1400 miles from home

As most of you probably know, I was nervous about my first long haul flight.

Me ‘What if I stand up and the floor opens out beneath me?’

Emma ‘You would be fine, you would land in the luggage compartment’

Me ‘but if it has happened once (the floor opening up) it could happen again’

Emma ‘ it’s not going to happen period, you have to get up and go to the toilet at some point’.

All jokes aside, I was nervous and I know it’s irrational, there is nothing I could do about it, just sit, eat, watch films and sleep, my ideal night in but it’s different on a plane, you have to be there and you can’t get out.

The first time I felt anxious on the flight I was going to Paris with my mum when I was about 19. Not that I was a frequent flyer before but I had flown a few times, I started to panic and feel claustrophobic, it was fine, I spoke to my mum, didn’t mention how I felt, tried to ignore it, but that feeling lingered with me on planes.

Having a boyfriend who lives in Belgium, I had to get used to flying and I did, sitting in an aisle seat and making sure I had something to read and spoke to strangers whether they wanted to or not, I coped. But those flights and any flight I had done previously only lasted a few hours, this one was 21 hours (all together) probably about 35 hours traveling in total.

But it actually wasn’t so bad. The plane was massive, had an upstairs and three cabins, rows were 10 seats wide, it was fine. I was nervous but I was very excited, I was on my ‘massive jolly’ it had finally started, 3 years of thinking, planning and getting excited had started.

I watched films, I ate and I didn’t sleep much but it was fine, I coped.

It wasn’t like time passed that quickly- I ate a meal, watched a film and slept, still 7 hours to go of my first of two rather long flights- 12 hours to Singapore and then 7.5 to Sydney. But time passed and I coped.

I was grateful to get off the plane in Singapore and clean my teeth and go to a normal flushing toilet and have my feet firmly on the ground. While hanging around in a strange timeless daze to me it should be 12 in the afternoon it was actually 7pm in the evening, I spoke to someone I recognized from the flight, to ask him if he had heard, how my boy, Andy Murray had done in the US Open final, like me he didn’t know, but we got chatting. Turns out he was a pilot, going on holiday not flying our plane. My sleepless daze, made me open my mouth and explain about my irrational fear of the ground opening up, he reassured me, it couldn’t happen, he explained about the movement of the plane about how he had in his 5 years of flying, never had anything go wrong and never had to do an emergency landing but had every 6 months been on training to deal with the situation, his girlfriend a flight attendant said the same. I was relieved. While we were chatting I noticed a girl with a mobile phone that could connect to the internet, still on my mission- ‘I am sorry if this is cheeky but does your phone go on the internet and could you please tell me if Andy Murray had won the US Open?’ HE HAD!!

The girl was lovely, she was from Indonesia and had been on a wee holiday with her friends to Singapore. We chatted for a while about religion (a little bit deep and potentially dangerous, but it was the sleepless daze talking not me) and about our countries, I felt good, thinking I can actually do this, I am sitting here on my own, talking to people and staring to make friends. She had to board her flight, I still had to wait.

A few minutes passed and someone caught my eye walking in front of me, Andy I called (unfortunately not Andy Murray) it was Andy my friend, who carried my backpack up Ben Nevis for me, a hero! He was coming back from Australia after his brother’s wedding, over 9000 miles from home and I met someone I knew, it was amazing. Andy and I hadn’t seen each other much over the last year and had never bumped into each other.

Our meeting was short, I was boarding the plane again, 7.5 hours this time, surprisingly it was so easy, it’s amazing what 5 hours difference can make. As we landed in Sydney I cried a little as at last I felt so close to my friends that I had missed for over a year. After a wait in Sydney airport, I boarded the plane to New Zealand, the panic set in, it was a smaller plane, much smaller, but still normal sized, not like the ‘toy plane’ going to Cardiff, but I knew I had to cope, so I put my hood up, watched a film and ate my meal, which was really tasty surprise surprise!

It was turbulent landing into ‘Windy Wellington’ but it was beautiful, even I couldn’t help looking out the window to see the island, wind mills and the ocean!

Landing in Wellington, filling in a landing card, of course I made mistakes, dizzy dyslexic in a sleepless daze, but it was fine, I got through and didn’t have to be quarantined! I did however have to unpack half of my rucksack to show them my walking shoes, but nothing incriminating showed up.

Penny, the girl I had traveled all this way to see was sitting there waiting with her beautiful smile. I was so relieved, we had an awkward hug, I had a bag on the front and the back, and it was like old time, almost like no time had passed between us.

 

The t-shirt I am wearing was made by a wonderful group of friends- Mairi, Lee, Laura, Lauren and Hazel. You will get used to seeing this t-shirt I am sure.

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