Wednesday, 5th July into Thursday 6th July, 2023

We had breakfast for the last time for this trip to the UK at the Hilton Garden Inn. Although not "top notch" it was a good buffet and we were both "well-stocked" by the time we had finished.

Our trip home started at 11:30am (Bristish time), or 8:30pm, Melbourne time. The first leg was to get ourselves from Heathrow Terminal 2 to Heathrow Terminal 4. We found we could achieve this for free by utililsing the Elizabeth Line train. We found the Qatar check-in section and lined up. When we got to the counter, I was told (I think, there was a bit of a language barrier) that I could only have one piece of carry-on luggage. The "piece" in question was a plastic bag which contained a jumper and a coat. I said that I could wear them. I started to put them on but was then waved through.

The next "hoop" was the security. There were hundreds of people and there was a lot of pressure to keep moving. We found that items such as toothpaste counted as liquids so we had to find all those so that they could be put into a plastic bag and then put back in the luggage! We didn't have to do that when we left Melbourne so were not ready for it. Pockets had to be emptied and the contents put on a tray, as well as my belt. The consequence of this last action was that my pants almost fell down as I made my way to the far side of the x-ray machine.

Eventually, we jumped through all the hoops successfully and found ourselves in the "no man's land" of the airport.

The first leg of our flight took about 8 hours (London to Doha). We were on the top section of the plane and the seats and aisles were a little more spacious than usual. There were about two hours to fill in at Doha. We sat for a while waiting to find out which gate we needed to find. Then there was a mini security check before making our way to the gate lounge for the final part of the trip. This plane had only one level and the seats and aisles were a little smaller. There was a family with very young children near us on the plane and this provided some small irritations but, generally, all was well. The food on both legs of the journey was pretty good and we were certainly not hungry.

The next set of hoops through which we had to jump began with a customs form that was handed to us on the plane with a long list of items that needed to be "declared". Unfortunately, "wooden items" was on the list and we had some wooden coasters. Oh dear! We finally arrived at Melbourne Airport at 11:20pm, Melbourne time. There was a delay of about 30 minutes getting our luggage (they were short-staffed apparently). We then had to line up in the "Items to declare" line. Fortunately, this was not very long. At the first checkpoint, we explained that we had wooden coasters. The form was stamped. At the second check point, we again pointed out that we had wooden coasters. "Don't worry, your form has been stamped" was the reply and we were free to go. It was just as well that the customs people didn't want to see the coasters because, when we got home, we found that we didn't have them anyway - they had been posted!

It was wonderful to be home after such a long return trip!

It was wonderful to see Jenny's smiling face and a welcome-home bunch of flowers when we walked through the final barriers into the main section of the airport! Our good friend, Rhonda, had driven my car to the airport so it was very easy to put all our luggage in and drive home. We finally arrived a little after 1:00am. The total time taken from leaving the hotel to arriving home was 28.5 hours. It was so good to get into bed!

We are very grateful that we are safely home, both well and with all our luggage after such a lovely time away. It was clear that "Fudge" and "Butterscotch" had been looked after royally by Ben, Abbie and Darryl in our absence.

I hope, dear reader, that you have enjoyed reading ths journal. Thanks to those of you who have kept in touch during our time away. Thanks, especially, to Jenny who has kindly been editing my posts and sending me corrections when necessary. Thanks also to Satoshi who was a wonderful travelling companion.

And so, without further ado...

"The End"

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