All I want for Christmas is some decent Stilton
Trip Start May 19, 2009
67Trip End Ongoing
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Somehow, during the countdown (which, incidentally, became literal as I crossed the days off my calendar...my own advent, if you will), I managed to keep this little secret from my nearest and dearest, which would later earn me the unenviable nickname of the "Master of Deception". For weeks on end I concocted the most detailed cover story to reel off to people back home, involving Christmas spent with the mechanics in Darwin, and a meal of ham and fish. Not convinced? Well, they bought it...hook, line, and sinker.
The only sticking point in my plan came in the shape of Robodyke
I flew out of Darwin to reach Singapore airport, and couldn't have been more excited. I'd developed something of a love affair with the transport hub of Asia and its melee of entertainment. Four hours were whiled away in the butterfly garden and enjoying shows on the widescreen TVs, complete with in-chair speakers. My indulgence was only interrupted by the call of nature when I took a trip to the inevitably high-tech toilet. It came as something of a surprise when the automatic flush proved premature and gave me bum-raising douche, but hey, in my passion for this airport, all is forgiven.
Fourteen long hours later, there was an audible gasp in the aircraft as our pilot announced the temperature in London - minus five
Reaching snow-clad Chislehurst I was momentarily concerned that I might give my parents a heart attack, but when I knocked on the door, the surprise (captured by Nick in a photo my Mum will never be grateful for), quickly turned into smiles and tears. With the excuse of jetlag, 8am became a time for drinking champagne, and when Mum produced some home brewed sloe gin, it seemed rude to refuse. That, my friends, is why you end up passed out at 5pm a few days before Christmas.
Finally awaking from my seemingly eternal slumber, I became something of a side show as my parents insisted on springing the surprise on all the members of my family as though I were a secret guest on a celebrity chat show receiving a raucous reception. Fun at first, tedious after a while.
For the two weeks home, there are, of course, highlights that stand out, all with a side of other-side-of-the-world jetlag
I won't forget Nick struggling to open a bottle of champagne and eventually resorting to donning a latex glove, or Annie and Lee (who should have been honeymooning) visiting from Stoke, and my other Annie and Charlotte coming from Wales, all in aid of my coming of age.
You see, my trip home wasn't just for Christmas, it was also for my 30th - so finally I accept that the odd grey hair isn't deceiving me and I am indeed starting my decline into old age, albeit with limited maturity and with no immediate desire to stop travelling, settle down and act my age.
There was excitement, there were tears and smiles, all wrapped up in a blanket of good old English snow. As I flew back to Oz,I had mixed feelings, but I was pretty sure that at Christmas, home was the best place to be in the World.