A Travellerspoint blog

May 2019

Sydney to Canberra - Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Home again, home again, jiggity jog!

semi-overcast 14 °C
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We both had a good night's sleep and after breakfast we realise that we could probably make the 8.30 bus, instead of the 9.30 one we are booked on. I always do a fully flexible booking, just in case we want to change. So we drag all our luggage over the road to the bus stop, only to be told that the 8.30 is full, but if there is a 'no show', then we can have the seats. This doesn't excite me much because it would probably mean sitting next to a stranger, not together. Not that I can't stand to be separated from my husband, far from it after six weeks together (!), but I always go to sleep on a bus and it's a bit embarrassing waking up, leaning all over a stranger!

It's quite pleasant sitting outdoors in the cool, fresh air, watching the passing parade. Most people have arrived on overnight flights and they look like zombies.

We board the bus at about 9 and then it departs at 9.15, instead of 9.25 and it's not full but we're on our way, back to Canberra.

We hardly make it to Campbelltown and I'm asleep, waking three hours later just as we enter the outskirts of Canberra. Good trip and Phil has been asleep too.

We caught a taxi home, unpacked the bags, did the washing, bought the essential groceries until I have more time (and feel like it) on Saturday. The weather is quite cool. A quick check around the garden and the indoor plants reveals that the tank is full, the rain gauge shows we've had three inches of rain, one shrub is dead and my pot of bamboo is dead. It's was a bugger of a thing anyway, needing a drink every single day. I actually thought bamboo was hardier than that.

Back to cooking and domestic chores and into bed early as I go back to work tomorrow.

This has been an extremely memorable and satisfying trip, and relaxing. Not moving every day, rather two nights on QE2 in Dubai, 21 sailing on QM2, five days in Cornwall, 11 days in London and finishing with four days in Windsor.

Our trip on the Queen Mary 2 was amazing. Total luxury and you can tell that by the size of our waistlines now! We were totally indulged and met some lovely people, however, we are thinking that this was a "one off" experience for us, perhaps until we are so old, that we can hardly move. Cruising is great but if you want to visit and experience a country properly, then the only way to do that is by a land tour.

It was lovely to spend time with the rellies in Cornwall. It is such a beautiful place - so green. St Michael's Mount has become my nemisis - twice there and still yet to climb to the top! Maybe next time.

London - well London is London. It is vibrant, full of history and there is magnificent architecture everywhere you look. The buildings are stunning. The weather is always the same - unpredictable - warm one minute, cool the next - always wear layers. We used Uber taxis a lot in London and that worked very well. We didn't bother wi

Windsor was ALIVE with media everywhere, waiting for news of Royal baby Sussex. It was the first time Phil had been to Windsor and he just loved it. It really is a nice place.

All our hotels were great - big rooms with plenty of space and a bath!

No more overseas travel for us this year, just a couple of trips to Queensland which we are both looking forward to, especially me.

Posted by gaddingabout 20:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Singapore to Sydney - Monday, 6 May 2019

semi-overcast 33 °C
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Our flight for Sydney left at 9.25 am for the seven and a half hour daylight flight to Sydney. I watched a movie but can't remember its name. It had Jennifer Lopez in it and was quite good. I filled in our Passenger Cards, as I always do, and for some reason mucked them up totally. I had my information on the front and Phil's information on the back of the same card. They were unsalavageable and had to ask for some more. How embarrassing!

We landed at 7 pm and as we were the only flight in at that time, we breezed through customs, immigration, the obligatory visit to the Duty Free shop and were checking into Rydges Airport Hotel by 8 pm. We freshened up and went to Rydges restaurant for some pasta and then into bed by 11 pm.

Posted by gaddingabout 00:39 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Dubai to Singapore - Sunday, 5 May 2019

Heading home

semi-overcast 40 °C
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Roda Al Bustan Airport Hotel - Room 321

By the time I got to bed last night (this morning) it was 2.45 am so we set the alarm for 8.30 am as we didn't want to miss breakfast, which finished at 10.30 am. Breakfast was nice and we are now chilling out in our room, just relaxing until it's time to go to the airport. Our room overlooks a great pool and it's 37 degrees outside, BUT I left my swimmers in Cornwall with all the evening clothes from the Queen Mary, waiting to be posted home.

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We left the hotel at about 5pm and caught a taxi to the airport.

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It is reasonably quiet but at check in we are told there is no Singapore Lounge here, or a Virgin one either. Mmmmmm, we can purchase membership to one that they recommend, so we paid 40 AUD each to spend a couple of hours eating, drinking and relaxing before our flight. We actually had a very nice chicken and basil curry with rice.

The flight from Dubai from Singapore took seven and a half hours overnight. and the time passed relatively quickly. I watched "The Boy who would be King", slept a bit and then watched some episodes of Sex in the City and before we knew it, we had landed in Singapore, to a balmy 33 degrees.

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We have two hours before our flight to Sydney, so we are now looking for the general direction of the gate. Found it, and now have time to go to the Singapore Airlines Lounge for a quick drink and a snack.

Posted by gaddingabout 05:06 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Windsor - Friday, 3 May 2019

The big day

overcast 13 °C
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Harte and Garter Hotel - Room No 109

Up early and down to breakfast at 7 am. Everyone is getting excited.

I started to get dressed and then realised that the three weeks on board the Queen Mary 2 had taken its toll on the hips and when I went to zip up my skirt - oops, it was a tad difficult. I needed a bit of help from Phil to do the final two inches!!! So, now the hat. This is the part of my outfit that has been causing me the most angst as I am not used to wearing hats and am hoping that it will just sit beautifully and not move. The hat is on and it is looking good. I keep bumping it because I'm not used to wearing a hat, but on the whole it feels pretty secure.

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Those of us staying at the Harte and Garter have agreed to meet in the foyer at 9am, because the entrance to Windsor Castle opens at 9.15 am and we have noticed that this year, that there are no seat numbers on the invitations. There is free seating for all within their dedicated sections and I want the Aussies who are attending for the first time, to have a seat in the front row.

We notice the Town Crier is out on the street, so we gave him a whistle to come and have a photo with us, as we are all looking pretty "spech", even if I do say so myself. We are bombarded by the Australian media who have heard our accent. There is a television crew from Channel 10 Australia and a reporter from NewsCorp. They want to talk about the baby, but what would we know. Then they suddenly realise we are all dressed up with medals and then asked about that and Doug told them all about the Royal Victorian Order. It was great fun and I believe that that night, we were seen on the Channel 10 news in Australia!

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So we all enter the Castle and proceed through security and then into St George's Chapel. As I am sitting in the Quire, I have a different entry from the others, but there is someone on hand at every turn, and it was a breeze. I am the first to arrive in the Quire and am met by Maxine Murray, the Deputy Secretary at the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood who has been so nice to deal with over the months and who is responsible for my fabulous seat in the Quire. Thank you Maxine. I gave her a small gift, just to say thank you. It is a gold kangaroo lapel pin with an opal tummy. It is lovely and she puts it on straight away. It looks very nice on her suit and during the morning I noticed her colleagues commenting on it.

As it is very early, not many people have arrived yet, so the girls come into the Quire for a peek. They came and sat with me and chatted for a while. It was nice. Kevin Skipworth took a totally illegal photo of the four of us sitting in the Quire!

There are only 52 seats in the Quire and most of them are for members of the Royal Family, the Choir of St George's Chapel, the Choir of The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, Knights and Dames Grand Cross of the Order and the Military Knights. The Military Knights are resplendent in red uniforms emblazoned with so much gold, I almost needed sun glasses!

I am sitting in the back row with seven "normal" people, five places away from Her Majesty. There are about 10 "normal" people on the other side, so I am feeling very special. Michael Jackson, LVO from Canada is on one side of me and Captain David Guy, MVO, RN, an equerry for The Queen's 1977 trip to Canada, is on the other.

The organist has been playing for about half an hour and then a fanfare announces the arrival of Her Majesty and the Royal Family. They include Princess Alexandra, Princess Anne and her husband, Tim Laurence, Prince Michael of Kent, The Duke of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Princes Andrew and Edward. We are disappointed that Kate and William aren't there, but it is Princess Charlotte's birthday party today, so that's where they are. And Meghan and Harry - well that goes without saying. Prince Charles and Camilla don't ever attend. I'm not sure why.

During the service, I kept looking up at The Queen and each time she was staring at me so we had quite a few eye contact moments. I really think she wanted my hat!

At the end of the service, we all proceeded to the reception rooms. I followed the other people from the Quire and found myself alone in a huge room, keeping my eye on the door for the other Aussies. Finally Geoff Hay found me having a champers, but as the room filled up it was harder and harder to spot the others as everyone was so tall and with 1,200 people in several rooms, this was going to be a task. I wandered around a few of the rooms until I found the group, and then we went Royal hunting.

We found Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and her husband Vice Admiral Tim Laurence and had nice chats with them. We went searching for The Queen but we couldn't find her. She is quite short and unfortunately for the newbies, we didn't even glimpse her. Such a shame for them. We did have a chat with Reverend Canon Professor Peter Galloway, the Chaplain of the Order (at St George's Chapel and the Savoy Chapel) and apologised for not being able to attend the service at the Savoy on Sunday, but we would be on our way home by then.

All too soon it was time to go, so we wandered down the hill, out the huge gates and back to normality. A local woman on the streets of Windsor stopped us and asked us why we were all dressed up and where we had been, so we chatted to her for ages.

I got back to the hotel at about 3 ish, and Phil was sitting in the lounge with Kathy and Maurice Dalton having a drink. Maurice was with Phil in Turkey in the early seventies, and as a member of the Royal Victorian Order had come up from Kent for this morning's function. It was nice to meet then and we sat there for hours chatting.

A German man in the lounge approached us and asked me if he could take my photo, because I looked so nice! It's THAT hat again! We all laughed and I said yes, of course. We all laughed a lot at that!

We were given a huge bottle of champagne on our arrival on the Queen Mary 2 and it was too big for just two of us to drink in one go, so Phil has been lugging this thing all over the UK for three weeks. So when Doug, Maria and Caroline joined us, Phil got the bottle from the bar fridge, and we polished off the champers in record time. A very nice way to end a very special day.

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But there was more to come. Gerri Warner had told us about a fabulous Greek restaurant just down the road, so twelve of us went there for a very nice dinner. All reports were that everyone enjoyed their meal and wine very much. Poor Kathy and Maurice then had a two hour drive to Kent, but they were happy to have missed peak hour traffic.

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It has been raining a bit and it's freezing, but I still can't say that I am happy to be going home tomorrow. This has been a very memorable and wonderful six weeks.

Phil has never been to Windsor before and he just loves it. It is a very pleasant town with lots of eateries and very easy to walk around.

Haven't packed yet and into bed about midnight, a very tired but very happy girl! It has been a very special day!

Posted by gaddingabout 01:59 Archived in England Comments (0)

London to Dubai - Saturday, 4 May 2019

Starting the long journey home

sunny 10 °C
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Very sad day today. Our journey is over. It has been an amazing six weeks, culminating with the Royal Victorian Order function at Windsor Castle yesterday. We went to breakfast at 8 ish as we both still have to pack.

We had breakfast with Maria and Doug, then Amanda and Jennifer came along, followed by Caroline and Geoff Hay. Then came Gerry and Gerri Warner. I am also pleased to report that after five breakfasts, Phil's eggs were perfect this morning! He has had an ongoing battle with the kitchen on how to cook fried eggs, with the white hard and the yellow runny. The girl in the dining room has been SO good natured about this and each morning the eggs got better and better and today they were perfect. We laughed a lot this morning and we had a big hug when we left the dining room. I think she was very glad we were checking out!

We have had the media camped in the room next door to us all week, waiting for Baby Sussex. We have become quite friendly with them and on the way out today I asked them exactly why they were camped at the front gate of Windsor. "Because Harry and Meghan live at Frogmore House on the estate". "Yes, I know, but do you think they are going to bring the baby (whenever it arrives) out to the front gate of Windsor Castle?" "No", they said, "then why have you been camped here for a week?" "Because that's what we were told to do by the boss". Nice work if you can get it, but pretty boring I would imagine, hanging around for days and days waiting for something to happen!

Check out time is 11 so we packed up and were down stairs at about 10.30, saying our goodbyes to everyone. It is absolutely freezing today. It was 2 degrees overnight and now it is about 4 and the wind has started up, and it's cold. The Brown Button came to say goodbye too. Gregg is not feeling too well, so he didn't come to say goodbye as he didn't want to spread whatever he has around. Now that is thoughtful.

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We shared a taxi with Doug and we got out at Terminal 3 and he continued on to Terminal 4. This leg from London to Dubai is an Economy flight for us (eek, we haven't done that for a long time but it was all we could get when we had to change flights).

So we are heading towards a very long queue of Economy passengers, when a guy beckons us over to the Business Class line, which only has a couple of people on it. "We're travelling Economy", I said. "Doesn't matter", he said. I think it is the grey hair that does it every time.

Checked in and we are now heading for immigraton - fine - next step is security checking, which Phil always fails, but he is quite certain that he'll be fine this time.

No, his carry on bag is kept back so he had to open it and stand back while they systematically went through it layer by layer and finally, right in a bottom corner they find the offenders - three small jam jars full of VEGEMITE! So the jars are placed in a plastic bag and go through the scanner again. They are cleared and we are allowed to continue on our way with the offending Vegemite.

At security, a woman in a full burka had to take her shoes off before proceeding through the scanner. I wondered about this because no one else had to take their shoes off, so why should she. If she had anything concealed, it would be revealed on the scanner.

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We had a coffee and a couple of lovely fresh ham and cheese rolls and then wandered around to our gate and in no time we were boarding. We are both sitting in the same row, but with the aisle between us. We are on an Emirates flight and have plenty of room. I usually sleep on flights but this flight was only six and a half hours so I watched three movies - Mary Poppins Returns, Mother's Day and the Professor and the Madman. They were all pretty good, but it took a while for me to get into the Professor and the Madman.

We landed in Dubai at about 11.45 pm and by the time we had cleared immigration, collected our luggage, caught a taxi and checked into the hotel, it was 2 am when we arrived in our room. Not tired at all.

When we checked in at 2 am, we asked if we could have a late check out. Yes, how about 3 pm. Well, as our flight is at 8 pm, we were wondering if we could check out at 6 pm. No, the hotel has a group arriving at 2 pm (so what does that have to do with us?), but after a lot of friendly bartering, we agreed on 5 pm, which is fine for us, because we can go into the Singapore Airlines lounge at the airport. However, I think airport hotels should be a little more flexible with their check-in and check-out times. If you arrive at 2 am in the morning, you should be entitled to 24 hours stay, especially when you are paying full price $200 AUD plus for a room. Their clientele is a little bit different from the normal tourist who is staying for a week. Just saying.

Posted by gaddingabout 00:22 Archived in England Comments (0)

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