Eastbourne, United Kingdom
And then, all too soon, yet not soon enough, it was time to go home. I’m not sure how people travel for weeks at a time and see heaps of stuff and keep themselves alert and interested. I’m exhausted and suffering attraction overload. I’ve seen what seems like so much, but there are so many many things I didn’t see and wish I had. I’ve loved what I’ve seen and am so grateful to have had this chance to make this journey and see my family.
But I miss Juniordwarf and Slabs. I’ve Skyped Juniordwarf almost every day, and he’s told me he’ll be going away for 2 weeks soon, just like I did. He’s going to see the Wizard of Oz, and he’ll be Skyping in to home and school. So I guess I’ll be living with an iPad version of him for 2 weeks. I can’t wait to see him.
So today we were treated to a beautiful red sunrise over the beach and I went for a final walk along the pier. They were up early working on the reconstruction. It’s going to be a big job, and I’ll be following its progress with interest over coming months.
I had a closer look at the Queen’s Hotel. It was built in a right angled shape to block the view of the less swanky boarding houses on the eastern side of the seafront from the posh hotels in the main part. It appears that the pier was similar to. Hobart’s ‘flannelette curtain’ and it just wasn’t on to go east of the pier.
In the model of the hotel we saw at the Heritage Centre, it looked like the back wall was a totally blank brick wall with no windows. Certainly I could see what looked like part of this wall from behind the hotel (I went east). I wondered if there were guest rooms there and, if there were, whether had no view or if they had some more acceptable fake seaside view.
I reluctantly returned to our hotel, the Cavendish, which was directly across the road from the Eastbourne Bandstand. The east wing was destroyed in a bombing raid in May 1942, but it wasn’t repaired until the 1960s – it’s interesting how they didn’t try to duplicate the previous style but built it in what was a more modern style. Whether this was due to costs or unavailability of materials, or as a monument that the hotel has survived I don’t know.
My bag weighed in at 22.9 kg, which is 6.5 kg heavier than when I left home. That’s a lot of tacky souvenirs.
We’d booked and pre-paid a taxi to take us to Heathrow. Any other option involved at least 3 service changes, including from train to bus and back again, or leaving Eastbourne some time around 8.30 am. (That would never have happened.) Multiple service changes didn’t sound like fun. Especially not in this rain, which started falling right on cue as we were leaving.
Good old English weather. It took you 2 weeks, but you finally arrived.
We expected the journey to take a bit under 2 hours, but with road closures (and the ‘restructuring’ of the train services over the weekend) there was a lot of traffic on the road, and we arrived at Heathrow at about 2.40 pm. It was a long trip, but our driver was lovely and gave us a great commentary on the way.
Online check in proved to be only marginally faster than not having checked in. The check-in man mucked around for ages with our boarding passes and passports and we have no idea what the hold up was. All we know (because he told us at least twice) is we’ll have to pick up our bags in Melbourne, they won’t go all the way through.
Then security. I think I ended up carrying more stuff out of my bag than was left in my bag, after taking all the things out that needed to go through separately. I’m just glad I didn’t have to go through the process of turning everything on this time.
Finally we were on our way to Dubai. That was a 7 hour flight, followed by the Dubai March. We were told to get off the plane and make our way back to the plane as quickly as possible. If anyone knows why you have to go through security in Dubai when you’ve not even left the departure lounge I’d love to know, because at 4 am on Sunday morning, when you’re exhausted, it seems bizarre. A sign of how tired I was: I would have left my laptop on the security slider thing if Lil Sis hadn’t picked it up for me.
And as for getting back to the gate quickly, we had time to get some water, spend our last dirhams (or is the plural still dirham?), take a refreshment break, phone home and still be waiting at the gate for over 20 minutes.
The next leg was the 6880 km to Brunei, which took about 8 hours, arriving at about 5.30 pm on Sunday evening (8.30 pm home time). You already know my thoughts on this airport. It’s still being refurbished. I’ll say no more.
And now it’s time to get on the plane for the last international leg of our trip, to Melbourne. We’ll be arriving shortly before 6 am on Monday. Then we’ll nearly be home!