Our tickets are booked. It’s a moment to mark. But there’s been a few twists in the tail.
To book any flight, a journey must be no more than 320 days out from the time of booking. We’re still 12 months (and give or take a couple of weeks) away from returning to New Zealand in January 2018. So for now, our tickets say “One-Way”.
We’re flying Singapore Airlines. Their kind, gentle and utterly subservient manner have given the Singapore cabin crews the best reputation in the world for flying with children. I sound a bit disloyal to our national carrier, perhaps I am, but we want to pause to enjoy the warm bustle of Singapore, then land in Manchester, the gritty heart of northern England. They really were the only airline.
We had a robust discussion before returning the travel agent’s call. You see the flight schedule is far from perfect. We land in an evening in Singapore. 7pm is perfectly respectable, until you consider that it will be midnight New Zealand time. At least it’s a day flight we muse. We have two more days in Singapore and the famous Night Safari Zoo is booked. On our third night we leave at 2am, yes 2am, landing in blighty for breakfast.
How do we avoid 13 hours, surrounded by snoring passengers, our eyes propped by matchsticks as we watch the little screens? You may have guessed we’re terrible plane sleepers.
We considered landing in Heathrow and taking on an extra flight north. Even then we wouldn’t be delivered home. Lancaster, a city many many times larger than our humble Kaitaia, does not have a domestic airport. We considered a train too. Three hours from London to Lancaster seems reasonable, until you realise it requires a change of trains at Paddington Station on peak. After 15 hours of travel, faced with the prospect of moving tired children and 6 months of luggage between platforms, we won’t give a damn if we spot Paddington Bear.
So the night flight it is. At least there’s a wonderful symmetry about landing in England in the morning. Family will be there with watery eyes as we roll through the gates, and bags will be strategically crammed into the little cars they all drive in Europe. Popps will point out the car window, showing us changes in the urban landscape, and Nan will have freshly cut sandwiches and a very British cup of tea waiting for us at home. Pete and I will try to snatch some sleep over those 13 hours in the air. Hopefully enough to be able to roll to the village local for a pint that first Friday eve.
Mark the date. It’s underway!