9.22pm, Saturday 2nd October, Heathrow Airport, London, England, UK
Howdy all! I have been keeping a bit of a secret from you, but now that I’m almost out of the country, I can tell you. I tore the cartilage in my right knee in Dublin at the start of my trip, but lucky for me an Australian surgeon at my dinner the next night helped me out with an MRI the next day and was able to organise his Painmaster surgeon mate to drain the knee at the same time. So I’ve more or less had some maintenance on the road, and I did the whole thing on crutches. Now I’m not doing this for any sympathy – just to set the scene. They told me, “Stay off the Tube, stay away from stairs, be sensible, and you should make it through your program – then get it fixed at home”. Good enough. The team at Cassidy’s in Ireland and Negociants UK in England have babysat me well, and we’ve done everything on the program except for one dinner in Dublin.
That brings us to this afternoon. Our sparkling winemaker Nat Fryar has been over here working as well, and I cancelled a week’s holiday and got on the same flights as Nat through to Adelaide from London, so she could give me a hand with luggage and stuff, as you are seriously limited to what you can carry and do with your hands when you’re on crutches!
So everything was organised.
We were to be picked up at the hotel in a shuttle at 5pm for a 10pm flight. Loads of time … NO!
We got stuck in the worst spaghetti traffic jamup I’ve ever seen in London, and we took an hour to go nowhere at all. Turns out there was a nasty accident on the main route to Heathrow airport and everything was jammed up in all directions. Saturday night, raining, peak hour – you get the picture. We looked at each other at 7pm and started getting a bit nervous – not getting on this plane is not an option. The driver was jammed – nowhere to go, and I recognised the area as the back entrance to Earl’s Court Tube (underground) station. That runs trains right out to Heathrow, so we got all the gear out – lucky we had Nat’s bloke Dave around – and somehow got it into the train station.
First hurdle: two flights of stairs and no lift. Remember what the surgeon said. Yep – no stairs! So down I went, we bought tickets, through the gate and at the top of the seriously long drop escalator down to track level … escalator is out of action! So down I go one at a time, Nat’s loaded, Dave’s loaded, folks are pushing and shoving – ugly stuff – 73 stairs later, we’re at track level. Yay! Onto the seriously sardine-packed Tube – jammed up solid against a bloke who wouldn’t make the top 100 blokes I’d like to be jammed up against … and we’re off! Only 9 stops to go, and if we’re up at the Singapore Airlines desk by 8 – 8.30pm – we’ll be good. The train pulls in, we load the gear onto trolleys, and it’s a series of travelling floors to get all the way to the Departure check-in area. I’m pleased to report I can negotiate those on crutches, but not the changeover from travelator to floor to travelator. Had to hop on and off with no crutches!
Then … we are at the desk! 8.02pm! Yay!! We’re knackered. Up to security, through there, into the departure lounge area, and guess what? The crew for the aeroplane is stuck in the same traffic jam, and we’re delayed for two hours. It’s just not fair really is it? You know what though – things come around and I’m sure Nat and I are in for a treat after all of this.
PS Remember what the surgeon said? No stairs! The knees are screaming, and with any luck they’ll settle down on the long haul home.
See ya when we make Singapore!