London, Scotland and Some Canals


Friday 12th August 2022
Sunday 14th August, 2022
Friday 26th August, 2022
Saturday 3rd September, 2022
Sunday 4th September, 2022

Friday 12th August 2022

Drop Cap t last we are approaching our twice postponed "final" trip to Britain. We first planned and booked this trip at the end of our last hotel boat cruise in 2019. We had enjoyed it so much that we had booked again for the following year, 2020. Unfortunately our best laid plans (along with those of countless others) had to be shelved due to the Covid pandemic, and then again in 2021 because of border closures and no flights. Once the borders re-opened we decided to seize the chance, despite ongoing health concerns for me, because it seemed that if we didn't, not only would we lose all the money expended, but would be too old to fly and hire cars, etc if we left it longer.

Anyway, now it is all arranged, paid for and sorted. Or it was! Two days ago we got an email from The Trainline, with whom we book rail tickets, to tell us the London-Glasgow trip was potentially in doubt due to industrial action and problems with the carrier. There did not seem to be a problem going up the other side of the country to Edinburgh so we booked tickets to Edinburgh and the short run from there to Glasgow. We will cancel one of them closer to the day, if necessary. We have to get to Glasgow as we have accommodation and car hire booked there, to head for Skye the following day. So hopefully we are covered now.

Two days ago we also picked up all our travel documents and vouchers from Helloworld, and now just have to pay all our bills, leave Geoff and Cadfael provided for, pack and go.

However, a bit disquieting are the reports from Europe on the heat waves and massive droughts being experienced there. In Germany and Holland the rivers are becoming too low for the barges, and in London the lovely parks are as brown as Australian paddocks. We are somewhat concerned about water levels in the canals. There is always something!

Sunday 14th August, 2022

Drop Cap oday we went through all the documentation and discovered we are heading for senility at a greater rate than we had thought. On checking the end of the second cruise we found that we had marked the last day one day early, finishing on Monday instead of Tuesday. This is an upset because we had already booked and paid for train tickets back to London, and also for the Bedford Hotel. So we had to get new train tickets and abandon the old, and email the Bedford to cancel the Monday. Never made a clanger like that before! Good thing we checked.

Friday 26th August, 2022

Bon Voyage cake

Bon Voyage cake

Drop Cap oday we went to visit Anne and Chris on the Central Coast. They weren't too bad, considering and we had a nice lunch at the Diggers' Club at Ettalong.

When we got home we found that our newish neighbour, Sarah, had brought a spectacular cake with "Bon Voyage" on it, four layers of chocolate and mint, yum! Naturally we asked her in to help us eat it and also Lorraine and Geoff from the other side and we had a lovely afternoon tea party. It was very sweet of her.

Later in the week:

Drop Cap e approached the week with trepidation, finding our email had been blacklisted or something by the U3A server. It took ages trying to sort out getting the newsletter out and it is still not right yet. Just don't need stuff like that this week! Only a week to go. Cadfael is getting suspicious and is very clingy. Luckily we had booked a shuttle service to Rydges because the ongoing train strikes have made it very awkward. Just like in the UK!

Saturday 3rd September, 2022

Drop Cap ere we are at Rydges Hotel again, ready for the off. Our new shuttle provider was on time and we had an easy relaxing ride to the Airport. Geoff came with us and Neil joined us for dinner at the hotel's VERY expensive restaurant. Geoff paid, which was nice of him. We ate early to give him the chance of a not too late return to Cadfael. Now, hoping all will be well, we are looking forward to Business Class and a more comfortable trip via Singapore to London. More when we get somewhere!

Sunday 4th September, 2022

Business Class Lounge

SilverKris Lounge, Mascot

Drop Cap e packed up, had a coffee and fruit toast breakfast then braved the airport Departures. Although we were slightly early at 10:50, Business Class at Singapore Airlines took us through, did all the boarding passes and luggage label stuff and the girl was complimentary about us having good printed copies of our vaccination certificates: "much easier than trying to find things on phones". Our opinion too!

Mac in Business Class Lounge

Mac in SilverKris Lounge

Anyway we had priority through check-in, passport control and had no problem with security. We then had four hours to kill. We were perturbed to find a dearth of eating places open but then accessed the lovely SilverKris Business Class Lounge. They had a buffet of at that time breakfast type stuff, later there were lunch offerings, a bar and comfortable arm chairs. I could get used to this Business Class!

Sunday Continued

In Business Class

M & R in Business Class

Drop Cap e wandered into the Departure gate and were immediately ushered through the priority lane while the plebs were still lining up. When we got on the plane it was a revelation. We had the two middle seats (a bit of a misnomer, more like pods as Geoff said) There were singles on both the window sides and groups of two in the middle. These were separated by a partition but the friendly steward showed us how they were lowered so that we could be together. I was taking photos and the steward said we must have one together and kindly took it for us. The pod had comfortable chairs with cushions, compartments for this and that, bedding, a large table that came out of the wall and unfolded, a really big TV screen and very good quality headphones. We were offered champagne or orange juice and then, after take-off, a selection of wines, cocktails, spirits etc. I had a Singapore Sling with packs of cashews and almonds. We were offered a three course meal, not sure if it was lunch or dinner, at about 4 pm. This was quite a production. First they came and deployed the tables and set them with starched cloths, side plate, china salt and pepper shakers and full set of steel cutlery in a linen napkin. The food was quite good, a starter of prosciutto and melon with a lovely lemon dressing. Then I had roast duck and Mac had braised beef spare ribs in a red wine sauce. Both good.

Then they brought around a dessert trolley. I had salted caramel ice cream and Mac had a cheese plate with crackers. A full meal.

I didn't bother to try a movie, none appealed so I put on the headphones and listened to selections from the 60's and 70's and 80's, like Carole King, Simon and Garfunkel, Abba and Paul Simon. I got a bit of sleep but although the seat converted to a flat bed it was not really long enough and you had to pull a section out of the side and put your feet there in a box like hole. This made for a curled up sleep position which does not really suit me. But much more comfortable than Economy.

Later on Sunday

Drop Cap e arrived in Singapore fairly late in the evening and wandered into the Business Class lounge there to kill an hour. It was not as nice as Mascot (very crowded) . Back on the plane we were fed a large "supper" at what was about 2 am our time. I only ate the starter and felt decidedly overfed! Then we tried to settle down to sleep and I got some, Mac got more, but the night was freezing cold and the hours passed very slowly. Breakfast did not start until about 2 am London time, by which time we were both hungry.

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