The journey home was long and some what more uncomfortable than I’d hoped for.
We left the room at 1400 having been given an extension to our check out time and we killed some time sitting by the river in the shade of a large umbrella, sipping cold drinks and wondering where the last three months had gone.
When we set out, three months seemed like an eternity. In that time we saw hundreds of people waiting to go home and rejoiced in the knowledge that it wasn’t us, but on this day, as it was always going to be, we were the ones with the ‘It’s not Far’ expressions stamped all our faces as we waited for the taxi.
Steve and Cathy had left earlier to catch the 1830 train to Chiang Mai. They still had another two weeks to exploit.
Having been advised to allow 4 hours to get to the Airport ( a trip that usually takes 40 minutes) because of the protests taking place in Bangkok we set out at 1800, even though our departure was 15 minutes past midnight which meant we had an awful lot of time to kill. We had hoped that going early would allow us to change our seats for some thing a little more comfortable but that wasn’t to be. I think our flight was amalgamated with an Air Canada flight so every seat was taken, including the back three rows on the outside.
The process of going through security checks is always stressful and this was no exception. My artificial knee always sets off the alarm and the Thai guy scanning me couldn’t understand how I could keep buzzing when I was butt naked. For some weeks we have been unable to locate a pair of scissors we took with us and so i have been unable to trim my beard and I resorted to cutting my fringe with a razor, but today the x ray machine found it and it was duly confiscated.
We chose to eat in The Mango Tree which looked reasonable but the food was pretty ordinary though I could not resist one last red curry though this time I had Duck as a last supper.
Once in the departure lounge we secured a pair of comfortable though badly stained seats in the IT lounge and fought off several attempts by fellow travellers to take them from us until it was time to board.
Once in our seats , bags stowed we went through the game of watching passengers come up the Isle, hoping they won’t sit next to us and when a lady with an over sized bum took the window seat, we wished we were those other people who seemed to have a row to themselves. However, every seat was taken so when we taxied out some 20 minutes later the only game in town was Sardines.
The food was predictable, there was a token offer of alcoholic drinks but this was a bit half hearted and I had more spilt on my leg by the male Host than I got in my glass. Though the in flight entertainment has come on leaps and bounds, sadly the sound quality hasn’t and I watched a great film but didn’t understand any of the dialogue.
When we first took off I was battling to stay awake but by the time the food trays were cleared and the lights dimmed, I couldn’t sleep for love nor money, even with 10 Mg’s of Thailand’s finest (could be fake) Valium down my neck.
12 hours later we landed at London in 8 degrees wearing flip flops and a fading tan.
Yet again our bags were first on the carousel but we were too late to catch them so had to stand and watch them make a second circuit like a formula one car with a puncture. When they did get to us the second suitcase was broken, that’s two you’ve wrecked this trip Thai Airways!
We made our way to the central bus station and as luck would have it the Bristol coach was leaving in 30 minutes, just enough time to clean teeth and put on some warmer clothes, then we were off in a Bus full of Taff’s all keen on phoning their loved ones ‘up the Valleys’ and telling them in detail about their trip.
A short taxi ride from Bristol bus station and we found ourselves outside the front door fumbling in the suitcases for a door key.
So now were home. It’s raining. We’ve been shopping. Our new austerity regime has started ( we don’t have any wages coming in now only my pension) and were having ‘Sausage and Mash’ for tea. We haven’t put the TV on yet, we are out of the habit and for the first time in about 15 years I went out and forgot my mobile phone. Another habit I’ve gotten out of.
Looking at the photographs we took, all 2600 of them as I loaded them onto my Flickr account I felt really melancholy, I even missed Australia, well just for a second and I realised how much harder it will be for George and the girls when they decide to come home.
I stared out of the car window at the streets as we drove to the Mall at Cribs Causeway, past the semi detached houses of Little Stoke, the factory buildings of Rolls Royce and Aerospace and it all looked so grubby, depressingly ordinary. The Greyness of it felt heavy and unnatural.
I’m struggling to find things to do that will fill the space where I used to sunbathe, how will I use up the time between breakfast on the terrace and my first drink at sundown. Like a reformed alcoholic who doesn’t know what to do with the extra time now he’s stopped drinking?
What the Ferk am I gonna do with my life now?
The only saving grace is the knowledge that we will be taking off again soon in the Camper, without that I’m not sure how we will get through till spring.
How do any of us cope with this shit week in week out?
Gotta stop now as me bangers and mash are ready.
Hmm, it isn’t all bad is it.