Getting to the airport on time.

Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport

Image via Wikipedia

It is just over two weeks until I embark on the round the world trip with my husband, Phil. I have had two major tasks to complete this week for the trip and they have been most frustrating. One is to book a campervan in New Zealand, (and that’s another blog) the other is to book transportation to the airport.

We are flying from Heathrow (the dreaded T5) at 11.30 am on a Sunday. So decisions had to be made as to the best way to get there in plenty of time for the flight.

The options were:

Go by train: According to  Trainline http://www.thetrainline.com and National Rail Enquiries http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ it will take 9 hours to get there. This is because there are no trains after midnight on Saturday to Euston, and the tube to Heathrow doesn’t start till 8am. Neither site factored in Marylebone to Paddington for The Heathrow Express. No early Sunday trains from Birmingham to London so that was crossed off the list.

Stay with my daughter in Wandsworth: this would involve a train and tube journey on Saturday, getting up crack of dawn to get to Paddington or booking a taxi, lots of modes of transport. I love my daughter, but traipsing across London on a Sunday morning was not ever going to happen.

A Heathrow hotel:hotels at the airport are very expensive and the those a distance away would involve more buses and taxis and are not cheap either. None included breakfast in the price.

National Express http://www.nationalexpress.com : which is what we are doing. This is after two frustrating days to find out how to book a return journey with outward and return more than 3 months apart. I could go on for ages and indeed did on Facebook, however the short version is that you have to book an ‘open jaw‘ ticket, that is not available on their web pages, nor do they tell you about it on their website. You can book singles, two singles an open return or a return, but not an open jaw. Instead you spend 10p a minute on their booking line. Fortunately the lady who took my booking was lovely and very helpful, which meant that I didn’t vent my rage on her. Just on Facebook and Twitter.

This was not necessarily the cheapest option;  indeed internal flights in Australia are cheaper. However, a combination of trains, taxis, tube and buses on a Sunday morning gave me palpitations. This is one bus, early in the morning, there will be no traffic and it drops off at T5. Less to go wrong. I hope.

We have to catch the coach at 4.30 am from Bearwood, to get there in ample time for our flight. I will be in the departure lounge for over 3 hours.  Coming back we have 3 hours at Heathrow as we are due to land at 6am from Bangkok, and there is a coach at 7 am which would be cutting it fine, or 9.30. Hopefully there is free wifi so I can vent my rage on Facebook and update my blog. You have been warned.

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Technology is defeating me today

A map of the IKEA stores around the world Key ...

Image via Wikipedia

I have been putting off filing my husbands Self Assessment for months now. This has enabled to do lots of thing on my to do list that are less important when you are about to go off around the world. Like tidying the bedroom, putting my books in order, by subject and author. I have also cleaned the bathroom, assembled furniture from Ikea and my spices are in alphabetical order.

I bit the bullet today. I have three files with tax stuff so it took some time to find the documents, the User ID and the password. I entered all this in but the computer said no. I cannot phone them because it is my husbands ‘account’. When he got home he made the call, then l was allowed to talk to them. Yes they had definitely send notification that he needed to complete the Self Assessment. This is not in any of my three files, although I do have the one from 2008. Indeed I have lot of paperwork form 2008, including the out of date User ID. I had quite a lot of numbers written down. After three phone calls, with my husband first having to speak to them before they can speak to me, I got a new user ID and have submitted the form. In the meantime I had to bite my lip while being patronised by HMRC. Well, your majesty, your staff made me feel like a dumb blonde.

The good new is that he is getting a refund, because, here’s the thing, he is not in paid employment. All I had to do was give them information they already have. They gave the tax codes to the two pension companies that pay him tuppence a year. The student loan company already have the information as have countless other government agencies. So all I am telling them is what they already know.

I then decided to blog about this. And it has taken be nearly an hour to log into my WordPress account. I still actually don’t know how I got to the log in page.

Perhaps it was me, after all.

The to do list is getting longer

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge a...

Image via Wikipedia

Finally got round to making sure we have somewhere to lay our tired heads when we arrive in San Francisco. It was listed in the DK guide to California and after checking it out on Trip Advisor, booked it on line.

http://www.sanremohotel.com/

http://www.sanremohotel.com/images/homeCenter_img.jpg

Phew, one thing crossed of the ‘to do’ list. However it doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter, as one thing gets completed, another task gets added. I have a notepad on the bedside table as most things seem to pop into my head at 4am, so if I can write it down I stand a chance of getting back to sleep.

I am beginning to realise that going away for 4 months is really different to the 2 week package holiday. It can be a bit overwhelming at times. I have had some really useful advice from a guy called Dave Dean who writes a very good blog with advice for first time travellers. His attitude to life impressed me too. http://whatsdavedoing.com/

I have also managed to upload photos to my previous posts, so am beginning to get to grips with WordPress, so if you want to, go to the archive and see some photos.

Facebook Friends

On Sunday we had a number of Facebook Friends visit us in Fowey.

My mother had arranged for her friend to come and see her while she was in the county for a wedding. Later on we were hosting lunch for Amy’s family.

Moms friend Lynne, lives in Scotland and wanted to introduce her new partner to mom and Stan.

The Hayters live in Liskeard. My family all live in Birmingham. We were all gathering in Fowey, having all met in Dalyan, Turkey. And we are all Facebook Friends.

Facebook gets a bad press, most red tops would have you believe that the only people use social media are 12 year olds posing seductively and perverts.

None of the above applies to us, I am happy to report.

Mom and I fell in love with Dalyan 11years ago and she has been a regular visitor. In 2008 she was out there and met Lynne and has continued to stay in touch via email and Facebook. My mom is 80 in December.

I visited Dalyan, with Phil and Tim, later that year. And we met Amy and her family. Tim stayed in touch with Amy and I stayed in touch with her mom.

When was a teenager I met people on holiday and occasionally we became pen pals. The world has changed and now we become Facebook Friends.

My house sit in Melbourne is a direct result of getting back in touch with a friend from university, yup, through Facebook.

I don’t have 3500 friends on Facebook, or even 500 followers on Twitter. I follow 437 on Twitter which is probably 400 more than is useful to me.

However these have all been valuable to me in my work, my social life and on my journey to becoming social media savvy.

And we had a lovely social Sunday, with real friends, thanks to social media.

Noise pollution in Fowey

Dear Cornwall Council

I am writing to complain about the levels of noise in Fowey. There isn’t any.

There is no traffic noise, no sirens, no loud music from cars, raised voices from late night revellers on the way back from the pub.

I also need to complain about the fact that there is no litter. Where is all the discarded packaging from fast food outlets. And why are there no plastic bags flapping in the trees?

The only flapping I can hear is the sails from the flotilla of yachts on the estuary. They disturb my reading activity. Can you make them stop?

I would also appreciate it if you could do something about the seagulls that wake me up every morning. I am forced me to get up and sit on the balcony in the sun watching the fishing boats because of their racket.

And while you are investigating these complaints, can you do something about the one or two cars a day that pass by on the street below please?

Thanking you in anticipation of a peaceful week in Fowey.

Yours sincerely

A very chilled out Coral

Cornwall

Before the round the world trip, I am having a short and hopefully a relaxing break in Fowey, Cornwall. From the sitting room, I have views across the estuary with the lights of Polruan reflected in the water.

http://www.cornishcottageholidays.co.uk/html/property_detail.php?pid=825

I am here with my husband, Phil, our son, Tim, his beautiful girlfriend Amy, my mom, Sylvia and her partner Stan.

We stayed in Fowey last September and had such a good time here, we have taken a house again for a week this year.

We plan to visit the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, sample some Cornish pasties and cream teas, and take Amy, who lives in Cornwall to the Minack theatre, one of the many places she has never visited.

Minack Theatre near Porthcurno, Cornwall, England

Image via Wikipedia

Hopefully I will get to post photos soon, this is an old iPad with no camera so they will uploaded next week on the PC.

And if you are reading this, bear with me during my blogging learning curve.

Watch out world

Melbourne

This is my first attempt at blogging and I am learning to do this as I plan to embark on a round the world trip.

I have always considered myself as a traveller rather than a holidaymaker but in reality I have mostly done package holidays. Except when I took my 3 year old daughter back packing around the Greek Islands way back in the 80’s and before that overland to Greece on a bus, back in 1979, which is when my love affair with Greece began.

One of my companions on that first trip to Greece was Sara, who I studied with at, what was then, Bristol Polytechnic. She has been the catalyst for this round the world trip as she now lives in Melbourne. So thank you Sara for getting me off my backside and finally booking this once in a lifetime experience.

I don’t start the trip till October 16th but plan to practice blogging in the meantime, uploading photos etc, so that when I embark on the trip I will know a bit more to make this blog worthwhile for the writer and the reader.