Australia 2018 - The Commonwealth Games

Thursday 5th April
As arranged, Iain and Ciara took us to the airport after some last minute faffing by David. Slow journey, but we arrived in good time to check in our luggage and go through security into Departures. We had a snack and drink before boarding our flight to Heathrow.
I did my best to remain calm and relaxed, I enjoyed looking out initially over snow-topped mountains. It was a bit bumpy at times. On arrival, we had seven hours to kill, we had lunch and stopped for puzzle books and lens wipes before sitting a while, then we were able to relax and snack in The Lounge.
There was minor stress as they announced a delay to a change of pilot, but they sorted it all relatively quickly and re-commenced boarding.
The cabin crew reduced me to tears, by almost insisting I had a drink and pretzels. She didn't seem to understand "No thank you", just because it's all included. By the time we got dinner, veggie pasta, a strange salsa, bread roll, crackers, cheese and a chocolate ganache, I was peckish!
There was some turbulence during the flight at times, but I packed in the films, Victoria and Abdul, Murder on the Orient Express (I may have slept a bit during that one) Call Me by My Name (a strange film I didn't finish), Goodbye Christopher Robin I enjoyed, then I started the Greatest Showman, but had to finish that on the next flight.
We had breakfast, I had omelette, a mistake, with baked beans, mushroom and half a grilled tomato, a pot of pineapple and a mini Danish, an orange juice and a coffee. Because the flight had been delayed, we only had thirty minutes on the ground before our flight to Sydney, but it went better than expected and we were leaving Singapore after a quick pee. A short wait for dinner, chicken casserole, this time with mash and veg, a strange apple and chicken salad, a roll and butter and a cherry sponge with custard. I risked coffee and stayed awake all night. I finished the Greatest Showman, then watched Breathe, followed by Pitch Perfect 2, then breakfast. An odd cheese and ham sandwich, a strawberry yogurt, orange juice and a chewy bar.

Saturday 7th April
The change at Sydney meant collecting luggage, checking in again and catching a bus before having a chance to pee and clean our teeth. We then sat in the lounge a the gate with the oriental tourists playing noisy games on their phones while I wondered what would be for breakfast this time.
We boarded the Qantas jet and I was struck by how quiet it was, not a full jet. I wasn't sure we'd get breakfast on our short flight, but I was not disappointed. We did get fed, a bowl of cereal and a small fig and honey chewy bar, along with a coffee. The flight was really short! In no time we were landing in Brisbane. Now, we could relax. No trotting off to the next flight, just stroll to collect luggage, then collect the car and find our way to the apartment.
Google Maps was our friend in Brisbane and we soon found our apartment, but we had time to kill before we could gain entry, so we went to explore the nearby shopping mall and the supermarkets there. On the way into the mall, we found a coffee shop, so we had a coffee. Then we went to explore. It was lovely and cool at Coles and we were able to find everything we were likely to need during our stay. Soon it was time for lunch, so we returned to the coffee shop, a peppermint tea and Smashed Avocado on Rye Bread with Feta, Leaves and a Balsamic Drizzle. Lush! We picked up a few provisions from the supermarket, then went to the apartment to get settled in. It had a lovely secure car park for the hire car, so that pleased me, the apartment was very nice, but could have been cleaner. The plan was to rest then eat, but I got a message from friends, also in Brisbane to support their daughter competing in the Women's Air Pistol competition, inviting us to join them for an evening meal. We thought that after settling into the apartment and perhaps a short siesta, this would be a fine idea, so arrangements were made. The short siesta became a longish nap, so there was  a slight element of rushing around to get ready to set off to join Morag, Tim and their family and friends. The journey into the city went surprisingly well, we parked in a car park and then walked to join our friends. We ate swordfish, I drank gin and we had a lovely evening. We got back to the flat a couple of hours later and chilled a bit, we rang home as it was Conall's birthday, I hoped the girls were spoiling him and felt a bit guilty for being across the other side of the world. I discovered my puffy ankle and we went to bed.

Sunday 8th April
I did not sleep for long, just a few hours, and I lay awake for a couple of hours whilst David slept on. Today would be a quiet day, just finding our way around and going to a viewpoint. After doing some shopping, we went back to the flat for lunch. Then...I fell asleep. I woke up about three hours later. We didn't walk up the viewpoint after all! We chilled some more and planned our trip to the Belmont Centre the following day while we ate pizza and salad. It was nice to have a relaxed day, the ankle was looking better, but my ear was still deaf and I had an unpleasant 'floaty' feeling.

Monday 9th April
Today started earlier than planned, we were both awake so had coffee and got up. We were ready in good time to set off for the park and ride, which was quite straight forward and in no time we were a the Belmont Shooting Centre. We picked our seats and Donald came to speak to us, then we were joined by the Liddons.


The competition went pretty much as expected, a huge learning curve and invaluable experience, so proud of our boy!! Quite good not having to sit through a tough final. We did however watch Seonaid's (rifle) final and that was a nailbiter. We had had a few issues with getting our tickets for the Closing Ceremony at home, so we decided to try to get them at the ticket office here, which would save a lot of time and stress. We were soon back at the apartment, but once there we had to nap, our early start was catching up with us. We eventually made and ate a lovely Tarragon Chicken dinner, watched the Quantum of Solace (just like being at home...) and started to think about bed.
What a day!!

Tuesday 10th April
Today started early, but had at least six hours sleep so hoping for no nap. We headed for Mount Coot-tha Summit Lookout this morning and had a bit of a magical mystery tour to get there, but we did find the car park with toilets soon enough. we took an easy stroll up the hill, taking in the Aboriginal Arts Trail on the way, not that there was much left to see. It was warm and there was a bit of glowing, but no toiling was done. I tried to remember to take lots of photographs. Most people that passed us (on their way down) were friendly, some not so much. At the summit, a lot of people had driven up the road and parked, I overheard "We must be very high, my ears popped!" and giggled a little.
After a circuit of the viewing platform, we popped into the shop and brought postcards, then into the coffee shop to enjoy ice creams and coffees we had earned. then a gentle stroll back down to the car park via the Mahogany Trail.








After lunch we went to a different and huge shopping mall. I thought we might get lost. Provisions were purchased then we returned to the apartment before making our way to the Story Bridge Adventure Climb.  We were early and had a bit of a wait as the rest of the group we were going up with were late. Eventually we got to change into some very attractive jumpsuit, put on a harness and get the safety talk and instructions. Then we set off. I remained totally calm and collected, I focussed on the harness and moving the gadget over the connectors rather than my feet and the moving traffic below. I did not like feeling the grid of the walkway through the soles of my shoes. Or the vibration of the traffic as we paused part way  crossing to the other side. But, I did it!! Then home for a curry. Propped my eyelids open as long as I could, in bed by 20:00 again though.

Wednesday 11th April
Another early start, but that gave us plenty of time after our vile pastries for breakfast to make our way to the bus 'stop' for a public transport adventure. After finding the correct stance, following a brisk road crossing (seriously, the pedestrian crossing does not give a lot of time, but the traffic is obliged to stop if you are still crossing when the lights change, I didn't want to try this out!), we stood for just a few minutes until the bus arrived. It slowly filled as we made our circuitous way into the city. A brief pause to locate ourselves, then we crossed the pedestrian bridge to the riverside path. A short stroll and we booked tickets on the River Tour boat, then we strolled along the river for a while and through the Rain Forest before enjoying coffees overlooking the river.
Boarding the boat was efficient, we enjoyed half a scone with jam, a blob of cream and a quarter strawberry and a fairly awful cup of coffee before the tour started. It didn't feel like 11/2 hours, it was a  lovely day and we were told a lot of the local history, mainly about the buildings and bridges we could see (not that I retained much of it). After disembarking, we strolled further along the river again towards the pedestrian Freedom Footbridge, stopping just short of it to enjoy a Wagu Burger and Fries a the Stoke House. We may also have had a small Australian beer. We did slap and slop before our walk over the bridge, then continued along the river before walking through the botanic Gardens, enjoying the trees and sculptures. We then caught a City Cat to cross to the pier by the Big Wheel and took a ride. Piece of cake.

Catching the bus back was a little more exciting, including buying the ticket and then waiting in crowds for a bus that was late. the system is extraordinary! But we survived. We popped back to the flat before going to the supermarket for some nibbles, French pastries to replace the gopping pecan pastries and pain au chocolat for breakfast. I literally could not keep my eyes open and went to bed at 20:00...

Thursday 12th April
Yet another early start to the day (...ooops) but we were up and away to catch the bus in good time with no rushing around. The bus was straight forward, there was a little excitement to find and catch the train and then some confusing announcements lead to a little angst, but that resolved itself and we were able to disembark for our next adventure to catch the tram. Turned out Aedan got on to the tram behind ours, missing ours by seconds. He was stopped for photos on the platform as he met us, wearing his kilt, and so started a long day of stopping for photos! He took us to Scotland Housee and we were signed in. We had a coffee, then left to find Skypoint, have lunch and enjoy the views. There is a Very Fast Lift at Skypoint. Bit unnerving. There are also Big Views. I ate Barramundi for lunch which I enjoyed. The toilet was probably one of the worst ever, certainly the worst on this trip, how can the toilet of the Ladies get so completely flooded?! A boy, no doubt. Back to ground level (at high speed) and off to dip my toes in a different ocean, the Pacific, it has to be done! Near disaster...but handy little foot showers when you leave the beach though.

We briefly popped back into Scotland House, where we probably should have left our tags, had time to write postcards to leave with Aedan to post before going back to the tram stop to reverse the exciting journey back to the apartment, stopping at the supermarket for breakfast provisions. Another early night for me, 19:45.

Friday 13th April
A lot of sleep, still and early start, but we were slow to get on and up as we had a plan. We left after breakfast to take an exciting drive across the city to visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
It was an interesting and somewhat disappointing visit.
A lot of the exhibition was closed. A palm branch nearly fell on us. There were lizards everywhere. We did not enjoy the kangaroo petting area, At All. A child throwing kangaroo food at the kangaroos?!! Had to leave.

We had 'lunch' at the Riverside Café, an interesting baked ricotta savoury, but the blueberry and apple muffin was nice. An exciting drive back followed by another shopping trip and dinner. Sady I was, yet again, in by 20:00.

Saturday 14th April
Another really good night and a leisurely start, but not too late. A quiet, but still exciting drive to Mount Nebo for a walk in the rain forest. It started to rain as we drove but stopped just as we parked, so actually had a pleasant walk. The view was a bit murky, but gave and idea. There were plenty of birds but couldn't get to see them.

We had an exciting time on returning to the car, removing David's new friends, a few biting flies and a leech! We drove home and changed into more casual clothes, then took a short drive to the beach and esplanade at Wynnum, walked along the promenade, then along the esplanade to Manly. It was nice.

Then drove back to the supermarket to get supplies for the next few days.
An early night?
Stayed up until 20:02!!

Sunday 15th April
Had a lovely long sleep of eight hours! Had a leisurely start to the day and then had another exciting drive, although not quite as much as previously, out to Ipswich to try to visit David's Mum's best friends, the Gladwins. When we first arrived and rang the doorbell, there appeared to be no one home, but we thought we could hear someone inside, so rang the doorbell again. Still no one, so went back to the  car to write a card a to leave. I alerted David to a gentleman standing by the care, David Gladwin, no less! He was slightly puzzled at first, but soon invited us indoors to see Margaret who recognised my David instantly. She was quite emotional. We sat and chatted over coffee and a biscuit, then their daughter Angela joined us. Soon we had to go and get ready for the Closing Ceremony. We were initially rushed and under pressure, but with the help of Google, had another hour to spare. We made wraps for the picnic, had dinner and coffee before we left to drive to the Park and Ride. Once there, it was a bus ride to the Carrare Stadium, a short walk to wait for security to open. I was distraught to find my Victrinox Credit Card Tool was still in David's bag, so that was gone. Gone!! We went through and visited the powder rooms before waiting to climb our aisle and find our seats. There were at least two Scots nearby (there were clues...) An English ex-pat sat next to David, Aussies next to me. Ex-pat Julie was very chatty, a Games Shaper at the Belmont Centre, nice, but super chatty!

The ceremony eventually started, one hour after the athletes had entered the stadium, so no celebratory parade. They soon started to disappear, feeling somewhat deflated maybe, before the 'big surprise' we'd been promised, which never seemed to arrive. The ceremony was grim, lacklustre. Not worth the money. Not soon enough we were following the crowds to the leave the ceremony and return to the buses, which took a little time but was reasonably efficient. David found the car remarkably quickly and we drove back. I rested my eyes, briefly. Once back at the apartment we ate our packed lunch that we'd left in the fridge, then went to bed...about 01:30.

Monday 16th April
An unfortunately early start after such a late night, but still a slow one. we decided to return to Mount Coot-tha, do the walk in reverse and visit the shop to do some souvenir shopping. Having done so well all this time, we managed to put the wrong destination into the GPS, so ended up on the wrong place and had to start again. Had a play with the phones and the Bluetooth before setting off to the right car park. Got all the way to the shop and café, pausing for photographs of the wildlife, only to find we had no wallet. Overcame that with Google Pay, had ice cream and coffee before walking back down only to have an exciting drive back to the apartment again.

This teapot is deeply upsetting...

 Spot the spider...

In the above two photographs, there is a lizard...

Walked to Woolworths, found the hangers to put the picture back on the wall that had fallen down earlier in the week, their tills went down, nationally! Exciting walk to Dennings, found what we needed then went back to the apartment to fix the painting. A little while later we took the hire car to refuel and decided to have a Dominoes pizza for ease and speed. Nice, with a beer, then pack ready to go home and off to bed...after 20:30. The horror.

Tuesday 17th April
Not the best night and another early start, but that meant we should be away in good time for the airport as we had to return the hire car. after breakfast and last minute packing, we cleared the flat, said goodbye and thank you to it and left. another exciting drive followed as Google tried to take us the least busy way across town. We got there in one piece. Turned out we could have returned the car to the Internationals Terminal, but the nice man gave us a lift to save us time walking from the Arrivals Terminal where we'd ended up.
And so we started the return journey.
the self-check in was not simple, but a nice lady helped us, the we left our luggage with another lady who confidently told us we would need to collect it at Heathrow, and we believed her. We didn't have too long to wait before Qantas were boarding and although David was by the window this time we had great seats, just a pair, with fancy tables and screens tucked away. I watched "The Mountain Between Us", "Stronger" and "Driving Miss Daisy". We had nice food, beef in oyster sauce with jasmine rice and Chinese greens, a garlic ciabatta, chocolate mousse and peppermint tea. We had an ice cream later on. Hong Kong felt a little officious and unwelcoming and I did not like the landing. Waiting in the airport was expensive and cold.
We had the same seats as we'd had on the first BA flight. The crew were not quite as friendly and efficient and the food was not great. We had a beef casserole thing and a pudding that may have had sultanas in it and a plain bread roll. I had the English Breakfast, still had rank eggs but at least no baked beans. Flacid bacon, yuk.
I did try to sleep, in between co-ordinating toilet trips to lessen the impact on our neighbour who, despite appearing the contrary, handed out bags at the end of the flight in a friendly way. I watched "Murder on the Orient Express", because I miss the middle last time, "Rainman" and perhaps another I can't remember. I also watched Chris Packham's "Autism and Me", I found that quite emotional, and then a bit of Nigella.
The flight was okay but twelve hours is a really long time and I wasn't keen on flying over Russia. we didn't have too long to wait at Heathrow and managed to have a mocha and a pain au raisin. They were asking for people to check in hand luggage at no charge and with priority we did! That flight was okay and seemed quite quick. A short wait for Rhiannon and then we were home, a snack and a nap (...51/2 hours...) before heading to Perth to collect Aedan. And then, it was all over! We were home. And I was happy.

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