Unusually, this is largely a non-cycling blog. After suffering through numerous seasons of cycle camping and dodgy gîtes, S has prevailed upon me to lever open the wallet doors and spring a substantial wad on an exotic holiday to the other side of the world. Obstensibly to visit the nest-flown daughter, who is currently experiencing the world post-University and prior to gainful employment. So Australia it is, despite my protestations that it is merely a warm version of bungalowed Plympton, albeit with more deadly wildlife.
In order to get there I must endure the first circle of hell – the limbo of Heathrow airport and a 24 hour flight to Melbourne, where we will eventually arrive on Sunday morning. In order to ameliorate the pain I have arranged a taxi to the airport and signed up for some airport lounge passes. Now, regular readers will know that I am not normally given to feckless largesse, and also that S must be discouraged from ‘impulse luxury purchases’. So you are probably wondering if I have undergone some sort of Damascene conversion after watching ‘A Christmas Carol’ on the festive telly. The truth is more prosaic – I dislike flying so elected to buy ‘not the cheapest flights’ at the most expensive time of year, and then discoverimg that the was practically no economy accomodation to be had in the middle of the Ozzy summer holidays, my normal credit-card aversion therapy has failed to stem the debits, and I now wear it on my forehead so I can bang my head on the card reader while making the next contactless payment in the constant flow of holiday expenditure.
Later . . .
After an uneventful taxi ride to Heathrow we arrive at just after 2 pm, a good 5 hours before scheduled departure, having ignored the advice about arriving ‘just in time’. After the usual faffing around with bag check-in and security – empty pockets, remove electrical items, false teeth, take off belts, underpants` prosthetic limbs etc. – we got through to departurtes at just after 3 pm. This still left nearly 4 hours to kill, which is one of the bits that make flying such a painful experience for me. Wandering the aspeptic concourses of the hermmetically sealed, mini-city that is Heathrow, buying over-priced crap and trying not to start heavy drinking at the overpriced bar. But, this time we are saved by the Lounge Pass. If you haven’t done this, it’s worth every penny of the £36 entrance fee – relaxing with a ‘fishfinger sandwich’ and chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc in a lounge with leather armchairs . . . middle-age disposal income has its benefits. Better still, it was a freebie with our bank account. The only surprise is that S has not checked out the Spa; just as well, because the Bespoke Skin Polish (imagine a giant shoe-shine machine into which you disappear and come out looking like a lightly-buffed, tan brogue) is £35.