We are now back in the UK visiting family and friends and it has been brilliant … I haven’t laughed so much for years!
It’s exhausting work. We’ve had several nights in a row that have involved very large amounts of alcohol and bedtimes that would make your eyes water (if you’re over 30 at any rate!). We are now on night 7 of a different bed (or couch or floor) every night and I am getting seriously confused. The first job of everyday is to figure out where I am, where the bathroom is hidden and whether our hosts have tea and paracetamol!
Over the years, people (with no thought for visiting kiwis) have wandered off to far flung places around the UK making it very difficult to get to everyone. So we had to take drastic measures and … shock horror … hire a car! It was a bit traumatic especially since it cost the same again to add another driver. So, being prudent (also known as a bit broke) we nominated ‘moi’ as the driver and the Husband as the navigator. This was also the best solution for marital harmony as I find the Husbands driving quite SCARY, and he gets incredibly frustrated with my navigating … I can’t think why … it must be a ‘man’ thing. But honestly, I don’t know how people manage to drive cars everyday. I found it truly exhausting; my arms ached, my bum went numb and I was SOOOOO BORED!
We also took the opportunity to pop the bikes back to Nano for a bit of a tune up before we send them back to New Zealand. My front wheel needed tightening as there was a little bit of ‘play’ around the axle and, as you may remember, the Husband’s electric system stopped working a few months back so the problem needed diagnosing and fixing. It turned out to be a loose wire so easily remedied. They are now humming along quite nicely again, which is wonderful, and I look forward to turning heads back in Auckland. The big problem was how to get the batteries back to NZ as they are deemed ‘dangerous goods’ and are therefore wrapped and rewrapped in red tape, paperwork and ‘more than my jobs worth’ rules and regulations. Lynda at Nano has been an absolute star and has worked tirelessly to find a solution and a quote that fit the budget. The first quote of one thousand five hundred pounds (about $3000) made us sit down rather sharply and engage a paper bag to stem the hyperventilation! Luckily, a better price was obtained by the fabulous Lynda and it looks like we will be able to introduce Auckland to ‘electric Bromptons with trailers’ after all.
We have had lots of lovely snow and have been for long country walks in the most beautiful scenery ever. We’ve also done our best to soak up as much English pub ambiance as possible. However, time is now running out fast and we’ve had to squeeze in our last proper English Indian takeaway (NZ Indian food just isn’t the same). The snow was not quite as welcome when we had to go out in it to clean the bikes ready for NZ return … the chaps at Auckland airport are quite hot on that sort of thing. The Husband decided to clean his bike in just a teeshirt, which was curious, but I’m sure he had his reasons. I went with full-on woollens and waterproofs!
This afternoon the bikes and trailers were picked up and are now on their way back to New Zealand as ‘unaccompanied baggage’. The bikes and a few other bits and pieces simply packed into the trailers and became a ‘large bag’ as specified by the shipping company (up to 30kg and within certain dimensions). They cost about $300 each bag, which was quite do-able and a lot less than excess baggage fees charged by the airline. I now feel quite bereft and bike-less. I have an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach mixed with a little panic at having lost my highly romanticised escape route of pedalling off into the sunset and travelling forever. So it looks like we’ll have to go back and be grown-ups again …. deep sigh!
We have, however, managed to add a little spice to our last few weeks. We have booked an uber-budget ski holiday in France. Luckily, most of our cycling gear works quite well as ski gear, and we have only had to add some wool leggings and a beanie for the Husband – the beanie was hand knitted for him in ONE DAY by my very talented sister. This was an ‘essential’ as he felt that skiing in a flat cap was not ‘quite the thing’. I did suggest that we could tie it on with some string so that it wouldn’t fly off mid-ski but he was still not impressed with the option. Following the skiing, we have a week to travel down through Italy to Rome, where we will catch our really unpleasant long haul flight back ‘down under’. We then have a few days in Melbourne to see some more friends and then fly to Auckland, which will be THE END.
I’ll fill you in on the final leg of the trip soon (if I haven’t broken any of mine!). How hard can it be? It’s only 14 years since we last skied. We’ve been told that you never forget … apparently, it’s like riding a bike! Here’s hoping.
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