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December 30th 2013
Published: December 30th 2013
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Woolly says – what a super Christmas I had, lots of pressies for me, so I must have been a very good Mammoth this year. I really loved my JCB from my bestest friend Sion and I spent the afternoon playing with it and my mini Ferrari, I’m not sure that daughter Zoe liked it when I kept driving into her leg hehe. The time in Aberystwyth passed very quickly and with the wind whipping around us we had a tearful goodbye before Ollie took to the road for his last journey before retirement.

With only 193 miles to go we spent the journey reminiscing on Ollie’s 20,000 miles with us and watching the Welsh mountains going past, glorious scenery with white blobs of sheep carpeting the landscape.

Woolly says – Jo was so transfixed by the land of her fore fathers I had to give her a sharp prod and remind her of her role in photographing me, really you just can’t get the staff! The views to be fair were lovely and as we crossed the Severn Bridge I held on tightly as gusts of wind tried to push Ollie into the nasty looking estuary below us. With Somerset coming into view I noticed the thatched cottages and little tree covered roads that Ollie was happily charging round, I could see that his retirement was going to be well enjoyed with lots of farm tracks and moors to investigate. With one night’s stay in Dulverton to see Ian’s Mom we face a whole new adventure with a train from Taunton to Gatwick (with a few changes) and then a flight back to Antalya and home, so here goes.

Our last drive across Exmoor with Ollie was so very sad but we know he will enjoy his new life and he will never be forgotten for the journeys and miles we have travelled in him. Our final goodbyes said and we were packed into Ian’s sister’s car and over the moors and into Taunton.

Woolly says – we arrived early, very very early. With five hours to wait we entertained ourselves with newspapers and magazines and snacks for me to keep me going. It was cold and much as we miss our family and friends in the UK we certainly don’t miss the climate. The London train was snug and warm and the three and a half hours passed quickly enough, I don’t think the guard was impressed with me running up and down the aisles shouting ‘Mammoth on the line’ and told me to sit down or get off! Climbing down onto the platform at Paddington I kept my eyes peeled for the famous bear, but it was obviously past his bedtime and he was nowhere to be seen.

Having torn across the concourse towards our underground link we found the Hammersmith line closing and the last train already gone, this wasn’t showing on our planned route and when we were told that all the undergrounds were now closed for the night we must have looked a bit shocked. I mean it’s a Saturday night with thousands of people travelling back from their Christmas retreats and they decide to work on the train lines, madness. With no alternative we searched out a taxi.

Woolly says – the taxi across the capitol city was great fun, as we sped round corners I glimpsed Marble Arch and Hyde Park before we pulled up at Victoria Station. Another warm train we thought, WRONG the Gatwick Express was cancelled and a nice man walked us through all the sidings to a double decker bus instead. With no other options we climbed aboard and settled in for a chilly ride to the airport. It seemed to take forever as we left the city behind us, people were dozing in their seats and I took the sensible route of snuggling down and counting sheep to pass my time.

Arriving at Gatwick an hour later to be greeted by frost on the ground. It was bitterly cold and as we shuffled into the departure area we were glad to be able to shed a few outer layers. Asking if we could check in we were told to go ahead which at least would mean not having to drag the heavy luggage around. Forty minutes of queuing and we were told we couldn’t check in yet and had to wait a mere six hours before doing so. Taking our disgruntled Mammoth by the paw we found a space on the floor and sat down for a long wait.

Woolly says – I sat on Jo’s suitcase watching people arrive. As more and more appeared floor space became more limited and the hands on the clock seemed to go slower and slower. We shared coffees and sandwiches and although Jo told me off I know she didn’t really mind me eating most of the Jaffa cakes. After what seemed like several lifetimes we approached check in again, passports were handed over and weighing in started. We did know that this was going to be a problem as Jo has packed half of the Cadbury’s factory into her baggage, first up was the hand luggage. With only 10kg between us we were over, the laptop bag was the worst and having emptied out everything except the two laptops it was still over weight – Ian asked which bin they would like him to put a laptop into? Finally we had moved enough stuff around to get the two smaller bags on the plane although I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with the pile of things that were now sat on the floor until I saw naughty Jo putting them back into the rucksack, let’s hope they don’t re-weigh that one I thought. Next came Ian’s huge rucksack, brilliant just under the 20kg allowance, Jo gritted her teeth as her case went on, whoops it looked like we would be eating a lot of chocolate very quickly, what a great idea. Jo frowned at my suggestion and shuffled off to pay some excess before we could finally get our boarding cards and head upstairs. I do like airports as there are always lots of shops to look in and Gatwick certainly didn’t disappoint, we wandered round Harrods, I wanted to have my picture taken with the massive bear at the door but the security guard had his beady eye on me so I hurried over to the shop selling caviar. Wow that stuff is expensive! Duty free with its overriding smell of perfume gave me a headache and growing bored we found some breakfast to fuel us up for the long day ahead. I enjoyed my bacon and eggs and Jo’s veggie breakfast disappeared quickly even though it was cold on arrival, Ian looked at his cold food and summoned a waiter, would we like a replacement? No thanks just our money back so even though Jo and I were full to bursting it hadn’t cost us a penny, result. I wanted to go and play in the children’s area but was told to sit down and be quiet as we watched the departures board which helpfully told us that our plane was delayed, oh joy.

The hours passed as they do and as boredom became harder to bear we had to be contented with watching the thousands of people looking as fed up as we felt increase as more flights were delayed. Finally our flight was called and we shuffled through the ticket desk and into our seats. Woolly bounced up and down looking out of the window and watched other planes moving out of the stands as we were told that the baggage handlers had a problem and we wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while yet.

Woolly says - I offered to go and help sort the luggage out, I bet it was Jo’s super heavy case causing the problem! Another hour or so passed before the engines started and we soared into the air. Closing my eyes I dosed away the flight, the lights of Antalya hove into view and with luggage claimed we only had the transfer to complete. With only a couple of hours to go I chatted away to some new fans telling them all about Alanya and the places to go and see, I offered to sign autographs but they seemed a bit confused about this, obviously my fame hasn’t reached them yet!

With bags dumped we headed straight to the Royal to the warmest of greetings from Mustafa, Maria and Ali and a great catch up on our adventures and news. It’s good to be back and after such a brilliant time seeing our families and friends we can reflect on the year that has nearly come to a close – but that’s another blog!

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