Pre-departure & Flight

Pre-departure & Flight

So, how did I end up here? ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ

I left the UK ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง mid Feb’20, not perceiving what was rounding the corner (a global pandemic). Adeptly, the rest of the world knew, except the UK! Italy was already in lockdown, but as I flew out of Heathrow, you’d think everything was dandy with the world!

Now, I’m in Australia, and the UK has gone into a full lockdown. Clearly, I’m not one to be rushed, and I’m certainly not likely to modify that habit anytime soon. So I stayed in Oz as long as I could get away with! Which ended up been 15 months ๐Ÿ‘ Fair Dinkum!

Only a slight problem with returning to glorious Blighty, the UK Gov had now added Qatar ๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ (Doha), my transit hub, to their ‘red list‘. This meant, I would’ve had to use one of their scrubs hotels around Heathrow. Well, that ain’t going to happen, so I had to make other plans.

Eventually, and a hell of a lot of planning and checking whether I could actually get in, was Spain ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ (amber list)! This website was of tremendous help Thank you.

Now, that I’d fathomed (I think!) I could arrive in Spain, next was the planning on getting to the UK. That was straightforward ๐Ÿšตโ€โ™‚๏ธ I’d cycle.

When I came out, for the first time I’d travelled without a tent ๐ŸŽช On this trip I had no reason to bring it along as my plan was to extensively cycle day trips … perhaps my fault and I’d jinxs the planet!

Not just my tent, on top of that my camping/cooking gear too ๐Ÿณ bloody hell!

So, help came from a friend who gave me a tent and a sleeping bag. I also purchased a Thermorest mat. I try and not scrimp on this. It can seriously cause all the difference to a warm/cold, comfortable/uncomfortable night! Then, AliExpress for my cooking gear. I optedย  to try a pot with a heat-exchanger … Fire Maple 1l.

My cooking gear in the past I’d invariably used my trusted Trangia stove (meths). This has served me very well. It’s slow, but sure, like me. This time I was opting for gas canisters. Was it going to match up?

The tent ๐ŸŽช remains a tried and tested system, an MSR Hubba Hubba NX. I initially possessed the older version which died a death with UV and use! The sleeping bag was getting old, but I rejuvenated it with a good hand wash and dry in the Ozzie sun โ˜€๏ธ That didn’t take long in 35degs!

Changing flights with Qatar Airways โœˆ๏ธ involved a little bit of stress, as I didn’t know whether they’d adhere to their word of a free-date-destination-change (airlines aren’t known for been this helpful without emptying the wallet even more) … with time to spare they did. Qatar Airways came through for me. A big thank you to the customer service team via Twitter.

The day arrived. A walk into the Perth International departure terminal expecting to see at least a few people. Wrong. It was abandoned.

A couple of check-in agents and two ominously (grumpy as) regional police officers staring me down as I approached. The senior male grump ๐Ÿ‘ฎ asked for ‘my papers’ to leave … my papers, I laughed ๐Ÿ˜† Didn’t go down well with the senior grump and his trainee grump (๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™€๏ธ) gave a scour! I informed them I’m British ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง Not happy with that, senior Grump asked to examine my Australian ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ passport. Once again, I said, I’m British! A bit of key-pressing on a laptop, senior Grump informed me, I was leaving permanently. I asked, permanent to what … life time or a few weeks? No answer except, you’re free to depart! I dragged my bike box to the check-in desk with senior Grump and trainee Grump staring me down once again! ๐Ÿ‘ฎ ๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™€๏ธ

As ever travelling with a bike on an aircraft, weight is paramount. They couldn’t even be bothered to weigh it and just asked how much it weighed? FFS! I could’ve got away with everything I had and not posted a large box back to the UK! I asked how many on the flight … 15 was the reply. I nearly fell over! All my lifetime Xmas and Birthdays had come at once! ๐ŸŽ†

I’m on board a brand new-straight-out of the box A350. Pretty much occupied a section to myself. A Whiskey was the first port of call, then a ground black coffee … repeat, then again!

As with all good flights, uneventful is what we’re after. It was so!

Changed flights in Doha for Madrid. This time and older 777 and a lowly figure of 50’ish soles on board!


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