Europe – July 2017

T-15 – pre-departure

Saturday 15th July

Our departure date looms ever closer with now just two weeks to go. It’s kind of surreal. I should be getting excited and perhaps I am but the lurgy that has afflicted me along with some other ongoing distractions at the moment may have dampened this somewhat – or at least diverted my attention. Twice within the space of a month, I’ve been struck down by illness, which has even caused me to lose a few days from work. It’s unusual for me to take time off work. I normally just grin and bear it but it’s hard to work when your body aches all over, you can’t concentrate and you’re sleeping for most of the day. Illness is unwelcome at the best of times but with so much going on for me in various different directions, it’s especially onerous right now. I guess it’s better to get this illness out of the way with now, as opposed to being ill whilst on holiday.

Another ongoing pre-occupation is the serious illness that has afflicted a close family friend. Their condition is stable but still hangs in the balance. Sandy in particular has vested a lot of emotional energy into providing support since it started. So far, she seems to be coping with it but it must be taking a toll on her. The frustrating thing is that we’re really quite powerless to help other than to provide practical and emotional support where we can. Of course, our problems pale in comparison to theirs. I can only imagine what they are going through.

On a brighter note, things are starting to move on the author presentation front. I have two gigs lined up for in the UK. A newspaper local to South Ockendon, where I grew up and will be delivering one of my presentations, has gotten hold of the news. I spent over half an hour on a Skype videoconference with a reporter yesterday talking about it all. She was asking me questions about my childhood, where I went to school, my inspirations for the story and so on. The newspaper article will apparently go live on July 20th, so I’ll watch out for that. I sent an e-mail to each of my old schools letting them know about the event also. As it was the last day of school term before their summer holiday break-up there, I doubt it will get their attention. Still, if someone from one of my old schools does happen to show up on the day, that’ll be a nice surprise for me. I also posted a Facebook event to various Facebook groups local to that area, so there might be a bit of traction that comes from that as well.

The kids are still using iPads for school that were bought several years ago. One is actually an original iPad, so that’s really quite old now. We had decided it was time to refresh their iPads and bought two new ones a couple of weeks ago to coincide with the holiday. I’ve been configuring them this week and getting them ready. To make sure all the teething problems were ironed out before the holiday, we gave the new devices to the kids yesterday. I’ve set up family sharing for both kids. If they want to download something, a dialogue pops up asking them to confirm they want to ask permission. If they do, a dialogue pops up on mine and Sandy’s iPhone alerting us to a request to download something. We then have to allow or deny that. The system works quite well so far. We normally don’t spend much on apps and things. Since we’re going to be in the air for 24 hours, however, keeping the kids occupied and entertained is going to be a mission in itself. As such, I decided to splurge a little on a few decent apps. So far, the kids seem impressed.

Of course, keeping two iPads, two iPhones, two iPods touches and a laptop all fully charged at all times will itself be a feat of logistical hot footedness. To aid in this regard, we looked at various options. In the end, we landed on buying a single 6-port rapid 10A USB charger and a bag full of plug adapters for the various Apple chargers we’ll have with us. Each Apple charging brick has a removable physical connector that’s suited for a particular country. I bought five each of the UK, EU and US adapters. We’ll keep them, along with the various devices and a host of connector cables, in a digital equipment backpack that we’ll have with us on the plane. The seats on our plane apparently have US plug sockets. We’ll be able to use them to power the devices. Although they will likely not be powerful enough to charge the batteries, they should at least keep them going.

Today, Lisa put out a call to various family members to remind them about the BBQ that will be taking place at their place on the first Saturday after our arrival in the UK. We’re naturally hoping to see as many family members we possible during our fleeting and already heavily scheduled week in the UK. I’m particularly keen to visit Uncle Dave, now the oldest member of the extended Morgan family alive. Auntie Lilly past a couple of years ago. Unable to be there for that, I wrote to Uncle Dave telling him all about what Auntie Lilly meant to me as I was growing up. It was a very moving letter. Something tells me it will be an emotional visit.

For the past couple of months, Sandy and me have debated the merits of taking the kids to see a West End show whilst we’re in the UK. I think it would be a great idea but Sandy is less enthusiastic about the notion of keeping them quiet for a two or three hour theatrical experience. Whilst I haven’t totally given up on the idea, I watched a program on TV this week whilst nursing my illness. It was presented by Sir David Attenborough and documented the story of replacing the dinosaur in the main entrance hall of the Natural History Museum in London with the skeleton of a blue whale. This got me thinking that it might be a good idea to take the kids to the museum instead. We’ve been there with the kids before but when they were only about three and four years old. With so little time available, it’s such a hard choice to decide what to see and what not to see with a trip to London. We want to do the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament and Sandy indicated today she also wants to go to Regent Street to visit Hamleys, the massive, iconic toyshop. We could squeeze in two day trips to London but it will be tight. I can’t see how we will manage everything we want to do in a single visit, although not entirely impossible, so we’ll just have to see how we go.

Today, Sandy is off to a High Tea session with friends that has been booked for some weeks now. It’s a necessary distraction for her so I hope she gets to relax a little. Once she is back, she will likely turn her attention to the complicated task of deciding what to take and how to pack. She has came home the other day with a new suitcase. It’s a rather large one, which does make me a little apprehensive. After all, what are the odds it won’t be me lugging it around?