Cheerio, Blighty! Kia Ora, Aotearoa!

“How are you feeling? Excited? Nervous? Sick?”

“Well, now I am, Anne”. I sometimes call my parents “Anne” or “Peter” just to be faux-precosious. We’re in the car en route to Heathrow and my mum is making every excuse possible to delay our arrival at Terminal 2.

“Oh, well the car says it can only go 150 miles; I’d better fill up, hmm?! Do you want a treat from the shop? No? Are you sure?”

Bless her heart. My parents are both very excited for me, but they are clearly finding my departure bittersweet.

Just as quickly as we join up with the dual carriageway again, the next suggestion for benign procrastination is aired, “Well, I think we’d better stop for some chips and a wee at The Scottish Restaurant, hmm?!”.

In case you haven’t heard, my family call McDonald’s “The Scottish Restaurant” and we bloody love a cheeky stop off there.

“No matter where you are in the world, you can rely on The Scottish Restaurant for a proper loo and some piping hot chips with a diet coke. Brilliant!”

My parents even have a written list of all the Scottish Restaurants they’ve visited in the world and, not only is that list surprisingly long, but they are proud of it too. From Moscow to Vancouver to Cooma to Windsor, they’ve visited a very large number of Maccas and had at least one icecream and a wee there. Ask them. Go on.


I mean, hey, I’m partial to a cheeky large fries and a medium diet coke, so I agree with my Mum that “yeah, we’d better stop” on our cumbersome one and a half hour Odyssey from Swindon to Heathrow.


Whenever I’m alone with my Mum, I immediately feel knee high to a grasshopper again. I was the youngest by 4 academic years and my Father was away with the Army for 6 months or so at a time, which meant that when I was between the ages of about 4 and 7 I was the “one left Alice” (my infantile way of saying “the last one left”) and so my Mother and I spent a great deal of time together. So, now, whenever it’s just us two, I feel small again.

We still enjoy the occasional trip together, just us two. Just like old times.

For some reason, though, today made me feel both young and grown-up simultaneously. Considering the pretty major seachange I was about to encounter it was hardly a surprise.


There was only so long and so many pennies we could spend in The Scottish Restaurant though and, soon enough, we were back on the motorway hurling (within the national speed limit ofcourse) towards Heathrow.


I’ve already said goodbye to my Father who made me a pint, yes a pint, of coffee this morning. He can’t make it to the airport, which is my fault really; I selfishly booked my ticket without checking if my parents were free to wave me off. This is typical of me. I’m a deeply emotional person, but sometimes I do just that – I keep my emotions buried deep and make overly indepedent and emotionless decisions without wanting to consider the impact. Long, drawn-out goodbyes are not my bag. I’m not a fan of crying in front of others (especially my family for some reason). This doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Quite the contrary, in fact. Evenso, I said a sleepy goodbye to Peter early morning before he had to head off.

It turns out that he was actually really gutted he couldn’t come to the airport and, unbelievably, he called me multiple times from his mobile when I was in the airport to make sure I was at the gate and ready to fly away. This is literally unheard of for my father; I have maybe received a phone call from him on his mobile (a device which he resents whole-heartedly) twice or thrice in my life. It’s hard to explain to others, but it is just too adorable that he put his mobile hatred aside to call and bid me farewell. He’s a softy really. Talking of which, he found a little teddy, a kiwi bird, abandoned in the road as we left london on Sunday. Too prophetic to ignore, he picked it up and immediately started cooing over how “we must take this little person home, wash it and send them to NZ with you as a mascot!”. So, true to his word, he washed the toy and now “Kuwi the Kiwi” is staring up at me from my hand luggage en route to Windy Welly.


After checking in my bag and having a diet coke at the Terminal 2 Wetherspoons (#glamour), it was finally time to go through security and after months of planning, talking, and wondering about this trip, head off into the sunset. Nerves building, I crack jokes. “Why isn’t the Ethiopian airline just called “EthiopiAIR”?” (said in a posh voice). “Yah, no, I’m flying to sydney on AustraliAIR”. My biggest fan, Anne chuckles away and then, all smiles, I give her a bear hug goodbye. Eventhough I can’t see her face, I can feel her bottom lip going. “Just really enjoy it and be safe!” she sobs. Trying my best to not cry, I awkwardly march off “OK, WILL DO. BYE! LOVE YA!”.


Still in a state of disbelief, I head off and treat myself to some fancy schmacy perfume and make some final calls to friends. Having travelled a lot with my previous job, it’s still not quite hit me that, this time, I’m literally moving to the other side of the planet. Casual.


Boarding goes surprisingly smoothly and, before I know it, we’re taxiing to take off. My best friend, Eloise, has made me a special playlist, which I start to play. She’s also given me a  letter that I am only allowed to read once I’m in the air and listening to sed playlist (she’s very loving and very bossy). As we slowly turn left to line up on the runway, I look out my windown and see a queue of 10 or more other huge planes waiting their turn. I wonder where all of them are going and I wonder what spectrum of reasons the people inside have for flying to that place today. Are they filled with excitement (like me), dread, ideas for that big business meeting, fear? Is it the start of a journey for them, or are they heading home? I’ll never know, but I can’t help but wonder.


Chocs away, it’s time to take-off and read my letter. Catch you on the flippety-flop!




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