The Great Escapade
An introduction for new readers
Welcome to ‘Are We There Yet’
For as long as I can remember, at least one person in our family kept a diary of our holidays. To be fair, my mother kept a diary all the time, but the holiday ones were special. Today they are a treasure-trove of memories from otherwise distantly recalled times. That, in a nutshell, is the rationale behind what you will read on these pages. With the greatest of respect, dear reader, I am writing not for you — though I really hope you get some enjoyment from what I share — but for myself in 10, 15, 50 years time (ok, the last figure may be pushing my luck a little?).
So that’s the ‘why’. The ‘what’, for those of you who may not know (I’ve been telling all and sundry about this blog!) is that I am currently enjoying my “mid-life gap year”. Having completed 30 years of public service, I am using my lump sum to have a Trip of a Lifetime. That’s a phrase which gets grossly overused these days, some of us taking a ‘trip of a lifetime’ every few years. I truly believe it really does apply to the Great Escapade though, as I can’t envisage me having the wherewithal to repeat it.
The phrase ‘Great Escapade’ is borrowed from the name of the ticket I am travelling on. A joint product of Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic – in the order in which I’ll be travelling on their services. You’ll see a link to the ‘overall plan’ above, so there’s no need for me to repeat the itinerary here. You’ll note, however, that in going “around the world” I’m dismissing the first third of it (and two entire continents) in just two days. Indeed, even discounting the two poles, there are two significant continents which don’t get a look-in at all! So be it, I’m afraid.
That is because the route is built around three groups of people, I want to see and visit (it was going to be four, and still just might be…).
- Carl (or ‘Jabba’). An erstwhile colleague and long-time very good friend. Carl, with his wife Deb, took the enormous step some eight years ago to emigrate to Australia. He has been back to the UK but I’ve singularly failed to go out and visit him in his new homeland. Until now. Carl and I have shared some great times over the years, having travelled to the US together on several occasions. With a shared passion for good beer, and a love of music (Carl perhaps more than I, at least in as much as he can play the guitar!) we have a knack of finding the good times.
- Dave (or ‘Trig’). Another former colleague who emigrated, although in his case to New Zealand. Trig also shares that passion for good beer – even to the point of brewing it himself. Travelling to the other side of the world to sample Trig’s homebrew makes perfect sense.
- My Uncle David. Yet another ex-pat, although David made the leap many, many years ago. Having found his calling (pun intended) as a radio operator on the ocean liners, he settled in Australia in the 1950s. He is the sole surviving sibling of my father. Unfortunately, through a stroke of incredibly bad timing on my part, my time in David’s home city of Melbourne (‘Mel-BUN’ as I’ve been schooled in pronouncing it!) coincides with David’s visit to his son in Perth. To put this in perspective for us Brits who consider Derby to Nottingham an arduous journey, Melbourne to Perth is a greater distance (1,690 miles) than London to Moscow (1,552 miles). In other words, not a trivial journey. There may, just may, be an hour or so’s overlap when I can nip to the airport to see him as he arrives back. Otherwise the closest I’l get is waving to his plane as it flies over. D’oh.
- My cousin Colin and his wife Rosine. Given that Colin is another long-time ex-pat Brit, although in his case living in the north-west of the United State, it is remarkable that I’ve seen Colin quite a few times over the years. Always in Britain, though, as he and his family are definitely the seasoned travellers. That said, my brother Nick and I did meet up with Colin’s daughter Claire, my second cousin, in LA a few years back! (Mmmm, In ‘n’ Out Burger!) Again, I have singularly failed to make the effort to visit them on home turf, an omission I will be putting right.
Another theme you’ll notice in this trip (apart from an accidental run of stopping in Ibis hotels and an intentional one of Marriott branded establishments – it’s the points, y’know!) is rail travel. Yes, I’ll admit it publicly – I like trains. Not quite the childish obsession of say, Sheldon Cooper (watch Big Bang Theory, you’ll get the reference), but a general enjoyment of a (usually) relaxing means of transportation. So I’m travelling across Australia by train, a marathon four day journey to set a new personal record, from Auckland to Wellington on the reputedly extremely scenic Northern Explorer, and from Los Angeles along the Pacific coast to Seattle courtesy of Amtrak. Throw a road trip from Oregon via a yet-to-be-decided, but bound to be scenic & enjoyable, route to Denver, and you’ll be put in mind of a John Hughes ‘comedy’ movie starring Steve Martin and John Candy….?
I think that’s pretty much brought everyone up-to-speed as to why we’re here. Any more questions, just ask…..