Tuesday, July 14

Up and down the planet


Summer continues in classic British tradition. Since our recent ‘heatwave’, temperatures have hovered around the mid-twenties. Today’s high peaked at 24°C. I have to remind myself that, unlike Australia, this temperature doesn’t signal that Summer’s on its way; it’s here! The weekend was also dominated by daily rain showers broken by regular sunny intervals. Similar weather is forecast for the remainder of the week. As the weather correspondent in today’s Times newspaper wrote; conditions have simply, “returned to what use to be called a typical British summer.”

On a whim I checked today’s temperature in Darwin, Australia. In less than three weeks time Garry and I will spending a week in the Top End as part of our annual Summer pilgrimage back to Australia. The overnight low was a cozy 21°C, the same temperature being forecast later this week as London’s daily high. Needless to say I’m seriously wondering if Garry and I will cope with the heat. I suspect we’ve become depressingly acclimatized to cooler Europe conditions.

We have quite a packed itinerary ahead of us. We’re off to Seoul, Korea first for three days, including a full-day tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea. This will be my second trip to Korea, Garry's first. We’re then stopping in Hong Kong for 12 hours where we’re making plans to visit the giant Tian Tan Buddha statue on Lantau Island. It can be easily reached via a cable car close to the airport. I’ve promised myself for years that I’d visit this prominent local landmark but haven’t made despite frequent trips to Hong Kong.

To complete our day in Hong Kong I’ve booked a restaurant in Kowloon overlooking the spectacular lights of Victoria harbour. We plan to be back at the airport shortly after 10pm in time to catch our late-night flight to Perth, Australia. We’ve booked two days in Western Australian before flying up to Darwin. Once in the Top End we’re picking up a camping van and heading off towards Kakadu, Litchfield and Katherine for a week of adventure. This will be my first visit to the Top End. Garry's been before so he's booked as our official tour guide.

You’d think I’d have done enough travel at this point. However, before returning to London, we’ll both be flying down to Sydney where I’ll work for a week. I’ll also be taking a few days off to visit my parents in New Zealand before completing a three-city tour of Asia for work. Garry plans to head straight back to London on the new Qantas A380 aircraft.

This won’t be our last flying holiday for the year. Last weekend Garry and I booked a three-day weekend in Dubrovnik. British Airways was offering return flights for an astonishing £78 in mid-October. The bargain was too much to resist. We’ll be staying at a hotel in the tranquil village of Cavtat, 18kms south of Dubrovnik itself. I've read that boats regularly travel between both locations, offering a chance to see Dubrovnik’s famous city walls from the sea. If time allows we may also drive down to Kotor for the day. This Montenegrin town is known for its remarkably preserved medieval centre.

I also have at least one business trip back to Asia scheduled for November, before heading back to New Zealand in December to join my brothers for a rare family reunion. This will be the first time we’ve all been together since December 2003. While en route to New Zealand I’ll also be stopping in California for week for work. The flying doesn’t stop when I finally arrive back to London as Garry and I have cashed in a fist full of frequent flyer points for a ten-day vacation in South Africa. We’re scheduled to spend Christmas Day in Cape Town before heading up the Garden Route. We plan to be in Port Elizabeth for New Year’s Eve before finally heading off to Johannesburg and back to London.

Phew! Somehow we’ve ended up with quite a heavy travel schedule in the second half of 2009. I’m not quite sure how we managed that. No doubt this jet-set lifestyle will come to an screeching halt the day we relocate back Down Under. It certainly makes the British Summer worth enduring for a few more years.

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