Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Forget the olympics, now the real countdown begins

Despite knowing for a long time this is what I was going to do, it was still surprisingly hard to press the “proceed” button. Having searched for, and found, exactly the flights I wanted, I just needed to enter my credit card details and it would all become real.

Then why did the butterflies immediately kick in? Why did a tsunami of indecisiveness wash over me? Maybe it is the reality that the clock now starts ticking. Each day that passes is one less that I will live in the UK. Knowing that I do really now have to start tying up the loose strings of my English life. Closing down bank accounts. Cancelling memberships. Packing up belongings. Saying those emotional goodbyes to family and good friends. Not really sure of when I will be seeing many of them again.

Or maybe it’s not that at all. Perhaps it is just the fact that I now realise, and it’s starting to sink in, that I will have to rescind the season ticket for my beloved Manchester United, the team that I first watched live in the late 1970s. In the days when football was football. The Theatre of Dreams was simply, Old Trafford. And the glory days of Best, Charlton and Law were nothing but a distant memory. Long gone, with me continually suffering through the 80s at the hands of the red half of Merseyside. That, of course, was until the day at Crossley Heath school in 1986 when I heard that big Ron Atkinson had been sacked and a dour Scotsman called Alex Ferguson was on his way south. The rest, as they say, is history.

So, I have my flights. On 1st August i will be leaving these shores and heading down under. And yes, it's a very long flight, so i've pushed the boat out (on a plane?) and for the first time ever I booked business class seats (in keeping with ticking things off my life bucket list). Singapore Airlines will be taking me, via Munich, to Singapore, a city I’ve visited on a few occasions, always enjoying the great restaurants, and (exorbitantly) expensive nightlife. Little wonder that Nick Leeson had to resort to being a rogue trader to fund his flashy lifestyle and late nights in “Harry’s Bar”.

Three days later I will be headed to Perth. Glorious Perth. Gateway to beautiful Fremantle, and quite possibly some of the best fish and chips in the whole of Australia, from Cicerello’s by the marina. Afterwards, washed down by a delectable home brewed beer from the Little Creatures micro brewery. I will also take a side trip to Rotto, Rottnest Island, and visit the famous little quokas. It was the quokas that gave Rottnest it’s name, as the early Dutch explorers sailed past, thinking they could see large rats, hence coining the sobriquet, Ratnest Island.

After my week in Perth, and catching up with family, it will be time for another bucket list item. One of the world's greatest rail journeys. One that many people think I'm mad for doing and look completely perplexed when I say I'm choosing to do. The epic Indian Pacific train journey from Perth to Sydney, taking 3 whole days, leaving just once a week, and rocking into Sydney every Wednesday morning. Can't you just get a flight and do it in 5 hours, they ask? Well, even if you need to ask that question, we have a very different attitude to travelling.

There we have it. Plans made. Countdown starts. My days in blighty are, literally, numbered.

Will I become a “Pom in Paradise?” Watch this space.

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