The dreaded day has finally come when we pack our bags for the last time. Ten weeks has just disappeared into thin air. Where did it go? I don't know.
Instead we took walk across the bridge to the other side of town where we'd spent not much time. This part felt more like the town Cook might have lived in with cobblestoned streets and lanes, alleys between the buildings leading to who knows where and many more much older shops, cafes and hotels. At the end of Church St is a flight of 199 stone steps leading to the church and the ancient graveyard that surrounds it. Spectacular views of the northern side of Whitby and the harbour can be seen from this high, cliff-top vantage point. Beyond the church is an old, mostly destroyed abbey. Sorry, I can't fill you in on the details. More research needed. Time was against us so we just took some photos from outside without venturing in.
A quick cup of coffee for the journey and it was back to the B&B to get the C3 and start the long drive down the centre of England. GPS-girl took us back across the moors to Pickering and then onto the A64. We followed that for a while until we decided to override her desire to tale the A1 and took the M1 instead. We figured the M1 would be a better road. And I think it mostly was. We struck three lengthy stretches of road-works where the speed dropped to 50mph.
Halfway down we stopped for a break at a Motorway service station and a change of driver. Kerry took over and took us down past Northampton where we changed back again. That gave me a break for a couple of hours which was good. Approaching the M25 we started to hit the legendary British motorway congestion and dropped down to a max speed of 40mph but more often much less than that. The seven hours we'd allowed to get to London was quickly disappearing. The car needed to be back at Gatwick by 6:00pm. As if by magic the congestion clear about 30 miles from our destination so we motored on at top speed arriving at the Avis check-in at about 5:30pm. The check-in process was pretty straightforward, we loaded up a trolley with our bags and caught the shuttle to the North Terminal.
There we shuffled stuff around in our cases to even the weight out, get a change of clothes and get together all the little things we might need on the flights. Check-in at the Emirates desk was no problem coming in at about 45kg, well under our combined 60kg limit. Luckily Emily had taken some things home with her otherwise it might have been a little bit of a problem.
Getting through the metal detector was a different story. We both went off! Rather than the usual “Take this off, take that off” routine we were both frisked. We were asked to take our shoes off so they could be sent through a different xray machine. Then, just to do a complete job, they thoroughly searched our backpacks, even swabbing them for drugs and/or explosives. Kerry became very upset when they discovered her souvenirs from Lourdes. The Customs Officer was a woman who was very understanding of the situation and Kerry's genuine intention for the souvenirs so after some tests and consultation with her superiors she turned a blind eye. We told a porky at Dubai and got through, lets hope the Melbourne guys are understanding also.
The flight to Dubai left 10 minutes late but got in on-time. It was a rather uneventful journey. Kerry reckons she didn't sleep and I maybe got 5 minutes so we were both very weary as it was 4:00am UK time when we landed. We exchanged 20 quid for the local currency so we could buy a coffee and OJ. With the remaining 15 dollars?? Kerry bought her last magnet for the trip.
As expected, we met with Scotty and his brother Peter in the boarding lounge. They had flown in from Glasgow arriving an hour or so after us. The 2:50 hours between arrival and departure went pretty quickly. Before long we were on the Airbus 380, seated comfortably in the back half of the lower deck. The plane left right on time at 10:10am UAE time. I've never cared much about the plane I have flown on to a given destination. I've flown on A380s before. Having just gotten off what seemed to be a cramped seat on a Boeing 777 the A380 felt quite spacious. Leg-room and shoulder room were definitely better. Maybe it was because we were in the centre aisle, I rarely fly there. We were in the back row of just four rows between two bulkheads so the seating felt a little more intimate. Anyway, it was a good, uneventful 13 hour flight back.
We were quickly through customs with no issues and onto the Skybus with Scotty and Peter to Southern Cross station. After a breakfast, which included a meat pie, we jumped on the 8:36am Swan Hill train. Scotty and Peter were in the tax-payer funded 1st class carriage. Before the train departed Scotty showed us his World Championship Gold Medal. I've never held one of those before! He gave me an Australian squad training cap which was really nice to receive. We said our good-byes and the train pulled out of the station.
Just as at the beginning of our journey John and Margaret were at the station to meet us and drive us back home. Margaret had prepared some scones for morning tea, the best we have had on our journey. The Pom's need to re-learn how to make scones! We threw the bags into the Koleos and drove around the the corner to home.
Our journey was ended!
One more blog entry to come. Check it out tomorrow.