Search

Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Tag

air travel

The Schlep

I have Gail to thank for bringing back Schlep into my everyday vocab. It’s a great word, schlep. Here’s Google’s take on what it means:

schlep

/SHlep/

Verb
Haul or carry (something heavy or awkward).
Noun
A tedious or difficult journey.
Synonyms
lug

Arddun and I spend most days together out of the house, and have done so since she was a month old. I even have calluses to prove it now – all that schlepping about with her in a pram and a tonne of bags hanging off the sides. Except tomorrow, we’re doing it to cross a continent and a bit of sea so that we can tell Grandma Singapore that we love her and we hate that she hurts.

Yes, my girl and I are about to fly to Singapore together again. We leave tomorrow afternoon and arrive in Singapore 3 hours past Arddun’s bedtime. And because we’re going over for 6 months, we will be hauling:

  • 1 x Ladybug Skiphop backpack
  • 1 x stroller
  • 1 x handbag (birthday present from mum)
  • 1 x cabin bag on wheels
  • 2 x big-ass luggage bags

I’m hoping it’ll go more smoothly than it sounds right now.

You might remember my previous Flight to Remember. Rest assured that this time, I come prepared with a change of clothes and a buffet of assorted wipes, both dry and moist. Also, about 50 scented plastic bags and enough disposable nappies to wallpaper a small moon.

Watch this space, and wish me a most uneventful journey, please. xx

 

Scooting over to Singapore

So I just wrote this hugely ranty post about hoax emails, and how passing on advice about alternative cancer treatment can sometimes hurt and offend more than help and empower.

And then I decided it was a little too angry, so thankfully there was a WordPress glitch and it didn’t post on Facebook.

Sometimes, glitches are good.

I’ll be in Singapore from late 28 February to 9 March, for those on the island who might have time for a nightcap. I am there primarily to spend some quality time with my mother, though. I anticipate quite a few, “You’re BACK!” followed closely by, “Where’s Arddun?’ and then an afterthought of, “And is Tony here, too?” I don’t blame you. The munchkin is way more entertaining than the adults who spawned her.

So I’ll state up front that I’ll be flying back solo, and it’ll be my maiden flight on Scoot. And yes, I know it’s going to be cramp and uncomfortable, and I know that they had that PR disaster when they cancelled the flight etc. But they were the only ones who could offer a dirt-cheap ticket at the last minute. And besides – I get complimentary travel insurance with my bank. Sweet.

This will also be the second time that I’ll be travelling overseas without checking in luggage. Others might scoff at the big deal I’m making out of this, but you have to understand that Singapore has trees, food, weird architecture, too many people, and shops. Even their hospitals have shopping arcades and kick-butt food courts. You go to Singapore to stuff your face, and then try and fit into a size 6 dress. That is the Singaporean way.

My MIL — bless her — will be arriving from Brisbane on Wednesday to feed ducks with Arddun and watch her dance to The Wiggles. I’m so glad she’s able and willing to do this for our family at a moment’s notice, because the peace of mind is astounding.

So for those of you who have my email address and number, do ping me between now and Wednesday before I fly over.

 

 

 

A flight to remember

So yes, we’ve been rather quiet online. Most of September has been spent in the following ways:

  • preparing for Surprise Grandma Singapore trip
  • in Singapore
  • recovering from Surprise Grandma Singapore trip.

And if I have time and energy enough tonight, I’ll cover some of the highlights of our journey. But I thought I’d dedicate this post to my solo-parent flight with Arddun.

Yes, that’s right. Me, my very wriggly toddler, and an almost-full Singapore Airlines A380. Sydney to Singapore, non-stop.

To understand the full extent of this enterprise, you have to understand that we live in Canberra. Which means our day had started with an indecently early wake-up call, followed by 3 hours on the road, and another nail-biting bit where we got stuck in Sydney traffic for half an hour. And that was just to get to the airport.

Couple that with a late and bumpy take-off, and you’ll begin to see how long my day was starting to get.

I think in my heart of hearts, I’d rather relished the prospect of doing the solo-with-Arddun travel thing. It was something our family anticipated having to do this year because we knew how stupid Tony’s workload was going to get by September, which was why he couldn’t join us. But I think it also evolved into something like a rite of passage for me. A personal challenge. Something I’d embraced with all the apprehension and naive optimism of a new mother contemplating labour and childbirth. Right, I’d told myself, I’m going to do this. I know I’ll be able to survive this, because loads of other women have. Eight hours on an airplane with an active toddler. Nothing to sneeze at, but I am creative, I am quick-thinking, and I have a sense of humour.

I’ll skip the bit about the check-in, except to say that I’ll never use Sydney Airport’s luggage trolleys again unless I can work out trolley reverse psychology. I’ll also glance over the take-off (so bumpy that the child on Arddun’s left cried, “Wheeee!!!” like he was in the amusement park). In truth, the first 6 hours of the flight were, on hindsight, uneventful. Sure, it got difficult trying to keep Arddun seated. But it was a huge blessing that SQ gave me a spare seat for Arddun even though I didn’t pay for one, so I wasn’t complaining. And sure, every air stewardess that got babysitting duty while I nipped to the bathroom commented on “how very active” my child was, upon my hasty return.

And yes, we lost at least one crayon within seconds of opening the box and the boy next to us ended up hogging the entire set anyway. The in-flight entertainment failed to capture her attention because the screen was fixed high up on the wall in front of us, and her headphones were too big for her tiny head. Also, all iPhone apps and videos downloaded for her pleasure were drowned out by engine and ambient noise, so In the Night Garden made even less sense than ever. Her nap was cut short by at least half, because the child beside us had given an almighty yell out of the blue. She devoured my lunch since she’d clearly outgrown Rafferty’s, refused all the goodies I’d procured from the Asian bakery the day before, and wanted, NEEDED to drink my tea. And of course, she HAD to use up two diapers by hour 6, which meant already two rounds of changing her in a very cramp lavatory.

But nothing too dramatic. She wasn’t noisy, she wasn’t unmanageable, we were fine.

Enter hour 7, and I smell something seriously suss.

I had been sure to secure our seats the moment I bought our tickets online, so I was able to get the bassinet seat in the upper deck. Which meant the front half of the upper deck was First Class, and then it was Economy, with us on the front row. I’d figured that the fewer the passengers surrounding us, the fewer people I’d be likely to irritate, should my child turn feral.

It also meant, however, that I’d have to walk the entire length of Economy class to get to the lavatories. And this was turning out to be an almighty stink.

True enough, we get in there and I realise that everything has gone everywhere. It’s a miracle my clothes are not soiled, because the poor girl needs a bath. I use up all my nappy wipes, save one. I’m so thankful I packed her a change of clothes, and I am praying the plane doesn’t get major turbulence while I’m frantically giving her a mini-bath from the slow, stately trickle of airplane tap water.

Not fun.

Amazingly, Arddun didn’t try any Chinese acrobatics, and we eventually make it out. I apologise to the queue, and scuttle back to the front.

An apple had been dropped off on Arddun’s seat, as previously requested. Stolen from First Class. How kind.

“Would you like an apple?” I ask my daughter.

“Apper!” she agrees happily, signs “please” very politely, and takes two bites.

And then she erupts like Mount Vesuvius. Top end, this time.

Yes folks, it’s everywhere. On the seats, on the blankets, on the ground, on me. Amazingly, thanks to the wide angle of her projectile spew, she managed to keep herself nice and dry. Lord knows I don’t have any change of clothes left for her. But then, I didn’t pack anything for me either, did I.

I had yelped involuntarily, so I think lots of passengers heard. There’s this horrid pause while I’m standing there, wearing spew and a rather wild look. Meanwhile, the curtains part from the back of the plane and the stewardesses wheel our in-flight dinner down both corridors. My access to the lavatories – blocked. No stewardesses on hand to help. Wriggly one-year-old, impervious to the disaster she’d just created and surprisingly chirpy for one suddenly so sick. Clothes starting to stick to my skin in a sickening fashion.

Napkins, nappy wipes, tissues start coming forward from everywhere. My first instinct is to get the yuck off the seats, just in case SQ decide to hand me a bill for chair shampoo.

“Right!” I say, and firmly toss Arddun on to her seat before strapping her in. “Don’t go anywhere, little girl!” She unbuckles herself in 2 seconds. I frantically tear open a paperbag for garbage, and start swiping with my left while holding on to my inquisitive child with my right. Nota bene: the little paperbags they supply on airplanes just in case you feel queasy? Absolutely impossible to tear open in a tremendous hurry.

Someone from the next aisle tells me that I have spew on my clothes. Yes thank you, I’m aware of that, I’m just trying to do one thing at a time please, thankyouverymuch.

A stewardess comes over. How can I help, she asks. She arrives with a humongous paperbag that has two tiny packets of nappy wipes in them. I direct her to the happy child, and ask that she just watches Arddun so I can get on with it. And then I clean everything. And spend lots of time yet again in the lavatory at the back. And apologise to everyone on my way there and back, for spoiling their dinners.

And then I sit in my stinky clothes, now scrubbed transparent because I was stupidly wearing white, for the final hour of our flight. And I thank GOD that we’re flying to Singapore, and not London.

And so yes, that was our flight to Singapore. Thankfully, the flight back to Sydney felt quicker and much easier, even though Arddun didn’t get a spare seat this time. Turns out that Arddun had contracted gastroenteritis before or during the flight, which meant the poor thing was still spewing and pooing all through our first week in Singapore. And then she’d passed it on to me. And we eventually passed it on to our host, Audrey, before scuttling off to my mother’s.

It’s funny – I had been so diligent about Arddun’s food and entertainment that I had brought enough to even feed and entertain the child sitting beside us. But it had just never crossed my mind that she’d be this sick on an airplane. Still, like childbirth, the awful moment eventually passes… and then everything becomes just a Really Good Cringey Story.

Flying solo

Got on a plane alone with Arddun and flew to Brisbane with Virgin Australia. Fairly uneventful, apart from bumpy landing which resulted in Arddun clunking forehead on tray table unexpectedly. Very loud pronouncement of pain with tears (hers), followed by profuse kissing of forehead after having just applied two layers of lippy – base colour and sparkly conditioner (mine). Which only made daughter look like she’d been smacked across the forehead with a fairy wand.

Also a scary moment after disembarking, when they thought they never loaded the pram on board. Face fell, jaw slackened, tone of voice sharpened, mind raced to locate nearest Kmart and feasibility of hunching over $29 Dolly’s umbrella stroller with dignity (verdict: none). Otherwise, I thought Arddun flew well. Let’s just say it makes a huge difference having a spare seat beside you when flying solo with a young child.

20120614-230300.jpg

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑