Date July 30
The Retirees Go Abroad
Well the day has arrived. After all the farewell parties I’m glad to get away and return to my usual routine. Cassandra and Lilly came to the International airport as our final farewell wishers and Lilly had a ball “surfing” on our suitcases.
We have moved up the ranks in EVA to where we are now Gold Card members and even though we are flying economy we get the “benefits” – use of the lounge in Brisbane and Taipei and priority boarding. They even gave us 4 seats as the plane was not full and Kerry made full use of three of them.
We arrived early morning in Taipei and for the first time we boarded a bus from the plane to travel to the terminal. It was muggy and overcast and our jackets for the UK were a pain to carry. Transist at Taipei requires that we go through the scanners once again but this has now become familiar. So familiar that we entered the international terminal and walked directly to the EVA lounge and lined up for the showers.
The showers are something to behold. A shower head spraying over your body whilst three jets massage your back. I did not want to get out and it seems the lock on the shower door did not want me to leave either. After a bit of a tussle I won my freedom. The lounge is pleasant and the food very Asian.
Inside the Terminal/Hello Kitty
We have a two and one half hours layover, so we catch up on emails and Kerry plugs in all her contacts for video links via google hangouts. I send an email to Phil as the first job is to pick up our “new” car and we have a rendezvous at the Black Lion at Patcham to meet Phil.
Its now about 1 hour from our London arrival, breakfast has been served and Kerry and I realise that we are not arriving midmorning as we had thought but rather 7.00 pm – our bus to Brighton had departed at 11.00 am. Oops! One thing we have learned is never panic there is always a solution it just costs money.
We land at Heathrow terminal 2 (the Queens Terminal) which has been newly renovated and get to the luggage hall of Terminal 2 and our priority luggage is almost the last off the belt (so much for our gold class status) and I cannot contact Phil. Our UK prepaid mobile is working but Phil is not picking up. Decision time. Do we overnight at Heathrow or catch a bus to the Black Lion? In the UK (as with much of Europe) it remains light much longer than home so we decide on the bus and set off for Terminal 4. We were stiff from 28 hours in the air but soon worked this off as we walked through underground tunnels to the Terminal arriving at the bus station (I had been here previously when travelling from Nottingham to Heathrow some years ago and little had changed). I guard the luggage and Kerry pleads our case to amend our tickets. Success for $5 Kerry gets us tickets on the bus to Brighton at 8.50 pm.
Now I had not mentioned that our luggage consisted of two large suitcases two ordinary size suitcases two small suitcases and various bits of hand luggage and coats. So here we are
How many bags?
The time went by fairly quickly and the bus arrived on time. Only a few passengers so maybe a quick trip. I had rung the reception at the Black Lion and it closed at 11.00 pm. Our ETA – 11.30 pm. So by arrangement they would wait for us to arrive. All seemed well. But when the bus spent the first 40 mins just getting out of Heathrow and then 40 mins going around the terminals at Gatwick I was getting nervous. These airports are small cities in their own right. The actual trip from Heathrow to Brighton is only an hour (provided the M25 doesn’t play up) and the rest of the trip is spent travelling through the two airports.
We caught some sleep on the bus and arrived at bus stop down the road from the Black Lion Hotel Patcham around 11.20 pm. Kerry stood guard over the luggage whilst I transported it to the hotel (I use that word loosely – it is a pub with rooms attached). We booked in searched for and located our room (the number of stairs was ridiculous and I found myself lumping these suitcases up and down till midnight). [note to self – think twice before moving to another country]
Showered we both fell into bed but neither of us could sleep, so we tossed and turned til morning got up at an unearthly hour waited til the kitchen opened (no dinner the night before) and went for a walk through Patcham.
Brambles by the footpath Blackberries
Our Hotel The Black Lion
Phil had rung and arranged to pick us up and take us to Newhaven to sign the paperwork for our car, so when Mick arrived he decided to play a trick and pretend he was Phil. (Mick is my cousin in law who is married to my cousin Terri and they live in France at Dampierre and Phil is his identical twin brother) I was expecting Phil and notwithstanding my instincts telling me this was Mick, and Kerry having the same feeling I went along until we arrived at the car yard at Newhaven where the trick became very apparent. Bastard I will have to get even – so we have arranged a prolonged stay at Dampierre sur Boutonne (Mick and Terri’s “gites” are located here) so that I can plot my revenge. They are renovating a house at St. Leger and I have been promised hard labour when we visit. Phil has also offered accommodation at his home at Seaport on the English Channel – an offer we will certainly take up.
We went for a cup of tea at a harbour side cafe (a caravan with some tables and chairs) and then left Newhaven with our new car. Kerry is very excited about our mint green Hyundai (yet to be named).
Cup of tea at Newhaven
COMPETITION – what is the name for our new car? Give me your ideas and we will let you know when we “christen” it.
It is very spacious and a bit like a 4 wheel drive as it is taller then most cars. It held all our luggage and three adults.
Our Mint Green Hyundai Matrix
We decided to visit the Devil’s Dyke on the way to Long Eaton (our home for the next few months). I can recall growing up my father who was born in Brighton Hove telling me that he and his brothers (there was quite a lot of them) would slide down the sides of the dyke on card board or tinThe Devil’s Dyke is a 100m deep “V” shaped valley near Brighton Hove and a serious tourist attraction during Victorian period of England. Wikipedia reports:
“The hills surrounding the valley offer views of the South Downs, The Weald, and – on a clear day – the Isle of Wight. It is the site of ramparts, all that remain of an Iron Age hillfort, and a pub. It is a popular local beauty spot for the Brighton and Hove area (though it is actually in West Sussex).”
“Local folklore explains the valley as the work of the devil. The legend holds that the devil was digging a trench to allow the sea to flood the many churches in the Weald of Sussex. The digging disturbed an old woman who lit a candle, or angered a rooster causing it to crow, making the devil believe that the morning was fast approaching. The devil then fled, leaving his trench unfinished. The last shovel of earth he threw over his shoulder fell into the sea, forming the Isle of Wight.”
I have included some of our photos of the Dyke, the Weald and the panorama from the top .
We then set off for home and unfortunately the M25 was not in a good mood (the M25 is the 8 lane ring road around London and the access to Heathrow from the north south and west of England and access to Gatwick Airport from anywhere so the traffic can simply stop as the off ramps fill to capacity). It took us 6 hours to travel what should have been a three hour trip.
After finally arriving after 6.00pm we unloaded and settled into our flat reacquainted with our neighbours John and Pat and sorted the remnants from 6 years of tenants in the flat. We had already had dinner at one of the many “services” on the M1 highway (the main highway north up the centre of England) rather than trying to cook when we got to the flat so we started the work of re-organising which carried over into the next morning when we again rose early (bloody jet lag) and completed the work – disposing of rubbish cleaning floors disposing of broken furniture unpacking etc). We took a trip to Derby to get a new sim for Kerry’s phone (NEW PHONE NUMBER [International code, area code 44 then 0747 6006656] and get other supplies, a visit to our local Tesco and a walk around the High St. It will take time but we are settling in. One of the worst jobs was cleaning the oven which required that we soak it over night but I think we will need to repeat the process to get it clean.
Domestic bliss cleaning the oven together