On the plane again

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November 25th 2013
Published: November 27th 2013
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Well, here we go again. Even by our standards we have excelled ourselves this year, embarking today on our second overseas trip for 2013!

With Auroral activity at its peak for this Auroral cycle we just had to fit in another trip this year to try once again to experience the elusive Aurora Borealis. The Aurora eluded us in 2007 when we travelled to Iceland. We only leant afterwards that we had visited at the lowest point of the Auroral cycle ... and a bit too late in the season! In early April 2007 I was quite frustrated when I was repeatedly told by the locals that we had missed what activity there had been by about three weeks.

We have high expectations this time ... and everything crossed for some big solar flares between the 10th and 17th of December when we will be in the far north of Finland. Oh, and we will be hoping like mad for at least one clear night so that when the energy from those huge solar flares reaches the Earth's atmosphere we will be dazzled by the Northern Lights!! The only reason I am braving a European winter is our (fortunately) shared obsession with seeing the Aurora.

We allowed plenty of time to drive out to Tullamarine because we decided that we would rather be there too early rather than stuck in a peak hour traffic jam on the Tullamarine Freeway worrying about making it to the airport in time. Of course we had a dream run and arrived at the airport a bit after 6.00pm and check-in for our flight didn't open until 7.00pm!! Even though we were so early we weren't the first in the queue. I think we were the fifth people to check-in although that doesn't take into account on-line check-ins.

A late evening flight seems to be good for a queue-free departure. We sailed straight through immigration, Bernie was the only person claiming a TRS refund and then straight through the full-body scanner. But then I was selected for the bomb screening test - one of us is ALWAYS singled out for this one! And then we had Qantas Club almost to ourselves. All in all it seemed to be a very quiet Monday evening at the airport.

We didn't fly out of Melbourne until after 11.00pm. We were scheduled to leave at 10.25pm, but right about that time an announcement came over the PA to say that a passenger wasn't feeling well and had been taken off the plane to be checked out by a Doctor to determine his/her fitness to undertake the 14 hour flight to Dubai. Nothing further was announced, but we figure our departure would have been even later had they decided that the passenger was unfit to fly. Unless they found the passenger's bags really quickly in the hold and left them behind in Melbourne with the passenger who had taken ill. A short delay for us, but a much worse inconvenience for the sick person. Hopefully nothing too serious.

Our flight was smooth and entirely uneventful. Yay! I watched 'Mud' which was only screened at selected cinemas in Melbourne. Hmmn, Matthew McConaughey gets his shirt off so it wasn't a complete waste of time. I'm not sure I really appreciated the story which I felt was a bit thin and predictable. Maybe it was more gripping on the big screen? Or maybe it suffered for being watched in two parts?? The part before I fell asleep and the part after I woke up ... about five hours later!! I was surprised to sleep so long and really can't complain too much about it interfering with watching the movie! Meanwhile Bernie watched 'Hummingbird' starring Jason Statham.

Later on in the flight I watched 'Outside Bet' a quirky English film that tells the story of a group of work colleagues who buy a steeplechaser and bet their redundancy money on it winning. Bernie went for more blood and guts watching a couple of episodes of a TV series called 'Vikings'. To fill in the balance of the trip we dozed a bit more, ate again when they brought our breakfast around - we were a bit short changed on breakfast as we didn't get our croissants - and then I read for a while. I still haven't managed to finish my book. I've been reading 'I Am Pilgrim' by Terry Hayes for about two weeks now. It is unusual for me to take so long to read anything. Too busy finalising things at home before going on holiday!?


1st December 2013

Aurora seekers
Hi Tracey and Bernie, so pleased to hear from you & sorry I haven't kept in touch. Still struggling with on-going foot/ankle/knee/hip 'aggravations' - once one thing is fixed some other part starts to play up! it's all soooooo frustrating. However I managed Antarctica with no trouble [on and off the zodiacs was no trouble at all] and am paid up to go to Bhutan in March. Then I have a tour of England, Wales & Scotland in August with an 'add-on' to France afterwards. So a busy year. Take care and I hope you catch the Aurora. Will expect some glorious photos of the frozen north. Caroline

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