Three days to go

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Just doing last minute stuff before we finally set off on our travels. Like making bread and butter pudding, to use eggs and bread up. The chickens haven’t been laying too well, recently but this week Scary has given us two double yolked eggs. Our friends are looking after them while we are away, so they will have plenty of eggs.

I have also attempted to upload iOS 5 but can’t work out how, which given all the problems is probably just as well. I have my iPad as I need it, with pdf’s of travel documents on the bookshelves, my Facebook, twitter, TripAdvisor and various other apps installed. Not sure that at this stage want to risk losing them.

Transferred some more money, with the same palaver and got the dollars. Done more washing, yawn, now back to that ‘to do list’.

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What a difference a day makes

I realise I was feeling a bit down yesterday, but hey using this medium to get it out there must be part of the cure. And some pretty cool advice came back, currently re visiting the to do list using triangles for bullet points, to be coloured in when task completed.

Also the Shambrarian in me is resurfacing, not the beer bit, yet, so all my paperwork for the trip is filed in labelled plastic folders,

Duplicates have been made, money has been moved around to spread the risk and the 4 new pin numbers for our travel money cards, which will be hell to learn, have been recorded discreetly. If I do forget, my son has been instructed as to where the paperwork is. I’ve even made copies of passports and laminated them and emailed a copy to myself, just in case.

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with numbers, yet I sailed through English and the Humanities. Even now, if writing numbers, I need to get them checked because I know I have problems with numbers

Transferring money today was quite stressful as I had to use a card reader, remember a PIN, enter another number in the card reader, which then generated another number to enter on the PC. The you get verified by visa asking your pass word……. Grrrr.

To get me in the mood to do the mental work required, much of today has been spent finding the bedroom floor! All travel packing has been transferred to the spare room, what we don’t need has been put away, surfaces have been cleared and dusted. I even cleaned the windows. This, for someone who loathes housework, is a major achievement. The study has also been cleared, some filing cleared, some, ahem, put out of sight and Christmas presents put in a box to be sorted tomorrow.

New Zealand Coins

Image by yum9me via Flickr

Next job, on the list is to return my library books. On the way I’ll pop to the Post Office in the hope they have USA and NZ dollars. Worst case scenario is to get them at the airport! Not well organised, but I have lost 10 days in the count down due to putting my head in the sand.

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As I’m doing this on my iPad and still learning how, I have inserted a totally inappropriate (to the blog) photo, of my two cats Mel and Sue,  which helped cheer me up yesterday! Must add to the to do list….learn about photo library on iPad!

Cold Feet

An Autosleeper Harmony Campervan on a Talbot E...

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For just over a week I have done nothing on the massive to do list. Still no camper van booked, no dollars bought, and it is all the dishwashers fault. It broke down.

After many phone calls and days waiting in for the ‘man’ to fix it, then to take it away be ‘put on the bench’ it turns out it can’t be fixed. We have rented out the house and the dishwasher was part of the deal, so felt obliged to replace it. Handily?! The man had a refurbished Bosch which was much cheaper than a new one, so a deal was done. And it’s better and quieter than my old one.

The thing is, a dishwasher crisis wasn’t on my ‘to do list’ and it has tipped me off balance. Add to that a visit to the mother in law to sort domestic issues and my involvement in  library camp and you have a person who is denial that she is embarking on a trip of a lifetime in five days time. The butterflies in my stomach are on speed, I feel sick and have a permanent headache.

Also having a tea party for friends old and new, has contributed to the cold feet. It was lovely to see everyone, but saying goodbye has made it real. I am jolly glad no one is seeing us off at the airport. And that the bus that takes us to Heathrow is at 4am.

Anyway onwards and upwards, theatre visit tonight The Old Rep with people from Make Friends with a Book Shared Reading which will cheer me up.

On the up side, I have lost half a stone. Off for a walk I think. I need to get a grip, get active and power through it! Next blog will be cheerier, promise.

Getting to the airport on time.

Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport

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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.

Technology is defeating me today

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

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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...

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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/

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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.

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.