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  • Writer's pictureClaire

25/04/24 Auckland to New York

We woke early which is a tad bizarre, because I’m actually REALLY tired still! Anyway, as we were awake we thought we just as well pack our bags, that was done in 10 minutes so we had time for a leisurely shower and a nice cup of tea.  

Today is a public holiday, for Anzac Day. Morg and Liv were both off work, and frankly it couldn’t have worked out better from my point of view.  All the retail stores are closed til 1300hrs although a few smaller coffee shops are open, and they all charge 15% extra on the bill. I suppose that’s only fair if they’re the only ones working and everyone else is off for the day. 

The Anzac Day ceremony is a form of military funeral and the  commemoration begins at 0530 hrs  with a pre-dawn march by returned service personnel to the local war memorial. Military personnel and returned servicemen and women form up with other members of the community. Pride of place goes to war veterans.

A short service follows, with the fourth verse of Laurence Binyon's ‘For the fallen’

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

The Last Post is  played, followed by a minute's silence, and a brief address before The hymn 'Recessional' is sung. The service ends with a prayer and the singing of the national anthem.

Later on in the morning, another service is held. Returned service personnel wearing their medals march behind banners and standards. The veterans are joined by other community groups, including members of the armed forces, the Red Cross, cadets, and veterans of other countries' forces. The march proceeds to the  war memorial and another service takes place there, and representatives of various organisations and members of the public lay wreaths. This service is a more public commemoration than the dawn service. It is less intimate and a lot less emotional. It was this service that had a fly and ast by a vintage military aircraft which was really cool. The drone of the engines, distinctive and so different from the modern day planes. After these services, many of the veterans retire to the local RSA club or a hotel, for coffee and rum (after the dawn service) and unwind after an emotionally and, for elderly veterans, physically exhausting event. At the end of the day, the ceremony of the retreat is performed.

I’ve always thought our Remembrance Day service was important and we do it so well, but there is something quite special about the dawn service. It’s all live streamed as well which I think is wonderful for sleepy heads.  

The main roads on the routes for the parades were obviously closed off until 1300 hrs, and the city was like a ghost town. Morg and Liv picked us up and we loaded everything into their little car, and drove to Newmarket. They have an app that allows them free 3hour parking once a day in the Westfield centre so it was perfect. We located the same coffee shop we first went to when we arrived in Auckland on Tweed St, and we were delighted that it was open for business. We had a brew a snack and a chat whilst watching the world go by. Can’t believe today is our last day in the Southern Hemisphere is here, it’s gone so fast, and I don’t want it to end! 

All too soon it was time to make a move. My little bag has broken and I am bag less. I planned to use pockets in New York but I don’t think it is too practical. I also don’t really want another bag!!  We didn’t find one in Westfield but I did manage to stock up on my Whittaker’s chocolate. In all flavours. Had I been shopping alone there would have been double the amount in the basket to what I managed to get away with! Rude, I mean how is a girl supposed to choose between mango and coconut and forest fruits? She can’t, therefore she needs it all. Obviously! 

Morg had been on a hunt and discovered there was a retail park right by the airport so bless him he took us there to see if there was anything suitable. There were a lot of black and brown bags, which were absolutely of no use to me at all, they won’t go with my pink clothing, and we were just about to leave and Morg found a rainbow coloured one in the kids section. It wasn’t really what I was looking for, and he was joking anyway, but right next to it were a gaggle of fluffy pink mini rucksacks! Absolute perfection, I swiped it off the shelf, checked I could get my arms through it and sailed off to pay for it.  Well chuffed, not only is it pink it’s fluffy! Once we’d paid we drove the 1 minute to the airport where Morg parked up and in we all went. The large laundry tote bag thing we decided to get wrapped as it would be a bit more secure and once we’d done that we went to special assistance. 

The lady at the desk was helpful enough, but we had to check in before she could do the paperwork. For this flight we are flying business class because it’s a bloody long 16 hour flight. As such, even though we were 4 hours early we were able to check in. The check in lounge was behind a screen in the main terminal so we said our final goodbye to Morg and Liv which left me a bit choked up it has to be said and went through the door way. It was like entering a different world, muted lighting, softly spoken staff members, unhurried but efficient and within minutes we had handed over the bags and being directed through security. That was even faster than special assistance! Straight through again, passports checked and done! The young lad on passport control is a Newport County fan, his grandfather used to play for them and he’s a loyal supporter. How random though?  To meet a kiwi who supports Newport county! Well I thought it was anyway.  

We were able to go straight to Air anew Zealand’s lounge which was pretty swanky, muted colours, comfortable seats, and hot and cold food, bar and tea and coffee as much as you wanted. There was an older couple next to us heading for Los Angeles, they lived in Perth and were lovely couple, older than us, but really chatty, they had some tails to tell, that had us in stitches! We stayed there for three hours, before we made our way to the boarding gate. 

As usual we were boarded first, and this time we only went as far as row 9 in business premium. We could have sat anywhere but I selected these seats due to the toilets being just through the curtains. My first impressions? Different! The seats are in a herringbone position so Si and are opposite each other, they’re like cubby holes, tv free wifi movies etc as normal. The cabin is very delicately lighted with pinky mauve lights, which give it a very calm and serene air. The crew are amazing, and bought champagne around as soon as we were seated and took our order for post take off drinks. I like this, i like it a lot! So my Baileys over ice, and Si’s G&T requested, free WiFi set up, and our goodie bags opened and investigated, we were ready for take off. 

Once we were airborne the crew came and introduced themselves to us and bought our drinks and a bowl of nuts to nibble on.  Shortly after we made our selections off the extensive menu for dinner. Not only are there meals, there are unlimited snacks and drinks too, I hope there’s chocolate! Once our tables had been laid out and covered with a white linen cloth, Our first course was served, a tasty morsel of amouse bouche. Complete with a delicate silver fork to spear it and insert into one’s mouth, in one hit. A few minutes later our next course was served, Si had a bisque and I had whipped ricottas. I was quite excited when I could hear the girls offering bakery items. I was thinking pain au chocolate, croissant, but no, it was bread or rolls. I mean, I didn’t refuse, it just wasn’t what I was expecting out of the word bakery.  Very nice all the same. Main courses were Venison for Si and red snapper for me, absolutely sublime, washed down with ginger beer. Finally dessert, frozen yoghurt with boysenberry cheesecake for moi and pears and custard for Si. He had cheese and biscuits too but my belly was full!! 

I am now lying in my bed, which the crew kindly made up for me, with my bumble bee hot water bottle it is so far rather comfortable. Two nice pillows a mattress, and a cwtchy blankie that is more a quilt but is cwtchy nevertheless. The cabin lights were dimmed and we were left to our own devices although if we needed anything we just rang the bell.

The gent sat beside Si has family in Coleford of all places and they were chatting for quite some time about various things. Said gentleman was highly amused by Bob, who was sat next to me and then snuggled under the quilt. Imagine his reaction when copped a load of the hot water bottle! Hilarious. Is time for some shut eye now, and will continue when I open my eyes.

Much love

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