I’m Alive!

I am relieved to have some sleep on the second part of this journey.

We passed by Bengalaru and Goa and Colombo and have been crossing the sea. As we travel I am thinking of these places, wondering what some of them are like. I never studied geography at school, I foolishly thought that I would never get to see the world. Dreams and ambitions were not to be encouraged and neither were flights of fancy. Curious as to what I would see and experience at ground level. I make a mental note to look such places up later and find out more about the wonders of the world in which we live. We have Drawn level with places named Nikitin Seamount and Investigator Ridge which are on our right whereas to the left of us are Phuket and Singapore A short while ago we crossed the equator and suddenly the blue hue that has been with us for many hours changed.

I ventured along the plane to see what the outside looked like. A wonderful skyscape there before me, like icebergs silently moving by amidst the blue waters below. But here we are above the clouds. It plays tricks upon the mind, as though you have seen something entirely different. I take photographs not only to savour the memories and moments but to paint such things later on.

I knew that I would be making memories on this trip. I am visiting beloved friends who I dared not hope to see so soon, after all they emigrated to the other side of the world. Normal people don’t get to go and visit.

I wanted to show my Mum and my Dad these pictures. I took video as well. It reminds me of a very early memory I have as a child, when my father showed us slides on a projector of his flight to Italy in an aeroplane, there were a lot of photographs of clouds. At the time I did not understand the magic of being above the clouds. But as I have grown up, it is something that I have grown to love. I have no fear of flying just anticipation and joy at the new things I get to see along the way.

As I did on the other flight at what looked like sunrise to me. I am utterly confused and have just witnessed the most beautiful sunset and have been basking in its glory. As I glanced out the window It looked just like God’s feet are sticking out from the heavens reminding us that he is higher still than we can even imagine. It is about 7.30pm wherever we are currently travelling past. Touched by it’s beauty I am overcome with emotion as this part of the world our sky is plunged into darkness. I feel totally alive. I hope that I never forget the feeling of being up here travelling at 37000 feet and cruising at almost 600 miles per hour. The sun as it breaks through some hours from now and the clouds again look like a swirling seascape of surf underneath us. Looking as though we are barely moving but being transported on cloud nine, my new experience has definitely begun. What a wonderful way to experience a rebirth, to recognise that the future is going to be different and better and fun and I will embrace whatever energy I have to experience whatever I am able to.

This is such a gift for which I will be forever grateful and indebted to he who loves me and decided that I should go now whilst I am still young enough to enjoy it.

In the words of Nina Simone which ring around my head “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good.”

We have reached the halfway point on this leg of the journey as we head onward past Jakarta and towards Australia and all the treasure that it holds.


Learning to Fly

It was a time, when Nectar points meant fun! Nectar points for the uninitiated, are store card points as a Thank you for shopping, whilst your spending habits are dissected. But at the time the possibilities were endless. You could save them up indefinitely and use them for experiences, instead of falling back on them to cover the emergency shop when you are broke, or being sent vouchers with an expiry date, which you would find weeks after they had run out and your rewards would be useless.

We had been saving them for a couple of years, to do something fun together and not knowing at that point that my partner had a fear of flying, I had booked the surprise for both of us to have a flying lesson as an anniversary present.

The day came and we checked the weather report, jumped in my car, a Saab convertible put the roof down and headed to the countryside I had selected a different airfield to our local one, so that we could see different scenery and explore it. It turned out that my partner had other plans, he would collar the instructor and see if time would allow and they would swap his part of the deal so that I could extend the experience. He would have his feet planted firmly upon the floor watching from the club house whilst I took off and he would enjoy a pint or two of Guinness and a cigar, it was a beautiful sunny day in the countryside and a pleasant place to pass the time. He succeeded in his plan, and since I had only ever travelled by air once for a holiday, I was excited, I knew that this was going to be different and I was looking forward to it, but slightly disappointed that he would not get to enjoy it with me. However I was going to get a long lesson, which was great.

I was introduced to the Pilot, a man who shared the same name as my father, but thankfully had a much more relaxed manner about him. He was friendly and informative and showed me all of the controls in the Piper 125 which we were going to take out. I clambered in, full of excitement and hoping that I would remember it all. I asked what happened if the engine failed. He told me not to worry since this type of plane could still be landed safely if the engine cut out, it basically glides. As we took off, he took us up over the countryside, I was in awe, I knew it would be beautiful. But it was so calm up there, I took a couple of photos in the cockpit. I seem to recall that we travelled at around 2700 feet, but may have that wrong.

As we climbed everything grew smaller, people disappeared into dots, cars and lorries, into matchbox figures disappearing completely and trees and green spaces turned into a blanket of fields as we floated through the bumpy clouds. Colin allowed me to take the controls and told me how to move the rudder to change direction and the pedals to keep it steady. He could see my interest and excitement in the process and when I asked him to show me how to loop the loop, he obliged. We travelled quite some distance and talked along the way, I was able to see my home town, fly over my parents and our house. Along the Estuary past the pier and up to the docks, where I could see small cranes and brightly coloured containers being unloaded from the ships, It looked so much better there from that height. I was on top of the world. I loved every minute of that flight and decided that I would love to do that again as soon as possible. As someone who was claustrophobic in certain environments, I was not sure how I would feel up there, but to my relief it was wonderful. We had the small window open in that plane and the thermal breeze floated through.

I remember saying to him that I had to resist the urge to put my foot on the accelerator like in a car, since it would upset the balance of the plane and there seemed to be no sense of speed up there, but you were still travelling, it took some getting used to, but I think I mastered it.

As we headed back, Colin explained that it was a wonderful job, that he could fly over to France in less than an hour, have a nice lunch and a bit of sightseeing and be back in time for tea. I was hooked on the idea, that one day I would learn to fly and when I got that lottery win, there would be a small plane in there somewhere to do just that.

He asked me if I was sure that I hadn’t flown before as I seemed to be so at ease up there, I must admit that I felt no tension, it had all just floated away whilst I was up there. Flying back, Colin told me I was going to land the plane. I asked if he was sure, he told me that he was confident in my ability, we came in to a lovely smooth landing and I couldn’t help but be pleased. As I taxied the plane back to it’s parking spot, past the bar, my beloved was standing there, waving and with an ear to ear smile.
I jumped out and he ran over to me, he’d been worried since we were only supposed to be an hour, an hour and a half had passed and we hoped that I had not got him into trouble. He asked Colin “how did she do?” “An absolute Natural she should learn to fly”…. he replied.

I had to tell him all about it as we drove home around Sunset, he decided that if we ever could afford it, then we should make it happen. Six months later we returned for another lesson.