Thursday, August 9, 2018

8th August 2018

Happy Birthday Pete - catching a few zzzz's at Hong Kong airport

Our flight from Hong Kong to Manchester was absolutely chocka – so chocka they couldn’t seat us together!  We were on the same row but on opposite sides of the plane and we met two other couples in the same situation.  I was sitting next to a 21 year old Chinese girl and her father and they were heading to Hull where she was undertaking her first year of university, studying finance.  A few things sprung to mind as I was struggling to get this information out of her.  Hull….a well renowned city for all things financial….?......21, quite old for her first year of uni, but maybe they had to save a number of years to get her there, but most importantly, how the hell was she going to get a degree in England when she could barely speak the language?  And the language barrier would be even more of a problem in Hull I would imagine.  I kept these reservations to myself and whiled away the hours napping and watching a few movies, meeting Pete at the back of the plane for some squatting and stretching……well, whatever floats your boat I guess!

It’s a hell of a long plane ride and we were glad to have it over with when we arrived in Manchester at 7am.  Had a slow queue to get through and were held up by a young lady from some African country by the look of her, telling the immigration officer she was a student.  When asked what she was studying, she said “medicine” and the immigration officer looked very unimpressed and asked her how she intended to study medicine in England when she could barely speak the language.  She didn’t answer, probably couldn’t understand, and was eventually shepherded to an interview room.

Pete and Alun wonder how they will get the
bike boxes past the throng and onto the lift.
Got through to baggage claim and the boxes were there waiting for us and in good shape after the long journey.  Had a bit of a mission getting into the arrivals hall as the bike boxes are so wide on the luggage trolley, but we managed and soon spotted our contact Alun, from Thunderbird Taxis.  Had another mission getting our boxes past the bollards at the exit door, across the road past more bollards and then into a very crowded lift up to Alun’s van.  The carparks are so cramped he had to do about a 20 point turn (no exaggeration!) to get the van out and finally we were on the road to Little Neston.  When we first planned this blog, we thought we would be starting our ride from Peg and Andy’s new place in Birkenhead, but they still have their old house in Little Neston, which is much bigger, so this is where we are staying. 

We arrived just after 9am and it was good to see Jimmy outside to greet us.  Peggy wasn’t far behind him and remembered to wish Pete a happy birthday – which I had totally forgotten to do and so had Jimmy!

It was a lovely cloudy morning which soon gave way to sun and probably hung around 16C most of the day – very similar temperature from what we’ve just come from in New Plymouth in the middle of winter!  Of course they tell us this is the coolest day they’ve had for the last six weeks……..
I think you're missing a vital piece Pete.
After the obligatory cup of tea, with a bit of a chat with Peg and Andy, we assembled the bikes before a bite of lunch and then Pete and I took off for a ride to get rid of my cankles.  Pete didn’t fare too badly this time with the dreaded fat ankles but mine looked hideous and I couldn’t wait to get on the bike and get the blood pumping.  It definitely helped them but they still look pretty fat so might go for another ride if the weather holds.

Pete here….As we boarded the plane in Hong Kong, at gate number 47, we were at the tail end of a very long queue, including a large group of young Chinese girls, taking  their flight to England and possibly further afield. A bit different to the school ventures of our day, when a bus ride to another school for a sporting fixture was a real adventure. Who knows what lies ahead for future generations of young kids everywhere? Now boarding at launch pad 224, this is a final call for the Dolan family. Your flight to Mars and intergalactical wonders is now boarding. Please ensure you have donned your space suits and have received your appropriate interplanetary jabs from your designated robot prior to your final cellular scan. The duration of your flight will be 300 light years. Nourishment will be provided on board in handy pill capsules. This is a standing only flight and space walks are only available to members of your districts higher echelons. Time travel and other portal devices are not available for use in these sectors. However, entering the world of visual reality movies, will be provided. Options for this venture include “ I was Agnetha Faltskog’s sex slave during the hey day of Abba” or “Being a grasshopper for a year,”whilst listening to David Attenborough explain the digestive system of said insect.
Our bike ride from Peg and Andy’s place in Neston was just what the doctor ordered. After a glitch putting my bike together, just an adjustment with the front disc brakes, we headed off down to the estuary  which leads into the old, now marshland area of Parkgate.  This once prominent port, was an embarkation centre for ships in the 18th century heading to Ireland. To this day, although no ships are able to access Parkgate, it remains a beautiful place to wander along it’s frontage and enjoy it’s oldy worldy charm and sample the ice creams and food on offer. Living around here many years ago, one such establishment was the Old Quay which still stands today, complete with refurbishment, from the days when it used to be a hangout for the crew we hung around with.  Instead of heading into Parkgate, we headed left and rode alongside the estuary for 10 kms avoiding any rain which had threatened earlier on, but came to nothing.  

Happy Birthday Pete!
Back at the house we chilled out for the rest of the day and I managed a couple of hours kip.  Peg cooked us a classic “scouse” for our dinner (corned beef stew for the uninitiated) followed by a birthday cake for me, which was delicious!  Seeing as we'd each only slept a total of about four hours on the long flight over, Ju hit the hay about 8am and I wasn’t too far behind her.

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