour late and it was probably 10pm before we were airborne and then turned left and circled around to roar over Sue's place and keep her awake while Margaret and I settled in to watch 'The Age of Adeline'. We had doubted that this was a movie to our taste when we had a chance to see it at the cinema but it was surprisingly well conceived and proved to be very watchable as we headed off into the darkness.

Sydney time Midnight came and went while we watched the movie and Margaret settled down in the 'lay flat' configuration and promptly fell asleep. As for me, All Day dining on the Etihad flights meant that my restless night was punctuated by little nibbles (or more) and drinks.

 


2 Comments

Judy Crewe:
August 3, 2015
Lucky you at the beginning of it all and over the packing etc. stress. I'm min the last legs of my trip, in London and packing today, off to Singapore tomorrow, from few days, then home. Have fun on your trip.

Love,

Judy
Sue:
August 3, 2015
gosh what a stressful start to the day, glad that it all worked out okay. Lovely to fly upstairs in the A380, does spoil you doe future trips though. I do hear the late night planes flying over HH. enjoy the warmth of Abu Dhabi.
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