Mobi-Babble – 2nd June 2017
Yes, I’m back ye olde country, and it really seems like a lot longer than the almost three weeks I have actually been here. So much has happened.
Firstly the trip home.
I flew back on Malaysian Airways via Kuala Lumpur, as it was the cheapest ticket I could find at the time of booking. It seems many passengers still avoid traveling the ‘accident-prone’ MAS – one plane still missing presumed drowned and another blown to bits by the Russians.
Their loss is my gain as I had two great flights – the first a short connection to KL, and the second, a non-stop flight to Heathrow on the beautiful and huge A380, where I had more leg room than I have had in years and an empty seat next to me.
The baggage allowance is a generous 30 kilos for economy class, and even though I was a fair bit over this weight with my two suitcases, it didn’t even raise an eyebrow at check in.
The only problem I encountered with my journey home was three worrying heart-related episodes.
In KL I had a quick in transit transfer to my London-bound plane and as time was tight I set off at a brisk pace to change terminals. Halfway there I suddenly became out of breath and felt my chest tightening. I was feeling quite ill and had to slow down to a crawl, fearing I might miss the connection.
In the event, I just made it and was quite relieved when I found my seat and settled down for the 13-hour trip, and slowly got my breath back.
At Heathrow, there was the usual marathon walk to Immigration and baggage collection. Once again I experienced chest pains and breathing difficulties and had to slow down.
For some oddball reason my passport was not accepted at the automated passport check and I had to go and see an officer who stared suspiciously at me several times and compared what he saw in front of me to to the picture in my passport. The well-thumbed and grubby passport was issued in 2009 and is full of Thai and Cambodian visas. I guess my ugly mug has suffered a marked dilapidation in appearance over the past 7 years, but he eventually handed it back to me and told me I was free to go….
By the time I had collected my two suitcases and taken them plus my hand baggage to the arrivals hall, I was suffering from more chest pains.
Not a great start to my new Blighty adventure.
The next part of my trip was a bus journey to Birmingham where hopefully my eldest daughter would be waiting for me. This passed without incident and daughter and partner were duly on hand to help me maneuver my bags from the bus station to the train station – about a 15-minute walk for a fit person. If they hadn’t met me, I doubt I could have managed.
They treated me to a meal en route and deposited me on the train to Oakham, where I was met right outside the carriage door by my youngest daughter, son-in-law and 2-year-old grandson.
A short drive through Oakham and I was at my new home at last – a journey of some 30 hours or so.
My new home
For now, I am living with my daughter, who moved to Oakham from Stamford last November as she is teaching maths at Oakham public school. It’s a good-sized, four- bed house and I have my own large bedroom, which doubles up as a living room, with a desk set up for me to work on my computer.
Since I have been here I have successfully achieved the following:
• Registered with a local GP, with the following actions:
Obtained all my numerous medications for free.
Assessed by a nurse at the diabetic clinic
Had blood tests and referred for a ‘rapid appointment’ to see a heart specialist at Leicester Hospital
Referred to Podiatrist to sort out my aching feet
Referred to an eye specialist for my glaucoma
Referred to a clinic to test for bowel cancer
• Received my free bus pass
• Had my State Pension upgraded
• Received my polling card to vote in the general election
• My airfreighted box of personal effects finally arrived after being held up in UK customs in the East Midlands for 6 days. God only knows what they thought I was importing. They had rifled through all my documents, checked my hard disks but didn’t find anything untoward. Carrying the contents slowly up to my bedroom produced yet more chest pains and breathlessness which took a couple of hours to settle down. Something ain’t quite right.
God only knows what they thought I was importing. They had rifled through all my documents, checked my hard disks but didn’t find anything untoward. Carrying the contents slowly up to my bedroom produced yet more chest pains and breathlessness which took a couple of hours to settle down. Something ain’t quite right.
Carrying the contents slowly up to my bedroom produced yet more chest pains and breathlessness which took a couple of hours to settle down. Something ain’t quite right.
Quite by surprise, I was taken out one lunchtime to my first live cultural event for over 15 years.
My two daughters have taken me shopping several times (including a trip to Corby) and I have been for several slow walks in the nearby lovely countryside.
So one way or another, I am starting to settle in and commence my new life. For the first week in England my feet were permanently cold, but since then, I have been pretty much OK – partly due to an increase in temperature, and also partly due to the purchase of several pairs of thick socks. No doubt I am also getting slowly acclimatized.
After the first week of coldish drizzly weather, it has been warm and sunny, with temps in the high teens/ low 20s. Not quite Pattaya style heat, but all the better for that.
On the second weekend, my eldest daughter came over from Birmingham, and we all went out for a picnic at Rutland Water, the largest lake in the UK.
She returned to Birmingham by train on Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, back in the Land Of Smiles…
• My wife, Lek, has passed her English test (required for her visa) which is a huge relief as it is bloody expensive and if she failed she would have had to stay in Pattaya and take more English lessons.
• We have sold our Chevrolet pickup for a reasonable price.
• She has moved out of our rented home in Pattaya and received back the full two months’ house rent deposit.
• Trucked all the furniture and other stuff to her mum’s home in Nong Khai.
So we now have to wait until October to apply for settlement visas for my wife and daughter. Everything is in place and I just have to wait for my savings to ‘mature’.
One way or another it has been a bit of logistical nightmare, and I have to say I am amazed how smoothly it has all gone. So far so good…
I know, it’s all a bit mundane and boring. Quite a change from all my myriad adventures, misfortunes, and excitement in sunny Thailand – but I thought I’d just write this first blog from Blighty to set the scene and let my loyal readers know I have arrived safe and sound.
It’s such a change from what I’ve been used to, but nothing wrong with a bit of laid back, polite middle England civilization when you reach your seventies.