Day 1 – 6th December
This is most likely going to turn out to be one of the more emotional blogs. If you are squeamish, you may want to look away now and come back tomorrow!
I guess departure day was always going to have top billing as the day of localised hay fever attacks causing my eyes to get wet and my nose to run. Yeah, that’s right, hay fever. Mind you the send off party on Market Harborough Station platform existing of Mum, Dad, Lynnette, William, Aimee, Tommy C, Neil and Joanne, Paul and Jenny (and Molly!) and my old mate Gordy didn’t help! It was like a scene from a film.
Monday 6th December was a pretty full on day in the life of Gordon G Woollacott. Not only was there some last minute packing to be done (shock horror!) but also a trip to the dentist, a ride out to Leicester for some last bits and pieces, a visit to the bank and the sale of a MK1 Golf Gti! I really need to take a look at my lastminute.com lifestyle, it always seems to work out but why do I put myself through it? The truth is I’m a bit like Inspector Gadget but without the go-go Gadget copter. Do you remember? He always came up smelling of roses, but only thanks to the behind the scenes work of his niece. Well, that’s how I roll except it’s not generally my 5 year old niece who comes to the rescue but other family members and my long suffering friends! Liz helped out with some lastminute.com packing on Sunday night, whilst Tommy C went above and beyond by dragging out his sheepskin coat and mobile sales caravan and helping sell the Golf ably assisted by his lovely Wife Amanda. In fact, that was more than last minute as I received the message that the deal was done just as I was heading through security at Heathrow Terminal 3!! Life on the very edge, courteously leaving more room for others.
It was good to meet up with Jim French for a quick beer at St Pancras as our paths crossed. Plenty of tips taken on from the old dog as he already has his travellers wings! Some more hugging and man back slapping before I was off on the Piccadilly line bound for Heathrow. And here began my first lesson in backpacking. When riding on a really busy tube, one should ensure ones backpack is removed from ones back before entering the carriage as once one is on said rolling stock then one will find it most difficult to remove 16kg of tightly rolled t-shirts and flip flops from ones back without appearing to be challenging anyone within a 6ft radius to ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’. Suffice to say, the backpack stayed in place for the entire 56 minute ride. Yes, I was counting. If I don’t come back fully ripped with a 6 pack and a gun show to be proud of then I’ve probably lost my backpack!
Lesson over, I arrived at Heathrow. In the film I got unhealthily hooked on over the last few months (Into The Wild – Mum DO NOT watch it!!) Chris McCandless describes his first days of travelling as his own birth. It’s nowhere near the same scale, but arriving at Heathrow I kind of imagined how he felt. I was like a child. Everything looked huge. I couldn’t work out where to go, turns out my flight was going onto Sydney and so was listed under Sydney for check-in! Haha, not a good sign when I’m still in England and having trouble! I was excited about going on a 747. I wondered how it would look inside and how it would feel in the air, everyone says they are so smooth. When I arrived at the boarding gate, I walked past the queuing passengers almost to the other end of the building just to get a look at the plane. As it was dark I had to press my face up against the window and shield the lights with my hands. Goodness knows what I must have looked like but I was just staring down the nose of this giant plane that was about to take me on a journey, physically and metaphorically, and it just looked majestic. I was greeted by a smiling Qantas attendant as I boarded the plane “Good evening Mr Woollacott, welcome aboard” he said in a strong Aussie accent as he took my boarding pass. Welcome aboard indeed.