[LIFE] A week back in the UK … after that rather aborted ‘trip of a lifetime’ to New Zealand

[LIFE] A week back in the UK … after that rather aborted ‘trip of a lifetime’ to New Zealand

Today is the day that I should have been landing back in the UK in the early hours of the morning, having spent 2 months on a writing scholarship in New Zealand, and then a week in Melbourne doing some public speaking (and had treated myself to tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). This year had felt like there was a chance after 2.5 years of treatment, whilst NEAD, to seize the opportunity for a bit of travel – so I’m glad I made it to Germany earlier this year, as the New Zealand trip has been all over the place (I feel like I spent most of my time talking to insurance, travel companies, and medics, as well as dealing with the mental trauma that most of us are feeling from COVID19), and my trip to Paris in June is obviously dead in the water, as is Greenbelt Festival … (but there have been other things)…

The Final Week in New Zealand

I last wrote in my final week in New Zealand, when I had made the decision that it was time to come home, that I was awaiting blood tests, and an X-Ray. It’s interesting to know how much these kind of things are valued in real ‘cash terms’, as we’re very used to getting it all funded on the NHS (well, standard treatments anyway) – I’ve got quite a big bill to claim back from insurance. Blood tests came back with ‘neutrophils’ fine, so cleared to fly on that basis. I got my X-ray and was sent away with the images on a CD (I don’t have a CD player or any idea how to interpret the images, but anyway) .. I still have no interpretation of what the results mean from UK or NZ, which is quite frustrating (but you become very used to waiting for results, doesn’t necessarily make it easier) – especially as still a lot of (we hope) muscular pain.

There was plenty to be getting on with, including a webinar on digital discipleship with Melbourne, and this short interview with The Bible Society:

and some recording with Stephen (to be seen later) and Sapati (the first of which can be seen here):

 

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Short interview #1 in #lockdown #gettingtoknowBex #vaughanpark #scholar #nevergiveup #keepthefaith #keepgoing

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I made sure I got out and about for some of that beautiful New Zealand scenery, and capture some of those sounds of the beach for future locked-in days:

 

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Keep on walking #NewZealand

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including in the evening:

 

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Well I guess I’ve not been to the beach this late before … #Newzealand

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And when New Zealand went down to Level 3 (looking like it will announce Level 2 later today) *and yes, I think NZ have dealt with this much better than the UK, we may be different countries, but there’s something about how you communicate with your people which really changes people’s thinking/behaviour* – we were allowed back into the sea:

Our lockdown bubble enjoyed a last Sunday meal:

 

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Had lovely lunch with @dre.t26 and family .. now it really is zzzz time!

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and a takeaway (once they reopened at Level 3), as well as an online chat with the other staff from Vaughan Park):

I’m going to miss my lockdown family (thanks for my quick car tour of Auckland too), the rest of the team, some of the new friends that I’ve made (and should be able to remain connected with), Vaughan Park, and the beach (and hopefully will stay well enough to get back there!):

 

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With @dre.t26 and my ‘lockdown bubble family’ in #NewZealand … and on the beach.

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The Flight Home

Woke up early on the final day, for a last run down to the beach, and then we sat and waited, and waited, and waited, for the taxi booked by the insurance company (it never turned up, despite the regular texts saying it was confirmed). Thankfully Sapati popped off to refuel, and then took me to the airport, in time to join the very long socially-distanced queue! It took around an hour to get through temperature checks, check-ins with the consulate, before was able to check bags in (phew, having weighed everything on kitchen scales and then done some basic maths, I seemed to be about right). We went through a very empty airport (with all the shops boarded off), and into an area where one pharmacy, and one food stand were open (we may have been the only flight that day). After an hour or two of waiting, we were able to board (I had been offered a business class seat to enable more social-distancing to help reduce the immune-dangers):

 

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Nearly ready … #NewZealand .. with @UKinNZ charter flight …

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Around 12 hours for the first half of the flight (watched Little Women, 1917 (brilliant film) and Sonic the Hedgehog), around 3 hours at Hong Kong airport (where walked some pokemon to help with potential DVT), and around 11 hours for the second half of the flight (watched Just Mercy and Bohemian Rhapsody), before landing in Heathrow (with a little bit of sleep :-)), before arriving back at a very empty Heathrow:

 

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Luggage has arrived so just waiting for cab driver to pay for parking and we’re off …

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My bags took QUITE a long time to appear, before a 3+ hour taxi drive back home, where I tried to force myself to stay awake til 7pm, but fell asleep about 4pm, and didn’t properly wake up until around 9.30am the next morning!

Readjusting to the UK in COVID19 Times

I was due to take this coming week off in order to help deal with the jetlag, so I’ve taken the past week off (thankfully that makes this week a 4 day week, as I can carry over Friday!). It feels rather like settling in for some more chemotherapy .. and has mostly been spent trying to sort out food delivery, sleeping, finances, clearing some emails, and tidying up a bit … and although I’m ‘vulnerable’ (not ‘shielded’ apparently – though others on same drugs are) … important to get out and about for some fresh air … so the back streets of the local area it is (you do end up seeing areas differently when you spend a lot of time going round and round the same streets .. catching Pokemon!). I watched my first (and only) Downing Street briefing (wow, they go on, don’t they), received masks made by my cousin, decorated my house for VE Day (with WW2 posters focusing on working together!), and partook in first #ClapforNHS/Carers:

I’m still super-tired and I don’t know how much is cancer treatment/operation fatigue, how much is jetlag, and how much is coronavirus fatigue (and how much is the tramadol I’ve been given for chest strain). Hopefully I can find a way to settle into (yet another) ‘new normal’!

<edit: added Monday> When writing something happened with the blog, and I had to write it a second time. For those asking about treatment, this week I had expected to have treatment today, car MoT tomorrow, full body scan, haircut, and filling done this week… MoT has been done (thanks Andrew), haircut/filling obviously will have to wait, awaiting a scan date, and treatment is delayed til next week, when I’ve been back in the country for over 14 days.

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