Posted by: glenswatman | May 21, 2010




is quite a challenge unpacking from our trip then sorting out stuff for our big
trip to Australia, things we need for this weekend away in Bishop Auckland and
stuff to wear in the meantime.  At least
we know we can safely pack our summery things now!  Check out things to do with the kids at the
weekend and the “Centre for Life” in Newcastle comes up trumps as they are
having a special weekend with lots of free activities.  The kids are at Daz’s in the evening so I can
help Claire with more studying, how she remembers it all beats me and makes me
realise just how little of our brains and memory Steve and I are using!.



Mom & Dad come down for lunch and I help them booking a last minute
coach break.  Through they get 5 nights
in Weston Super Mare reduced from £339 to £149 each.  I need to keep my hair short for on the boat
where water will be scarce so at a walk in hairdresser get a decent cut for
£4.  We are on child duties today so
Steve drops Mom & Dad off then picks up Daniel and Natasha.  Within the hour they have both eaten and Daniel
has to be taken out to his drama class.  At
ASDA Nat has fun using the self service check out but not sure it is any
quicker than the normal system.  Think we
get it right as we end up with kids at home and in bed whilst Claire is out in
Manchester seeing Peter Kay and staying out. 



up Mom & Dad for a drive over to Manchester to visit David.  We take the scenic route across the moors and
it really is a beautiful part of the world. 
We all go out to dinner together to give us a bit longer to chat with
David.  Back at Claire’s the kids are out
so I help Claire with more revision before she goes to Richards for the night
leaving us home alone.



is really fun deciding what clothes I need for the weekend away with Claire and
Natasha, what we want for the Hong Kong and Australia trip and what is to be
stored here.  In a way it is lucky that
we have very few clothes to choose from! 
Steve is staying home to look after Daniel from tomorrow onwards.  After work Claire, Natasha & I set off
for the drive to Durham.  Natasha was
supposed to swimming in a gala at the weekend but can’t because of her foot
being in pot but the hotel was booked and paid for and there is a festival in
Newcastle so we figured we would make a weekend of it.  Premier Inn has a great deal with nice rooms
at £29 and a good sleep guarantee (now I reckon you could sleep for free around
England if you kept challenging that one). 
Lots of the other swimmers are there and whilst a few of the parents
drive off to check out the way to the pool we end up with a room full of
kids.  Jellena (6), Jovana (10), Abigail
(11) plus Nat’s friend Azura.  They are
extremely giddy and noisy and it is quite a relief when their parents reclaim
them.  Nat sleeps with Richard, Matthew
and Azura giving Claire and I a quiet room for the night.



SATURDAY 15 MAY – A good night’s sleep, unfortunately!  The kids all head to the pool whilst I stay
to help Claire with her revision.  Richard
brings Natasha back at lunchtime.  His
son Matthew joins us for the drive into Newcastle, past the Angel of the
north.   There is a special festival this
weekend with many museums free of charge and lots of things happening in the
evening.   At the Discovery Centre
Natasha gets involved in making her own board game whilst the free audio guides
around the museum make for a very interesting visit.  So much so that having arrived at 1.30pm we
are still there when it closes at 5pm. 
Newcastle seems quite compact so we make our way to centre and find a
nice restaurant for a meal.  At 7pm the
evening “Late Show” entertainment kicks off and we begin at St James’ park,
Newcastle United ground.  Richard and
Azura catch arrive just as we set out on the free tour.  In the dugout we see the special Newcastle
team seats with heating whilst the away time have to shiver or exercise to keep
warm.  Next stop is a museum where you
can handle some reptiles, Natasha loves holding the python!  Matthew wants to spend more time there so
stays with Richard whilst Claire, Natasha, Azura and I hop on the free city
tour bus.  We get the long journey all
around the city and down to Gateshead, taking about 1-hour, before arriving
back at the Discover Museum.  In the
great hall they have giant games for you to play.  Most are from years gone by such as
“Operation”, “Connect 4”, “Snakes & Ladders” and “Jenga”.  It is great fun and we are all reluctant to
leave at 10.30pm but Azura is swimming tomorrow.



SUNDAY 16 MAY – It’s Azura’s 11th birthday today
so she is up early to tell us and to get ready for swimming.  I spend a bit of time helping Claire with her
revision and it is really funny when Natasha chips in with some of the answers.  Natasha has got something trapped in her cast
making it hard to walk so we call in to Airedale to get it checked out but they
are queuing out of the door.  When Steve
takes her back later they only have to wait a couple of hours to find there is
no one there who can re pot it!  The
volcano in Iceland is blowing up dust again and the northern airports in
England are closed and it is possible all will be shut tomorrow, but we will
set off as planned and at least get ourselves to London.



MONDAY 17 MAY – Heathrow has been closed since 1am
but is due to open soon.  Claire drops us
in town and we catch the bus to Leeds, £2.70. 
Our National Express fare to London was a fun fare at just £1 for the 4
½ hour journey.  From Victoria coach
station we walk to the tube and connect through to Heathrow.  At Cathay Pacific check in we can’t believe
our luck when we find ours is the only flight to Hong Kong that is going as all
the others have been cancelled.  The
seats in economy are rather strange, fixed plastic backs with a shaped cushion
that slides forward in their version of reclining your seat.  Great as you are not affect by the person in
front but very poor on comfort.


Booked with total costs £925.52


TUESDAY 18 MAY – We land in HONG KONG on schedule around 2pm
(7 hours ahead of BST). Approx HK$11.50 = £1. 
 It is hot, humid and very cloudy.  There’s a driver waiting for us with a sign “Mr
Glen”.  My ex boyfriend Paul (of over
30-years ago) is meeting us in Hong Kong and he has arranged this treat for us
along with our hotel.  Initially driver
Anthony takes us along Lan Tau Island then across to the mainland area.  We are dropped at the hotel after about
30-minus but at check in they have no knowledge of our reservation.  When we show them the paperwork they advise
us we are at the Royal Pacific Hotel whereas our booking is at the Island
Pacific, their sister hotel.  Contact
with Paul’s secretary Lily soon has us in another car with Andy taking us
through the tunnel under the causeway to Hong Kong island.  We have a very nice room and by 3.30pm are
lying down resting and enjoying the view over the harbour.  By sheer chance another friend of ours is
also joining us in Hong Kong.  Marek immigrated
to Australia from Scotland, we met him in Perth in 1999 but he now works as a
helicopter pilot just over the border in China at Shenzhen.   He
catches the bus down, checks into the same hotel as us and meets us early
evening.  Having visited Hong Kong many
times we are happy to have him show us around. 
The middle of the road trams are very skinny, 2- storey and cheap at
HK$2 (18p) a ride.  We go to the central
district and wander the streets including the famous “Suzy Wong” area.  Our meal is taken in a local café and the
food is tasty and cheap.  Next we take
the Star Ferry, HK$2.5 (23p) across to Kowloon on the mainland.  We are too late for the 8pm sound and light
show but still enjoy the view back to the island with the numerous high rise
all lit up.  In fact so far Hong Kong
seems nothing but high rise buildings and lots of people bustling around.  Along Nathan Road we look at the Chung King
and Mirador Mansions where we had planned to stay, adequate but nowhere near as
nice as where we are.   Needless to say
whilst walking around we are busy chatting and catching up.   Arrive
back in our rooms just before midnight. 



WEDNESDAY 19 MAY – Marek leads us back to the Central Area
where we visit Statue Square and the unusual HSBC building.  For lunch we go to Maxims, a magnificent
chandelier strewn restaurant, famous for their dim sum.   It is starting to rain so we return for a
freshen up then take a taxi to the Grand Hyatt. 
This is where Paul is staying and it is great to see him again.   The weather has deteriorated and it is now
pouring down so we are all happy to sit in one of the bars and chat and snack
enjoying the stunning view when the rains and mist clear.  There is so much to talk about the time flies
and we haven’t even left the building. 
Paul invites us for dinner at the hotels Chinese Fusion restaurant.  It is a really nice restaurant and somewhere
we would never visit due to the high prices so a real treat to sample such
excellent cuisine.  Paul now owns a
mining company, lives in Beijing and has many stories to tell so a wonderful



THURSDAY 20 MAY – Paul arrives at our hotel and because of
the rain we decide to stay there for the buffet breakfast.  After the rain has stopped we head to
Victoria Park to take the tram to the peak, HK$56 (£5) return.  We’ve only time to enjoy the view and do a
small part of one of the walks but it is well worth it.  As we are not shoppers our overall view of
Hong Kong has not been great but to meet up with our friends brilliant.  We are the first to have to leave and take
the MTR, HK$100 (£8.50) to the airport. 
It is a very good service with just one stop and only takes 25
minutes.  As our flight starts to board
our names are called.  My visa
application passport number has a digit wrong a 9 instead of a 0.  After a nervous wait and a few phone calls we
are cleared to board, the last ones on. 
The plane is half empty so we bag a couple of seats each which enables us
to get a bit more sleep.  Again the food
is very good with our last meal bringing a taste of AUSTRALIA, meat pie, mash
and peas.  We’ve both got colds and my sinuses
are streaming so the pressure of landing is extremely painful.  I am so happy when we arrive at Brisbane
airport and we both feel like we are arriving home.  Queensland BST + 9-hours.  Aus$1.65 = £1.  With no baggage to collect we are amongst the
first to head through customs and have declared my stash of medication.  They are happy to accept our word on what we
have but ask if they can hide a huge shrink wrapped sausage in one of our bags
as they are training one of the sniffer dogs. 
The beagle does a brilliant job and indicates the offending bag by
pressings his nose on it.  We’ve not been
outside long when Joan & Jim arrive to pick us up.  After a quick introduction we are on our way
to Caboolture.  They are both very nice,
friendly relaxed people and it soon feels like we have known them for
ages.  At home we are sleeping on the
mattress from the boat on the floor of the spare room.



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