Europe – July 2017

T-22 – pre-departure

Thursday 6th July

Today was not a good day. A good friend has become very suddenly very ill. As this isn’t public knowledge and the situation is ongoing, I won’t go into any specific detail here. Suffice to say that it has made me pause for thought most earnestly. I had originally tried to find someone to look after the kids whilst Sandy was unavailable due to our friend’s illness. Unfortunately, this being the school holidays, some people were unavailable. Luckily, the one person I tried to reach but couldn’t initially was able to help me out. I had agreed to take her 3 kids for the morning (which resulted in me having to tend to 5 kids) in exchange for her taking my 2 for the afternoon. This would at least allow me to go into work. Between being fast-order cook (seriously, where do the kids find the bloody room for it all?), referee and all-round responsible adult (I was actually not really in the mood to adult at all today), my restful morning at home was going full speed ahead already when I noticed an e-mail from the boss at corporate. It was a simple message asking me to please call him on his mobile. Oh dear. As it happens, the task I was given wasn’t particularly difficult and actually did wonders for getting my mind of things for a bit.

Anyway, enough about my day. I do have some updates regarding our European holiday. When I first put the trip itinerary together, it was essentially planning roughly what we would do week to week – which countries we would travel to, etc. Before too long, that itinerary became more and more detailed as we planned more and more things. It eventually got to the point that I was arranging exactly what we were going to be doing day by day. With just 3 weeks to launch, it has now gotten to the point that I’m planning things down to the hour. I’m now scheduled for 2 different author presentations. One will be to the youth marching band I used to attend when I was a kid. The authorities there have purchased a big box of books from me and I’ve provided them with some poster artwork to help them promote the event. It seems people there are starting to look forward to this, which is great. A similar author presentation at a local community centre (which, as it happens, turned out not to be a whorehouse after all) is also being firmed up.

Another potential activity I might find myself being wrapped up in whilst in the UK has to do with Bounce Learning Kids, my school resources company. It seems there’s a possibility I might get a foot in the door with a local council authority there. It may or may not pan out but it’s an intriguing possibility all the same. That’s very much a ‘watch this space’ situation.

Over the other side of the channel, we’ve now got all but one day of our accommodation sorted. After discussing it with Sandy, we’ve decided to spend a couple more days in the south, where Sandy grew up. As a result, we’ve booked another 2 nights at Kasteel Erenstein – or at least my brother-in-law has on our behalf. It’s the same room, which is a rather plush and sizeable family suite, albeit a bit more expensive this time around due to the closeness of the travel dates. I did manage to squeeze them to meet me half way between what they wanted to charge and what they did charge us for the first two nights, which was a saving of about €100. Not bad.

A few more family members have since indicated they will be joining us at the family reunion in Tilburg whilst we’re in Holland, which is terrific. Sandy’s sister, Karin, and her family will now also be joining us for the day during one of the three days we’re staying at Center Parcs in Lommel, in Belgium. That’s something we’re all very much looking forward too also. We actually invited them to stay with us and use up the 3rd bedroom, since we booked a premium villa for the duration anyway. Sadly they weren’t able to do so, as they are building a new home and construction waits for no man. As it happens, this is somewhat fortuitous, since I was mistaken about there being a 3rd bedroom at all. The villa does sleep 6 but that’s apparently with pull-out couches, as opposed to a 3rd bedroom. Oops! Shhhh! Don’t say anything!

As with previous times we’ve flown out of Melbourne for any appreciable length of time, such as our past holidays, I’ve booked my car a spot with the undercover parking facility – Busy Beaver Parking, just outside of Tullamarine Airport. At around $185 for the privilege of securing the car for the three weeks, it’s still cheaper than getting a taxi or Uber to and from the airport. I also much prefer the flexibility of my own transport back and forth anyway. Each time we’ve used their facility, we’ve been very happy with them and I dare say we will be this time as well.

My 6-week trial on the CPAP machine ends about a week before we go. I will in all likelihood purchase my own CPAP machine and take it with us when we go. Apparently, medical equipment is excluded from the weight allowance, which is a nice little bonus.

So, with just 3 amazingly short weeks left to go, I keep telling myself ‘you can hang on that long’. I imagine time will start to fly now, as we start to dive into those last-minute details, like what to pack everything into, what to pack, etc.