Flying High… 22 September 2015

Written literally on the fly.

Well, here we are. Day one.

Or is it day two? I’m not even 100% sure what the time is. I’ve got all sorts of stats scrolling on the screen in front of me, but as yet no times.

We’re due in LA in 1:10hours and it’s 8:07am in Auckland. We’ve travelled 9819km and have 844km to go to LA.

But what about yesterday?

It was the usual get up, get washed, have breakfast, run about like a headless chicken scenario… Well, not really. Everything was pretty well ready, just a few last minute catch ups.

Like, because of a nickel allergy I can’t wear metal, so wearing a standard watch is out of the question. But I do have a nurses style watch that I wear on a lanyard around my neck when travelling.

Not a problem. Hook it out of its box and put it on.

Those little hands weren’t moving.

Bother! The battery’s dead. So I checked Manukau City Shopping Centre’s web site and they’ve got a Michael Hill Jeweller. No problem. I can stop off there and get my free battery.

After a lot of deliberation I’d decided to buy a neck cushion from an Australian company. It had good reviews, and I figured that if I was going to be flying the equivalent of right around the world I wanted to be comfortable and get plenty of sleep.

When I initially went to order this cushion back in July they didn’t have any stock until late August. So I put it on my wishlist and ‘forgot’ about it.

Early September, about the 6th, I realised that I hadn’t had any notification that they were in stock, so went back to the site and ordered one.

And waited…

And waited…

I had received notification that it had been despatched, but there was no tracking number outside of Australia with the delivery, so there wasn’t a lot of point in contacting the company.

I waited.

Last Thursday…




Saturday. (I’m an optimist!)


Monday – my last day at work. D.C. lets me know that a parcel has arrived. Maybe….


Tuesday. We’re catching the 9.50am bus to Auckland. I’m in the computer room checking out my emails, when I hear a vehicle pull up. I thought it might be Jan, but then I hear a door sliding back…

Is it my cushion?

I dashed outside and intercepted our friendly courier lady. She gave me a (rather large) parcel.

Contents description: cushion


How was it going to fit into my bag?

This one’s made out of memory foam and I was able to roll it up and slot it into one of the lens compartments in the camera section of my cabin bag.


D.C. and I walked down the coastal walkway track to the service lane that goes behind Park and Spend and then over to the Thames i-SITE / Information Centre new location in the Civic Centre/War Memorial Hall. This is a lot quicker than walking all the way to its old location, which was opposite work. Not that I have an issue with walking that distance. I do it every day. Just not towing a large suitcase.

We had a chat with Maureen Sheary and flabbergasted a fellow InterCity coach traveller. I was heading to England and had one suitcase. She was going to Wellington and had three.

We watched as a man nearly missed his bus. He had to bang on the door to get the driver’s attention. D.C. said that he’d been smoking, so it would have served him right if he’d missed it.

We had a good trip up to Auckland. The driver had saved us a front seat and there were no dramas. We got out at Manukau and I left D.C. minding the bags while I went on a hunt for Michael Hill Jewellers.

Of course they could change the battery. Just give them my details and it would be ready for collection in five days.

Five days!!!?!!!

I’d forgotten that they send the watches away, so that the shop staff don’t risk damaging the watch when they replace the battery. Even if I left it with them, it wasn’t convenient because we never go to the Manukau Shopping Centre. So I took the dead watch back with me. And gave it to D.C. She’s going to be in Queen Street (Auckland) tomorrow (today?) and could drop it off, and then we could collect it when I arrive back in Auckland. Not too convenient for England, but at least it’s doable. And I had clipped a “steam punk” watch to my bag and my phone told the time, so I’m not panicking.

I also went on a hunt for some Blackmore’s Vitamin E cream. I like it because it’s a skin healer. Jan’s been trying to get some in, but hasn’t had any luck, so I thought I’d try Manukau’s pharmacy.

They didn’t have any either.

Apparently the Asians buy it up in bulk and every now and then Blackmore’s run out of stock. I don’t know why the Asians are so enamoured with it, but it’s good stuff.

So I haven’t got any of that either.

We waited outside for the Collins (having told them the wrong bus arrival) time and, once they’d arrived and we’d shoved my bag into the boot, we went and had lunch at the Hollywood Café.

Following that Shirley suggested that we head out to the strawberry farm that makes fresh strawberry ice cream. As they’re always raving about how good this is, we were happy to agree. And it was good. We stood outside, looked at the strawberry plants and the lambs eating on the hill, and enjoyed a delicious ice cream.

Then it was back to the Collins to chat and wait until it was time to leave. This we did at about 6.00pm and I checked in my suitcase. They’re trying to make it as simple as possible. But I still had to ask for help.

Put your passport in the scanner.
Check the details.
Press okay.
Out spits your departure ticket and bag receipt.
Take it up to the baggage check in and that’s sorted.

1:41pm in LA
LA 341km to go.
Auckland 10138km away
Temperature outside -47.0 degrees Celsius.

Oddly, when the on screen information was showing New Zealand it had on it geographical points like Auckland, Whangarei, Tauranga… Okay, so that’s not odd, but how about the Kermadec Trench? I’m sure that when flying tens of thousands of metres above the surface of the planet, we don’t really need to know the deeper parts of the ocean. But what was really odd was: “Niagara; 1940”. Why on Earth do they point out a shipwreck? And why that one? (Apart from the fact that it’s been leaking fuel since 1940 and could cause an environmental catastrophe if it all goes at once.)

Then we went in search of something to eat.

8:44am NZ time. Time to pack this away.

10:42 am NZ time. (My tablet hasn’t had the chance to synchronise its clock with local time) Sitting in LA’s transit lounge.

I ended up having a MacDonald’s salad for tea. I thought it would be light. I didn’t think it would be the meal it was. But I quite like MacDonald’s salads. 8.00pm I decided that it was time to start heading to the departure area. Boarding time was 8.40pm with the plane leaving at 9.40pm, but at least you can “relax” once you’re on the other side of border control. So I said goodbye to Alan and Shirley Collins… And D.C.

Because I’ve got an electronic passport, going through security was easy – once I’d had it explained to me. You scan your passport and then look into the camera. Question: Which camera? There were three at different heights, none of which seemed the right height for me.

Next question: Do you smile?

I don’t know the answer, but I did and the gate opened for me, so I must have done something right.

Last time we visited International Departures there was a viewing bay that looked down onto departing passengers so you could give them a final wave. I looked around for it this time, but couldn’t find it. So I’d had my last chance to wave goodbye.

I was determined to get a big bottle of water once I was through security, but there was some “anti-jetlag” liquid for sale, so I bought enough to carry me there and back. Apparently the All Blacks use it. *whoop… de… do*

The pack was a bottle of the liquid – it had apple cider vinegar in it, so that predisposed me to buying it – and tablets that you dissolve in water later on. Of course I’ll have to make sure that there’s no liquid in it when I go through each security system.

Then I went to flight NZ2’s departure gate – gate 10. And just sat there because everyone else was just sitting there. People started arriving and some went up to check in, but because the display said “Premium Boarding” I didn’t.

Then there’s an announcement. Would name, Sereena Burton, and name, please see Air New Zealand staff.

They didn’t like my fancy dress costume!

So I went up to check in and the lady promptly excused herself and went across to the two right-hand lanes where they were loading those in wheelchairs and with children. So I had to wait.

Finally another Air New Zealand rep came up. I said I’d been paged.

“Just wait please.”

So I had to wait until the first lady had come back. I’d pre-booked my seat months ago – taking into account proximity to the toilets so I wouldn’t be disturbed, but could keep an eye on when they were vacant, and they’d moved me. It turned out that the seat I got wasn’t bad. I still only had one person next to me and it was the very back row, which meant that there was no one behind to annoy or be annoyed. I think I’d gone from G55 to B59. Also the toilets were tucked behind us and there was plenty of waiting room.

We settled in for the flight.

I was actually ready to go to sleep then, but I stayed awake to keep track of what was happening. We were fed, a choice between a chicken curry or a beef casserole – I had the beef, which was a little tough, with Kapiti Ice Cream for dessert, and then I attempted sleep.


I suppose I should finish typing up what I did this morning. Morning? Is it morning? According to my tablet – “EOS” – it is 12:32pm on the 23rd September. According to LA time it’s… something else. Air New Zealand’s screen’s not telling me at the moment.

Ah! 5.35pm and it’s 1.35am in London.

(Anyway, why is the tablet called EOS? Because I bought one from Dell and decided to call it FAB2 – Lady Penelope’s Rolls Royce in Thunderbirds is FAB1. It didn’t work properly so Dell replaced it with a later model. Also called FAB2. That one didn’t work properly so it was replaced by a later model again – actually two, but they haven’t asked for the other one back yet, which is fair enough as I bought the original Dell because it had replaceable batteries, which I bought for both earlier models, and this one doesn’t. By this point although all the tablets were great to use, I couldn’t quite trust them. At this time the new TV series, Thunderbirds Are Go! screened and one of the “characters” was a computer programme whose principal function was “self preservation”. Once it realised that International Rescue wasn’t a threat it became part of the team. Its name was EOS and it was a great asset to have about, but a real pain when it wanted to be… And that pretty much matched my tablets. So, even though this one’s been flawless – except for not having a spare battery – it’s now called “EOS”.

Right! Sleep, or lack thereof. I tried, using my new, freshly arrived cushion, but it was still impossible to get “sleep” comfortable. I couldn’t stretch out because of the seat in front and couldn’t curl up because they recommend that you keep your safety harness on in case of unexpected turbulence. And with the man in the seat next to me I didn’t want to intrude into his space the way that he was, unwittingly when he was asleep, intruding into mine.

As an aside my seat partner is heading to LA for a couple of days work and is good friends with the boss of Pukeko Pictures. The outfit that made Thunderbirds Are Go!

And Kally didn’t want to stay put and kept on falling onto the floor. My top is an alpaca sleeveless with a cowl neck and I stuck in in the cowl, before finally shoving her down my front.

Note for future travels. Buying a travel cushion with a lot of Velcro doesn’t work well with alpaca tops.

Then after a while my butt became sore. Once again because of the seat belt I couldn’t change position. I could have released the belt, but we did strike a bit of turbulence. Nothing worrying, but enough to make you wary… And tired.

But one good thing about the turbulence; it jogged you about relieving the pressure on your butt.

It was also weird at times when we’d have a period of turbulence and then the plane would go completely still and almost quiet.

Breakfast was a choice between scrambled eggs, baked beans and chicken sausages or Continental – cereal, yoghurt, and fruit salad. I had the Continental.

Now was the time to pull EOS out of the bag and try to remember everything that had happened yesterday, but by that point we were only two hours out of LA and I didn’t have the time to write everything down.

But now I have.

I think.

And now I’m going to go to bed. I haven’t had a lot of sleep over the last 48 hours.

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1 Response to Flying High… 22 September 2015

  1. Frances Burton says:


    Things a little mixed up (in the wrong order) at the Auckland airport but who cares. Continue having a great time after your sleep this morning (NZ 7.00AM.) It was wonderful hearing your voice.

    LU DC


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