England to Australia
Tuesday 28 October 2003
Path > Gravesend to Heathrow via Dartford the M25 in UK
The trip home was becoming reality.
After six-odd months in Europe, it had come down to just a couple of days of mad rushing about before I left, possibly for the last time in the foreseeable future.
There was so much to do and tidy up.
I'd been living with Walz and Mandie on and off all year and now was the time to clean up after myself! Bags had to be packed and I had to be ruthless in limiting the stuff that I could bring home and throwing everything else out.
I called around with a dinner invite to some of the ?core group' that have really helped me out. Andy and Jackie Peach, Gary and Elaine (Mr and Mrs Muppet) and Walz and Mandie joined me for a final curry at the Bangla Gardens, Swanscombe.
The staff serving us didn't really understand what was going on. After all, I'd said goodbye to them at the end of the past two years as well, so I suppose it was understandable!
But the food was good; spicy and tasty, and the beers were big and Indian. What more could you look for in a curry house?
I'd had a good go at cleaning the bike and preparing it for sale. The Silkolene bike cleaner is amazing at getting months of bugs off and really takes the effort out of it. Thanks to Bill Philp and the guys at Berkshire Motorcycles who had agreed to buy it back in full knowledge of where it had been in over 31,000km in just eight months. (Check out the statistics page to read more details on this.)
I crossed heaps of things off of the list of things to do and even made a final sale of photos of GRS Racing to Peter at PRB Tools.
The day was almost over by the time that I made the final decision to post some more stuff back home instead of bring it with me on the plane. Kicking myself for not doing this months ago, I lined up at the post office in Gravesend and looking at the locals for one of the last times.
Mandie and Walz came home and after saying a final goodbye to Winnie, we loaded my gear into the car for the drive halfway around the M25 to Heathrow.
My case weighed in at 32.5kg and the limit for a single piece of luggage is 33kg. My allowance was 30kg, but the nice lady at the business class checking counter waved off the extra couple of kilos and gave me my boarding passes with a smile. I love good service!
Unfortunately the next thing to do didn't run as smoothly. I lined up to get the VAT (tax) back on the camera that I'd purchase in July only to find out that I didn't have the right paperwork and that there was nothing to be done.
What could I do but shrug off the 165 quid that I should have had in my pocket but now went to the English government? Hopefully they'll spend it wisely...
What can I say about Mand and Walz and their unconditional generosity? It is clear to see that I can't thank them enough for helping me to live this year in England. I've tried to thank them in different ways while I've been there and hope that they at least see a little of this.
We said our goodbyes and I passed through the gate towards security, wondering when I would be back in the UK again...
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