Sigh - I must be back at home, Hubble did a puddle on the carpet this morning, the fish tank has developed an algal bloom and the drought across the country throughout my absence has been replaced by a howling gale the moment I set foot outside with my washing basket. Hard to believe it was only two days ago we were all soaking up the sun, sea and sand in the Central Coast! Not surprisingly, we were all very sad to leave, Ali in particular as he has always had a fascination for all things Australian and has never quite forgiven us for not being Australian in the first place. Mind you, I was starting to wonder if we were going to make the flight at all the way things were going!
First we got well and truly stuck in the Australian Geographic shop in Sydney Airport, where we discovered the amazing lengths some people will go to in order to get customers to part with their money. Well aware of the difficulty we were already going to have getting our little wildlife fanatic out of this wonderful store, we had already done admirably well in getting him to the counter with nothing more than a red bellied black snake in tow. How could we have known the cheery woman behind the counter would pick this as the perfect moment to pounce? "Have you seen this? What about these? Come and see how these work!" she gleefully demonstrated as she dragged an all-too-eager Ali around the store. "Help me", I mouthed helplessly to a confused Noel, who kept popping in and out to see what the hold-up was. "Er - we really have to get going, we should be boarding now", I explained as firmly as I could, but she just kept bringing more wonderful gadgets out of the woodwork and then looked rather perturbed when I refused to buy them all. As it was, by the time I actually got her to put my payment through she had managed to add almost $100 to the original total with two more balloon blowing kits we never knew we needed and a gift for my mother (which admittedly was well deserved). The last straw came when she was trying to get us to sign up for a year's subscription to Australian Geographic magazine ("it will only cost you $49 and you instantly get $16 off your purchase!") that we ended up having to be quite rude and stopping her in her tracks once and for all. "Phew! She must be on commission!" panted Noel as we raced to our plane, where I was about to face the next hurdle.
I have a mortal fear of flying. Before now I have been zonked out with valium and had to be physically pushed onto a plane in order to leave my homeland. When it comes to flying I am such a big girls' blouse that it actually stopped me from attending my brother-in-law's wedding, because I had to fly to get there. However this time it was different because I had to put on a brave face for my excited children; there was no way I wanted my fears to rub off on them. On any other occasion I would have been frozen on the floor in a foetal position next to the pilot. As it was, I survived the trip but was so traumatized for days afterwards and panicking already about the flight home that it soon became clear that a visit to Fran the homeopath was in order. It turned out to be very timely, being the day after the car pile-up which also had left me too scared to drive. My lovely, understanding husband, used to my quirks took me to see Fran, and I left shortly afterwards clutching a bottle, which I had taken two sniffs from. From that moment on, if I had gotten any more laid back, I would have fallen over. Ten minutes later I was fast asleep in the car! With those two sniffs I was finally able to let go of my worries and the knot in my stomach disappeared for the rest of my trip.
Until the flight home. By the time I had finally prised myself out of the Geographic Shop lady's clutches, I was almost fainting on the spot with fear. I was scrutinizing everyone in our departure gate for potential terrorist material and had pretty much convinced myself that I was just going to have to stay in Australia for good and ask Mum to adopt the dogs. Luckily Noel noticed the tears dripping off the end of my nose while I was filling out our departure forms and urged me to Ã¯Â¿Â½sniff that stuff again'. I duly sniffed twice and by the time we took off I was almost asleep in my chair. I played with the kids, watched a movie, ate my lunch and couldn't believe how quickly the flight was over. To think I had spent the last ten days worrying about that, I scolded myself! The best part for me though was as we left the craft and I caught the eye of a poor man who had been sitting just across from me. For the entire journey he had been paralysed with fright, squeezing one of those stress ball thingy's and grabbing the arm of his chair at the slightest wobble. "You want to get yourself some of this mate!" I grinned, waving the bottle in front of him.
To end the flight on a perfect note, Ali found himself the amazed owner of the biggest bag of lollies he had ever seen. Sat there looking tiny in his plane seat, tightly clutching his new platypus, he caught the eye of the steward handing out lollies to suck on our descent. When Ali took his first lolly out of the basket, the steward grinned and threw half a dozen more in his lap. He couldn't believe it when five minutes later, the same steward returned and passed him a large bag. On peeking inside, Ali found it was full of hundreds of lollies - he thought all his Christmases had come at once! Being cute definitely pays!