Another 7 months, another reserve. Not super exciting stuff, but I've had only one local shitty trip, a trip to London to see Flip and another trip to the UK to Newcastle, one of our newer destinations.
Newcastle was an "interesting" trip for me. It was a chilly 1 degree when we landed and I realised there was FROST on the ground. Cold. Our hotel was in the middle of what looked like an industrial estate full of large shops like Ikea and massive shopping malls. We all got rugged up with as many layers as possible and set out for the 5 minute walk to the shops. Once we got there we split up, as I wanted to just wander and I think the others did too. Without sounding too harsh, Newcastle seemed to be a bit of a hole. It was full of teenage mothers pushing multiple prams, screaming with mouths full of bad teeth at snotty nosed children (literally snot hanging out) and resembling Vicky Pollard from Little Britain, saying things like "this fing wot you know nuffin about". Certainly an eye opener! I grabbed some nice shower gel, soothers and then some fruit from Marks & Spencer and hooted straight back to the hotel to watch some telly. I swear my tear ducts froze up on the walk home, the wind was so icy!!
Every year we have recurrent testing so that we're certified to fly for yet another year, and have all our qualifications up to date. CPR tests, simulator scenarios and security sessions. Blah blah. The worst part about it is having to go back to training college for two days, but this year we had the pleasure of sitting our exams in the brand new shiny building, complete with gorgeous views of the creek.
I wasn't keen that my SEP testing was during reserve, as I didn't know when I'd be flying or studying, but it was a blessing really - it meant two LESS days that I'd be on reserve and susceptible to crappy flights. With a few days of mad cramming, everything went according to plan and I was released with a new license and an eagerness to get right out of the building! The new simulators are pretty cool, complete with fake fire and heaps of coconut smelling smoke (think primary school disco smoke machines!) and a pretty good cafeteria. For those of you doing SEP any time soon, I recommend the chicken caesar salad.
Seeing Flip in London was great - it was so bloody cold that I almost froze to death on the way to meet her! The trains were DISASTROUSLY delayed, which made for an almost comical (if I hadn't been so stressed) last-minute dash to get on the last train back to my hotel. We wandered around the winter wonderland set up at Hyde Park Corner eating massive steaming hot German hot dogs and buying some yummy fudge and lollies. Rugged up to my eyeballs and feeling that I looked either like a superhero or some kind of space invader with my big puffer jacket and knee high boots (that come out of my cupboard about once a year!), we hit the Haagen Daas restaurant, yes RESTAURANT, and had ice-cream for dinner. Very indulgent! Exchanging belated birthday presents, Flip bought me the HOTTEST pink clutch bag/purse I've ever seen. I squealed with excitement, as only the week before I'd been bemoaning the fact that I didn't have a pink bag. It's already had an outing, down to my favourite cafe by the beach for a late lunch.
Recently a mate invited me to go into the desert for the afternoon and I naively thought we were having a picnic or something. Not so. We were dune bashing up and down some of the biggest sand dunes I've EVER seen! While the boys let the air out of the tyres on the jeeps, I stood on the step of the wrangler, gazing out at the multitude of sand and excitedly wondered what my afternoon would be like.
Would I see camels? Would we see dunes as big as Dean promised? Would we flip the cars and be stranded in the desert and become bedouins? Well, we DID see big dunes, but don't think little ripples, think BUILDING SIZED DUNES!!! With the windows open and hooning like we didn't have a care in the world, we got covered with the waves of sand pouring in. We had sand in our ears, in our hair and even in our pockets! We even drove past a rather confused looking camel. I did a flight the next day and STILL had sand under my eyelids!
We've had a few nights out, the most recent was two nights ago. Celebrating Jesse's birthday, we went out to Ginseng for dinner and then out to one of Dubai's dodgiest clubs, ZINC. After shooters of sambucca it seemed like a great idea to chase them down with magnums of Moet. Numerous glasses made me rather fuzzy and Zinc didn't seem so bad after all. Jena's new boyfriend Steed made his first group debut and was a smash hit. He's one of our pilots and is just hilarious. Ash and I scored a lift home in a convertible and the next day were marvelling at our lifestyle and the tales we'll tell our children one day - magnums of champagne and convertible rides down Dubai's main road at 3.30am. We're certainly very lucky and we don't forget it for a second.
I did a Brissie trip at the end of last month and it was great to see the family again. Stella, Isaac and Sienna had a sleep-over at our place and woah, kids are exhausting! They were up until all hours, due to the excitement of a night at Maj's house and then up at 6am cat-hunting, as they call it. I have three gorgeous cats, and the kids love them. Sadly, their affection isn't reciprocated by the cats, who shoot through the moment they hear the kids climbing out of the car!
After visit to Gran & Pop's for morning tea and lunch with Nanna, followed by popping in to see a friends mum who's not been well and THEN a spot of grocery shopping, it was time to say my goodbyes and fly back to Singapore. I'm always amazed by how quickly the 9 day trip goes, but it's so good to get home to see everyone that I'd be happy to do it all again every month.