Checking in

So, er, yeah. Kind of a long time since I made any updates isn’t it?

I guess I should get the obvious question out of the way first, and that is ‘where the hell are you?’

I’m home. 

Im in Guernsey.

I’m not entire sure why I’m here, but here is where I am. 

The journey here now seems a little surreal. I left my Auckland hotel at 4am on the 22nd of January and boarded a flight to Sydney. This took 3.5 hours and I had another 2 hours on the ground before flying to Los Angeles. The more geographically observant amongst you may have noticed that I’ve just had to flight three and a half hours in the opposite direction to where I was flying and then fly back over where I came from. But thats the way that the the airlines do it, so there wasn’t really a lot of choice but to wait it out. The flight to LA is 13.5 hours and boy do you feel every single one of those minutes. 

In direct contrast to their budget arm, Qantas are a fantastic airline. I probably ate more on my flight then I had in the three days beforehand. Stewards would patrol the aisles stopping off with ice-cream, brownies, hot chocolate an endless supply of water, wraps, and a couple of meals. The in-flight entertainment is excellent – a really good selection of films and TV programs with large clear screens and the seats are surprisingly comfortable. 

British Airways on the other hand are not a good airline to travel with nowadays. I had the pleasure of spending a further 10 hours with them as I flew from LA to London. We had a meal shortly after takeoff and an incredibly stingy breakfast shortly before landing. There was no water or other refreshments provided during the journey except with the meal. The seats felt like a rock compared to Qantas – particularly the headrests. I bought a travel cushion when I was in Australia and I was exceptionally grateful for it during the flight. BA’s entertainment screens are terrible. They are tiny and have next to no viewing angle. A movement of a couple of degrees can turn the already washed out image into a oddly coloured negative.

I can’t sleep on planes. I just can’t. 

I didn’t sleep on my last night in Auckland. Partly through nerves about returning home, but after a point simply because I stayed up in the hope that my tiredness the following day would allow me to sleep on the plane. 

It didn’t. 

Nearly fourteen hours is a bloody long time to sit in one place. I think the only way I can describe it is by telling you what I watched during the flight.

Charlie Boormans Extreme Journey – Full TV series
The Watch – film
The Godfather I, II and III 

That’s right the entire Godfather Trilogy, another film and an entire TV series, and that just took me to LA. 

Los Angeles. I wasn’t a fan the last time that I was there, but I had 10 hours to kill and so I could at least have a look around for a few hours and see what there is to see. Oh, whats that? I’m not allowed to leave the airport? Great.

There are few places on Earth that I want to spend 10 hours in less then LAX Airport. The airport seems to be stuck in the 1970’s. After clearing customs (an amusing experience as I was pulled out so ask why I had no luggage – the official somehow missing my fully laden backpack. When realising that he’d asked a stupid question, was I waved on? Nope. Instead I now had to answer an entire bunch of questions about why I wasn’t actually visiting the country. The temptation to shout ‘because I’m on a transfer flight you complete fucknuckle’.) there are two very small seating areas, a McDonalds and two other fast food outlets, a duty free shop and a bar/grill restaurant. 

Seeing this I went to go straight through to departures but the official checking boarding passes told me not to go through as “boy, there is literally nothing through there but seats”. Yes, this tiny little strip of fast food and plastic chairs in the entirety of LAX’s facilities. 

I eventually paid $50 to use a passenger lounge for the time I had to wait. I wouldn’t ordinarily, but a ten hour wait sandwiched between two ten hour plus flights called for something more then sitting on a hard plastic seat for the entire time. In the lounge I found a large lazy-boy chair, plonked myself into it, got the laptop out and went on the net before falling asleep in the chair for a couple of hours. I woke up and went to the restaurant and had one of the worst meals I’ve ever had. The menu led me to believe that I’d be having some kind of Bolognese style meat and sauce combination with fresh cooked vegetables. Instead I received a lump of reconstituted meat that looked like it had been blended and poured into a mould. The tomato based sauce could best be described as the strange gelatinous substance that appears around the rim of a ketchup bottle. The beer was bloody awful as well, really awful. 

Then I remembered the thing that I hate about the USA. The price you see on the shelf or the menu isn’t the price you pay at the till. So after tax and tip my $15 meal was closer to $30. America – pay your staff a living wage instead of this tipping nonsense, and include the tax in the advertised price. Seriously, it makes your country look backwards at best and dishonest at worst. 

Other then the length the flight to London was unremarkable. 

I do still get a kick out of seeing St. Peter Port labeled on the in-flight map from pretty much the second you leave America. Of all the places that could be labeled, I love that they chose Guernsey. 

I landed at Heathrow some 50-something hours after I left Auckland, yet the calendar said that only 26 had elapsed. Time zones and the international date line playing havoc with my body-clock that is still having an effect now a couple of weeks later. 

Landing in England in January is a shock to the system. Particularly after leaving a sun drenched Sydney. 

England was covered under a blanket of snow and the country looked beautiful from the air. After all the travelling I’ve done, after going around the world and the very last thing I saw before flying home was one of the most beautiful. 

I was pleasantly surprised by Heathrow. I was through customs and picking up my bag within 20 minutes. Usually with Heathrow I’m surprised If I can get out within 80 minutes. The temperature was about -2℃ and I was dressed for 32℃. I had a change of clothes at the top of my bag ready to be worn. My plan was to buy my bus ticket and then get changed. What I hadn’t planned on was that I was just in time to catch the next bus, so it was that I found myself running to the bus in through the falling snow whilst wearing my t-shirt and shorts. Thankfully the bus driver had the heating turned right up so I didn’t suffer too much. 

When we arrived at Gatwick the cold really hit me. My first real action in the UK was to run into a public toilet and get changed into a jumper and trousers. 

A had yet another wait in Gatwick before my flight home. That is when it all started to hit me that it was nearly over. The second that I saw the yellow tail of the Aurigny I felt nerves like I’d not experienced since the last night in my own bed five months earlier. We took off and I planted my forehead to the window and looked down at a country covered in snow. The next thing I knew a stewardess was waking me up as we came in the land. Fatigue had finally taken over and allowed me to sleep on a plane, and all at the final possible opportunity. 

I was disappointed as I waited for my luggage. Usually you can recognise at least one person you know on the flight, but not today.  In that respect this was no different to any other airport I’ve landed at over the last 5 months. The difference came as I walked through customs and out of the double doors as this time there was someone waiting for me. 

For the first time in months I saw a friend and we made small talk as we walked to his car. Paul took me for a drive around the island. Not much had changed, but there were more changes than I’d expected. We drove the Longfrie and stopped for tea. 

I had the ribs. I always do. Somethings never change. 

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