And it's warmer than I was expecting! Merino long-sleeved singlet off!
Glad I brought some t-shirts, but may have to visit Harrod's for another!
(Note: for Harrod's, read Target...)
Tim Finn sings of the"tyranny of distance" and on an intellectual level we Kiwis all know we have to fly for 24 hours to get to the Mother-country, or the Father-land or wherever at some recent or far-gone time our people came from. But it's only in the actual doing of it, the living of it, that it became real to me.
It's subversively subtle. Your tickets tell you you fly out of Auckland at 11pm, your flight is 11.5 hours long, and you arrive in Hong Kong at 6.30am the next morning.
Then you repeat the process - Hong Kong at 9.15am, 12.5 hour flight this time, arriving at Heathrow in London at 3pm.
Of course you KNOW all about time zones and gaining/losing days etc, but those flights really are as long as they say. The fact you're time travelling as well takes a little getting used to. For me the significant enlightenment came from the flight map on my seat monitor. I watched the graphic of my plane moving across the world map in infinitesimally slow increments.
We were over countries with names ending in "-istan" for an uncomfortably long time (given the unrest in those areas) so I watched a movie, and after Captain Phillips had been rescued from the Somali pirates, checked again. Russia. Hours and hours of the flight was over Russia. I presumed that after the shooting down of the Malaysian Air plane last month, we were in a safe(r) air corridor, but it WAS a bit disconcerting, the length of time it took to cross that vast continent.
Safe to say I gained a much greater appreciation of the size of the world and the distance of most of it from New Zealand!
And the slightly unsettling realisation of the swarms of people-laden planes criss-crossing the skies on these long, long, non-stop flights, but only travelling fast enough to creep slowly across my map.....
And there was my cousin Sue, waiting when I emerged from a very cursory border control, compared to NZ. No form to fill in asking if I'd been on a farm or in a freezing works in the last couple of weeks, or check to see whether I had dirt on my shoes or bananas in my handbag.... But everyone was polite and helpful, then off onto the tube! I love trains, so this was a great start, and after crossing most of London, we emerged into daylight - lovely warm late summer sunshine, to catch a bus for the next step.
And it was a big red double decker bus.
Okay, I'm a naive lass from Hawkes Bay, but I'd imagined that these were touristy transports or for ceremonial occasions. Nope. They transport large numbers of people with their suitcases, backpacks, pushchairs, violins and shopping up and down the streets of London. Yeah you knew that eh, but allow me my awe and wonder!
And now I'm home at Sue and Neil's, with their lovely family, tired, happy, and eager to see more of this ancient and modern city.
Crikey, I'm in LONDON!