Departure dramas


Canal trip

Willeymoor, Whitchurch








Giant's Causeway




Clonmacnoise Monastery

Lough Tay

Back to Dublin


Plane Trip Over to UK/Ireland:-

On Aug20, 2014 I flew out of Brisbane heading for Newcastle in England. I had a near disaster even before I left Brisbane when I left $A2,000 in Euros and Pounds on the check-in counter.

When I sat down in the plane, I checked my carryon bag for my passport, plane tickets home keys and cash. Found everything, except for the cash that I was almost certain that I had in my carry-on & not in my checked- in bag.

I sat there thinking, "this is not a good start to my holidays" and as the plane was about to take off I didn’t know what to do. When I was thinking this & just before the doors closed, an airline staff member came to my seat and handed me my cash! I had my name on a form with the cash & they tracked me down from there.

I figured out what happened was that when I was asked for my passport and tickets, I took them out of a small bag which also included the cash, I didn’t return the passport & tickets to the small bag & put them directly into my carryon bag leaving the cash in the small bag on the counter.

I needed a stiff drink on the plane after that. (Actually I didn’t drink alcohol on any of the flights – on the way over or back) as I knew that there would be plenty of occasions to have a drink when I got over there.

It was about eight hours to Hong Kong where there was a storm on approaching HK, but all good there. Stayed two hours at the airport before heading off to Dubai. At Dubai, I had to wait another eight hours at the airport before the next leg. I got to know one of the Dubai terminals very well.

The final leg of the journey was direct to Newcastle (-on-Tyne) airport. I was checking that the plane didn’t go anywhere near the Ukraine, which it didn’t, but it went along Iraq’s border with Iran which was close enough to the action happening there in Iraq. I was keeping an eye out for any shining bright lights heading for the plane.


England – Newcastle-Upon-Tyne

Once I arrived in Newcastle (“Geordie” territory so the local cabbie told me), it took a long time to get through customs. We (ie Peter & Justin also joined me in Dubai) lined up in the European queue by mistake & had to change to the non-European queue after we had made our way to the top of the wrong queue.

I remember thinking when I reached Newcastle that this is as far north as I’ve ever been. Although there’s plenty of other countries much further north of Newcastle. A local told me that -30 degrees Celsius is the coldest he could remember in Newcastle, but luckily in summer here for us it was very pleasant.

The hotel at Newcastle was fine. There was a castle (what’s left of it ) called “BlackGate” built around 1250AD, (England’s most northern castle – its gates shown at right) only a 100 metres down the road from the place where we stayed.

right: Black Gate

First impressions of Newcastle were unexpectedly good, and these first impressions turned out to be accurate. Newcastle with its River Tyne has a very good atmosphere, and if you owned a place fronting the river, you would have great views. (Houses with these views were surprisingly relatively cheap i.e. about $400,000 Aus.)

The shipbuilding in Newcastle has long gone & the city has transformed into a very scenic one. The city side of the river according to the cabbie is where the genuine Geordies live. The other side is where the plastic Geordies are, and just a few kilometres further away is an area called Sunderland which the Newcastle locals do not like at all (All according to the cabbie).

Although Newcastle was a long way from the start of the boat canal trip, we stayed there for two nights because a friend of a few in the group was living there for a few months.

After we looked around most of the city area, we then naturally went to find a pub for a beer. Jetlag wasn’t too bad for me (I think I suffer more from jetlag on return trips).

After the first night there, I went for a jog in the morning across the river Tyne into the plastic Geordie area.

That day, after everyone in the canal boat group turned up, we again checked out the Newcastle city area & along the river Tyne boardwalk. They have a fantastic boardwalk for walkers, joggers & bike riders, plenty of room for everyone with great views along the way. We then met a few of the locals via the pubs later on in the day. One pub had a vinyl record player being used to play 50’s, 60’s & 70’s music. All pubs here are not very big. The beer is mostly room temperature, but there are a few cold beers about.

The Newcastle people (& maybe English people as a whole) might have unusual eating habits. When I paid for a sausage roll (not very healthy I know), at a takeaway place it was served cold. Then when I asked for it to be heated up, I got a strange look. But they went & heated it for me anyway.

On the second & last morning in Newcastle, I went for a jog again this time along the boardwalk. All very pleasant checking out the scenery as I went.


Next: the start of our canal adventure