The 14 July is finally here. I am fetching Jessica from her final sleep over at Ashleigh's house at 7:45. Kirstin slept at Sabrina's and Karen has called to say that she will drop Kirstin off as she has to go out at 8:30. Malcolm has sold his car and needs to drop it off at about 9:30 and I need to go and fetch him once all the paper work is done. This is all running through my mind as I wake up today.
Today we are flying and I have so much to do, our luggage is going to be a problem, we have way over 20 kg's each so I have to sort AGAIN and give more things to charity or family if they want it. Mom's lounge looks like a refugee camp, open suitcases and hand luggage overflowing with clothes and books. Never mind, mom seems fine, she is even running around with her camera preserving the moment forever in print.
Dad is making a breakfast feast, our final family breakfast (usually a Sunday tradition) on Jessica's request. Georgina and Murray will be arriving shortly and so will Ibb (aunt), Tom (uncle) is unfortunately busy today, donating his time to the beautification of the church, so this is a good reason as there is a wedding coming up!
Breakfast was as usual delicious, and it was good to relax for an hour with all the manic packing going on. We finally got the cases sorted out with about an hour to spare, we kept having to move things, especially the liquids, which we decided to put into our main luggage to save ourselves from unpacking hand luggage at the airport. Of course Malcolm found a CD voucher for Musica and with an hour to spare he decided (in his wisdom) to go and use it. This caused a lot of panic when he was not home at 15:05 and he still had to shower and time of departure was scheduled for 15:30! Somehow he made it and we all said a tearful goodbye to granny/mom and my dad in the driveway before setting off for the airport with dad (Malcolm's)and George and Murray. As we were driving up to International departures drop off we got a sms from Karen, she and Sabrina were at the airport looking for us, they had actually managed to get there BEFORE us!!! We got our bags cling wrapped, we were flying from OR Tambo International so this is strongly recommended!!!!! We handed our tickets in and when the guy saw that our return was for February next year he told us that the kids needed visas for Ireland because they would be there for so long. We explained that we had Irish passports so it was not a problem. He looked at me very doubtfully and went off with his phone to call the Embassy. I was in shock now, could this really happen to us after all we had just been through? Malcolm had checked with the Embassy but still! Well it was fine after all the hot flushes and heart pounding he put me through. Luckily being early there was no queue at check in so things moved quickly and once our bags were checked we had another tearful goodbye with dad. I was starting to really hate goodbyes, it really is a sad affair. Then Georgina, Murray, Karen, Sabrina and THE DEPARTING went upstairs for a drink (stiff one for me please!). We sat there for about 45 minutes which was very pleasant and then the next round of good byes began. It really was sad watching Kirstin say goodbye to her best friend of 5 1/2 years, I hope that they really make an effort to stay in touch, but they are also so young!!!! After a round of hugs and kisses with Karen and Sabrina we sadly watched them leave and then had ANOTHER round of sad goodbyes with Georgina and Murray!!!! (See why I am hating goodbyes now?)
Next we went through passport control, long queues at this point. By the time we got through it was almost time to board so we headed for our gate, we did not really spend any time in duty free. It was so weird saying goodbye to Malcolm as he was flying on British Air on a later flight. Of course just after he left a guy came out and announced that our flight had arrived late from Zurich and although they were aiming for an on time departure this could not be guaranteed! They came down the queue and took our boarding passes with the computer on a wheelie desk. At least we could see they were seriously trying for an on time departure!!! Well you have to respect the Swiss for their time keeping, they worked very hard and we did manage an on time departure! The flight was great, better than I expected, I thought that the plane would be old and that we would not have our own TV and leg room would be awful. Well we did have a TV, leg room was better than expected (Just) and the food was actually Divine!!!! Also I was expecting a cold flight and I did not even need my blanket! We did not sleep well and were woken up at about 4 am for breakfast! The girls slept through breakfast, I decided that I would rather let them sleep and buy breakfast at Zurich airport. I woke them up when the Alps came into view, this was something they had to see, they are HUGE, I knew they were big, but I had no idea of how far they actually stretched until I saw them from the air! Switzerland from the air was beautiful, it all looks so quaint and there were lots of farm houses and fields with country roads. Zurich airport was very pleasant, the shops were very expensive, lots of brand names, and lots of waiting areas with comfortable chairs. The kids had breakfast, Jess had a blueberry muffin which I tasted and it was truly the best blueberry muffin I have ever tasted!!! Kirstin had a cheese and ham ciabatta which was also Divine and I just had a cappuccino which was also very nice. We wondered around the shops for a while and then went to a waiting area were Jessica promptly fell asleep. At about 8:45 we went through the whole scan a bag again and had some water confiscated which we had forgotten about! We enjoyed the last leg of our journey and landed in Dublin to a beautiful summer day of clouds and 15 degree C. It really did feel warmer than that though! The guy we got at Customs was very friendly. I showed him my Irish passport and the kids S.A. ones and he said "You're alright but should I let these 2 in?" I told him that I did not think allowing them into Ireland was a very good idea so he told them to go back! It was all fun banter and he wished us all the best in our new home and we were through!!!
Our bags came through first, still in cling wrap, what a relief! Synchronicity!!!! We went to the meeting place as arranged and I bought bus tickets and called Malcolm on his cell phone. He had just collected the car and was on his way back to meet us. The bags fit in the car, including the back seat and we said goodbye AGAIN as we were catching the bus. The kids loved the bus trip, it was a double decker so they sat upstairs at the front. They loved Dublin from the beginning, until we started the long walk from the O'Connell street bus stop to the Luas at St Stephens Green. The roads were jam packed with tourists and being a Sunday it was SO busy. Of course we were so tired and it was frustrating fighting through the crowds and trying to stay together. We eventually got to the Luas and then it was a hop skip and jump to the place in Milltown were we are staying. (Derrick, Rose and Emily's place) Malcolm had managed to navigate quite well and had also just arrived when we got "home".
We all had a shower and then went for ad rive to see the kids schools and showed the girls the Dublin sea. We were starving and could not get parking were we wanted to go and eat so we headed back towards home, stopped at the Black Rock mall got McDonalds (shameful admission) and went to Marks and Spencers for some groceries. That was an experience of note, puts Woolworths to shame!!!! The kids and I were like country hicks oohing and aahing and embarrassing Malcolm with our squeals of delight as we discovered the different cakes, pastries, picnic food and and and. Need a whole blog posting to describe it! When we got home the kids ran down to the park opposite the flat and we watched them frolicking in the grass and being kids. It was a fantastic sight to behold and they came back pink cheeked and energised. All in all a great start to our new beginning!!!