26th October. One week to go.

The conundrum of getting to Heathrow has been solved.

I met ‘Pete the Plod’ yesterday for a ‘Fat Boys Breakfast’ at Viaduct Cafe, Coalpit Heath and during our rambling conversation he asked how we were getting to the Airport.

By now we had explored all avenues and car hire was the only viable option.

We found a Web Site called ‘Argus Car Hire’ which is a sort of Confused.com for car hire and they offered a Ford Focus with one way drop off for about £90 ( one day rental on its own is only about £30) which is as cheap as weve found. However, I called into the car rental site on Gypsy Patch lane, Patchway, Bristol and they offered to match any price, even on line.

In a fit of goodwill brought on by the Breakfast Omelette and chips, Pete offered to run us to the Airport as long as he could be back for Rugby at 1200hrs.

So it came to pass that we’ve secured a ride at half the cost which allows us to book the Executive lounge at Heathrow for £17.50 each (we work this out at the price of three coffee’s and a paper) and still be in pocket. Result!

The next challenge was to agree the transport arrangements for OZ.

Landing in Sydney, we have to get up to Bundaberg ( 4 hours North of Brisbane) and then down to Melbourne for the flight to Bangkok, but which way to approach it?

Option one is to hire a car (which is the plan we eventually chose) and drive from Sydney up the coast road ( A1) to Bundaberg which is about 15 hours non stop driving. Then, when were ready, well come back down that coast, through Sydney and follow the coast road all the way to Melbourne. We could cut off a significant chunk of the journey by going through Canberra if we need to make up some time. The Cost of Car hire through Rentalcars.com was £720 for 41 days with a one way drop off fee of AD $200 . However, after we’d paid this amount they contacted us to say the car hire company had changed the rental cost and wanted an additional 100 Australian Dollars for the one way drop off. Luckily Rentalcars.com knocked that amount off the cost of the car rental so  we got the deal we wanted. Recommend them in future.

Other options we considered were flying up from Sydney to Brisbane then hiring a car, flying up and back, flying from Brisbane to Melbourne and all other combinations. We also looked at taking the train which links all three destinations and has a sleeper option which would have been really exciting.

We puzzled all of these options, looking at the advantages and disadvantages of one over the other. The sleeper train would save us a nights accommodation but wouldn’t allow us to stop where we pleased. The flights were quick and reasonably priced but it would mean spending more time in airports and hanging around rather than seeing Australia.

There was on balance, almost nothing in the overall cost once accommodation, petrol, taxis and flight/train costs were put in the mix. It all came down to what we wanted to do.

The simple answer was, to have as much freedom as possible and once that became clear, the self drive became a no brainer.

So we have that in the bag.

Finally, my Friend Julie Ann nee Cornish (though she now has a completely un-pronounceable Greek name) has invited us to stay with her and her family in Melbourne, so we can see the Olive Farm and meet up with young Willow again (yes thats her real name)  and meet George, her husband for the first time.

It looks like things are starting to come together.

If we didnt have the problems with the fridge (did i not mention the integrated CDA fridge we bought for the new Bungalow that has never worked and developed an alien ice form inside it that forced the shelves against the door stopping it closing)?

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After 4 visits from the Engineer (that’s 4 days staying in waiting for him to arrive) they decided we need a new fridge, but as its out of stock, they wanted to deliver it the day after we fly to Bangkok. Also, they would only deliver to the kerb side and wouldn’t  be taking the old one away or fitting the new one and given they broke the cabinet door on the last visit we need a kitchen fitter to sort it all out. However, they have now agreed to deliver next Wednesday and send an engineer next Thursday, so 2 more days of waiting around.

Oh well, at least we have some thing to take our minds off packing suitcases, which seems to be taking up an awful lot of Jaki’s time.

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