I am not a fan of flying. I used to be terrified. Now I am more relaxed and can get on a plane without practicing a bunch of rituals in my head to prevent the plane going down, or checking I have a working lifejacket. But after our last week in England was over, I was positively running on to the plane and begging it to take off. Read on to discover why...
At the end of the last post, we were innocently heading into our last week here. We saw off Jan's mum and dad on Monday morning (sob-fest as previously predicted) and Tuesday saw me running around London amending, cancelling and updating accounts and such. Wednesday was my last day of work and on Thursday I went down to my parents' house to spend a few days with them. On Saturday my dad sang in his male voice choir with a military charity, so I was happy to see him perform for one last time before heading off.
On Sunday I brought my parents back to London - something they will no doubt regret forever, as it was less a poignant-last-few-days-with-beloved-daughter and more a last-few-days-with-a-screaming-harpy-ball-of-stress-and-insanity. We started well enough with a lovely Sunday lunch with some friends. Then we trotted back home and realised we essentially had a whole house to go through and split into "container", "suitcase", "parents" and "dump" categories. Simple, when in your head you don't have that much stuff. Not so simple when stuff keeps bloody appearing out of drawers and cupboards and goodness only knows where and you are still in the first room you started on hours ago. After eons of sorting, compiling and dumping crap on innocent friends we retired, dusty and forlorn, to bed.
On Monday, I had some errands to run and took my mum with me, while we sent my dad to do a run to a charity shop. Neither journey went well. We live a 5 minute drive from the high street, yet my dad managed to bypass all of those charity shops and ended up at a Cancer Research two miles away in Highgate. He found his way home after an hour. We got on the road to go and drop off a chair at my friend's parents' house - without actually having put the chair in the car. Fortunately we realised after ten minutes or so and rushed back to get it. During all of this Jan was bouncing around at home with no clue what was going where anymore, cursing the day he ever met any member of the Oates clan.
By the time mum and I made it back, dad and Jan had loaded up a car and made it to the tip. Dad and I then went with another carful of junk - only to find the tip closed at 4pm (DAMN YOU, BARNET COUNCIL, grrrr!). It was now 4.10pm and we had at least two more carfuls of crap to go. We called the council but some mischief maker on the other end claimed we couldn't leave the stuff out for them to pick up, they wouldn't collect it, and had we thought about leaving it in a church car park and asking the Christians for help? Erm, no, we hadn't thought of that. But as it was rapidly getting dark and we were rapidly being chucked out of the house by the inventory checker (who was actually very nice to us, probably because she realised she was dealing with complete and utter lunatics) we took the car and went up to the church where our theatre group has rehearsals. No-one was there (all being at The Gatehouse in Highgate for their new show Treasure Island (we are gutted to be missing it!! CLICK HERE, GO AND SEE IT PEOPLE AND REPORT BACK TO US!)) so we essentially fly-tipped the stuff around the back of the church while frantically calling theatre friends, begging them to do our dirty work for us and take the stuff to the tip the next day whilst at the same time hiding shamefacedly every time someone came out of the church, as they were finishing a service at the time. This was obviously just our way of making our leaving easier for friends to cope with, by engendering a feeling of "just bloody go already and leave us in peace" in their hearts and minds.
After another two cars full of crap were dumped, a rental car dropped off and an obscurely situated hotel found at Heathrow, we finally breathed out - and then commenced packing the suitcases properly. YES, IT WAS NOT OVER EVEN THEN!!! After multiple re-packings and re-weighings of luggage, Jan deemed the suitcases acceptable and we collapsed into bed. And that was it. Our final week in England was over and now all that was left was to say goodbye to my parents (GAH, woe and misery) and then get on the plane. Or the "Safe haven of no more stuff to pack" as I like to call it.