How many towels do we need?

At 41, it’s been a while since I last lived at home. But when you’re on the other side of the world and your folks are in town, you kind of have to really, don’t you? So rather than a hotel, this week mum and dad and I are sharing an apartment on Melbourne’s South Bank. And as you can probably imagine, the fun starts here.

We have a two-double-bedroomed apartment, booked for three people. In the bathroom are two bath towels, two hand towels and two flannels (as much as will fit on the radiator rails). As they arrived first, mum and dad have claimed a bedroom and started using their towels. So when I arrive and want to have a shower, the fun begins. Which towel should I use?

In my mind, I’ll use whichever hasn’t yet been used, assuming that mum and dad have already used some. I see that there are two set in the bathroom already (that’ll be theirs) and in my wardrobe there are two more sets (those will be for the second bedroom guests then). Simples. Well, to me, yes. But after over 40 years of marriage, parents do tend to bicker, don’t they? And usually about the most trivial of things? Like towels. The conversation went something like this:

Mum: “They haven’t left us enough towels out.”
Dad: “Why?”

Now this is where it starts. In saying “Why?” what dad actually means is “Why do you think that, dear? What has brought you to this slightly disappointing conclusion?” However, mum doesn’t think like dad, and with a slightly shorter fuse than she had 40+ years ago, she is annoyed by this shortcoming, and even more so by dad’s apparent stupidity – how on earth should she know why they’ve only left out two sets of towels? The conversation then spirals into parental normality:

Mum: Well I don’t know, do I?
Dad: What do you mean?
Mum: They’ve only left out two sets – there are three of us!
Dad: Right, shall I go and speak to the concierge downstairs and ask them to bring some more?

Again, this is illustrative of the differences between my parents. Mum’s approach is to state the obvious and use this as the basis to start a conversation. She likes to talk. Meanwhile dad’s approach is not to focus on the problem, what’s the point? He likes to fix things. He’s a bloke, after all. Bearing in mind that they’re now on completely different trains of thought, the conversation continues:

Mum: Well no, because there were spares in my wardrobe, so I used one of those and left one set in the bathroom for Rebecca to use.
Dad: So we’re not short?
Mum: Well they only set it up for two and they should’ve done it for three.
Dad: So do I need to go down and ask for some more or not?
Mum: David, you’re not listening to me!

At this point, I decide to mix it up a bit, and do what my late brother was so good at, and drop in a grenade, just for fun…

Me: There should still be a clean set in the bathroom then, because there were two sets in my wardrobe too.
Mum: Oh, so did you use one of those?
Me: No, just saying, they probably set up for two in the bathroom and left plenty of spares in each room. So we actually have enough for six.
Dad: So I don’t need to go downstairs?

I then throw in a curve ball:

Me: Well you could, because there’s no frying pan for me to cook my eggs in the morning, and I’m sure I saw one on the itinerary for the apartment?
Mum: What itinerary? I didn’t see an itinerary? David, where are the printouts we brought?
Dad: What? Were towels listed on there?

Brilliant! I’m now not sure if dad’s playing along for fun, or doing his usual and only half listening to mum:

Mum: Nooooo! Why do you never listen? Was. There. An. Itinerary?
Dad: No? I didn’t see an itinerary?

I then mix it up again by introducing another variable:

Me: It wasn’t with the booking, I found it on the website.
Mum: What website?
Me: The website for the apartment, it listed what equipment each apartment is stocked with.

Mum, who’s phone is never far from her hand, is quick to open her browser, only to find she can’t connect to the wifi. Frustrated, she watches me connect straight away, before complaining about why hers doesn’t do that. I reopen her browser and click the ‘Connect’ button and she’s soon on the website for the apartment.

Mum: It says there should be a chopping board too, but there isn’t one.
Dad: So what do I need to ask concierge for – a frying pan, a chopping board and two towels?
Mum: No, we don’t need towels! For god’s sake David, why don’t you listen?

I now suspect dad is playing along, so I leave them to it and make my escape…

#BoxyOut

 

 

 

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Augustus and his boot lid

I got off to a good start in the first few days, but like Robbie’s Monkey in Hot Fudge, I’ve clearly I’ve been having too much of a good time and haven’t written since. That’s not to say there hasn’t been entertainment to write about…

So day one. I immediately make myself known in the neighbourhood by having the angriest taxi driver in Australia (we’ll call him Augustus), and causing a commotion outside the apartment on arrival, when he can’t open the boot of his car. Inside the boot is my case, and there’s no way on earth I was letting that out if my sight with him – he was a lunatic! Despite his erratic speed behind the wheel, he had no sense of urgency in retrieving my case when the boot release stopped working, and just kept shouting at me for slamming the lid too hard when the case went in.

AN: the fact that I was sitting in the car when the case was loaded by the concierge who hailed his cab for me, had clearly escaped him, and I wasn’t going to raise it; I was more bothered about getting the case back than how it’d got stuck in the first place…

Anyway, after his attempts to force the boot open with a pair of pliers had failed for the fourth time, Augustus shouted some more and sat back in his seat, apparently doing nothing but huffing and puffing (as, clearly, that was going to help). Meanwhile, I was scrambling around in the back trying to figure out how to pull the seats down (and discovering that a Toyota Camry does not have fold down seats, nor is there a hatch hidden behind the centre arm rest). By this time, a friendly Aussie chap (Let’s call him Mick) had seen what was going on and decided to come to my rescue, shortly followed by Wally, Donk and a series of other helpful chaps, all determined to show they could fix the situation, only to give up five minutes later once they realised how useless Augustus and his Camry boot lid were.

By this point, I’ve exhausted Google’s discussion threads and YouTube video clips on how to ‘cleverly’ bypass the Toyota auto boot release feature (no, the back seats do not come down, there’s no button in the taillight and nothing in the fuel cap either). I suggest to Augustus that he calls the RAC, or Aussie equivalent thereof? He has no idea what that is… handy. Perhaps his taxi control room might be able to help? He reverts to huffing and puffing some more (helpful) and eventually gets onto the radio to his control room. I have no idea what language they were conversing in, but given the actions he was repeating, I figured he’s still blaming me for slamming the lid too hard and is complaining to the poor Doris on the other end of the radio, rather than seeking advice or help on how to call the RAC.

At this point, I figured out that my biggest issue was in fact not that my case was stuck, it was the lack of communication skills, resourcefulness or simple common sense from Augustus. I therefore decided to flag another similar taxi in the hope that they might be more helpful.

Enter Karl. He took one look at Augustus, asked me what was going on, I told him, he pressed the boot release catch on the driver’s door, wiggled the lid a bit, and up it popped – bingo. As I thanked Karl for his help, Augustus looked utterly bemused, huffed and puffed some more, then asked me if I’d paid? Yes I have! And I’m not paying again!

Is it beer o’clock yet?…

#BoxyOut

What, no jeans?

You know that thing, when you’re super early for something, and you think I’ll just go and grab a quick coffee… then you take ages to find a cafe, get lost finding your way back, and end up being late for the meeting you were super early for – we’ve all done it, right? Well, on landing at Hong Kong International Airport and seeing the queue for immigration, I figured it wasn’t the best place for this to happen to me. So having carried my gym kit in my hand luggage, it remained there all the way from London to Melbourne, while its carrier ploughed her way through the wine list of two airport lounges and in-flight meals.

On arrival in Melbourne, I no longer have an excuse. So I check into the hotel and head straight to the the gym. Despite not being the best equipped gym in the world, I feel relatively smug at lifting a couple of weights and doing a few crunches. I return to the room, have the world’s longest shower, and open my case to change into fresh clothes for the first time in two days.

Now here’s the downside of trying to be clever. I’ve left a small bag in London, containing the clothes I wore for work this week – I’m not going to need that lot in Australia, right? Unfortunately, before I went to bed the night before I left, I was tossing-up between bringing my dark blue jeans or my black ones. Clearly the black ones were the right choice, but for some reason, when I went to be bed I thought otherwise, and put the black ones in my leave in London bag, and left my dark blue ones out to bring to Oz. When I woke up in the morning and saw my dark blue jeans left out, my immediate thought was of course, I’m not taking those, I’m taking my black ones… and so duly packed the dark blue ones into my leave in London bag, along with the black ones I’d inadvertently put in there the night before, wondering why didn’t I do that last night? None the wiser, I then wore my light blue jeans to travel, managed to spill most things on them en route, and they went straight into hotel laundry on arrival in Melbourne.

So now, having just enjoyed the world’s longest shower, I open my case to pull out my black jeans… at this point, I’d be happy with my dark blue jeans, or even my light blue dinner-covered jeans, in fact, any jeans…

I didn’t need any excuse to go shopping, but hey!

#BoxyOut xx

What, no pyjamas?

So the second leg of my journey was from Hong Kong to Melbourne, flying Business Class with Cathay Pacific. I’d heard reports before I set off, that Cathay’s Business Class could actually be better than BA First. But I’m a BA girl, and whilst I kept an open mind, I also secretly hoped this wouldn’t be the case and burst my little BA bubble!

Luckily (or unluckily, depending how you look at it), they were wrong.

There are some things the airline can’t control; like a couple with the most annoying voices in the world, apart from their child’s, which is more annoying, especially when said child is with them; or the loudest snoring ever, from whoever was sitting behind me.

But some things they could control but chose not to; like offering me a glass of champagne – thank you – then returning within five minutes and standing beside me pointing at my glass, waiting for me to finish it so they could take the glass away, as we’d soon (in 15 minutes?) be pushing back? The lack of pyjamas I could understand (you don’t get those in Business with BA either, only in First) but I did expect to arrive in my seat to find a little bag of some goodies – socks, eye mask, lip balm, toothbrush etc? But alas no. These did eventually arrive some time later, while I was asleep, so I didn’t actually make use of them until half way through the flight. Handy. And the selection of in-flight entertainment was questionable – I wouldn’t have classed Casino Royale or The Holiday as ‘recent releases’ but they are two of my favourite movies, so I shouldn’t complain.

All that aside, the seat was spacious, the duvet comfortable, and the flight effortless. But I won’t be rushing to book Business with Cathay again. I’m still a BA girl 🙂

#BoxyOut xx

Picking up where we left off…

OK, so it’s been nearly three years since I updated this blog. In fairness, I have had a minor issue to deal with, in the form or Breast Cancer, and I did keep writing throughout that journey (see www.boxysboobjob.com). But it felt wrong to use that blog for more trivial posts, now I’m well again. So I’ve left the boob job as a relic of battles past, and am picking up here where I left off; blogging about my crazy travel, F1 antics, and generally embarrassing mishaps.

For the benefit of those I haven’t already bored to death; before we go on, I should probably provide a quick recap.

This time last year, I’d planned to go to Australia to celebrate my 40th birthday. Unfortunately, my boobs had other ideas and I ended up having chemo on my birthday. But that was ok, I just decided to celebrate my 41st instead. So one year on, I’m picking up where I left off and heading out to Australia to celebrate in style. I’ve upgraded my flights to first class, I’m having a week in Melbourne, four days in Sydney, three in Auckland and four in Fiji. In my usual style, I have a pretty packed itinerary and can’t wait!

BA First Class

So I’m sitting in the BA Concorde Lounge at T5. I’m on my third glass of champagne (no idea what it is; I’m the uneducated one at the end of the bar who’s picking the wine with the nicest label), eating nuts (all good intentions of finding something healthy went out the window when the barman starting talking…) and wondering whether I’ll make it to the plane, let alone Australia?! My 20:50 flight to Hong Kong is delayed by an hour, but I don’t mind – I have a 7-hour connection in Hong Kong, and I’d rather spend an extra hour here than there. So as long as the barman doesn’t keep topping up my glass with bubbles and strawberries (loving the strawberries, on so many levels!) I’ll be fine. I’ve already been to Tiffany’s, I just need to make it past Prada… famous last words…

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So I made it to the plane. Tick. One of the crew turned me left at the door and showed me to my seat. On first impressions, it doesn’t look that different from Business Class – lots of leg room, a flat bed, and actually less storage space than in Business? But the seat is more spacious and comfortable, and when the wine list arrives the difference becomes clear. Within seconds of sitting down, a delightful cabin attendant called Russel arrives with one question: champagne? Do I look like I need more champagne?! Clearly yes, and he returns a minute later with a bottle of 2015 Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle… no idea if that’s a good vintage, but it’s what I was drinking in the lounge, so I congratulate myself for not mixing my drinks, and settle into my surroundings.

After a flutter of snow and sub-zero temperatures hit the UK this weekend, there was some disruption at the airports and the captain soon comes over the tannoy with an update to our delay. Apparently, we’ve boarded wonderfully quickly – thank you – but we’re in a queue of seven other aircraft waiting to be de-iced before takeoff. This process is likely to take another hour, so it’ll be a while before we push back. My long connection in Hong Kong improves again and Russell reappears, bottle in hand, with that look on his face – the one where he doesn’t actually have to say anything, just leans forward, raises his eyebrows slightly and presents the bottle… Marvellous, thank you.

We finally push back around midnight, by which time I realise that perhaps I should’ve familiarised myself with the navigation on the in-flight entertainment system before the wine list? Still, I manage to find Taylor Swift in the ‘essential albums’ section and all is good in the world 🙂

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Once we’re in the air, dinner is served. Enter cabin attendant Jemima. She’s never met me before today, but Russell’s obviously had a word, because her first question (before asking which meal I’d like) is which wine I’d like. I’ve already decided I want the scallops and salmon to eat, so I explain that I’m considering the 2016 Stellenrust 52 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc from Stellenbosch. The slight snag is that I actually like the sound of the Chateau Faugères 2010 Saint-Émilion Grad Cru, but not sure red goes with fish? Jemima has clearly experienced such a quandary before, and suggests I start with the Stellenbosch? Perfect. I like her already. A little later, as she clears my dinner plates, she returns with a 2015 bottle of Argentinian DV Catena Tinto Histórico and just leaves it on the table in front of me, saying see what you think of this one too… Oh Lordy, I can see how this is going…

AN: It’s worth pointing out that I’ve packed my gym kit in my hand luggage, with all good intentions of squeezing in a workout in Hong Kong; partly to kill time but also to work off some of the plane food and wine before exploring Cathay Pacific’s Business Class lounge… Odds of this actually happening are diminishing as quickly as the wine…

After dinner, Jemima reappears and asks if I’d like her to make up my bed… maybe in 20 minutes or so, when my dinner has settled? She duly returns a little later with some pyjamas, slippers and a Liberty bag of bathroom goodies. I toddle off to the bathroom to change, and return to find my bed made up with duvet and pillows. I snuggle down and am out like a light…

Next stop, Honkers. Odds of getting to the gym…?

#BoxyOut xx