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Published: October 29th 2015
Most travel blogs are written about travels from our homes to other places. But this blog is about my trip from another place, back to my home. I've been living in Thailand for the past five and a half years, and this was my first return trip to the UK. It is five years since I've seen my daughter and this was the reason for my return. The timing of my return came about because the tenants have moved out of my house and given me the chance to stay rent free in England for a month.
The taking and uploading of photos is not my strong point. So if your wondering, this photo shows the clouds beneath the Turkish Airlines' wing.
This was my first trip out of Thailand in all that time and it aroused a sense of excitement that is usually experienced when journeying away from home and not to it. I flew with Turkish Airlines for the first time. The aircraft was smaller than those I've traveled on before on this route, and my 6' 2" frame was a bit cramped. The food though, was by far the best I've had on any flight. Get a load of this: 'Cafe de Paris chicken with grilled vegetables and rice, Do and Co's chocolate mousse, plus fresh bread and cheese'
. I'm already looking forward to my return meals.
I had booked a hire car before leaving Thailand and arranged to collect it at Manchester airport. I'd done my homework and discovered that the paper part of UK driving licenses are no longer valid and that hire companies now require a National Insurance number so that driving convictions (or in my case a lack of them) can be checked. What I didn't know was that in going for the best price when booking my car rental on line meant that I had booked it through a broker and not the hire car company. When the hire car company asked me if I wanted to take out extra insurance I told them that I'd already done this. That was when I was told that my booking was made through a broker and that my extra insurance money and the company were living happily in Greece!
As I have said, it's been some time since I was in England. During this time my mental map of Yorkshire seems to have erased itself. I recognized many of the names but could not get my bearings. Not having a printer available when I checked my daughter's new address using Google, I had made a quick sketch map to take with me to England. This would have been fine were it not for a road closure on the M62, a major link road running East to West through the centre of the country and a sizable section of my planned route.. Without access to this vital motorway link, I was totally confused. There were no detour signs posted near the closed junctions and within a short space of time I was completely lost. It was 1 o'clock in the morning after a 15 hour journey from Bangkok, and with no one to ask for directions I was running out of ideas, patience and concentration. Just as I was considering asking for help from Above, it arrived in the form of a policeman and police woman. This was more than a little surreal because the police woman was young and attractive with medium length blond hair pulled back into a pony tail, whilst the policeman was also good looking with designer stubble and an easy smile. Both of them were dressed in dark waistcoat style knife-proof jackets and had an array of equipment in pouches around their waists. They looked for all the world as though they were on a movie set. Had this been the scenario, the only one who would have been out of place was yours truly. But what the heck, at least I had a speaking part in this fantasy. "Are you lost sir?" Were the leading lady's first words. "Got it in one." I replied.
After I'd explained my problem, they radioed their station to confirm where the M62 could be rejoined and then invited me to follow their car as they lead me -on a 30 minute drive - back on to the motorway. Police get a lot of flak, but I'm never likely to forget these two. As we eventually approached the slipway leading on the the M62, the handsome leading character beckoned me on to overtake their car and to take my leave. He gave a big wave as I overtook, and although I too gave a very grateful wave to them I was concerned that they might not see it, and think me ungrateful. I was just about to honk the horn to back up my wave and to leave them in no doubt about the level of my appreciation when I recalled that it is against the law to sound a car horn after 9:30pm. You can never be too sure, and old habits die hard. I drove on in grateful silence, relieved be to in control once more.
I arrived at my daughter's house at around 2:30 a.m. Seeing Becky again was magical and had none of the awkwardness that long separations can create. It was not of course a 'just like yesterday' experience, but there was that wonderful familiarity that only family can experience. Khalil Gibran said: 'Even your children are not your children: they are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself". I've always been fond of that quote, but I now see that it doesn't even get close to explaining the intensity of the bond which can exist between a parent and his daughter, long after the begetting and has never wavered.
Seeing her again after such a long time was a thrill that I will not even attempt to put into words. Becky had taken time off work to spend with me, so we had a chance for long walks in the countryside with her two delightful dogs for company. Time too, to chat and catch up with each others' lives. I also had the opportunity to spend evenings with both her and her husband John. They make a fine couple. When the time came for Becky to go back to her work, I left and drove to my own house some 100 or so miles south in Staffordshire. This time I had the chance to study a map carefully before setting off, and left the M62 well before it was due to dump me somewhere unknown, again. As I've said, I was really grateful to the two police officers for helping me out in my time of need, but I'd no desire for taking part in another production of Cops and Bloggers, and made a point of reading the road signs very carefully. As I left, I was already looking forward to seeing Becky again in a couple of weeks.
I'll be in the UK for one month and will send blogs as and when I can. Who knows, I may even manage some photos.
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