Britain 11 - Day 1


We left Wellington, New Zealand at the right time. It was the opening night of the rugby World Cup and the town, and the country was about to be overtaken by rugby madness for the next six weeks. Even before we had left home it started. The airport shuttle driver rang and suggested we leave an hour early as he had reports of major traffic congestion in town. Faire enough we thought, and soon enough there he was. We rushed for the door, piled into the shuttle and took off. A few minutes later - hang on, I have left my cellphone at home. Could we REALLY survive 4 weeks without it. We were about to find out.

After a dream run to the airport, we were an extra hour early, but our plane to Auckland wasn't. It was an extra hour late. So that was 2 hours to kill. Could have gone home for the cellphone. Eventually we reached Auckland, walked briskly to the International Departures, just in time to hear the final call for our flight. "No worries" said the Airport Security people as they decided that we needed the full check over, pat-down, drug swaps etc before we could run on. We did make it. The last people onto the plane - AGAIN.

Singapore Air
The Air New Zealand B777 at Hong Kong Airport

Our flight took us through Hong Kong on the way to Heathrow. We had a stop-over of two hours, long enough we thought to walk around, stretch our legs and look in a few shops. But that was not how the local airport people had our time planned. As soon as we were off the plane, all people in transit were marshalled in a long line down the arrival passage, and after producing our passports and boarding passes wer were given a large card marked "TRANSIT", and allowed into the terminal, after being told to return to the same Gate in an hour. We walked around for a while and then headed back to the gate, past a very long line of people queued up at one of the departure gates. "Wonder where they are going??" Entry to our gate was barred and we then discovered where that long line of people were headed - ALL of the departure gates were funnelled through one security point. Fortunately, an airport worker realised our situation, opened a locked gate and we were at the head of the queue. And those large "Transit" cards? Totally useless. Nobody wanted to know about them.

Next stop Heathrow, Terminal 1 - yippee!

Yep, Terminal 1 is NOT getting better with age. So off the plane and into the long queue for immigration. Better check that I had signed the Arrival Card - hang on where are my glasses? Of course, they were still in the seat pocket on the plane. Could I manage for 4 weeks in the UK without them? I was not about to try to find out. A quick walk back to the gate, but too late, it was all locked up. So through immigration and up to the Air New Zealand counter. Fortunately we met the head steward off our flight and he arranged for staff to check the plane. No glasses. But did you check in the small pocket in the front of the seat pocket - Ah yes, here they are. Phew!!

Now it was just a case of getting on the train to Kings Cross and walking the short distance to the hotel. Didn't know that Kings Cross was being remodelled and the exits were mostly closed. Made for a long walk but we finally arrived at the Premier Inn and a good night's sleep. Tomorrow would be Paris.....

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Last updated: 12/06/2017