Thursday, 31 May 2012

Australia Day 1 – Wednesday 30th May

Our flight today is with British Airways, departing, bizarrely, from Terminal 3 at Heathrow to Sydney via Singapore. It leaves at 21:15, so having given myself the day off work, I should be able to have everything packed and ready to go by the time the taxi arrives. And I do! I actually have everything ready an hour early – and even have time to unlock the online banking work account. Good job that was done whilst I was still in the country! Harriet is home from work early, and Sadie brings Alexis round, and William arrives so we have a lovely farewell before we go. What a lovely family I have! (Should I put in here sometimes? No – let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, even the ones that are missing!) So, when Steve arrives, the bags are quickly loaded into the boot, and I have a feeling that things are going too smoothly. I am sure that when I get to Australia, I will want something that I haven’t packed. Oh well! We all settle in ready to go – and then realise that the boot is still open – “I would have noticed that” said Steve. I wonder when?

The journey to Heathrow was very uneventful – apart from issues with the air conditioning and bing bongs from the traffic didgery do. Didn’t annoy me, but did Paul. Didn’t stop him sleeping and snoring though! I should mention here that we have the pleasure of travelling in first class today – thanks to British Airways Avios points and the BA American Express companion voucher. I have never travelled in first class before – and am relishing the opportunity. Paul has already decided that the seat is not going to be as comfortable as his chair at home. Perhaps I will book him in economy next time – that sure as hell won’t be!

We check in at the very impressive British Airways First Class check in – with both bags just about on the 23kg. Even though we have loads of baggage allowance on this flight, the internal flights within Australia are limited to 23kg and 7kg hand luggage. We have bought “Ryanair” cabin bags, so at least we can fit in a bit more than normal. Five weeks is a long time to be away, and I am sure that there will be things that I have packed that I won’t need, and things that I really do that are still hanging up in my wardrobe. Hand baggage was not weighed, so hopefully if that is the case on the other flights we will be OK with any little extras that we pick up along the way.

We then make our way to the First Class Lounge – wow! It is a lovely area, with a beautiful dining room where you can have a three course meal. Bearing in mind I had had scrambled eggs at around 9am this morning, and nothing since, I was getting a bit hungry. I sat and had a campari, and then we went into the dining room and had smoked salmon. I stopped there, as I was looking forward to dinner in the first class cabin. Paul had a hoi sin duck panini, which was very filling. I then had to go to the Elemis Spa for my hot stone foot massage – I forgot to mention that when I did the online check in, I was offered a complimentary spa treatment. How the other half live! It was lovely – in a wonderful massage chair that gave my back a good going over at the same time. Surprisingly, Paul said he would have a shoulder and scalp massage – he usually avoids anything to do with massage like the plague. When I asked how it went, he replied “I shan’t volunteer for that again, it really dug in”. He won’t be having one on the way home then!

After half an hour or so on the kindle (first time – had to give up books for the weight allowance. I would have needed t have taken about 20 books for a five week trip, and thought that clothes were probably a bit more important!) it was time to go to the gate and to our “first class” experience. We were greeted at the door, and were personally shown to our seats. The champagne came next, and Paul decided he would take my picture from his seat in front of me (the window seats have only one in a row at the side). I could see our fellow travellers looking and raising their eyebrows. Probably thought we were lottery winners! Felt like saying “What do points make?” but thought better of it.

We took off on time, and very soon was offered more champagne, the menu, the wine menu and anything else you could possibly want. My tray was laid with a crisp white linen tablecloth and shiny steel cutlery, salt and pepper, butter dish, bread plate and the feast began. They even brought a pre-starter of chicken and leek terrine. The rolls were warm and tasty, and the food was excellent. I am really glad that I didn’t eat too much as I heard Paul turn down his meal. Mind you, at 10pm and way past my bed time, I was going to struggle to get through it all. I then had “Seared Scottish king scallop with broad bean puree and crispy porcetta” followed by “Roasted Herefordshire beef fillet with British purple asparagus, baby carrots and dauphinoise potatoes” followed by “Toffee and chocolate parfait with toffee hazelnut sauce”. Think the diet may just have gone out of the window at this point! I could have had a cheese plate, but I just couldn’t fit it in, and bearing in mind it was now past midnight was just a tad tired. I got up to use the facilities, after putting on my very comfortable slippers provided, and the steward said he would make my bed up for when I got back. Make my bed up? This sounds like a promising nights sleep! When I returned, my seat had been laid completely flat, with a mattress topper on the seat, and then a duvet on top with a proper pillow. They had asked if I wanted pyjamas which I turned down – I think I will say yes next time. This looks to be a very promising nights sleep!

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