Happy New Year peeps!! Did you know there are two 5 o'clock in the day??? Who knew ? I definitely prefer the later one. Taxi was booked for 0545hrs, and obviously I needed a little time to prise my eyelids open. Once they were, and all necessities seen to we had a call from reception telling us the car was ready to take us to the airport.
Taking the worlds slowest lift down to reception we handed over the keys took a photo of the sign that says Durion and Mangosteen are not allowed on the hotel. The Durion fruit, is covered in spikes, and to some people smells really good, and to others the worse smell in the world. Unfortunately wether you love it or hate it, the smell of it lingers for such a long time that it's banned in lots of hotels and some public transport. The mangosteen, a powerful anti oxidant is banned because the flesh stains really badly.
All loaded in we made the trip to the airport very quickly, seems not many people wanted to be up and about early on New Years day. Can't say as I blame them! Our carrier of choice this time was Asia Air X another budget airline. If they have seats in their business section they willl email if you're eligible and you can bid on them before hand. I discovered this on their website when I was looking for wheelchair info. However I'd booked through trip.com and that disqualifies you from bidding. I also discovered that booking directly with the airline in this instance was significantly cheaper. I checked to see if the booking I'd made could be cancelled, but to my disgust it couldn't. I usually search for bargain flights then also check out the website of the airline itself to compare the prices. For whatever reason this flight I didn't do that and I'm most disgusted with myself for paying £200 more than I could have. Hurrumph.
Air port assistance wasn't the best and they were somewhat reluctant to help, however as it was booked they were kind of obliged to. We passed through all security checks, and were deposited at the top of a ramp. Then we were told to make our way to our departure gate. Which was about 300 miles away and almost the last gate. Still in Mildred, I was a bit surprised that they hadn't swapped me into an aisle chair, but we were called through to board as priority and I figured the aisle chair would be there waiting. Strangely it wasn't, and I began to panic a little, particularly when the stewardess couldn't seem to understand what I needed. Off she trotted with my boarding pass and came back with another stewardess wheeling an aisle chair. Seems that Air Asia X cabin crew load their wheelchair passengers themselves, and not too frequently either. Once in the aisle chair, she tried to push it, which wasn't working for her, Si suggested she turn me around and pull it along and like a miracle we were whizzing down the aisle. All was going swimmingly until she realised she'd dragged me up the wrong side and had to cross over the plane to the other side. I'm pretty certain she'd not done it before. The seat numbers were a bit strange because the outside seat numbers didn't marry up with the centre aisle. So we'll give her a pass on that one ! The seats themselves were a lot wider than the usual budget airlines, indeed, I didn't once elbow my neighbour during the whole flight. How's that for space?!
The flight was pretty uneventful, although both Si and I were a little doubtful we were actually going to make it off the runway. The thumps, grinds and squeals the plane was making as it taxied didn't really fill us with confidence. Against the odds we took off, and the grinding, squealing and thumping stopped as we levelled out. Landing on time, we were greeted off the plane by airport assistance, an older chap with bad attitude and a very grumpy demeanour. As fast as he could he palmed me off onto a lovely little girl who was not only quiet, but a little unsure of what she had to do. We guessed she was new, a guess that was confirmed not long after when a supervisor approached her checking she knew where she was going. The Sturdy one took quite a while to come off the plane, once again the smallest bag on the belt. However as soon as she was on my lap, we were off through security and out into the arrivals hall. Sat on the front seats of the waiting area were Carey and Ray, looking no different to what they did the last time we saw them at the wedding. So good to see them, and it was a fantastic feeling to be "home" . I've missed these people and this place.
Beautiful sunny weather greeted us outside the airport, and once we were all loaded into their truck we got on our way. Carey and Ray, very kindly booked us into a hotel in the city, and were staying next door on an inspection visit. Turns out they own the room. I love this !! I think I want to own one!
They drove us out to Kings park, a 988 acre park that overlooks the city. I adore the place , and it holds some very precious memories for me of the time I spent in Perth with Jim and Kay when the kids were little. Being a bank holiday the park was full of families sat around on picnic blankets and sun chairs, eating picnics, relaxing and enjoying each other's company on the holiday. A gorgeous cooling breeze kept us from overheating, and it was just the best to see that view again. There is a whispering wall in the park, its curved and if you sit either end of it and whisper a message it travels around to the opposite side. There was interference today though. In the form of people sat on the seats, so the messages weren't getting through. Rude.
Kings Park is just so beautiful, and the views are spectacular. Up until 1901 it was called Perth Park, and was changed to mark King Edward V11 ascension to the throne.
The Botanical gardens within the Park cover a 44 acre site that's home to 2000 species of Western Australian flora. One of the latest additions to the park is a Boab tree. It was looking a bit sorry for itself, but there were little green shoots on it signifying new growth. It had been transported down from Queensland and the trip probably traumatised it. It's looking promising so all being well it will continue to thrive. As we drove through the park, I was drinking it all in, committing it to memory with all my senses.
The Park is a scientific playground for scientists, and is renowned for its research into restoring native species, conservation and supporting ecosystem. Carey was telling us that lot of the plants and trees drop their seeds but don't seem to grow and the Scientists couldn't understand why. Obviously they looked into it and concluded the seeds were activated by fire after a series of tests and experiments. However when that method failed they worked out that the plants needed the combination of ash and water to germinate, and through that discovery have managed to save lots of endangered species. Due to the impact the study had on the flora and fauna, the university (that Carey works at) was allowed to officially name it fire water. (I think)
The roadsides in the Park are eucalyptus tree lined, in front of them are plaques that honour the servicemen that lost their lives during action or who died as a result of their wounds. There are now three tree lined avenues to honour the service personnel who lost their lives in service to their country.
From the Park we drove the short distance to the hotel. It's right in the city and in a great location. Wheelchair ramps are in place and swiping of a key card unlocks the doors after hours. Carey and Ray had picked up the keys prior to collecting us from the airport so we were all checked in. For the purposes of the booking I am her sister. I mean we are practically family it's merely the small matter of not being blood sisters and that really doesn't make any difference.
To our great delight Carey and Ray were staying too, and were in the room next door to us. Our unit walks into a lounge dining area, with a balcony outside glass net covered doors. A substantial air conditioning unit is over the balcony doors, with the kitchen at the other end of the unit. It's fully equipped with everything you could possibly want including a large fridge freezer. Off to the right of the kitchen is a large bathroom and a large bedroom with wardrobes and a safe. Oh, and the all important air con unit!
After a bit of a rest for all of us, we went to search for something to eat, and thought we'd have a drink in the bar before going out. Unfortunately the hotel doesn't have a licence to serve alcohol and currently it's just bring your own booze. (BYOB) With that we went for a stroll in the hope of hunting down food. We lucked out on restaurants in our immediate vicinity, but found a takeaway with a bottle shop close by. Making sure our priorities were in order we got the Jack Daniel's and Coke first of all and then the food. The menu choice was impressive and the portion sizes large to say the least! We went back to our unit and served up on the table before cracking open the JD. We spent the remainder of the evening catching up on family news before retiring for the night, our early start finally catching up with us.
Plans made for tomorrow and we were all off to Bedfordshire..