It is left to me (Stuart) to solemnly declare this trip and this blog closed. The final words of this mighty tome are set out below. Read and weep.
Planes and Boats and Trains
Our epic journey homewards began with an overnight trip on the train from Melbourne to Sydney. Everyone looked tired and there were no hyperactive kids in the seats around us so I was hopeful that we would get some sleep. Of course I had forgotten Karen's nutter magnet and boy was it working that day.
The carriage had to listen to a young man describing various severe injuries that he had suffered in accidents and fights or had inflicted on others or had read about. He also described every station, his link to the town and the motorway system that linked with the stop. This was done loudly and repeated to different people as he moved seats on a regular basis. What really annoyed me was his announcement that he had decided to change his train time at the last minute and his admittance that he could not sleep on trains.
Next morning we caught a local train from Sydney Central to the airport and waited for our flight to Singapore (due out late afternoon). The flight took off on time but through a storm. I prayed as the plane was buffeted by strong winds and both of us were very alarmed as we appeared to be hit by lightning at one point. We soon arrived in Singapore and caught a shuttle bus to our very nice hotel near Clarkes Quay.
Singapore is a great place to stop. It has an incredible number of shopping malls, great restaurants and bars and a very happy, relaxed atmosphere. We took a boat trip along the river from Clarkes Quay out to the main harbour on the day our plane was due to leave and finished off some pre-Christmas shopping before heading to the airport.
The plane left Singapore shortly before midnight. Whilst I did not sleep the flight was enjoyable as I watched several movies in a comfortable seat. We soon arrived back in London (well 13 hours later) and were on the bus to Ringwood to be picked up by Pa Evans and transported back to our Christmas 2011 venue!
So, we were home. Game over.
It is not too difficult to pick our stand out days and experiences from the trip.
The encounters with bears and penguins (and for me the Tasmanian Devils) were special. So too the Edith Cavell, Lake Louise and Yosemite walks.
Right up there has to be the people we met and the friends we caught up with: Bruce, Ernesto and Shannon in Jasper; the Corvette Drivers in Cambria; the Timms, Ros, Greg and Sheridan in Fiji; the Sandles in Edmonton and the Smiths, Deans, Whites, Mel and Mila in Sydney.
We both agree that the most amazing day was the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand's north Island. A great walk across volcanoes that will live in the memory and will be tough to beat.
Shape of things to come
Hopefully we can keep in contact with the special people we met along the way but if not it would be nice to think that we added a little enjoyment to their lives if only for a brief while. They certainly enriched our journey and gave us different perspectives on life.
As far as travel is concerned we will be firmly wandering around the UK for the next millennia. You will see us wandering around some wild and windy place in our matching Howard and Hilda outfits (including ruck sacks) like some cast off characters from Little Britain. Or perhaps you may visit us in our own Royston Vasey where we can walk to our LOCAL shop in our LOCAL village.
We have had a great time together and if nothing else the trip has brought us closer. We know what we want out of life and that, more than ever, we share the same goals aspirations and hopes.
Goodbye to you who often read
as this blog is now put to bed.
No doubt you will now soundly wish
no longer to have to read rubbish
such as the drivel writ by me
balancing my netbook on my knee.
We've enjoyed the tramp around the world
but now back in Blighty we are curled
around our laptops as we search
for our next house beside a church
in some quaint village away from the sea
with at least one pub
Now all that is now left to say
Is goodbye world, hello UK.
You have been watching …
Karen Barker (played by Miranda Hart)
Stuart Barker (played early on by Buster Bloodvessel and later blogs by Mr Conehead)
Tahoe the Dog (played by Jeanette Krankie)