Leaving the UK
Monday, 6th January 2020

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I packed this morning after seeing Virginia off to work. I make lists of things to do, and things to take on holiday, and it was just as well I double checked the list of things to take to New Zealand. The list included driving licence, I tried to find a paper licence but realised paper licences were now obsolete, got a bit worried the photocard driving licence was too old but it was fine. I photocopied my photo card but left the photo card in the printer! It was only when I double-checked that I avoided the disaster of leaving it behind! I moved some emails back to my Inbox so I would have them on my iPhone, but discovered later that only works if iPhone has WiFi really.

Our cat Amelia retreated into the spare room bed when I tried to get her out. Watched a bit of a Korean TV series. Packing took quite a time, I was worried at first I might not be finished by the time the Panther taxi came at 12:30!

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The taxi driver was on time, quite chatty, and I reached Trumpington in plenty of time to catch the coach. More than enough time as it was late, I was trying to check where it was on the National Express website and didn't notice it had arrived at first so a bit of a rush to catch it. The coach was pretty crowded, seemingly a load of Eastern Europeans onboard, and I wound up with a seat by the toilet not ideal. A lot of people got off at Stansted, and I seized the chance to grab a seat nearer the front.

Coach was hot and smelly - when I arrived at Heathrow I had to take my pullover off as I queued to check the baggage in. This holiday I was armed with a smart phone, and tried to take plenty of pictures, and post regularly to keep people abreast of my movements. I was bemused by all the machines which now scan passports, but kindly staff helped me get a luggage tag and attach it to my case, then guided me through baggage check in. To get through security I had to remove my ratchet belt, but it was a little awkward as I like my trousers loose. At least I didn't get asked to remove my shoes as some did. After security had a bite to eat at YoYo Sushi, a sushi train experience. I viewed it as training for my two nights in Japan.

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Boarding the plane was a little delayed, but we took off at 7:15pm. I had a window seat so had to clamber out to get to toilet, I was sitting next to a Japanese couple who were considerate. The husband gave me a wet wipe at one point! I admired how neatly he folded his blanket at the end of the flight, I tried to emulate and failed dismally. The flight was a All Nippon Airline one, there was an European stewardess impressively fluent in Japanese. Kindly the airline had Japanese subtitled films available, and I watched the start of an inventive film Kaguya-sama: Love is War.

But flying is tedious and uncomfortable, the body complains whatever position one is in. There's children crying, drunks talking loudly, turbulence to shake one around. For the dark hours my only real companion was the light on the end of the wing. Together we saw a blood half moon, saw in Russian wastes what might have been fires surrounded by savages? The flight felt like it would never end, never arrive.