Heather’s 2015 Trip to Europe

I am so over winter, I couldn’t wait to get to Europe and get back into my shorts! My flight over was uneventful, except for the experience at Tom Bradley terminal, Los Angeles airport. Before Air New Zealand switched to this terminal, it was possible to clear all obstacles and get to the lounge within 20 minutes. This transit took 1 hour 35 minutes! I was finger-printed, iris- checked, bags emptied etc – and then back to the ‘plane. Why the need for all this bureaucracy for people just passing through?  Anyway, staff at the airport were nice and friendly and I met some interesting fellow passengers with whom to pass the time, so not all bad! Interestingly, I had the same level of security checking for an internal flight to Edinburgh – I’d forgotten just how lucky we are in New Zealand to have such a low terrorism threat.

The weather in the UK was hot and humid on my arrival – better than cold and damp, so hopeful the shorts will be out soon!

And yes they were! Edinburgh was beautifully warm – but crowded. I had forgotten that August is Festival time! But it was great fun wondering around seeing all the street theatre and just enjoying crowds of people enjoying themselves.

By now I was over the jetlag and was looking forward to driving across Scotland and then down to Blackpool. The car was a new Citroen with lots of bells and whistles. It drove like a dream for the first 45 minutes or so, and then it pinged at me and the on board computer flashed “adjust tyre pressure and then re-initialise.” I had no idea what this meant, but being out in the wops, there wasn’t a lot I could do any way. I drove on, carefully, and was delighted to spot a petrol station, with a mechanics shop attached, and, even better, a mechanic stood there! I explained what had happened; he checked and said that there was too much air in some of the tyres. He sorted it, re-initialised (I still don’t know what that means!!) and sent me on my way with a bill for $0 – who said the Scots were mean?!

The rest of my drive down was uneventful and I arrived in Blackpool in plenty of time to enjoy a stroll on the beach. Next day I rode the tram from end to end (Starr Gate and Fleetwood) and then walked the Golden Mile. Simple pleasures and much enjoyed.

I then drove from Blackpool to Llanidloes, via the M55, M6, M56 and M53 to Chester and then on A roads. I had forgotten the pleasure of driving on British motorways; the courtesy, the signalling intentions to change lanes, the waved “thank yous” for letting others change lanes, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. But I was grateful that the threatened storm did not happen, as the motorways in torrential rain are definitely something to avoid!

Next day I remembered why I didn’t enjoy driving round Wales! Narrow, steep, windy roads with lots of slow traffic!  But the scenery was lovely and I got to walk along the sea front of Tywyn and Aberystwyth, both of which had been badly battered in winter storms over the past two years; they have recovered well.

Finally, a slog to London, ready to get the Eurostar to France and on to a 10 day trip round the Italian Riviera.

Interesting side note – I will have slept in 5 different countries on 5 successive Thursdays – New Zealand, Scotland, England, Wales, and Italy!

About Heather Kinsey