However, I have no intention of sitting in the ‘departure lounge’ waiting to be struck down. I do intend, in just under four weeks time, to be sitting in an Auckland Airport departure lounge, waiting to be called for our flight through to London. I’m that excited!
Not only are we catching up with our son, old friends, my book club girls and some of the Pilates crew in London, but we’re also able to stay in our old flat as the owners still have it. I can’t wait to see everyone again and reconnect. Several plays, exhibitions, lunches and dinners are already booked and I’m looking forward to hiking along the Thames Path by Teddington Lock.
After a week or so in London we’re moving up country to Gretton, on to Lincoln then to York. Glasgow will follow, to be with our Glasgwegian pals and a drive up to Fort William, where we’ll train over the Harry Potter bridge - the Glenfinnan Viaduct - through to Mallaig, a tiny town in the North West Highlands. We’ll be looking out for flying cars! You won’t believe this, but after booking this trip, I received a message out of the blue from a woman who’d read my books and after a bit of chat, I asked her where she lived. She said Mallaig!!! I do hope to meet her when we arrive.
We return to London, re-pack the bags and train through to Barcelona, where our immediate and some extended family will get together for a fabulous week in a gorgeous villa in the seaside town of Sitges - 30 minutes out of Barcelona. You can see and hear the sea from the upstairs balconies. It’s going to be such a treat for us all.
A month in my beloved France follows. Yippee! We’re spending time and staying with friends both old and new, enjoying known places and discovering new. I can’t wait to be there. Then one last week in London before flying home. I’m worried I won’t want to leave. Especially when we’ll be enjoying the sun on our back and it’ll be freezing cold back in New Zealand. Arrgh.
Train travel is the way to go. We’ve loved all our tripping around on trains while exploring the UK and parts of Europe so I’ve booked all our travel this way on www.thetrainline.com They charge a tiny fee but it’s so easy. All the connections are shown, the time it takes, the cheapest option and best of all, the discounts using our Senior Rail Card (£30 each) are fantastic. Because we’re doing a lot in France too, we bought the SCNF Senior Discount Card too. These cost €49 each. Already we’ve saved several hundred dollars - after paying this amount.
The best thing is, there’s NO stress. No queuing at airports, pulling out laptops, iPads, phones, removing belts and shoes and shuffling through the body scanner. Last time I went through on our way to Australia, I was swabbed for explosives! I suppose an ordinary-looking 60-(mumble) granny could well be someone highly unsavoury. Yes, trains take longer but we‘ve got time and you get to see some amazing countryside and villages on the way. What’s not to love?
Don’t worry. We’ve taken out hefty travel insurance and booked our flights through an agent, in case we need to get back to NZ in a hurry.
Meanwhile, we’ve finished current renovations at home and I’m thrilled to bits with the bookcases and fireplace. With the afternoon sun pouring in we’re using this room all the time now. It’s getting rather chilly here in the evenings so when friends come over for a drink or dinner, we gravitate to this side of the living area and enjoy the warmth of the fire.
During April we did an overnight flit to Wellington to catch up with our wedding Matron-of-Honour and our MC. It was a big night with them and just so much fun. The trip was to also catch the Rita Angas exhibition on at our national museum of New Zealand - Te Papa. It was fabulous. I was all booked to see it at the Royal Academy in London until Covid struck, so I was delighted to find it on here in New Zealand. Rita is a NZ artist and was prolific in her time creating amazing watercolours and oils of our Central Otago landscape. Her self-portraits have been done in many styles over her life time. I love her use of colour too. I’ll show you a couple.
Our trip to Adelaide was family-focused and so good. Our little grandson is such a personality. It was great to get full-on grandparent time, having full Tuesdays with him, going to Kinder-gym and swimming too. I needed instructions on what to do as I hadn’t looked after a 16 month old since I last had my own - 32 years ago! Then there’s the tuition needed to unlock the car seat and to set up the pram! So many clips here, buttons there that needed pushing and unclipping. We loved it.
So even though I really am in the autumn of my life, I’m not letting it slip away easily. I’m busy planning more adventures for later in the year but we’ll enjoy every minute of this one coming up. Here’s a few more misty-morning, autumn photos of our village walks.
Take care. I'll post from London soon. Just you try and stop me!